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Pro Football Daily: Fantasy Football Tutorial Series: Beginner

Starting Lineup Requirements

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The trifecta of league information you must know prior to your draft is your league starting lineup requirements. Going hand in hand with scoring rules and your specific type of league sets up the predraft information you will need to have a successful draft.

"Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination." - F. Dodson

SCENARIO # 1: 12-team Standard

Let's take a look at one of the most common starting lineups for fantasy football. Especially in the past.

1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF

In a league that features a starting lineup such as this, running backs are very much in demand. Only 12 quarterbacks start this week out of a possible 32 starting quarterbacks. That means it is better to wait until the mid rounds to take a quarterback unless exceptional value is present in the early rounds.

Wide receivers are more in demand but with many NFL teams having at least two receivers putting up solid fantasy numbers, there are plenty of options here. 24 receivers will start in total each week in this league out of at least 64 options. So receivers roughly have the same percentage as quarterbacks. The difference is, the separation between the quarterbacks often isn't as dramatic as at receiver. But, your style of league and definitely scoring rules work together with the starting lineup.

Having 2 running backs starting means the league will have 24 starting running backs every week. There definitely will not usually be two fantasy worthy backs on each NFL roster so this position will likely dry up quicker. That means in your fantasy draft you should have a mindset as set below.

In the first rounds of your fantasy draft (until at least 3 running backs on roster), you should select a running back unless...

1. Exceptional value is there at quarterback. If you do take a quarterback, do not think of selecting another one until the second half of your draft.

2. Exceptional value at tight end. Has to be an elite tight end such as Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham and if you do take a tight end, you would avoid this position until much later in draft.

3. Very good value at receiver. If you take two receivers in first three rounds, avoid this position until at least round six unless sensational, cannot pass it up value is present.

At the end of seven rounds, you should have 3-4 running backs on your roster using the above starting lineup. Of course as mentioned, league types and scoring rules would also tweak this somewhat. After seven rounds you should never have two quarterbacks and/ or two tight ends as you can only start one at each position and having two would leave you very weak at running back and/or receiver.

Example using the above scenario

Round 1: RB LeSean McCoy, Bills
Round 2: WR A.J. Green, Bengals
Round 3: RB Frank Gore, Colts
Round 4: RB Carlos Hyde, 49ers
Round 5: WR Andre Johnson, Colts
Round 6: WR Sammy Watkins, Bills
Round 7: QB Andy Dalton, Bengals

Roster After Round Seven (starters in bold)

QB Andy Dalton, Bengals

RB LeSean McCoy, Bills
RB Frank Gore, Colts

RB Carlos Hyde, 49ers

WR A.J. Green, Bengals
WR Andre Johnson, Colts
WR Sammy Watkins, Bills

This illustrates the advantage of waiting on receivers and quarterback as value picks usually are found at those positions. The above roster has strength already at running back and receiver and landed a potentially good fantasy quarterback in Dalton in round seven.

SCENARIO # 2: 12-team FLEX

1 QB, 2 RB, 3WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR), 1 DEF, 1 K

In this league, the value of quarterback and tight end drops way down the list as a total of 6 running backs/ receivers will start each week. That makes it critical to secure running back and receiver depth early on. The only way you would consider a quarterback or tight end before round seven is if there is simply cannot pass on it value when your turn comes to pick. That would be a Aaron Rodgers in late round three kind of value. It is ok to start a draft here WR/WR if value is there due to being able to start four at the position.

Let's break down the first seven rounds of a draft below...

Round 1: WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
Round 2: WR Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Round 3: RB Jeremy Hill, Bengals
Round 4: RB Lamar Miller, Dolphins
Round 5: WR Andre Johnson, Colts
Round 6: WR Percy Harvin, Bills
Round 7: RB Shane Vereen, Giants

In this example, we have loaded up on the running back and receiver position. With three running backs and four receivers on board we can use our FLEX at either position and still be in good shape. Even better talent could drop down to your picks depending on the draft. You will find a fantasy capable quarterback and tight end in mid rounds of draft using our system.

SCENARIO # 3: 12-team Start 2 QB / 2 TE
2 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 2 TE, 1 DEF, 1 K

Here is a more extreme example. In this league. the pendulam has shifted from the running back and receiver positions to quarterback and tight end. In the other examples, it was easy to wait on both of these positions. However in this league, 24 quarterbacks and 24 tight ends will need to start each week. In both of those positions in will be tough to find 24 capable starters each week and that will be even tighter during bye weeks. The position to wait on here becomes the receiver position as talent can be found later on.


Round 1: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Round 2: QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Round 3: RB Eddy Lacy, Packers
Round 4: TE Martellus Bennett, Bears
Round 5: TE Greg Olsen, Panthers
Round 6: RB Lamar Miller, Dolphins
Round 7: WR Julian Edelman, Patriots

In the above example, we were able to secure our starting quarterback duo early and Rodgers plus Roethlisberger will be huge for the team. We also found a starting running back duo, a starting tight end duo and a good receiver in Edelman. The next four rounds should target a backup at quarterback, running back, tight end and a second starting receiver. Runs are going to happen in this league early and often so be ahead of the runs and not behind them. Stay cool and do not be a sheep while reaching for positions. Be smart and be ready so you are the wolf and not the sheep.

IN CONCLUSION This is just three examples of thousands of possible situations and it illustrates to you how your strategy will change based on simply the starting lineups. When you add scoring rules and the type of league into this equation, cheat sheets will look drastically different from one league to the next which is why knowing this trifecta of information is so critical to your success.

"I think in the NFL knowledge is power, and you try to get the knowledge by whatever means." - Steve Sabol