The fantasy football draft is coming soon. Your first-round pick will set the tone for your entire season. A consistent, top-flight performer whom you can count on week after week will make sure you're in the conversation as the season churns along. If you gamble and miss with your first pick, you'll be forced to chase the waiver wire from the back of the pack.
Yahoo! Fantasy Football expert Brandon Funston provides STACK readers some league-winning tips on how to approach the first round to make sure you don't set yourself up for failure.
The No. 1 Pick
If you have your league's first pick, Funston says it comes down to a choice between running backs LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. Both factor heavily in their team's offensive schemes and will get plenty of opportunities both rushing and receiving.
"I think you're going to see Charles, who was a top running back last year, probably predominantly be the No. 1 overall pick [in a lot of leagues,]" Funston says.
Adrian Peterson, who has dealt with injuries throughout his career, is also a strong contender for No. 1, but Funston says Charles and McCoy are safer selections. He adds that if you hold the top pick and aren't sure how to choose between two star players, a good way to break the tie is to look at their schedules, especially later in the season when your league will be in the playoffs.
Still stuck? "Take the guy you like more," Funston says. "It's fun to root for guys who you can actually get behind in real life."
You're sitting with the third, fourth or fifth pick, and the top running backs are gone. What do you do?
"For a long time a lot of experts advocated the running back theory of drafting, which says you have to get two running backs right out of the gate," Funston says. "This year I'm hearing a lot more people praising the virtues of basically avoiding running backs in the first two rounds. There is a pretty big running back middle class, and there's a lot of potential breakout guys who you can get in the early-mid rounds and later."
Funston says in most years a running back is a slam-dunk decision from the third pick through the sixth or seventh pick, but grabbing an RB early is not mandatory in 2014.
And although he still sees Peterson as the best bet after Charles and McCoy, Funston says owners shouldn't hesitate to grab their top-rated WR or even a QB if their league awards 6 points for TD passes.
"I would still probably go running back, but I think it's OK to start thinking about the very top of the receiver or quarterback spots," he says.
According to Funston, Green Bay's Eddie Lacy and Chicago's Matt Forte are other players you should look at if you're drafting in the middle of the pack.
End of the Line
If you're selecting near the end of the first round, Funston urges you to grab one of the elite wide receivers. Aside from Johnson in Dertroit, Funston recommends Denver's Demaryius Thomas, a player he might possibly rank higher than Megatron.
"They lost Eric Decker there in Denver—it just opens up a lot more red zone targets for Thomas," Funston says. "He led wide receivers in touchdowns last year. Watch the Super Bowl. He's the only guy the Seahawks couldn't manhandle on defense—he had over 100 yards and a touchdown."
Other top wide receivers to consider late in the first round include Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and Julio Jones.
If you're thinking QB early, Funston says focus on Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
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