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Average draft position offers path to build draft strategies

Don't you wish you were one of those card-counters in Vegas who are so good they get kicked out of casinos? Imagine if you were so good at fantasy football that your league kicked you out! ... Man, your friends would totally ostracize you and stop speaking to you -- that would be awesome!

Unfortunately, the only Cards we can count in fantasy live in Arizona. But, we can use some similar tactics as we prepare for our fantasy football drafts. We can use Average Draft Position to try and get a clear understanding of what the draft will look like. And we can reverse engineer the whole thing to see which teams looked best after a mock draft.

What we're going to do here is look at most of the draft options for each of the first four rounds to see how they play out. Then, we'll judge them against each other to see what we think made the best team -- and that can be our strategy going into our drafts!

The following rounds are broken down by position. The positions are listed by their ADP rank. So in the second round, under running backs, you'll see Trent Richardson as the first running back, with Marshawn Lynch the sixth running back. All that means is that the Browns rookie RB was the first RB taken in the second round in ADP, and Lynch was the last RB taken in the second round in ADP.

If a position is empty, then ADP suggests no players from that position are taken in that particular round. (So in Round 3, there are no quarterbacks or tight ends expected to be drafted unless one falls or an owner reaches.)

Also, names in bold indicate players that are expected to be taken with one of the first two picks in that round, according to ADP. That means you'll likely need the top pick in that round to land one of these two guys.

ROUND ONE

QB: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers

RB: Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew

WR: Calvin Johnson

TE: None

ROUND TWO

QB: Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton

RB: Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch

WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings

TE: Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski

ROUND THREE

QB:

RB: Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner

WR: Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Roddy White, Victor Cruz

TE: None

ROUND FOUR

QB: Michael Vick

RB: Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

WR: Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

TE: None

As you look through the sets of players below, understand that you're looking at tiers of players of whom only a portion is expected to be available to you in any given round. It's possible there is some combination of draft choices that I didn't list, but I'm pretty sure I got 95 percent of them. Understand that I gave more weight to the fact that an owner would likely want to have two running backs on their roster after four rounds more than any other mix of positions. In some cases, I allowed that someone would want to skip taking a QB and/or a TE in the first four rounds.

Here's how to look at this list: The number indicates the round, and the position next to the number is the position you'd take in that round. The players are from the list above, sorted by the round they're ranked at currently in ADP.

Going With a Quarterback First

1 -- QB Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees,2 -- RB Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- WR Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

For this first sample, we'd take a QB first, then RB1, then our RB2, and finally a WR1. We could end up with any of the following teams.

• Tom Brady, Jamaal Charles, Darren Sproles, Dez Bryant• Aaron Rodgers, Steven Jackson, Fred Jackson, Miles Austin• Drew Brees, Trent Richardson, Michael Turner, Hakeem Nicks

Remember, the players in bold are the top picks in those rounds, so it's doubtful you'd get more than two on your team.

This exercise is to help you see the different possibilities when you change up which positions you plan on drafting in each round.

Here are some more of the draft possibilities when you take a quarterback with your first-round pick:

1 -- QB Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees,2 -- WR Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- RB Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

***

1 -- QB Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees,2 -- TE Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4-WR Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

***

1 -- QB Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees,2 -- RB Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch3 -- WR Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Roddy White, Victor Cruz4 -- RB Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

In looking at these four sets of draft possibilities, I really like the second overall set the best (including the one I discussed above), where you would draft, in order, a QB-WR-RB-RB. The second-round is just ugly this year, and I really like the running backs you can get in the third round, especially Tampa Bay's Doug Martin.

Going With a Running Back First

1 -- RB Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew2 -- RB Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch3 -- WR Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Roddy White, Victor Cruz4 -- WR Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

***

1 -- RB Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew2 -- WR Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- WR Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

***

1 -- RB Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew2 -- QB Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton3 -- WR Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Roddy White, Victor Cruz4 -- RB Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

***

1 -- RB Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew2 -- QB Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- WR Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

***

1 -- RB Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew2 -- TE Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- WR Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

***

1 -- RB Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew2 -- TE Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski3 -- WR Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Roddy White, Victor Cruz4 -- QB Michael Vick

***

1 -- RB Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew2 -- RB Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch3 -- WR Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Roddy White, Victor Cruz4 -- QB Michael Vick

There are definitely way more possibilities here.

My top two groups are the first two groups, either RB-RB-WR-WR, or RB-WR-RB-WR. I think this depends more on where you are drafting in the rounds. For instance, if you're drafting early in Round 1, then you come away better with the RB-WR-RB-WR set.

In general, though, I think I like the RB-RB-WR-WR set best overall, which means a team that might look like this: Matt Forte, Trent Richardson, Wes Welker and Miles Austin. Richardson has climbed up the ADP ladder to the top of the second round. We did a Mock Draft for 2014, and Richardson was the fourth overall pick in our "fantasy" fantasy mock draft of the future.

Going With a Wide Receiver First

The possibilities here are a little limited because Calvin Johnson is really the only wide receiver you should take in the first round. And you'll have to do that in the middle of the round, which means you likely won't get any of the bolded players below. Figure your team will consist of Megatron, and the middle players in each group.

1 -- WR Calvin Johnson2 -- RB Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch3 -- WR Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Roddy White, Victor Cruz4 -- RB Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

***

1 -- WR Calvin Johnson2 -- WR Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- RB Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

***

1 -- WR Calvin Johnson2 -- TE Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- RB Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

***

1-- WR Calvin Johnson2 -- QB Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- RB Frank Gore, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

***

1 -- WR Calvin Johnson2 -- RB Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch3 -- WR Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Roddy White, Victor Cruz4 -- QB Michael Vick

***

1 -- WR Calvin Johnson2 -- RB Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Marshawn Lynch3 -- RB Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Doug Martin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner4 -- WR Hakeem Nicks, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas

I'm not a fan of any of the teams with Vick at quarterback -- not because I don't like him, but it just seems to limit your team elsewhere. I also don't like any of the second-round running backs working as your RB1. That pretty much means taking a QB or WR first overall is a bad idea in my clouded brain.

Although, I find the WR-WR-RB-RB pretty intriguing: Megatron and Greg Jennings, along with Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush. I don't hate it!

Final Fantasy Football Four

The top game plans from each position above are as follows:

• First place: RB-RB-WR-WR• Second place: WR-WR-RB-RB• Third place: QB-WR-RB-RB• Fourth place: RB-WR-RB-WR

If you have a middle-of-the-round pick, starting with a QB or a WR is definitely an option, but there are just so many good quarterbacks available in the middle rounds that you limit yourself by going QB first. If you go with Megatron, and you're able to back him up with another great receiver in Round 2, you could still put together a strong RB duo, but you'll most likely want to follow those up with another running back in Round 5.

Does any of this make sense? Do you feel like a card-counter yet?

Just like Raymond said, "I'm definitely not wearing my underwear."

David Gonos is a fantasy sports veteran of over 20 years and over 100 fantasy football leagues. He has drafted both Curt and Kurt Warner in his lifetime, and he owns a Trent Dilfer Bucs jersey (jealous, much?) He also dispenses fantasy advice on his own site, DavidGonos.com, along with various stories about life's lessons learned through fantasy sports. You can also follow him @davidgonos on Twitter.

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