Historical Distribution of Draft Picks by Round

Updated February 13, 2016: When developing a drafting strategy for fantasy football, it is always helpful to look to the past to see how things usually happen. Identifying these drafting trends can help an owner obtain a competitive advantage in the current year. In this article, we will look at the historical distribution of draft picks by round and by position. As we will be using Yahoo! public league data from the past four years (2012 – 2015), the information will be much more relevant to owners in 10-team leagues that use the standard-scoring (non-PPR) format. However, owners in other sized leagues or those which use a PPR-scoring format can glean some useful information here, too. It is important to note that the starting line-up requirements for a Yahoo! public league includes one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one team defense.

Quarterback Distribution

As Yahoo! leagues are composed of 10 teams, 10 starting quarterbacks are required on a weekly basis. Based on the table below, the last of the top-10 quarterbacks is usually selected between the sixth and seventh round, although in 2014 the 10th quarterback selected, the Redskins’ Robert Griffin, lasted, on average, until the eighth round. The majority of starting quarterbacks tend to be selected in the sixth round while the majority of back-ups tend to be drafted in the 13th round.

Round2012201320142015AVG
130111.25
222211.75
302010.75
402021.00
522111.50
632322.50
700221.00
822111.50
900100.25
1020221.50
1102211.25
1221121.50
1343122.50
1402121.25
1500100.25
Total2020192019.75

Running Back Distribution

Due to scarcity of quality players at the position, running backs are always taken quickly during the first two rounds. In fact, the top-10 running backs are normally gone before the end of the second round and the top-20 have usually been selected by the end of the sixth round. Back-ups tend to go mainly in rounds 9 – 11.

Round2012201320142015AVG
1510767.00
264444.50
321422.25
42124
2.25
522111.50
631232.25
711111.00
803031.50
933353.50
1053313.00
1133322.75
1221322.00
1311111.00
1400000.00
150000
0.00
Total3534343534.50

Wide Receiver Distribution

Wide receivers fly off draft boards nearly as quickly as running backs in Yahoo! public leagues. The top-10 wideouts are normally selected before the end of the third round and the top-20 by the end of the fifth round. Most team owners draft their WR3 during rounds six through nine. The first bench position is usually taken in either round 10 or 11 and the a second bench player is typically selected in either round 12 or 13.

Round201220132014
2015AVG
121342.50
234343.50
356455.00
464645.00
557635.25
663333.75
702141.75
821322.00
922132.00
1016443.75
1171343.75
1255364.75
1335744.75
1412301.50
1500000.00
Total4849505049.25

Tight End Distribution

With the exception of someone like Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, tight ends tend to stay on draft boards until about the fifth round. With little perceived difference between most tight ends after “Gronk” and Graham, the last of the top-10 tight ends is usually drafted by the tenth round, although those using Yahoo’s autodraft feature will be forced into selecting a tight end no later than the seventh round (team defenses and kickers are drafted in the eighth and ninth rounds in autodraft mode). The majority of back-up tight ends are rostered in the 13th and 14th rounds.

Round2012201320142015AVG
100110.50
221000.75
300010.25
400100.25
521221.75
622111.50
721221.75
811100.75
912121.50
1001110.75
1101110.75
1231011.25
1333322.75
1423242.75
1500300.75
Total1817191818.00

Kicker Distribution

Kickers by and large don’t come off the draft board until the eighth round and then only because a team owner is following a plan to complete his/her full starting line-up before picking any bench players or the owner’s team is being selected by the autodraft feature in Yahoo which follows that same strategy. In any event, team owners need to be aware that the eighth round is a point of decision. One can either pick up a kicker or defense to complete their starting line-up or one can start picking up the best remaining running backs and wide receivers for insurance against injury to the starters or to cover bye weeks. The last of the top-10 kickers is usually taken by the 12th round. After that, some owners may even draft up a back-up kicker in the final three rounds. It is also not uncommon for many owners to wait until the final three rounds to select their starting kicker and team defense.

Round2012201320142015AVG
100000.00
200000.00
300000.00
400000.00
500000.00
600000.00
700000.00
831121.75
913222.00
1012332.25
1112201.25
1232021.75
1342112.00
1421211.50
1501321.50
Total151414
1314.00

Team Defense Distribution

Some team owners like to select a dominant defense early in the draft at the expense of a mediocre starting tight end or WR3. It’s a risky strategy, but it’s a decision of which team owners need to be aware when approaching the seventh and eighth rounds.  The last of the top-10 team defenses is usually taken by the 12th round.

Round2012201320142015AVG
100000.00
200000.00
300000.00
400000.00
500000.00
610000.25
702111.00
853243.50
912211.50
1011411.75
1110010.50
1212111.25
1320010.75
1412121.50
1503221.75
Total1315131413.75

 

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Historical Distribution of Draft Picks by Round

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