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Tips and strategy for winning your 2023, 12-team, non-PPR fantasy football league

Here’s a look at the best draft strategies for a 12-team non-PPR league in 2023.

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Football season nears, fantasy managers — it’s time to start planning your 2023 draft. Here’ we take a look at the best strategies for drafting players in a 12-team, non-PPR fantasy league.

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Most fantasy football leagues are set up with one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one FLEX, a team’s defense/special teams and a kicker. In a non-PPR league, your receivers and running backs won’t get points for the number of receptions. They can only earn points for the yardage of their receptions and for touchdowns.

First round pick

Since you aren’t gaining points for receptions, running backs are a good option to turn to in the first round of a non-PPR league. RBs like Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey, and Saquon Barkley should be top targets. Wide receivers are another solid option to go within the first round of a standard-scoring league. If one WR is targeted at a significantly higher rate than anyone else on his team, look there — think Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, and Cooper Kupp.

The top 12 picks this year based on average draft position (ADP) include six wide receivers, five running backs, and one tight end.

When to draft a QB?

This depends on your quarterback strategy. Fantasy drafts generally see a high volume of receivers and running backs go early. If you want to sacrifice one of those picks for a top QB like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, you’ll probably need to go as early as the third or fourth round. However, if you’re less picky about your QB, you can probably wait until the fifth, sixth, or even seventh round to draft one.

When to draft a TE?

This is another position that depends heavily on which tight end you want. If you have your sights set on Travis Kelce, you’ll likely need to go in the first round. George Kittle, TJ Hockenson, and Mark Andrews are three higher-ranked tight ends based on ADP that could wait until the third round, but if you’re not targeting one of those four, it’s fine to hold off until the later rounds to draft a tight end.

Sleeper picks

Sleeper picks aren’t necessarily unknown players. More often, they are players who you expect to outperform their ADP. Buccaneers running back Rachaad White, who played behind Leonard Fournette and with Tom Brady last season, is now the RB1 on a Baker Mayfield-led team. He sits as a sixth-round pick in ADP right now, but could certainly outplay that. Denver’s Javonte Williams and Washington’s Brian Robinson are two more RBs to keep an eye on as sleepers. Vikings rookie Jordan Addison finds himself low in ADP, but if Kirk Cousins uses him on some of those longer Justin Jefferson routes, he could rise quickly.

Players to fade

Wide receivers and running backs with lots of volume but lower yardage per reception or per carry can be worth fading in a non-PPR league. RBs like Cam Akers and Alvin Kamara — starters who often see low production — may not be the most lucrative options in a fantasy league. You’ll want to avoid players who are third or fourth on the depth chart, of course, but even second-string running backs who play behind stars like Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey may be worth leaving on the wire. Don’t bet on an injury as an early draft strategy.

Summary

A 12-team PPR league encourages managers to draft talent early. In a 10-team league, everyone’s going to have a strong lineup, but this might not always be the case here. Don’t put all your eggs in the basket of a sleeper who you think is going to blow up this year, but make sure that you have a backup plan in case one of your starters gets injured. What you’re doing in the draft is building an early foundation that you can adjust on a week-to-week basis. In non-PPR, the most important thing to remember is that receptions themselves will not count for points. Go for yardage over volume.