Ron Jenkins / Associated Press

Welcome to a three-part article series on building a team from each part of the draft. This article covers picking in the middle of fantasy football drafts.

Part One: Picks 1st-4th

Part Three: Picks 9th-12th

Drafting in the middle of fantasy football drafts this year allows owners to employ a multitude of strategies. You can still pick up a solid RB1 in these middle picks, or you could go after a top tier WR in the middle picks of the first round. The flexibility offered by picking in the 5th through 8th may be appealing to some owners.

Let's examine what your team could look like by the end of round 3 when picking in the middle of snake drafts (Picks 5-8). For the sake of this article, we'll assume it's a 12-man, standard scoring league (1QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX).


Round 1:

After the Big 4 RBs are off the board, you are left with two avenues to take when it comes to picking your team. If you feel like you can scoop up quality wide receivers (WRs) in the later rounds, taking a running back (RB) in this pick range would be your go to strategy. You would be choosing from Ezekiel Elliot, Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry.

One RB I recommend staying away from in the first round is Aaron Jones. His TD efficiency was off the charts last year, and a regression to the mean is more likely than a repeat of his gaudy 2019 stats. He is a fine pick at the end of the first round, beginning of second round, but in picks 5-8, you can do better.

Aaron Jones celebrating first down It will be tough for Aaron Jones to replicate his 2019 season. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

You will also most likely have your first choice of WRs on the board in this area of the draft. Michael Thomas is this year's obvious WR1 and would be a solid choice in this area. DeAndre Hopkins and Tyreek Hill are in this conversation as well, but are better values at the end of the first round than here.

You should be looking at Ezekiel Elliot, Michael Thomas, Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs, in that order.

Round 2:

At this stage you can build your team multiple ways. Let's explore a few different scenarios below:

  • RB-RB: If you have one of Elliot, Henry or Jacobs on your team, you are still in a good range in the middle of the second round to nab another quality RB. You would need to hit on a few lower tier WRs with upside, but your strength at the RB position will put you ahead of the curve over teams who did not take a RB in round one or a second RB in round two. Running backs to target here would include: Miles Sanders, Chris Carson, Melvin Gordon III and James Connor.
  • RB-WR: Being in the middle of round two still allows you to nab a top tier WR1 to pair with your RB1 as well. Depending on league settings, this might be a more appealing strategy, especially if points per reception are awarded. Wide receivers most likely available would include: Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Kenny Galloday. All would be fine additions as a WR 1 in the second round.
  • RB/WR-TE: Whether you took a WR or a RB in round one wouldn't matter in this strategy because your goal would be to lock up one of the elite tight end (TE) prospects in round two. There are only two players worthy in the second round: Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Kittle is borderline second round-worthy, but Kelce is good value here if you want to pull the trigger. Kittle may not make it to your pick in the third round, so if you want to lock up your TE position and Kelce has been chosen, Kittle should be your next choice. No other TE is worth the sacrifice in other positions' value here in the second round.
  • RB/WR-QB: This strategy is the same as the TE strategy above, but your goal is to look up one of the best quarterbacks(QB) in your league. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the only two quarterbacks worth a second round pick this year. Any other QB is not worth the value you would have to give up at other positions.

Round 3:

With the plethora of ways to build your team in the first two rounds, round 3 brings along the ability to pick the best player available. Here are players from each of the four positions that you'll have to choose from in round three:

QB: Deshaun Watson - the only QB that is worth taking in the third round.

RB: Austin Ekeler, Kenyan Drake, Melvin Gordon III, Devin Singletary, Le'Veon Bell - All of these RBs are worthy of a third round selection, and most will be a solid RB2 for your team. A quick note, if you went RB-RB in the first two rounds, then drafting a third may put your team at a disadvantage. It's suggested you go WR or QB in round three instead.

Kenyan Drake running with football. Kenyan Drake could be a league winner this year.Photo by Arizona Cardinals

WR: Amari Cooper, Cooper Kupp, Adam Thielen, DK Metcalf - Excellent value at WR is still on the board in the third round. All four of these players can slide in as a borderline WR1/above average WR2 on your team.

TE: Mark Andrews- Taking Andrews in the 3rd is a bit of a reach, but if your league puts premium settings on TE scoring, this would not be a bad play. In standard scoring, Andrews would be a good pick late in the third round, but is better value in the fourth and later rounds.

Your goal for the next few rounds is to acquire high-scoring talent and fill in the holes with high ceiling players in the last few rounds of the draft. Remember that a backup QB or TE that you only plan on starting for one week to fill in for your starter can be snagged on the waiver wire throughout the season. Use your draft capital on RBs and WRs who have high scoring potential but also big bust potential–those are the players that will win your league for you in 2020.

DMX on the Madison Square Garden marquee

Madison Square Garden

For many managers, their playoff prospects are dark and hot as hell heading into the final week of the fantasy basketball regular season.

But before you can compete to be grand champ, you need to stop, drop, shut your duds down and open up the waiver wire for your last gasp this regular season. Here are some names you should be looking for to give you that push you need.

Rest in peace, DMX.

Booms

Kyle Anderson Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former UCLA star might have taken the tale of the tortoise and the hare a little too seriously, but the "slow and steady" mantra has given him a successful NBA career and impressive fantasy numbers. For the past week, Slow Mo has averaged 16.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting, seven rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 made threes, two steals and one turnover a game.

Anderson has been a consistent contributor throughout the season and it's tough to see his numbers take a hit even when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns at the end of the month. If you haven't rostered him yet, it would be a huge mistake.

Jalen McDaniels Forward/Center Charlotte Hornets

Staying on the court has been a problem for McDaniels this season, but the absence of Gordon Hayward has forced the Hornets to look for other options on the court and the second-year player has been one of the beneficiaries. In the last three games, the San Diego State product averaged 16.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting, two made threes, five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He even threw in 1.3 steals and one block per game.

Hayward is expected to be out for at least three more weeks. Until he's back, expect McDaniels to continue his more proactive approach on this team.

Miles Bridges Forward Charlotte Hornets

McDaniels isn't the only one who has taken advantage of Hayward's injury. Bridges has cranked his game up a notch, averaging 21.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting, three made threes, six rebounds and one steal in the last three games. He may have even had the dunk of the year, posterizing Clint Capela on Sunday.

Until Hayward is back, Bridges will get a lot more freedom to operate and that means more fantasy contribution in the coming weeks.

Reggie Jackson Guard Los Angeles Clippers

Depth has not been a problem for the Clippers the last few seasons, but it has been trouble for fantasy managers looking for consistent contributors on that team. Rest and injuries haven't slowed the Clippers' winning ways this week because Reggie Jackson stepped up for them and gives fantasy participants a short-term high performer to lean on for the week.

In a week where Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Paul George missed time, Jackson thrived, averaging 17.3 points on 61 percent shooting, three made threes, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in four games.

With Beverley out with a fractured hand and Rondo/George/Kawhi undoubtedly taking games off to save themselves for the playoffs, Jackson may not be a bad desperation option in standard fantasy and worth tracking in daily fantasy formats.

Busts

Tim Hardwaway Jr Guard/Forward Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks' recent success has not translated into numbers for all players. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of them.

The Michigan product averaged 12 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in four games last week. He did make two three-pointers per game in that span, but that is like threading a silver lining on a used rag.

Hardaway is still the third scoring option on the team, so he will get more chances to increase his production, but this week was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fantasy managers.

Derrick Rose Guard New York Knicks

Rose has found a home with the New York Knicks, but his role has not been kind to fantasy managers. We all know the former MVP can still score, but head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't asked him to do much else.

In the last four games, Rose has averaged 14.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That kind of one-dimensional play is a killer of many fantasy teams looking for a more diverse portfolio of contributions.

If you need a boost in scoring, Rose isn't a terrible option to consider, but if you need anything else, you should leave him on the waiver.

Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks

Like Rose, Williams isn't asked to do anything other than score at this point in his career. But even in the past week, he can't even do that at an elite fantasy level. Only averaging 11.8 points per game, 1.8 made threes, 2.8 assists and basically non-existent in every other category in fantasy sports.

It's safe to say that Lemon Pepper Lou's effectiveness as a fantasy star is gone.

Jusuf Nurkic Center Portland Trail Blazers

Okay, I know Trail Blazers have been trying to ease Nurkic back into the lineup and giving him restricted minutes. However, with the fantasy managers looking for that final push to the postseason, there might have to be an executive decision on whether Nurkic needs to be played or pitched.

Teams firmly in playoff position can hold out for him to be used properly again, but other managers won't be able to stomach another week of missed games and low-end production.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

USA Today

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