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 lose in 2017. And sure enough, here in June I see more position battles and unsettled situations than perhaps I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve never seen early ADP data look so volatile and unreliable. Things will become clearer the deeper we get into summer, but an overriding theme for me this year is to simply focus more on drafting smartly and letting the values come to you. When asked 15-20 years ago what my fantasy draft strategy was, my canned answer was always to “draft good players,” and I think 2017 is a good year to revisit that elementary piece of advice.

Otherwise, my usual plan of action each year is usually something like this: Don’t draft a QB very early and also try to wait until at least 75 picks in before drafting TE in an attempt to nail a sleeper. I’ve never been a “zero RB” guy, so I haven’t been shy using early picks on running backs. I’ve often preached flexibility and most of all balance when drafting, and you can’t have balance if you ignore a position or two in the first third of your draft.

Not much has changed this year, but I do have some slight alterations to my typical draft plan based on position depth and early draft and ADP trends, and it’s all covered below. One final point: I’ve been focusing more than ever on trying to be ahead of the curve and anticipating certain situations when logic fails us in our fantasy analysis. For example, in 2015, Cam Newton had 45 TDs without his #1 WR, so it was fair to be optimistic about Cam last year – but I wasn’t.

As usual, there are a number of players I like this year and are excited about, and you’ll find all of them mentioned in this Draft Plan. Things will shift in August, but here’s a general overview of my plan of action in 2017.

Note: If you’re looking for more insight on the players I’ve covered below, stay tuned later this month, when we’ll release our massive and comprehensive 2017 Player Profiles.

 

The Quarterback Plan

Note: I won’t deal with 2-QB leagues here and will leave that for our Joe Dolan, who will write up a nice 2-QB league guide for 2017 in July.

When I studied the strong depth at the QB position in 2017, the easy call was to simply advise to hold off and get great value for your signal-caller, and I’m probably going to do that often this year.

But lately, I’m focusing more on gaining an edge by being more contrarian, and with most trying to wait on QB these days, I do see a potential opportunity with Tom Brady in 2017. We have Brady #1 at QB, and while his ADP has yet to settle into a consistent ...