More and more often nowadays Fantasy Football leagues reveal owners' draft spots earlier and earlier. As you would expect that then creates the question: What is the BEST pick to have in your draft? We dissect this exact question pretty much every year, last year the clear cut answer was picks 1-4, but 2020 is setting up to be very different!
Before giving you our answer lets break this down a bit further. First and foremost we are not saying that you specifically need one of these draft spots and if not you won't have a good draft/team. You can absolutely put together a great team no matter where you draft and sometimes even if you make the best pick on paper, injuries could screw up your entire plan. Simply put by having the "best" draft spot you are in the best theoretical position to have your choice of elite players available not only in the 1st round, but in the next several as well. Now sure there are some wild, unexpected picks that happen every single year so we recognize that things can change in the blink of an eye, but as far as situations where things go more or less per the big board and acceptable rankings our advice will apply.
Start of the 1st Round
Usually the no brainer choice for best pick to have is one of the first few, ideally around pick 1-4. The idea is that there are only a handful of truly ELITE players available and after that there is a significant drop off. The last few years have been perfect examples of this with players like Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Avin Kamara, Antonio Brown, and a few others. The flip side having this pick is that you have to wait such a long time to pick again and you might be in a situation where you have to reach on a player you really like since they might not get back to you. However, knowing you got one of the aforementioned ELITE players helps balance this out.
Middle of the 1st Round
Often time a tough spot to navigate since you are entering territory of having BARELY missed out on the available ELITE players so you have the pressure of starting the transition of selecting the next tier of guys. If there is a situation where in a particular year there is a larger pool of ELITE players this draft positioning can be the sweet spot. Unlike the other two extreme scenarios the nice thing about having a middle of the round pick is that you don't have to wait as long in between selections and your choice of possible selections won't be depleted as quickly by the time you pick again so your roster could theoretically be one of the most balanced ones.
End of the 1st Round
This is usually the spot that people either love or hate. At this position you have one of the final 3-4 picks but by this point the ELITE players are gone and there has usually been a run on premium positions (i.e. RB's). The flip side however is that you have the quickest turnaround in between selecting your 1st and 2nd player so the drop off in talent between those two selections isn't much if at all. There is a similar issue here as would be having a start of the 1st round pick as you are just on the other end of the extreme and after your first 2 picks you have to wait such a long time in between selections.
After having done countless of mock drafts and analyzed countless different player rankings our opinion is that in 2020 the BEST draft spot to have is in between picks 5-7. You're probably wondering, "How in the world did you come up with this range and does it hold for all drafts and league sizes"? Identifying the most optimal spot for 2020 specifically, boiled down to one basic factor:
Compared to other years, 2020 is shaping up to be the deepest in terms of ELITE fantasy producing options without a lot of production drop off, especially at the RB position.
Getting into the specifics the current Top 7 picks usually include the following names, in no particular order: Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, and Dalvin Cook. Having a WR sneak into the Top 4/5 is another big reason why this domino effect is possible, but so is the fact that guys like Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook broke out last year and showed their potential to be Tier 1 RB's. This means that in theory if you have a pick in this range you are EXTREMELY likely to be able to land someone like Alvin Kamara outside of the Top 5! That is absolutely wild, an even more so if you are in a PPR scoring league! As highlighted above this essentially eliminates the biggest draw back of having that mid round selection and then puts you in a great situation to still land some great pieces in the 2nd/3rd rounds and afterwards without having to necessarily reach on a player.
Answering the second part of that question, the league size this primarily applies for is 12-Team leagues as in 10-Team formats due to the smaller size there will be many more teams with deep and top heavy rosters than usual just because of the deeper player pool. While in league sizes with more than 12-Teams you see the opposite effect where there will be a quicker depletion of talent which also throws a wrench into the equation. As far as scoring formats are concerned 1/2 point and full point PPR formats can be regarded in the same breath and this idea would hold true for both. Standard scoring formats are a bit different since the separation between some RB's lessens and you have more options at the most important fantasy position along with some upper echelon WR's dropping as they don't get reception bonuses. For that reason, if there was a place where you might see an exception and having a later round pick would also make our theory for 2020 valid.
*Note this is intended for Snake drafts and does not include Auction type drafts where draft pick positioning is not a factor.