Dynasty draft strategy: Picking fourth overall provides a dilemma over Harris, Williams, and Swift

What options do dynasty managers have when considering their draft strategy with the fourth overall pick in a startup draft?

In the latest of our dynasty fantasy football draft strategy articles, we examine the options with the fourth overall selection in a dynasty startup draft. Is there a slam dunk option, and how should fantasy managers consider approaching the early rounds from this spot in the draft?

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Dynasty draft strategy: Picking from the fourth overall draft spot

For this draft, we will be using a 12-team league with PPR (point per reception) scoring and a 1QB format. The rest of the roster is made up of two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, and two flex spots as the starting roster. Additionally, rookies will be included in the startup. Depending on your league settings, you might need to tweak your draft strategy to match your scoring format and roster requirements.

These picks were made using the Fantasy Pros Mock Draft Simulator, with all selections outside of the picks listed below being made by the system.

1.04) Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

The selection at the fourth overall pick actually feels somewhat simple. Right now, the top four players in dynasty formats are Jonathan Taylor, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, and Najee Harris. While Cooper Kupp can make a valid case to rival that group, he feels like a clear tier below. The same can be said for the other RB options of Javonte Williams, Christian McCaffrey, and D’Andre Swift.

The injury concerns over McCaffrey are not insignificant, especially for a dynasty league. Meanwhile, both Williams and Swift have clear competition for touches this season. In contrast, Harris did not have competition and proved extremely durable last year. While durability cannot be assumed year to year, the lack of competition is clear.

Behind Harris on the depth chart are Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, and Trey Edmunds. None of those are likely to take significant touches away from Harris. Additionally, the Steelers upgraded their offensive line, which should provide Harris more support when carrying the ball.

On top of that, the QB situation lends itself to the Steelers having a run-heavy approach. Mitchell Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, or Mason Rudolph are less likely to sling the ball around as Ben Roethlisberger often did during his career. Combine that with a solid defense that is talented enough to keep games close, and Harris should be a major part of the game plan for Pittsburgh.

2.09) Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

From a running back perspective, the likes of Nick Chubb and Alvin Kamara could both still be available. Both are 26 and could be a concern in terms of their long-term future. On the younger side, Cam Akers could be in consideration, but he struggled on his return from an ACL injury last season. From a WR point of view, there are options such as DK Metcalf, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and Jaylen Waddle.

The highest-rated player available in PFN’s dynasty top 250 is Metcalf, with Hill and Kamara narrowly behind. Given the likes of Akers, J.K. Dobbins, and Antonio Gibson are all still available here, passing on RB is a real possibility if you want to lock down a near-elite WR.

When you look at WR, Hill and Diggs are both 28, with Metcalf and Waddle under 25. There is some uncertainty about whether Hill can be his same explosive self with the change from Patrick Mahomes to Tua Tagovailoa. Metcalf’s QB situation is extremely uncertain, and Waddle now has to compete for targets with Hill and the newly-acquired RBs.

Meanwhile, Diggs could be an absolute target monster for the Bills following the departure of Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley. The Bills’ offense is extremely dynamic, and Diggs is extremely talented. At 28, he may not be able to contribute as well four to five years down the line as Metcalf and Waddle, but he provides more certainty right now.

3.04) Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders

The idea of this strategy article is to try and build a team in the early rounds that can compete in 2022 but also have legs. If the board had fallen in such a way that looking more towards the future made more sense, then that would certainly have been a pivot. However, it has not, and the win-now strategy lends itself to looking at RB here.

The options on the board were Chubb, Henry, Dobbins, Travis Etienne, and Gibson. Both Chubb and Henry fit the win-now model nicely, but their age presents serious limitations potentially as early as 2023. They certainly should not be discounted, but when there is younger options who can also contribute significantly right now, that is the way to look here.

That leads us to the combination of Dobbins, Etienne, and Gibson. Both Dobbins and Etienne are coming off significant injury issues last season in which they did not take a snap. Meanwhile, Gibson had his struggles but still managed to post 1,331 total yards and 10 touchdowns on 300 touches. The young back has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and double-digit touchdowns.

This does mean we are leaving some talented WRs on the table in Waddle, Diontae Johnson, DJ Moore, and Chris Godwin. However, all of those have significant question marks, and the WR depth in the middle rounds of the draft is better than that of RBs.

4.09) Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Round 4 of our dynasty draft is where the QB position comes into play as a strategy option. Yes, in a 1QB league, the position does not carry the same priority it would in Superflex formats. However, in a dynasty league, having a player you know you can start every week is important. My strategy tends towards streaming options in the 1QB format so passing on Mahomes and Herbert here is a risk I am willing to take.

Running back-wise, we have some intriguing veteran options in Leonard Fournette, Aaron Jones, and Ezekiel Elliott. Additionally, there is AJ Dillon, Elijah Mitchell, and Josh Jacobs, all of whom present younger, more long-term options. Uncertainty around their roles means, for now, the three younger players take a backseat to those veterans.

Now the debate is between Jones, Fournette, or Elliott. It appeared as though Elliott struggled last year, but he still hit 250 fantasy points. Tony Pollard looms large, but Elliott is still the primary back. The only concern is that the Cowboys limit Elliott’s workload in the season to ensure he is healthy during the playoffs.

The same concern is there with Jones, who has AJ Dillon behind him. However, with the Packers’ passing game uncertain in 2022, Jones and Dillon could be heavily leaned upon. But Fournette has a much clearer path to relevancy this year. He had a fantastic campaign in 2021, despite Brady throwing it over 600 times. Fournette is so talented, and there is minimal serious competition for his role in Tampa Bay. Sticking with the win-now philosophy, Fournette is the pick here.

5.04) Aaron Jones, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Four RBs in the first five picks is an intriguing strategy in a dynasty league, but if you are trying to win in 2022, these four backs could be major contributors. The reasoning for this selection is laid out above. Jones is a talented RB who can help a roster win now. There are concerns, but not as many as if we drop down to the next tier of RBs in later rounds.

In contrast, the WR depth means we can target the position heavily over the next few rounds and add contributors who can regularly push their way into the starting lineup. In a best-case scenario, we now have four RBs who can start every week. In a worst-case scenario, the team still has at least two premier backs for 2022 in the event one or two get injured.

Dynasty draft strategy from the fourth overall spot | Rounds 6-15

6.09) Amon-Ra St. Brown | WR, Detroit Lions
7.04) Allen Robinson | WR, Los Angeles Rams
8.09) Gabriel Davis | WR, Buffalo Bills
9.04) James Cook | RB, Buffalo Bills
10.09) Justin Fields | QB, Chicago Bears
11.04) Matthew Stafford | QB, Los Angeles Rams
12.09) Albert Okwuegbunam | TE, Denver Broncos
13.04) Zach Ertz | TE, Arizona Cardinals
14.09) Zach Wilson | QB, New York Jets
15.04) Russell Gage | WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Projected Week 1 roster

QB – Matthew Stafford
RB – Najee Harris
RB – Antonio Gibson
WR – Stefon Diggs
WR – Russell Gage
TE – Zach Ertz
Flex – Leonard Fournette
Flex – Aaron Jones

A quick note on this lineup and the inclusion of Russell Gage: From a dynasty perspective, Diggs, St. Brown, Robinson, and Davis provide immense upside. However, in Week 1, there are some tough matchups. Meanwhile, Gage could be a starting WR in Week 1 for a Buccaneers offense that could be without Chris Godwin. Therefore, with a matchup against the Cowboys’ second option at cornerback, Gage could be a huge fantasy value option in Week 1.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor and the Fantasy Football Director at Pro Football Network. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN

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