The Best 2018 Fantasy Football Strategy for the Turn in Rounds 2-3

The Best 2018 Fantasy Football Strategy for the Turn in Rounds 2-3 article feature image

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joe Mixon

  • For drafters with top-three picks, the turn of Rounds 2-3 is where fantasy leagues can be won or lost.
  • While most people select running backs early in Round 1, a number of positional strategies exist for the next two rounds.
  • While WR-TE, TE-RB, RB-WR and WR-WR approaches are viable, the RB-RB plan might be best at the turn.

Some weeks ago, I told my excellent and loyal Twitter followers that if they asked me some fantasy football draft strategy questions, I would answer them.

Here are some of the answers so far.

Now I’m going to break down what to do at the turn of Rounds 2-3.

What Should I Do at the Turn of Rounds 2-3?

Although this question is particular to Pick No. 2, it generally applies to people who have a top-three pick, because they all have a truncated draft range in Rounds 2-3 and are likely to select running backs in Round 1.

The Best Strategy for Rounds 2-3 

If you have a top-three pick, your draft pretty much starts in Rounds 2-3, because in Round 1 you should automatically take a top running back. (We have a “Daily Fantasy Flex” episode on The Action Network NFL Podcast dedicated to the top backs.)

While the prompting question named particular players for Rounds 2-3, I think what’s really being asked is something bigger: What’s the best positional strategy at the turn if a running back is taken in Round 1?

Five Key Strategies for the Turn

Based on the players mentioned in the question, these three positional pairings are clear.

  • Wide receiver-tight end
  • Tight end-running back
  • Running back-wide receiver

Also, assuming that you wait at quarterback and opt against an early-round double-tight end approach, there are two more conceivable pairings.

  • Wide receiver-wide receiver
  • Running back-running back

While I have my own preferences for drafting, your approach should be dictated based on your analytical strengths and general team-building philosophy. Your strategy at the turn should be catered to you.

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Wide Receiver-Tight End

I like this approach for a couple of reasons.

There are often several high-quality wideouts available in this range: A.J. Green, Mike Evans, T.Y. Hilton, Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill, for instance. All of them have the potential to finish as top-five fantasy receivers.

Also, drafting a tight end here ensures that you get a top-three option in Rob Gronkoswki, Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz. Streaming is a fine practice, but sometimes good waiver-wire tight ends are hard to find and/or acquire. If you want to lock in a high-end producer at this spot, you need to draft one now, because all of the top-tier options will be gone by Rounds 4-5.

If you want a balanced top of the roster and feel that it’s easier later in the draft for you to find contributing backs and receivers than tight ends, a WR-TE strategy in Rounds 2-3 is for you.

Tight End-Running Back

If you’re the type of fantasy player who can usually find playable wide receivers in the middle and late rounds, the TE-RB option might be best. In addition to locking in a top talent at tight end, you will almost certainly be able to draft one of these five backs.

  • Devonta Freeman
  • Joe Mixon
  • Jordan Howard
  • Jerick McKinnon
  • LeSean McCoy

They all have top-five upside at the position and are solid secondary backs to roster. With two rushers and a tight end, you can aggressively address the wide receiver position starting in the middle rounds, where you’ve historically been able to find value.

And, as it happens, there are a number of good receivers available starting in Rounds 4-5.

Running Back-Wide Receiver

If you think that you can find production at the tight end position later in the draft — maybe you decide to target the high-upside Jordan Reed and handcuff him with backup Vernon Davis — then the RB-WR approach is probably what you’ll do. By the end of Round 3, the majority of teams usually have two backs and a receiver, and it’s hard to argue against that construction.

With your starting backfield locked in, you’ll be in a good position to round out your starting wide-receiver unit in Rounds 4-5. This is textbook drafting.

Wide Receiver-Wide Receiver

This is something of a go-against-the-grain strategy that can pay off if you’re able to find startable running backs in Rounds 4-5 and beyond. With a top-three back and two receivers with top-five upside, you will have the makings of a super roster — as long as you adequately address the backfield later.

This approach isn’t as leveraged as a pure Zero RB strategy, but it still requires that you find mid- and late-round backs who don’t sink your starting lineup. If you like the idea of a risk-seeking process, the WR-WR plan is in play.

Running Back-Running Back

Exactly five years ago to the day — and I didn’t know that when I started writing this piece, so it’s a happy coincidence — I advocated for an RBx5 approach to fantasy drafts. That’s right.

  • Round 1: Running back
  • Round 2: Running back
  • Round 3: Running back
  • Round 4: Running back
  • Round 5: Running back

So starting a draft with three running backs — while it might seem extreme — is really nothing to me.

RBx5 Is Still Alive

The idea behind RBx5 is twofold.

  1. Running backs are important and yet fragile, so you want to be robust at the position by having as many potential starters as possible.
  2. You can afford to take five straight running backs because you can find value-adding and viable wide receivers in the middle rounds and quarterbacks and tight ends in the late rounds.

These basic ideas very much apply to a RB-RB scheme in Rounds 2-3. You don’t need to go full RBx5 by addressing the position again in Rounds 4-5, but with three backs you will have a robust unit and probably be the first person in your league with the all-important flex spot filled.

And then you can proceed to draft wide receivers and eventually a quarterback and tight end.

The Double-Running Back Strategy in Rounds 2-3 

Again, your strategy for the turn in Rounds 2-3 should be suited to your strengths and preferences — but I really like the RB-RB strategy. It requires you to be a sharp drafter, in that you’ll need to know where the value lies at the other positions. (Here’s a list of fantasy football sleepers to get you pointed in the right direction.)

Ultimately, there’s nothing — nothing — as good as leaving a draft with three locked-in lead backs as well as a supporting cast of upside receivers and tight ends you got on the cheap.

Even if I don’t have a top-three pick, the odds that I’ll draft running backs in Rounds 2-3 in any given draft are relatively high.

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