It feels like just a few years ago when we used to see running backs come rattling off the board at the start of and throughout the first round of Fantasy Football drafts. So much has changed since then. The first round in 2023 is filled with early wide receivers and even one non-running back/receiver. It's that exact player who I look to target in most drafts and when picking in the middle of the round, I fee like I'm in a prime position to land Travis Kelce.
Why is Kelce my preferred target mid round? Look no further than how many Championship teams he found himself on in 2022. Kelce gives the single biggest positional advantage of any player in the draft pool on an annual basis. When your league mates are scrambling to the waiver wire to fill their tight end slot with someone destined to grab two or three catches in the game, your roster with Kelce is racking up double-digit points.
- Pick-by-pick series: | | | | | | | | | | |
I subscribe to the theory that you can't win your league in Round 1, but you can certainly lose it. Kelce hasn't missed a game in nine years for injury (he missed one in the Covid season). That makes him a perfect match to start my roster off with a high-floor option who gives me a weekly positional advantage. I've noticed that all teams who draft Kelce never look as strong on paper -- his impact is overlooked -- but I came away excited about how I was able to fill out the rest of my roster.
As a reference point, all touchdowns in this league are worth six points, and we award one point for every 10 yards rushing and receiving and one point for every 25 yards passing. We also award one point for every reception. We feature a starting lineup of QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE and FLEX (RB/WR/TE).
Here's my squad from the sixth pick:
1.06: Travis Kelce
2.07: Garrett Wilson
3.06: Chris Olave
4.07: Dameon Pierce
5.06: Terry McLaurin
6.07: D'Andre Swift
7.06: Tyler Lockett
8.07: Antonio Gibson
9.06: Elijah Moore
10.07: John Metchie
11.06: Aaron Rodgers
12.07: Kyler Murray
13.06: Wan'Dale Robinson
14.07: Kendre Miller
After starting my draft with Kelce, I wanted to make sure I poured a lot of resources into the RB and WR positions. I don't always prefer to play the late-round quarterback strategy in one-quarterback leagues, even though I grew up in the Fantasy game with it being a staple of my strategy. I've strayed away at times from it recently as we've seen a big gap in the elite-scoring quarterbacks over the past two seasons. However, it's the strategy I used here, and in all of my builds that start with Kelce first, I like to wait at quarterback and grab two with upside to try and make up ground for not going RB or WR in Round 1.
Ending up with Rodgers and Murray works for me. Murray is going to ultimately play a lot sooner than people expect as he is ahead in his recovery, and Rodgers should provide a baseline level of production as he leans on Wilson in the pass game. Plus, it never hurts to grab a stack -- the Rodgers-Wilson stack works for me.
I don't love my top-end talent at running back and wide receiver, but I can't complain about the depth I have and I feel confident that all of my top three backs will have some role in the pass game. That's always a target of mine when drafting running backs. Swift specifically has post-hype sleeper appeal.
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Elijah Moore WR
CLE Cleveland • #8
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Moore entered the NFL with dominant game film coming out of Ole Miss -- he won at all three levels of the field and created big plays around the line of scrimmage. He never developed with Zach Wilson and the Jets pass game holding him back, but Moore has already been turning heads in Browns training camp. With Amari Cooper missing time early in camp, Moore has been the early target favorite for Deshaun Watson. Moore has major sleeper appeal in an offense that is evolving into a more pass-heavy approach especially if he can continue to develop a rapport with Watson in August.
HOU Houston • #31
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Pierce carried over strong forced missed tackle rates from his collegiate days in Florida to his rookie season with the Texans, but he wasn't as evolved in the pass game. I reached a bit to grab him here because I love his fit in new offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik's outside zone blocking scheme. Pierce's run style is the perfect fit from a schematic standpoint, but I might regret this third-round pick if the Texans offense doesn't take a step forward in 2023 and if Devin Singletary plays a larger role than anticipated.
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
I'm buying Swift at his absolute lowest here. Although his situation from a volume standpoint might not seem ideal on paper, he joins the best offensive line in the NFL with a quarterback who's rushing ability forces defensive ends to not crash down. Swift should see his best opportunities in the run game, and if the injury-prone Rashaad Penny goes down again, Swift will likely be the lead back. Of course, the downside is that Penny runs away with the early downs, red-zone role and Swift is limited to passing downs on an offense with a quarterback who rarely targets running backs in the passing game.