Football season is upon us, meaning fantasy football is nearing full swing. As you prepare for your fantasy football drafts, you will likely be doing a lot of research on draft strategy. Non-PPR leagues, also called standard leagues, are leagues that do not award an extra point per reception. The main difference between these leagues is that running backs are typically valued higher than wide receivers. In PPR-scoring, pass-catching running backs are hot commodities because they have the best of both worlds in the offense. For 12-team non-PPR leagues, here is a general overview with tips and strategies for your leagues.
Once you decide how many players will be in your league and your scoring system, there isn’t much more that you have to do. The biggest question you have left is how you want to construct your rosters. Most fantasy football leagues are set up with one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one FLEX (can either be an RB/WR/or TE), a team’s defense/special teams and a kicker. You can customize this how you want to, and I have seen two quarterback leagues with three running backs and one wide receiver and a league where all you drafted were kickers. Set up your league for how you want to play and what will be the most fun.
First round pick
Unlike PPR leagues, the first round in non-PPR leagues sees many running backs taken. If you look at the average draft position (ADP) for fantasy football drafts, the first 12 picks will be eight running backs and four wide receivers. If you are in the early part of the round, you are likely looking at running back, while wide receiver if you are towards the end. Your first-round pick is considered the foundation of your roster and should give you a strong start as you progress through the rounds.
When to draft a QB?
Fantasy football drafts are typically dominated by running backs and wide receivers early because you usually start multiple of those positions each week. Quarterbacks and tight ends tend to spread out through a draft based on their talent and the fact you usually start only one per week. Maybe two tight ends if you have the FLEX spot open, but you should be able to find a running back or wide receiver to play there.
The top-ranked quarterback based on ADP is Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. He is currently being drafted at the end of the second round. Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs is being selected at the end of the third round. It depends on how your league falls, but if you want one of the best quarterbacks available, you may have to sacrifice elsewhere on your roster and take them early. Based on ADP, expect 12 quarterbacks to be drafted by the 8th-9th round.
When to draft a TE?
Tight end is another tricky position but is also the most tiered position in fantasy football, in my opinion. The top tight end is unquestionably Travis Kelce of the Chiefs. After him, you would likely find Mark Andrews and George Kittle in that second tier. Kyle Pitts and Darren Waller would be in the third tier, and then, honestly, it is a free for all. There are certainly players with more upside like Dalton Schultz and Dallas Goedert, but even deep sleepers like Austin Hooper and Robert Tonyan could finish as high tight ends.
Like quarterbacks, if you want a top-tier tight end, you will have to pay for him. Kelce is being drafted with the 13th overall pick. Andrews is going in the second round, with Pitts going in the third. Based on ADP, 12 tight ends should be selected in the first 10 rounds. I don’t think it will be that quick, and tight end is certainly a position you can afford to wait on if you want to address other areas.
It is difficult to determine which tight ends will outplay their ADP, but I am partial to Tonyan and Hooper. They have each demonstrated talent in the past, and now they should both have ample opportunity to perform. Tonyan scored 11 touchdowns in 2020 and then took a step back last year. The Green Bay Packers are starved for reliable pass-catchers suggesting he could be in line for another good year in 2022 based on volume alone. Hooper developed well with the Atlanta Falcons but then never panned out with the Cleveland Browns the last two years. Now he joined a Tennessee Titans offense where he could start the season as the second target in the passing game.
Players to fade
The caveat to drafting solely based on ADP is that there could be players who are over-drafted and aren’t in line for as good of a season as people think they are. Mahomes is a potential casualty of this as he is being drafted as the overall QB2 and lost his best wide receiver in the offseason. Christian McCaffrey is being drafted as the RB2 and has gotten hurt the last two seasons and vastly underperformed. For me, my biggest fade is Tee Higgins. Nothing against the player, but his ADP is suggesting that Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals are going to carry two WR1s in fantasy. I think Chase finishes as a WR1, but Higgins will likely be a back-end WR2 or top-end WR3. He is being drafted in the third round and should be going later in my opinion.
When it comes to your fantasy football league, keep in mind that it is going to be unique to your league. You can go in with a strategy and have an idea of what you want to do, but don’t be afraid to pivot. Have some names that you want to keep an eye out for, but pay attention to how the draft board is falling. If it falls certain ways, you may see unexpected values pop up, whereas if all of you're favorites get drafted early, you will have some decisions to make. At the end of the day, fantasy football is won on a weekly basis, and you are simply trying to build yourself the safest foundation for the season that you can in the draft.