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What to Do From the 12th Pick in Fantasy Football 2023 Drafts?

Sam WagmanSports Content Editor
@swagman95
Last Updated: Aug 4, 2023

With any pick that you make in a fantasy football draft, there is an uncertainty to who you select. No matter what spot you are picking from, whether it’s the first pick in the round or the last, you’ll be left with that internal question that eats you away: “Did I make the right pick?"

Despite what the average person will tell you, it isn’t any easier to draft from the first spot than it is from the last. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and we’re going to break down here the options that you can have from the 12th spot, which is commonly referred to as the turn.

On the turn, you get the advantage of being the first person in your league to pick two players, and that often feels good. Especially since in recent years, the back-end of the first round feels bunched together with a handful of guys that are in similar tiers to each other.

Given how this works out most of the time, the turn can be a great spot for you to load up at one position in order to have an advantage over the rest of your league.

We’ll go through some of the strategies that I have for this draft slot, and run through the first four picks that you’ll have, including 1.12, 2.01, 3.12, and 4.01.

Who to Draft at Picks 1.12 and 2.01

As mentioned above, the back end of drafts so far this summer contains a group of excellent players. This mostly consists of wide receivers like A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, CeeDee Lamb, and Garrett Wilson, but there are also some solid running backs like Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb as well.

If you want to get ahead of your league-mates, the correct path here is to go receiver-receiver, ideally targeting a duo like Lamb and Diggs. My plan is to pursue one of the two safe receiver options in Adams and Diggs and then add a high-quality target-earner like Brown, Wilson, or Lamb beside them.

Another direction you can go is to grab one of the receivers that are there and pair him with one of the two running backs that are typically around at this spot: Barkley and Chubb.

In a scenario like this, with both of these running backs being secure in their roles with a relatively high floor, I prefer upside and would prioritize my receivers as Brown, Lamb, and Wilson, with Diggs and Adams rounding out the list.

A wildcard receiver that we have seen make his way into this area is Amon-Ra St. Brown, and he carries a lot of upside with the Lions being pass-heavy this season. I like pairing him with one of the receivers in this range.

Picking at 3.12 and 4.01

Keep in mind, from year to year, the recommended roster construction will vary. Ten-plus years ago, the goal was to draft the high-volume running backs (of which there were many) early, and then target wide receivers later in the draft.

You could draft a quarterback as late as you want, a theory that was popularized by fantasy football industry legend J.J. Zachariason, and you fit in the tight end where you could.

Nowadays, things have changed slightly. The age of high-volume RBs has vanished, as teams have chosen to implement committees at the position, so the goal is to find the high-value pieces where you can and look for contingent upside later in the draft.

Knowing this, if you went receiver-receiver with your first two picks, it makes sense that you look to target a running back here, and you definitely want one that should see a lot of work and is less of an upside projection. In this range, the running backs I frequently see making it to this spot are:

  • Jahmyr Gibbs
  • Aaron Jones
  • Rhamondre Stevenson

All of these guys are worthwhile targets at this spot, and while I would categorize Gibbs as an upside projection, Gibbs could slot in as the second target on this team with Jameson Williams out for the first six games of the season due to suspension.

I foresee a scenario where he gets 80+ catches this season, similar to early-career Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara.

If you do already have a running back coming into this range and don’t want to load up at the position just yet (which makes sense, given that the running back ecosystem is kind of depressed), the receivers in this range are all of a similar build: young and full of upside, but without having proven much yet.

Christian Watson, Jerry Jeudy, Drake London, and Deebo Samuel are the main names in this range, and this is a fine place to take a swing if you believe in their athletic profiles.

There’s one more possibility that you can take in this range, and it would have been nearly unheard of a few years ago: drafting a quarterback.

There’s a good chance the top three options of Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen are gone by this point, but Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields have a TON of contingent upside to finish QB1 overall this season, given their rushing upside and personnel/scheme upgrades.

If you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, taking an elite quarterback is not a bad play this season.

Final Thoughts

By this point, your roster should have a nice mix of upside and reliability, because if you play for safety every round, you likely won’t win your league.

A healthy amount of projection goes into a good fantasy football roster, and that includes knowing when to take swings at each position. You should understand the general path of your team after four or five rounds, and you can implement a variety of strategies to get there.

My personal preference is to go receiver-heavy earlier in drafts and take the “anchor RB" strategy to build out the position later, not only because of lineup structure, but also because wide receivers have a better chance of upside plays at the beginning of drafts.

An elite quarterback is important to me this season, which means that if you got this far and you’ve built a team that consists of a top-tier QB, a workhorse RB, and two or three high-upside WRs, that is a roster I think will succeed, as long as you build out the back-end nicely.

Author

Sam Wagman

Sam is the Sports Content Editor for The Game Day. He has been in the sports media industry for 4 years, with stints at VegasInsider, Footballguys, and Fantasy Points. Sam specializes in fantasy football content creation and strategy as well as sports betting content strategy with an NFL and PGA focus. Originally from Philadelphia, he enjoys all Philly sports despite now living in Florida. He enjoys playing tennis, pickleball, and golf -- while constantly struggling to break 80 on the course.

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