A 14-team fantasy football league is not for the faint of heart, given the added competition and the lack of positional depth as a result. If you’re staring at the draft board in a 14-team fantasy draft chances are you’ll need a sound strategy to align on. Expect running backs and wide receivers to go early and often, and no matter where you’re picking in the first round you’ll have to plan out your subsequent picks accordingly. We’ve got tips and strategies for you to ace your 14-team fantasy draft and head into the season as a surefire contender.
For this draft strategy, we assume the starting roster lineup consists of 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 D/ST, and 1 kicker.
First round pick
With 14 teams in the draft room, they will all be vying for a stud at the most important position in fantasy football: running back. The top-tier options will go early and often given the lack of depth at the position, so a sound strategy is to go with a running back with your first pick. Regardless of where exactly you pick you’re going to want to establish your two starters from the get-go. So through the first two rounds, maybe even the first three, target running backs as a priority in order to fill out those starting spots and potentially even your flex position.
The catch here is that you won’t be the only fantasy manager opting for an RB-RB-RB strategy, your fellow competitors will probably do the same. So if you observe running backs going off the board in droves and it results in another stud fantasy player dropping way below their ADP, you could be better off getting the best player available as opposed to RB depth. It may be hard to imagine, but if the likes of Davante Adams or Stefon Diggs somehow slip to the second round, I say go with the best player and add him to your roster.
When to draft a QB?
The trick to determining when to draft a quarterback hinges on how you value the tiers of players available. Do you really think having a Lamar Jackson or Jalen Hurts elevates your fantasy team over the likes of Tom Brady or Dak Prescott? Brady outscored both Jackson and Hurts in fantasy a season ago. Granted, Jackson missed a number of games, but it goes to show how little of a margin there is between a tier-1 fantasy quarterback and tier-2. For this reason, you are better off targeting a quarterback around round seven, give or take.
Much like the running back position, good wide receiver depth will be hard to come by in a 14-team fantasy league. Following a running back-heavy first few rounds, you’ll likely follow up by adding receivers with your subsequent picks. After you solidify those positions, that should put you close to the middle rounds where you choose to fill your starting quarterback spot. By midway through the draft, you’ll have your QB1 while rounding out the starting roster of RBs and WRs, which puts you in a good spot heading into the latter half of the draft.
When to draft a TE?
I prefer opting for value when drafting a tight end, and there are really only one or two surefire stud options. If you see Travis Kelce or perhaps Mark Andrews within reach and you are dead set on having a stud at tight end, then you may be looking at a third or fourth-round selection (depending if other fantasy owners adopt the running back / wide receiver heavy strategy). Otherwise, I’m comfortable saving my tight end pick for the middle to later rounds, likely around the ninth or tenth round.
Remember, you only need one tight end in this scenario to fill out your starting roster, and come bye week you can always pick up a temporary replacement on the waiver wire. If a tier-2 or even tier-3 tight end can consistently give you around 30 yards receiving and a touchdown give or take on a weekly basis, that’s close to 10 fantasy points on Sundays. And if I can save a later pick for that production then I’m more than happy.
Running backs will be treated like gold in a 14-team fantasy draft, but if you can snag one of these sleepers then it could pay dividends in the long run. After seeing Josh Jacobs get reps in the Hall of Fame game for the Las Vegas Raiders it’s clear he may not have as firm of a grip on the bulk of the carries. Plus, Josh McDaniels hails from the New England Patriots philosophy of going with a running back by committee. Drafting Zamir White could reap significant rewards in the long run, and the rookie had a solid performance with 11 carries for 52 yards in the Raiders’ preseason opener.
Continuing the running back train, don't overlook Raheem Mostert with his new team the Miami Dolphins. Granted his recent injury history may give a reason for caution, but he has experience with new head coach Mike McDaniel from their days with the San Francisco 49ers. McDaniel has a knack for getting the most out of his players with jet sweeps and players lining up in the backfield. If you need a flex to propel your team to the postseason, Mostert could rekindle some of his previous magic in Miami.
Players to fade
Tyreek Hill has every right to hype up his new quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, but fantasy owners shouldn’t overlook the drop-off in going from Patrick Mahomes to Tagovailoa. While receiver depth is a rarity in a 14-team fantasy league, don’t make the mistake of reaching too high for Hill. His ADP is around a WR8 which is pretty high given the transition he’ll be making from San Francisco to Miami. While still a talented player, don’t feel the need to reach for Hill knowing that the fantasy production of the past likely won’t carry over in 2022.
Darren Waller is reportedly nursing a hamstring injury through training camp, and this is coming off a 2021 season where he missed six games due to injuries and a stint on the COVID list. While targets may be a bit harder to come by with the weapons the Raiders have on offense, a hamstring injury, in particular, is not a good look heading into the start of the season. Again, opting for value at tight end is the smart play so don’t feel the need to use one of your higher draft picks on Waller if there are even slight injury concerns.
With a 14-team fantasy league there comes the loss of depth at arguably every position once the draft carries on. For that reason, the name of the game is focusing on drafting positional players that carry the largest value early and often. That means focusing on running backs and wide receivers with your first couple of picks while saving the exception if a legitimate stud falls way below their ADP. Place a higher volume of picks on your running backs and wide receivers while opting for value over high-profile names at quarterback and tight end. By the end of the draft, you should come away with a well-balanced roster that will keep you competitive throughout the season.