Before you know what your strategy for the 2020 Fantasy football season is going to be, you need to know where you're drafting. If you've got the first pick, you've got the easiest pick in the draft — just take Christian McCaffrey, and please don't overthink it. But even then, you've got to make sure you nail your next two picks, because you'll be waiting 23 picks before you can make them, and then another 23 until your next pick.
In the middle of the first round, you're probably going to miss out on one of the truly elite running backs, which means you've got to choose between an elite WR or a slightly-less-elite running back. And then, at the end of the first round, you're looking at, potentially, two top-12-to-15 players, but again, you'll be waiting a while until your next one, which means you might have to reach to get the guys you want.
No matter where you pick, you need a plan. And that's what we gave you today in the Fantasy Football Today newsletter as Jamey Eisenberg, Heath Cummings, Dave Richard, and Ben Gretch walk you through how to approach each slot on Draft. Make sure you subscribe to get this kind of analysis sent to your email inbox every day.
Here's what else we've got lined up for you today to help you prepare for your drafts:
- ☑Pick-by-Pick Strategies
- 🔢Ben Gretch's Rankings
- 📰Training Camp Notes
- ↕Depth chart updates
And if you want some help with your upcoming draft, your keeper deadline, or anything else, shoot me an email at Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive.com with the subject line "Ask FFT" and we'll include your answers in a mailbag before this weekend's drafts.
- First three picks: Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Jamey's favorite pick: Darrell Henderson
What if Jones' role doesn't diminish from last season? What if A.J. Dillon is more of a long-term play, or the Jamaal Williams replacement? Snagging him at 24th overall could be huge, even if I don't love doing it.
- First three picks: Saquon Barkley, James Conner, Chris Carson
- Pick Heath might regret: Chris Carson in Round 3.
If you're going to go three straight running backs to open your draft in a three-WR league, you need to make up ground at WR quick. T.Y. Hilton, Keenan Allen and Julian Edelman were the next three picks, and while there's name value, I'm not sure there's No. 1 WR upside this season.
- First three picks: Ezekiel Elliott, DeAndre Hopkins, Melvin Gordon
- Pick Dave might regret: Raheem Mostert in Round 6.
There are three guys here who were first-rounders last year — or, Gordon would've been if not for the hold out. I'm more bullish on Hopkins' chances than Gordon, though he'll need to get past this hamstring injury and get on the field soon.
- First three picks: Alvin Kamara, Chris. Godwin, Kenny Golladay
- Make or break pick: Jonathan Taylor in Round 4.
Ben loves Taylor's upside, and the rookie is already starting to draw rave reviews in camp. If he can carve out biggest share of the work early on, this team could be hard to beat. If you want Taylor, this is where you'll have to take him, and he's one of the higher-upside picks you can make here.
- First three picks: Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, Patrick Mahomes
- Dave's favorite pick: Anthony Miller in Round 9.
If Miller can manage to stay healthy, this really could be a tremendous value. Miller averaged 5.7 catches and 72.2 yards in six games from Weeks 11 through 16 one he became an every-down receiver. This Bears offense can't be worse than last season, right? (I'll have a note on that a little later.)
- First three picks: Michael Thomas, George Kittle, Allen Robinson
- Heath's favorite pick: Kareem Hunt in Round 5.
This was the latest anyone waited to take an RB, and ... I love it. A lot. Heath added Amari Cooper, giving him three top-15 WR and the No. 2 TE, and still ended up Kareem Hunt, D'Andre Swift, Tarik Cohen and Kerryon Johnson at RB. There's no Week 1 No. 1 RB, but both Hunt and Swift have the potential, while Cohen should be a viable starter in a bounce back year. I love this approach from this spot.
- First three picks: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Derrick Henry, Cooper Kupp
- Make or break pick: Edwards-Helair in round 1.
Anytime you're taking a player who hasn't logged an NFL snap with a first-round pick, you're inviting risk. The concern here would be that you're drafting Edwards-Helaire at his ceiling without having seen him play. You're betting on Andy Reid as much as anything here.
We're all high on Moore this season, but pick 17 is about as high as we've seen him go. Moore could very well justify this pick — I think it's pretty likely — but when you reach, there's always the risk that the player could've made it back to you. In your drafts, Moore likely comes back at 32nd overall, even if he wouldn't have here.
- First three picks: Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, Lamar Jackson
- Make or break pick: Todd Gurley in Round 4.
Gurley has basically no competition in Atlanta -- there won't be a Malcolm Brown coming in to vulture touchdowns here. Even with Devonta Freeman missing two games, Brian Hill and Ito Smith combined for 111 touches. Gurley is going to get all of the work he can handle, which means he's well worth the risk in Round 4 in my eyes.
- First three picks: Austin Ekeler, Travis Kelce, Calvin Ridley
- Pick Heath might regret: Austin Ekeler in Round 1.
Taking one elite running back and then waiting is my preferred strategy this season, and you can sort of see why here: Heath ends up with the No. 1 TE, three must-start WR in Ridley, Robert Woods and (if healthy) A.J. Green. And he still ended up with David Montgomery as his RB2, with an elite QB. Stack high-upside RB in the late rounds and this is a winning strategy.
- First three picks: Joe Mixon, Julio Jones, Tyler Lockett
- Pick Dave might regret: Le'Veon Bell in Round 4.
A fourth-round pick on Bell likely isn't going to sink your season, but does he really have upside here? The Jets could take a massive leap forward with Sam Darnold healthy, and whatever work Bell is going to lose is likely to come between the 20s and between the tackles. This could actually work out.
- First three picks: Kenyan Drake, Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown
- Make or break pick: Odell Beckham in Round 4.
Four WR with the first five picks may seem like overkill, but you can start up to four each week, and it's hard to argue with the upside here — Will Fuller is his WR4 and CeeDee Lamb is No. 5. If Akers is the starter for the Rams, this team might run away with things.
Ben Gretch's Rankings
Ben brings a different perspective to the table than anyone else in our group, focusing on advanced stats and how to use them best, and especially focusing on upside, as his Jonathan Taylor love shows. We've got Ben's rankings and tiers for each position up on the site now, along with a breakdown of how he approaches each spot on Draft Day:
- Quarterback: Late-round targets
- Running back: Avoid the RB dead zone
- Wide receiver: You can never have too many
- Tight end: Worth paying up
So what Fantasy football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which WR1 candidate can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get cheat sheets from the model that was all over Derrick Henry's huge season, and find out.
Training camp notes
NE isn't just handing the job to Cam Newton
Initially, it sounded like this was a competition in name only, but the Patriots have made it very clear that Newton will have to beat out Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer to be the starter this season. That was on display Tuesday, as Stidham got more reps with the first team than Newton.
So, is Newton in danger of losing the job? It doesn't really seem like it. Stidham was intercepted three times in Tuesday's session, all in a stretch of five pass attempts. Newton continues to garner strong reviews in camp, so smart money is on him ending up as the starter. He's one of the best gambles you can make if you're waiting at QB.
Parris Campbell is turning heads
Campbell drew praise from coach Frank Reich Tuesday, as he tries to establish himself following an injury-plagued rookie season.
Last season, Campbell dealt with a hamstring injury in training camp, followed by a sports hernia, a broken hand, and then a broken foot. He is falling through the cracks in drafts, but is worth a late-round pick, especially now that he's showing what he can do when healthy.
Rob Gronkowski ... TE3?
Gronk is struggling with his conditioning early on. "He's probably in New England shape right now, but he's not in Florida shape," Bruce Arians told reporters Monday. "The heat's kicking his ass pretty good."
Maybe there's something to the idea that Gronkowski will be used more as a specialist, as Peter King speculated this weekend. King said he expects O.J. Howard to be the No. 1 tight end, with Gronkowski coming in behind Cameron Brate. You would think they would still prioritize getting Gronk looks in the red zone, but maybe we need to flop Howard and Gronk in our rankings? Or just don't draft Gronk.
Depth chart notes
- Chargers: Justin Jackson split reps with Austin Ekeler on the first team, and practiced ahead of Joshua Kelley with the second team. For now, at least, Jackson is the No. 2 back here, and he should be a low-end starting option if that's the case.
- Broncos: Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay seem to be splitting first-team reps pretty evenly.
- Rams: The running back hierarchy went like this Tuesday: Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, Cam Akers, according to the Athletic. Akers did get some work in with the first team, but he's playing catch-up.
- Patriots: Damien Harris is splitting most of the first-team work with James White, with Lamar Miller (knee) and Sony Michel (foot) missing practice.
- Colts: Jonathan Taylor is making impressive plays with the first team every day, it sounds like. But Marlon Mack is still the starter (for now).
- Lions: D'Andre Swift handled most of the first-team work Tuesday, though Kerryon Johnson wasn't part of the 11-on-11 drills, so it's not necessarily a sign of anything (yet).
- Rams: Josh Reynolds has been working as the No. 3 receiver behind Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. That's been a very valuable role in the past.
- Washington: Steven Sims is in the starting group for Washington — he's a favorite sleeper for both Dave and Jamey.
- Colts: Michael Pittman is getting work with the first team offense.
- Eagles: DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward are working with the starters for the Eagles. Jackson and Reagor especially need to be drafted in the later rounds.
- Vikings: Rookie Justin Jefferson is primarily working in the slot, with Bisi Johnson on the outside. That could be a problem on a team that runs a lot of two-WR sets.
Notes, Quotes, and Injuries
John Brown on Josh Allen: "He's making throws that he wouldn't have even tried to attempt last year. He's starting to throw guys open a little bit." Allen taking a step forward would be key for an offense I am, frankly, pretty pessimistic about. … Nick Chubb is in the concussion protocol … Tee Higgins is dealing with a hamstring injury, joining A.J. Green on the sidelines in recent days. … Dante Pettis is fighting for a roster spot, but has performed well so far in camp. With Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd out, Pettis has a chance to re-establish himself after losing his job last camp amid a disappointing showing. ... Asked if Mitchell Trubisky looks better than he did in 2019, Matt Nagy said this: "I think so. We don't have enough right now. ... We need to see more. I can't give you a fair statement or opinion. ... I'd ask for a little bit more time on that with him." Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
The Fantasy Football Today Draft Guide is here, and I promise, you'll want to have it by your side on Draft Day. We've boiled down everything you need to draft in one place, with consensus expert rankings and auction values, tiers, a round-by-round walkthrough, and Draft Day strategies and rules from Jamey, Dave, Heath and Ben. It's the next best thing to having them next to you while you draft. Head here to sign up for it, because it's absolutely free — which seems like a good value to me.