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Draft Strategy

Perfect Draft: 12-Team PPR (Updated Sept. 2)

By Jared Smola 11:09am EDT 9/2/21


You should go into every fantasy draft with a general plan of attack.

Of course, you’ll need to be able to adjust throughout the draft and pounce on value wherever it presents itself. That’s where the brand new Draft War Room with customized, dynamic rankings comes into play.

But building a round-by-round strategy beforehand certainly helps. That’s exactly what we’re doing with the Perfect Draft series — using the Draft War Room and ADP to get an idea of where the value will be in each round.

This is the 12-Team PPR Perfect Draft. Each strategy guide assumes 16-round drafts and starting lineups of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 K and 1 DEF. The Draft War Room will help you adjust your strategy if your league settings are different.

Note: September 2 updates in bold.


Pick 1, 2, 3 or 4

Round 1

RB: Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott

You’re going RB here, with McCaffrey the clear top player and Cook the clear #2.

Our projections have Kamara as the RB3, but we wouldn’t fault you for preferring the guy in the more bankable Cowboys offense.


Round 2

RB: Joe Mixon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire

WR: Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown

TE: Darren Waller

Expect to see RBs atop your rankings here. Mixon is a smash value if still available -- and Edwards-Helaire is a strong pick.

Pivoting to Jefferson, Brown or Waller is also a viable move. Among them, we prefer Waller for the big edge he gives you at TE.


Round 3

RB: D’Andre Swift

WR: Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson

The RB options aren’t great here. Swift has PPR upside but feels like a bit of a reach in the early 3rd.

WR is probably your best bet.

We're shying away from Swift here due to his lingering groin issue.


Round 4

RB: James Robinson

WR: Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, Adam Thielen, D.J. Moore, Diontae Johnson

The WR value is strong here. Don’t bank on our 2021 Comeback Player, Kupp, making it to you with an ADP sitting in the mid 4th. But even if you miss out on him, the other 4 WRs are solid picks.

You might see Kyler Murray and/or Lamar Jackson near the top of your rankings here, but we’d prefer to wait until at least Round 5 for a QB.

James Robinson replaces Darrell Henderson as a target here.


Round 5

QB: Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson

WR: Adam Thielen, D.J. Moore, Diontae Johnson, Tee Higgins

TE: T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews

Here’s where Murray and Jackson -- QBs with the upside to lead the position in fantasy points -- start to make sense.

T.J. Hockenson also makes sense here if you didn’t grab Waller earlier.

Otherwise, continue adding to your WR or RB corps.

We added Mark Andrews as a target here. TE looks even thinner than it did a couple of weeks ago, so getting 1 of the top 6 is a significant advantage.


Round 6

QB: Russell Wilson

RB: Gus Edwards

WR: Jerry Jeudy, Robby Anderson

Wilson could easily produce near the level of guys like Dak Prescott and even Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson.

We’re listing Claypool ahead of Anderson and Jeudy only because ADP says Anderson and Jeudy are more likely to make it back to you in Round 7.

Gus Edwards, Baltimore's new lead back, is a nice value at this point -- even if he still doesn't project to do much in the passing game.

Claypool's ADP has climbed into the early 6th. Jeudy is in the mid-6th, so there's no guarantee he's available here. Anderson remains a solid option.


Round 7

RB: Gus Edwards, Damien Harris, Trey Sermon

WR: Robby Anderson, Tyler Boyd, Courtland Sutton

TE: Noah Fant

Anderson and Jeudy, our 2021 Breakout Pick, stand out as big values here.

Sermon and Carter, who we highlighted in Sleepers, are worth considering if you don’t already have 3 RBs.

Michael Carter has been removed from consideration here after his disappointing preseason usage. Edwards and Harris are nice values if available.

We also added Fant here because of the lack of TE depth we mentioned previously.


Round 8

RB: Leonard Fournette

WR: Brandin Cooks, Laviska Shenault, Jarvis Landry

TE: Dallas Goedert

Brady and Stafford are our 2 favorite mid-round QB targets and are good values starting in the 8th round.

Fournette has probably been topping your RB rankings for a while and is a high-upside pick at this spot.

Tom Brady and Matt Stafford are no longer likely to be available here. Wait at least 1 more round if you don't have your QB1 yet. WR looks like your best bet with this pick.


Round 9

QB: Jalen Hurts, Ryan Tannehill

RB: Jamaal Williams, James Conner

WR: Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Michael Gallup, Michael Pittman, Mike Williams

TE: Dallas Goedert, Tyler Higbee

There’s a bit of a tier drop behind Fant and Higbee, so we like grabbing 1 of them here if you’re still TE-less.

Williams is 1 of our favorite values at RB in PPR drafts.

Hurts and Tannehill are nice values here if you're still looking for your starting QB.


Round 10

RB: Sony Michel, Nyheim Hines, Tony Pollard

WR: Elijah Moore, Marvin Jones

TE: Mike Gesicki

Hines and Edwards should have some standalone value, while Pollard figures to need an Ezekiel Elliott injury to hit your starting lineup (but would be a top-12 option in that case).

The value at WR is stronger, though -- another reason to grab at least 3 RBs in the single-digit rounds.

This is a nice spot to take a shot on Michel.


Round 11

QB: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields

RB: Sony Michel, James White

WR: Elijah Moore, Marvin Jones, Jakobi Meyers

TE: Mike Gesicki, Jonnu Smith

This is a good spot for Moore, 1 of our favorite Sleepers.

There’s another tier drop at TE behind Gesicki and Smith.

And there are a few nice options at QB. Cousins is the safe play if you’re still looking for your QB1. Lance is the upside shot. And Lawrence falls somewhere in between.

Fields' ADP is on the rise, so grab him here if you want him.

Jonnu Smith is climbing our rankings after some promising preseason usage and New England's move to QB Mac Jones.


Rounds 12 and 13

QB: Kirk Cousins, Trey Lance, Baker Mayfield

RB: Sony Michel, James White, Tevin Coleman

WR: Jakobi Meyers, Cole Beasley, Marquez Callaway, Rondale Moore, Terrace Marshall

TE: Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper, Gerald Everett

You should be prioritizing upside at this point of your draft. The new “Upside Mode” on the Draft War Room will help highlight guys with the highest ceilings.


Rounds 14, 15 and 16

QB: Tua Tagovailoa

RB: Darrel Williams, Darrynton Evans, Salvon Ahmed, Damien Williams, Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty'Son Williams, Tony Jones

WR: Marquez Callaway, Rondale Moore, Emmanuel Sanders, Bryan Edwards, Terrace Marshall, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Parris Campbell

TE: Austin Hooper, Gerald Everett, Blake Jarwin, Zach Ertz

Take 1 more upside shot and then fill your K and DST spots.

If you plan on streaming at DST (you should), here are a few DSTs with favorable Week 1 matchups:

49ers (at Lions)

Broncos (at Giants)

Patriots (vs. Dolphins)

Jaguars (at Texans)



Pick 5, 6, 7 or 8

Round 1

RB: Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler

WR: Tyreek Hill

TE: Travis Kelce

If Elliott or Kamara makes it to you here, it’s a no-brainer.

Otherwise, Kelce will likely top your rankings due to the massive advantage he gives you at TE.


Round 2

RB: Joe Mixon, Najee Harris, Antonio Gibson

WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley

TE: Darren Waller

You’ll likely have a RB or multiple RBs topping your rankings here. Jones and Mixon, in particular, are excellent values in the middle of Round 2.

If those 2 are gone, you can consider a WR or Waller

Aaron Jones' ADP has climbed into late Round 1.

Waller is looking more and more attractive as the pool of useable TEs continues to dry up.


Round 3

RB: D’Andre Swift

WR: Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, CeeDee Lamb

TE: George Kittle

If you started RB-RB, go with a WR or Kittle here.

If you have 1 or 0 RBs at this point, Swift is a nice value.

Swift is riskier now with his groin trouble.


Round 4

RB: Chris Carson, James Robinson

WR: Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin

The WRs look like particularly strong values here, which is why we like grabbing 2 RBs in the first 3 rounds.

We’ve seen Carson and Sanders slip into the mid-4th-round of drafts -- and they’re both solid picks if you still need your RB1 or RB2.

James Robinson replaces Miles Sanders as a RB target here.


Round 5

QB: Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson

RB: Mike Davis

WR: Adam Thielen, D.J. Moore, Tee Higgins

TE: T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews

Murray and Jackson -- QBs with the upside to lead the position in fantasy points -- are worth it if they make it to the middle of the 5th round.

T.J. Hockenson also makes sense here if you didn’t grab Kelce, Kittle or Waller earlier.

Otherwise, continue adding to your WR or RB corps. Lockett stands out as a big value.

Hockenson and Andrews look more attractive here now.


Round 6

QB: Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson

RB: Gus Edwards, Damien Harris

WR: Jerry Jeudy, Robby Anderson, Chase Claypool

TE: T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson’s ADP is in the early 6th round, so you can’t bank on him still being available here. But he’s a smash value if he is.

Wilson could easily produce near the level of guys like Dak Prescott and even Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson.

Anderson and Jeudy have a pretty good chance to make it back to you in Round 7, so you might gamble and go with Higgins here.

Prescott is worth considering here if he drops. He's on track for Week 1.

Edwards and Harris have climbed our RB rankings and are fine values in the 6th.

Jeudy's ADP has climbed into the mid-6th, so grab him here if you want him.


Round 7

QB: Tom Brady

RB: Gus Edwards, Damien Harris, Trey Sermon

WR: Robby Anderson, Tyler Boyd, Courtland Sutton

TE: Noah Fant

Anderson and Jeudy, our 2021 Breakout Pick, stand out as big values here.

Sermon and Carter, who we highlighted in Sleepers, are worth considering if you don’t already have 3 RBs.

Michael Carter has been removed from consideration here after his disappointing preseason usage.

Consider Fant here if you want to lock up a solid weekly starter at TE.


Round 8

RB: Leonard Fournette

WR: Brandin Cooks, Laviska Shenault, Jarvis Landry

TE: Dallas Goedert

Brady and Stafford are our 2 favorite mid-round QB targets and are good values starting in the 8th round.

Fournette has probably been topping your RB rankings for a while and is a high-upside pick at this spot.

Tom Brady and Matt Stafford are no longer likely to be available here. Wait at least 1 more round if you don't have your QB1 yet. WR looks like your best bet with this pick.


Round 9

QB: Jalen Hurts, Ryan Tannehill

RB: Jamaal Williams, James Conner

WR: Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Michael Gallup, Michael Pittman, Mike Williams

TE: Dallas Goedert, Tyler Higbee

There’s a bit of a tier drop behind Fant and Higbee, so we like grabbing 1 of them here if you’re still TE-less.

Williams is 1 of our favorite values at RB in PPR drafts.

Hurts and Tannehill are nice values here if you're still looking for your starting QB.


Round 10

RB: Sony Michel, Nyheim Hines, Tony Pollard

WR: Elijah Moore, Marvin Jones

TE: Mike Gesicki

Hines and Edwards should have some standalone value, while Pollard figures to need an Ezekiel Elliott injury to hit your starting lineup (but would be a top-12 option in that case).

The value at WR is stronger, though -- another reason to grab at least 3 RBs in the single-digit rounds.

This is a nice spot to take a shot on Michel.


Round 11

QB: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields

RB: Sony Michel, James White

WR: Elijah Moore, Marvin Jones, Jakobi Meyers

TE: Mike Gesicki, Jonnu Smith

This is a good spot for Moore, 1 of our favorite Sleepers.

There’s another tier drop at TE behind Gesicki and Smith.

And there are a few nice options at QB. Cousins is the safe play if you’re still looking for your QB1. Lance is the upside shot. And Lawrence falls somewhere in between.

Fields' ADP is on the rise, so grab him here if you want him.

Jonnu Smith is climbing our rankings after some promising preseason usage and New England's move to QB Mac Jones.


Rounds 12, 13 and 14

QB: Kirk Cousins, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, Tua Tagovailoa, Baker Mayfield

RB: Sony Michel, James White, Tevin Coleman, Darrel Williams, Darrynton Evans, Salvon Ahmed, Damien Williams, Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty'Son Williams, Tony Jones

WR: Jakobi Meyers, Cole Beasley, Marquez Callaway, Rondale Moore, Terrace Marshall, Emmanuel Sanders, Bryan Edwards, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Parris Campbell

TE: Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper, Gerald Everett, Blake Jarwin, Zach Ertz

You should be prioritizing upside at this point of your draft. The new “Upside Mode” on the Draft War Room will help highlight guys with the highest ceilings.


Rounds 15 and 16

Use your final 2 picks to fill your K and DST spots.

If you plan on streaming at DST (you should), here are a few DSTs with favorable Week 1 matchups:

49ers (at Lions)

Broncos (at Giants)

Patriots (vs. Dolphins)

Jaguars (at Texans)



Pick 9, 10, 11 or 12

Round 1

RB: Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler

WR: Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs

TE: Travis Kelce

Lots of directions you can go at the end of the 1st round.

Kelce will be atop your rankings if he’s available. If not, you’ll see Jones and/or Ekeler.

But Hil, Adams and Diggs are also fine picks. They’re safer than the RBs.


Round 2

RB: Aaron Jones, Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon

WR: Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley

Despite the concerns we laid out in the “honorable mention” section of First Round Bust, Barkley’s upside makes him worth considering in Round 2.

There will be some serviceable RBs available at your next 2 picks, but we still prefer to come out of the first 2 rounds with at least 1 RB.


Round 3

RB: D’Andre Swift, Chris Carson

WR: Allen Robinson, Robert Woods, CeeDee Lamb, Cooper Kupp

TE: George Kittle

Kittle and the WRs are the best picks here, in a vacuum. So only consider Swift and Carson if you don’t have a RB yet.

Swift is riskier now with his groin trouble.

Kittle's ADP has climbed into the early 3rd round, so don't expect to see him here.


Round 4

RB: Chris Carson, James Robinson

WR: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans

The WRs again look like the best values here. Note that Lockett, with a current ADP of 5.05, has a chance of making it back to you in the 5th.

James Robinson replaces Miles Sanders as a RB target here.


Round 5

RB: Gus Edwards, Chase Edmonds

WR: Tee Higgins, Jerry Jeudy

TE: T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews

Prescott comes with added risk until he fully returns from his shoulder injury, but all indications are that he’ll be fine come Week 1. And a healthy Prescott is capable of threatening the top of the QB position. That makes him a worthwhile gamble at this point.

Hockenson is in for huge volume this year and is a nice value in Round 5.

Wait until Round 6 to consider Dak Prescott.

Prioritize Hockenson or Andrews here. TE looks a lot thinner than it did a couple of weeks ago.


Round 6

QB: Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson

RB: Gus Edwards, Chase Edmonds

WR: Jerry Jeudy, Robby Anderson, Chase Claypool

TE: T.J. Hockenson

Wilson could easily produce near the level of guys like Dak Prescott and even Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson.

There’s a chance that Anderson and/or Jeudy make it back to you in Round 7, so you might gamble and go with Higgins here.

Prescott is worth a look if still available here.

Jeudy and Anderson have both climbed in ADP, so don't plan on them being available in the 7th.


Round 7

QB: Tom Brady

RB: Gus Edwards

WR: Tyler Boyd, Courtland Sutton

TE: Noah Fant

Anderson and Jeudy, our 2021 Breakout Pick, stand out as big values here.

Harris and Sermon, who we highlighted in Sleepers, are worth considering if you don’t already have 3 RBs.

Damien Harris and Trey Sermon have both climbed into the early 7th round. We have Edwards' ADP in the late 7th, but there's a chance he goes earlier in your draft.

Consider Fant here if you want to lock up a solid weekly starter at TE.


Round 8

QB: Matt Stafford, Jalen Hurts

RB: Leonard Fournette, James Conner

WR: Tyler Boyd, Brandin Cooks, Laviska Shenault, Antonio Brown

TE: Noah Fant

Stafford and Hurts are high-upside QB targets if you missed out on an earlier-round signal caller.

Ditto for Fant if you don’t have your TE1 yet.

Fournette has probably been topping your RB rankings for a while and is a nice value at this spot.


Round 9

QB: Jalen Hurts, Ryan Tannehill

RB: Jamaal Williams, James Conner

WR: Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Michael Gallup, Michael Pittman, Mike Williams

TE: Dallas Goedert, Tyler Higbee

There’s a bit of a tier drop behind Fant and Higbee, so we like grabbing 1 of them here if you’re still TE-less.

Williams is 1 of our favorite values at RB in PPR drafts.

Hurts and Tannehill are nice values here if you're still looking for your starting QB.


Round 10

RB: Sony Michel, Nyheim Hines, Tony Pollard

WR: Elijah Moore, Marvin Jones

TE: Mike Gesicki

Hines and Edwards should have some standalone value, while Pollard figures to need an Ezekiel Elliott injury to hit your starting lineup (but would be a top-12 option in that case).

The value at WR is stronger, though -- another reason to grab at least 3 RBs in the single-digit rounds.

This is a nice spot to take a shot on Michel.


Round 11

QB: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields

RB: Sony Michel, James White

WR: Elijah Moore, Marvin Jones, Jakobi Meyers

TE: Mike Gesicki, Jonnu Smith

This is a good spot for Moore, 1 of our favorite Sleepers.

There’s another tier drop at TE behind Gesicki and Smith.

And there are a few nice options at QB. Cousins is the safe play if you’re still looking for your QB1. Lance is the upside shot. And Lawrence falls somewhere in between.

Fields' ADP is on the rise, so grab him here if you want him.

Jonnu Smith is climbing our rankings after some promising preseason usage and New England's move to QB Mac Jones.


Rounds 12, 13 and 14

QB: Kirk Cousins, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, Tua Tagovailoa, Baker Mayfield

RB: Sony Michel, James White, Tevin Coleman, Darrel Williams, Darrynton Evans, Salvon Ahmed, Damien Williams, Rhamondre Stevenson, Ty'Son Williams, Tony Jones

WR: Jakobi Meyers, Cole Beasley, Marquez Callaway, Rondale Moore, Terrace Marshall, Emmanuel Sanders, Bryan Edwards, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Parris Campbell

TE: Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper, Gerald Everett, Blake Jarwin, Zach Ertz

You should be prioritizing upside at this point of your draft. The new “Upside Mode” on the Draft War Room will help highlight guys with the highest ceilings.


Rounds 15 and 16

Use your final 2 picks to fill your K and DST spots.

If you plan on streaming at DST (you should), here are a few DSTs with favorable Week 1 matchups:

49ers (at Lions)

Broncos (at Giants)

Patriots (vs. Dolphins)

Jaguars (at Texans)


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