I’m starting this year’s manifesto with an ominous message, and this is not fake news: The 2017 season is going to be the most chaotic season in the history of fantasy football. And trust me: I wrote this before top-3 pick Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games and wideouts Sammy Watkins and Jordan Matthews were traded on 8/11.

On the heels of a very straightforward 2016 season that was relatively easy to handicap, I have for months been expecting all hell to break loose in 2017. And sure enough, despite the fact that I’m covering every nook and cranny related to fantasy football this summer, I don’t feel like I have my usual handle on the fantasy landscape this year. The main reason is because I see more players than ever who have a very wide range of possible outcomes. That alone will make 2017 very tricky, but the fact that the RBs are coming off a surprisingly durable season also concerns me. The last time that happened it was 2014 – and the RBs were a disaster the next season, in 2015. ADP is usually something to give a lot of credence to, but with more position battles and unsettled situations than perhaps I’ve ever seen, I’ve never seen early ADP data look so volatile and unreliable (although it’s gotten better here in August). It makes sense that fantasy players are wondering what we have with many different players and situations this year because the NFL coaches don’t know, either, because they don’t have the proper time to evaluate their roster. That’s been part of the problem for at least a half a decade.

Now with all this said, I’m not trying to paint a gloomy picture. On the contrary, actually. I think there are measures we can take to avoid being trapped in by the draft trends this year, and I think we can be smart enough in our approach this year to emerge victorious yet again, and I will be covering those thoughts throughout this article.

But let’s get a few things out of the way here at the top that are critical to this year’s draft plan.

  1. I do want a stud RB this year because there’s a huge drop-off (on paper and in theory) after the top-12 or so guys. However, I’m simply not going RB-heavy in my drafts the first 3-4 rounds. I want 1 RB early, and that’s probably it for at least two rounds unless someone falls or really stands out as the best player available. As our data maven Graham Barfield points out in his excellent article here, we’re advising you do the opposite of what RB-hungry drafters are this year, and that’s to target WRs heavily in the first 3-4 rounds.
  2. I’m a little more inclined to pay up for certain QBs, most notably Tom Brady. There will be busts in and around where Brady is drafted this year, which is early, and one way to avoid them is to draft Brady (at the v...