On draft day, getting your first round pick right is the most important goal. It may not win you the season as they say, but a wrong pick can definitely lose it. Luckily for New York Giants fans, there is an easy first round pick to make in Odell Beckham Jr. If you are lucky enough to draft the wide receiver, what is next for your team? After all, it would take a very early pick in order to draft Beckham and your second pick will not come until late in round two. Let me offer two different draft strategies that you can use to build around Odell Beckham Jr.
Strategy 1: The Balanced Approach
Nothing revolutionary, but what is wrong with playing it safe? In selecting Beckham, it means every odd round, you are picking early. Every even round, you are picking late. Looking at average draft position (ADP) trends can show us what a potential core surrounding Beckham can look like. With a receiver taken already, let us look into running backs -- a position of scarcity. The late second round can offer names such as Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin and Eddie Lacy. Charles would be the best bet here, as his career speaks for itself. While his ACL can be concerning, Charles has already begun to practice and is reportedly ahead of schedule. He should miss no time. If Charles is not available, Doug Martin is a suitable replacement as a viable RB1.
The third round means you are picking again quickly. In this scenario I would stock up on skill position depth. Names at this point include Mark Ingram, Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, or LeSean McCoy. Quarterbacks such as Cam Newton or Aaron Rodgers are also available. While I would not shell out for a QB just yet, these are top two QBs that any team would be happy to have. At this point in the draft, you should have Beckham either paired up with another top receiver such as Mike Evans or you have two top running backs such as Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy.
The fourth and fifth rounds can be used to fill out the rest of the team. QBs such as Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are available. Greg Olsen and maybe even Jordan Reed can be available, ensuring that your team has a top tight end option. With the fifth round coming quickly on the turn most of these names should still be available.
If following a balanced approach, a sample team surrounding Beckham could look like this:
QB: Russell Wilson
WR: Odell Beckham Jr.
WR: Mike Evans
RB: Jamaal Charles
TE: Greg Olsen
Not a bad start to the draft at all. This strategy is nothing groundbreaking, but it is safe and balanced with elite talent at every position. But for those who try to extract as much value from the draft as possible, there is a risky second strategy.
Strategy 2: Zero-RB
Zero-RB has shown a massive surge in popularity over the past couple seasons of fantasy football. With the rise of passing in recent years, WRs have gotten more valuable in fantasy. Fantasy players adjusted in taking WRs early. But that alone is not enough to call it Zero-RB. The strategy essentially tells you completely ignore running back until the middle rounds. Why? RBs tend to get hurt easily, more so than WRs. RBs tend to be erratic year to year. Trent Richardson and Doug Martin were fantasy prodigies in their rookie year. In their sophomore year, burning a top pick on either back would have meant a losing season. WRs are seen as the safer commodity and the market is shifting heavily towards receivers. So let us see if this is a viable way to build a team with Odell Beckham in the fold.
Rounds two and three obviously have to be dedicated in taking wide receivers. Mike Evans and Amari Cooper will be up for grabs but so will Brandin Cooks and Keenan Allen. There is not a bad combination to be made here but I am particularly fond of Evans and Allen.
If you want to cave in and choose a running back in the fourth round, I would not blame you. However, proponents of this strategy will likely keep going with the receivers. Round four will have Jarvis Landry, Randall Cobb and Julian Edelman available. Landry is my favorite by far, especially in PPR leagues.
Finally checking in on RBs, round five has the likes of Matt Jones and Dion Lewis. I would take either at this point and pray that they can place in the top 20 in the position. The basis of Zero-RB is to draft for value so you will likely not be taking a QB late. There is plenty of good options ranging from Eli Manning to Phillip Rivers to Marcus Mariota who are not being drafted until the ninth round at the earliest. To summarize the core of our sample Zero-RB team:
QB: Eli Manning
RB: Dion Lewis
WR: Odell Beckham Jr.
WR: Mike Evans
FLEX: Keenan Allen
RBs will be a nightmare for Zero-RB users as you will likely use a lot of waiver wire pickups or handcuffs that somehow end up with the starting job. However, the rest of the team should supposedly be stacked that it should carry your team into the playoffs. The FLEX spot is a position too after all, and having three top receivers in your starting lineup can be killer.
Of course, the type of league you play in plays a huge role in your strategy selection. Personally I would not even bother using Zero-RB in a standard league. With the current craze on receivers, I would play against these market conditions and load up on running backs. In PPR leagues however, zero-RB really does seem the way to go. It seems daunting to ignore such a valuable position such as RB but in theory it makes sense. RBs are volatile creatures; prone to injury. Amassing all these talented receivers creates better odds to make a playoff run. With Beckham on your team already, creating an elite WR should be child's play.
Keane Macadaeg | www.bigblueview.com | August 21, 2016