Every team faces unique challenges and decisions in fantasy drafts, but some players offer the best combination of value, safety, and upside in fantasy drafts. In this piece I will break down what players you should target in each round of fantasy drafts, using 12-team PPR redraft leagues as my basis.
*FYI: This is not a draft strategy article, this is simply a ranking of the most valuable players in each round, and should serve as a tool to build your draft strategy around.
Round 1: Travis Kelce (Rank: 7 ADP: 7.0)
I think the ideal player to target in the first round is Travis Kelce. I would also try my best to stack him with Patrick Mahomes in the third round. Kelce is a WR1 masquerading as a tight end, which makes him as much of a superstar in fantasy as he is in real life. He saw a career-high 152 targets in 2022, and his target share may have increased with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman leaving in free agency. Kelce is by far the best player at his position and arguably the safest pick in all of fantasy next year.
2nd: Justin Jefferson (Rank 1, ADP: 1.4)
3rd: Saquon Barkley (Rank 10, ADP: 11.6)
Round 2: Tony Pollard (Rank: 21 ADP: 23.8)
With Ezekiel Elliot set to be released by the Cowboys, this is Tony Pollard’s backfield now. He was electric in 2022, and projects to get even better in 2023. With Joe Lombardi joining the Cowboys staff Pollard could see an Ekeler-type role, and he certainly has the playstyle and talent to handle that job. Pollard will likely not see workhorse-level volume. However, he is extremely efficient and a balanced workload could bode well for his health throughout the long season, making him one of the safest RB1 options in the league.
2nd: Stefon Diggs (Rank 13, ADP: 13.3)
3rd: Amon-Ra St. Brown (Rank 16, ADP: 19.3)
Round 3: Rhamondre Stevenson (Rank: 26 ADP: 33.4)
The Patriots lost Damien Harris in the offseason, and we know Bill Belichick loves his running backs. It was a foregone conclusion that New England would select a running back in the NFL Draft this year, especially given the Patriots’ volume of picks. Nevertheless, the Patriots made 12 selections in the 2023 NFL Draft, and not one of them was a running back.
Stevenson came out a huge winner on draft day, and he could approach a three-down role with the Patriots next year. He is an elusive yet physical runner who excels as a pass-catcher and is simply the ideal Belichick back. I love Stevenson’s game, and although you can never truly tell with the Patriots, I think his workload will make him a borderline RB1 next year at worst.
2nd: Jahmyr Gibbs (Rank 31, ADP 38.6)
3rd: Najee Harris (Rank 29, ADP: 33.7)
Round 4: Breece Hall (Rank: 40 ADP: 43.4)
The fourth round is chock-full of interesting boom-or-bust selections that could make or break your draft. For the biggest boom of them all, I present to you Breece Hall, an RB1-level talent with a fourth-round grade. According to Jets head coach Robert Saleh, Hall has looked excellent in his rehab from ACL surgery.
He is a young, athletic, freakishly talented three-down back and the only reason he is available here is because of that ACL injury. I would take the chance on him here though, and potentially cruise to the fantasy playoffs if he hits his ceiling.
2nd: Chris Olave (Rank 41, ADP: 47.3)
3rd: TJ Hockenson (Rank 55, ADP: 45.1)
Round 5: Justin Fields (Rank: 64, ADP: 54.2)
Fields could be available later than this depending on how your league mates feel about him, but I would gladly take him in the fifth. The quarterback position has seen an uptick in value in recent years, and there were not many safe options at the position last year. If you do not land one of Mahomes, Allen, Hurts, or Burrow, I would laser in on Justin Fields. Fields has shown the talent to become a fantasy superstar, and now that he has a true Pro Bowl-level X-receiver to throw to in DJ Moore. The cards are aligning beautifully for him to become the biggest fantasy breakout of the season.
Look at what Josh Allen did when the Bills got him Stefon Diggs, and what Jalen Hurts did when the Eagles acquired AJ Brown last year. A year ago, everyone was certain Jalen Hurts could not throw a football accurately; now he is unquestionably a top-three fantasy quarterback. Justin Fields is a hard worker with superstar-level talent, and I would bet on him to put it together in a big way this season.
2nd: Terry McLaurin (Rank 53, ADP: 65.1)
3rd: Miles Sanders (Rank: 57, ADP: 64.8)
Round 6: Rachaad White (Rank 58, ADP: 74.8)
Do people realize just how perfectly Rachaad White profiles as an elite fantasy running back? He is a lethal receiving back with the size to carry a full three-down workload at 6’0, 214 lbs. He boasts an 87th percentile burst score and managed a catch rate of 86.2% in 2022. The Buccaneers did not invest in the running back position in the draft, which is a clear indication of their faith in White to become a workhorse in this new-look offense. In the sixth round, I view him as a very sneaky option as a perfect RB2.
2nd: DJ Moore (Rank 51, ADP: 61.7)
3rd: Dallas Goedert (Rank 74, ADP: 69.1)