You can't always choose where you pick in Round 1. Most of the time, fantasy leagues have a random draw for draft order, and you're stuck with that pick.
But what if you could select your draft spot? What is the best pick to have in a normal serpentine draft?
We asked our staff, and the result was overwhelmingly in favor of the top overall spot.
- The 1.01 - 9 votes
- The 1.01 or 1.02 - 2
- The 1.05 - 1
- The 1.07 - 2
- The 1.12 - 2
Let's hear exactly what they had to say.
I'm willing to go all the back to the 1.07. Putting it simply, there are six running backs that I want or Travis Kelce. Going back to the 1.07 puts a small gap between my first and second pick while assuring that I walk out of the first round with a player I wanted. For argument's sake, if the 1.06/1.07 were not available, I'd jump all the way up to 1.02. Give me McCaffrey or Kelce, and I'll figure the rest out from there.
The 1.01 is my favorite. Christian McCaffrey is super safe and has ridiculous upside, especially in full PPR scoring. While you have to wait a while for your next pick, that is offset by getting two back-to-back at 24th and 25th overall. I personally have a bit of a tier break right around 25, so I love being able to add two players I am fully sold on to my roster along with McCaffrey.
Give me 1.05. My favorite drafts this year have started with running backs in Rounds 1 and 2. Like Ryan, the list of running backs I want most in Round 1 goes about five deep (McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott). Elliott is frequently available at 1.05, and if I can get him there, it gives me the best chance of scooping an RB2 I'm targeting on the way back (Joe Mixon, Antonio Gibson, or Najee Harris).
I either want to be in the top two or the bottom two in the first round. Being able to grab McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook is a significant edge. And the cost of waiting until the late second is mitigated by the availability of promising players still available. Clyde Edwards-Helaire offers upside in the late second for those wanting to start RB/RB. Justin Jefferson and A.J. Brown are budding WR1s. And George Kittle and/or Darren Waller could also be there.
If picking late in the first round, a balanced RB/WR start consisting of a low-end RB1 and a high-end WR1 is an enticing approach. Something like Austin Ekeler or Aaron Jones paired with Davante Adams or Stefon Diggs offers a solid core from the start.
As fun as it is to get cute and make arguments for late picks, the 1.01 is the best pick to have this year. Grabbing Christian McCaffrey gives you a transcendent running back with a higher floor and ceiling than anyone else at the position. After that, you can still lock in an elite positional advantage with Darren Waller or George Kittle. Whether you want to grab a high-ceiling receiver like AJ Brown or DK Metcalf, or a running back on a high-powered offense like Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Chris Carson, you’re set after that third pick. Getting McCaffrey, an elite tight end, and just about anyone else at the 2/3 turn sets you up for success.
The 1.01 is the best pick to have. Having the ability to spot yourself upwards of 50 points over any other option with Christian McCaffrey, then pairing him with Darren Waller and one of Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, or DK Metcalf is just unfair.
I could argue that a pick around the Round 1 & 2 turn is fun and allows you to grab a high-end running back paired with an elite tight end like Kelce, but I won't. The true best spot is either the 1.01 or 1.02. Yes, injuries can and will happen to the best players in drafts every year. Still, with one of these picks, you are getting a massive positional advantage selecting a running back like Christian McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook. Then you have a shot at grabbing Darren Waller or George Kittle with your second pick for the ultimate advantage at the tight end position. With the running back position as shallow as it's been in years, I could argue going RB/RB here too, but it depends on how the draft board falls.
There is a lot of love for the 1.01, and I agree. The value still on the board at RB/WR/TE in the 2-3 turn is excellent. Combining that with McCaffrey at 1.01 puts the pieces in place for a strong lineup that you can't get from another draft slot.
Picks 1.01 and 1.02 both feel like cheat codes this year. The chance to get McCaffrey or Cook to start and pick again at the 2/3 and 4/5 turns can really give you a strong start to your draft and a big advantage overall.
This is a year I’d choose 1.01 to get McCaffrey. He’s back, well-rested, and is the only player with a clear path to 1,000 yards rushing and receiving. He could outscore the field by 70-100 points in PPR this year.
The best spot for a huge advantage is 1.01. If you have a difference-maker that dominates scoring - as LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis used to - then making your playoffs is a near certainty. Christian McCaffrey is the most recent example of total dominance in 2019, where the gap between him and the second-highest running back was an astonishing 150 points. That didn’t help those who took him at 1.01 in 2020. If the 1.01 pick fails through injury or underperformance, the price paid is a likely failed fantasy season. Ultimately it’s why I prefer the 1.12 pick. I am getting two top-13 players and have flexibility in my options - a top running back could still slip to me if others prefer wide receiver, tight end, or quarterback. Some of us also like the ability to pick two at a time down the draft when you can get indecisive between two players. Take them both.
I am all-in on 1.01 in a 1-QB stock format. Wide receiver is so deep, the Round 2/3 turn is robust with strong options, and this is after getting the start-two-players-in-one-lineup-spot selection of Christian McCaffrey. If 1.01 is taken, an early first is my second choice, with Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott a couple of my other favorite running backs for the following selections.
I must be the only one here conceited enough to think they're a better-than-average drafter. For that reason, I like being in the middle of Round 1. That way, anytime a player is dropping farther than he should, my next pick isn't too far away. That means I'm more likely to scoop up players at value and could do so multiple times during the draft. I'm also less likely to miss out on runs at any position. A draft can take unexpected turns. Being in the middle of every round means I can react quickly.
Getting McCaffrey is nice, but there are disadvantages throughout the rest of the draft. There are long waits between picks. You can miss on positional runs. There are rarely two players of value available simultaneously, so even if one is available when you pick, you won't be so fortunate with your second selection.
I don't mind a later draft slot this year, but given a choice, I'd prefer 1.01. I perceive a slight talent drop-off after the first 25 to 27 picks. If you're picking 1.01, you get an anchor running back with Christian McCaffrey and can get, say, a Metcalf-Mixon combo or a Waller-Swift combo at the turn. If you're picking a bit farther back, you get less certainty with that first-round pick and will probably hit that drop-off point before your third-round pick.
The longer fantasy GMs participate in this hobby, the more likely they will have strong and well-reasoned thoughts about multiple players and their potential value relative to ADP.
For those players, especially successful high-stakes players I know, they're looking at where specific tiers of positions begin and end their runs. With some mock drafting or practice with Best Ball formats, they understand which spots in a draft they often get the most values they like.
I have never cared about picking first. And just a side point, I'm sure 90 percent of the fantasy writers in the industry touted McCaffrey as a sure thing last year before his injury. 1.01 also makes it harder for most people not to feel locked into one or two players at that stage.
As a result, if I were advising a beginner or a player who is dedicated to getting better at the strategy of the hobby, I'd get them acclimated to drafting in the middle and, preferably, the back of a draft. In these ranges, there's less pressure on them about following the herd mentality of whom to pick, and they can focus more on the dynamics of the draft rather than inadvertently slipping into a people-pleasing dynamic they'll regret later.
Personally, I love picking at the back end of a serpentine draft. If you remember that you're drafting to win your league rather than the popularity contest that can be the collective thought of what a good draft looks like to your peers, you develop a nice feel for where to reach a little and where certain players can fall to you based on position runs. You can do the same thing with an early pick, but for whatever reason, I always like the way players fall at the tail end than they do at the front end.
In a normal year, I'd take the end of the round, draft two wide receivers or a wide receiver and a tight end and go Zero-RB. This year is not normal. Many wide receivers blend; it makes little tactical sense to split hairs and pick between them. Instead, wait at wide receiver and pound the running back position early with fingers crossed you get through without injuries. With that in mind, I'll take 1.01 and take Christian McCaffrey.
The obvious answer is being gifted the 1.01 and the cheat code Christian McCaffrey, the new Barry Sanders, and Marshall Faulk. So let's spice things up a bit. This feels like a year early-round running backs could disappoint in general. Meanwhile, there are many fun mid-round running back targets, such as Trey Sermon, Michael Carter II, Damien Harris, Ronald Jones II, A.J. Dillon, James Conner, etc. So I'm obsessed with landing the 1.05 or 1.06 and starting drafts by dominating the WR position by going with Davante Adams, then either DK Metcalf or A.J. Brown in the second, Keenan Allen, CeeDee Lamb, Allen Robinson, Robert Woods, or Amari Cooper in the third, and Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, Chris Godwin, Ja'Marr Chase, or Tee Higgins in the fourth. And of course, exciting tight ends like Darren Waller, George Kittle, and Kyle Pitts, along with young running backs such as Antonio Gibson, Najee Harris, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and J.K. Dobbins, provide detour opportunities in different rounds, offering the chance to remain a bit more balanced depending on how the draft board falls.