How To Win Your Fantasy Football League: From the 1 Spot

Some people actually hate drafting from the one spot this year in fantasy football leagues and I’m having a hard time figuring out why. The only thing I can come up with is that they are really buying in to the zero running back method and just can’t pass up on the big four running backs when they are lucky enough to draw the one spot.  They feel dirty going against their favorite strategy because they are forced (by peer pressure) to grab that consensus #1 pick in either Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy.  I really don’t understand the hesitation in following through with what you think is a winning strategy.

For me personally, I have hedged my bets quite a bit, by going with the zero running back method and going with a one running back method.  Both of these methods I prefer in full point PPR leagues where there is at least one flex, but I prefer them even more in multiple flex leagues.  In .5 point PPR leagues I find myself gravitating towards the one running back method.  Standard leagues are a horse of a different color, as they say.

Zero RB


When I go zero-running back, I start off the draft with Demaryius Thomas (or Dez Bryant) and I watch the draft room go crazy.  The first barrage of insults is always the best.  Typical things you would hear from the future leaders of the world sitting on the back of the bus in middle school.  The next wave of comments are about going Demaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant over Calvin Johnson.  Sometimes the chatter and mind blowing can throw off some people who were picking in the wildcard spots (picks 6-10).  Either way, I sit as quiet as a school mouse, because just like at the poker table, I’m not there to give lessons on strategy and percentages.  I don’t give a *^it what John from Cincinnati thinks about how I’m building my team.

The two three turn is all about value at the wide receiver position.  The only thing that can stop me from taking two more wide receivers is if Rob Gronkowski gets to me, or if there was an incredible run on wide receivers.  Either way I’m not taking a running back there unless it was a crazy upside value.  For the purposes of this article, almost all regular home leagues will have Rob Gronkowski or Julius Thomas make it to the 2-3 turn and I believe that they are THAT MUCH better at their position (because of skills or situation) that it’s okay to take a player at a onesie position, especially if a tight end can be flexed.  If your league can flex a tight end than you have just trumped more than half of your league.

The wide receivers that I absolutely love to see fall to the 2-3 turn are Alshon Jeffrey, Jordy Nelson and Antonio Brown.  For two of the three to get to you in a 12 team league there has to be some running backs going and maybe Gronk has already come off the board.  If the choice is between taking two of these receivers or taking one and Julius Thomas, then I will undoubtedly take the two wide receivers.  I love Thomas, but he’s not quite as special as Rob Gronkowski and these receivers are money in the bank.  In fact Alshon Jeffrey could make the leap above Brandon Marshall this season and I wouldn’t even be mildly surprised.

The 4-5 turn is where you can really separate yourself from the pack and you have to go all in and subscribe to the redundancy that Shawn Siegele preached last year.  The list of names that I love to see here are Michael Floyd, Michael Crabtree, Cordarrelle Patterson, Roddy White and now Victor Cruz is making it down that low.  If there has been a run at wide receiver I like to add Julian Edelman to that mix, especially in full PPR leagues.

The perfect 0-RB team would look like this from rounds 1-5

Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffrey, Jordy Nelson, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Michael Floyd.

If Gronk falls to the 2-3 turn.

Demaryius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Alshon Jeffrey, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Michael Floyd.

The approach from there doesn’t change much.  I’m picking off more wide receivers as I go and waiting as long as I possibly can at running back and quarter back.  If it’s a four point passing touchdown league I’m trying to come away with Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick even later.  Home leagues tend to make this a little harder as QB’s go earlier.  If the quarterback landscape gets wiped out by the 11h round I will pull out my inner J.J Zachariason and wait it all the way out.  I’m not above grabbing Carson Palmer or Ryan Tannehill as my starter and just playing the match up game.  Shoot I may even go Geno Smith for the week one matchup against the Raiders and go from there.

The type of running backs I’m targeting when I go zero-Rb are the Jeremy Hill‘s and Devonta Freeman‘s of the world, with Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram sprinkled in.  The cost for both Lance Dunbar and Khiry Robinson has been rising so I usually don’t get a chance to grab them much.  Ronnie Hillman is also a guy I love as my RB5 when I go zero-RB.  He has a bunch of upside as a pass catcher and change of pace back in an offense I want pieces of.

The tight ends I really like are Kyle Rudolph, Jordan Reed, Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce late.  I also like to grab Heath Miller long after the tight end runs are over.  This may be the last year Miller pays off as a pass catcher, but his chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger is undeniable.  With Timothy Wright‘s trade to the New England Patriots, he becomes a nice flex stash as well.

One RB Method


In .5 Point PPR leagues and where I decided to hedge my number one pick, the choice was easy.  I chose LeSean McCoy and never looked back.  McCoy’s age and the his potential to outperform last year’s numbers put him at the head of the class.  Charles and Forte are nice picks in full point PPR leagues, but I believe that last year was their ceiling as far as touchdown production goes.  There’s no way Charles matches or surpasses his receiving TD production from last year and Forte scored more rushing touchdowns than he ever has before and is entering his age 29 season.  Adrian Peterson isn’t even in the conversation for me as I just don’t see him being super human at this age.

My method after that is exactly like Zero-RB.  I take a wide receiver with every pick I can from round 2 through round 8.  The only places I don’t is when I take Gronk or Julius at the 2-3 turn, otherwise I gorge myself at the wide receiver position.  I tend to take wide receivers with more upside than safe picks when I go Rb first overall.  I may take Michael Floyd over Victor Cruz and scenarios like that, just so I have the upside of a possible low end wide receiver one and am not stuck with a wide receiver two with no upside.

I think these are your best bets to win your leagues from the one position and hope you use them to make lots of money this year.  On a side note if this doesn’t work out and Montee Ball wins a bunch of fantasy football leagues single handed, I don’t want to hear about it.