Picking a fantasy football draft strategy is a lot like hitting the buffet line there are so many tasty possibilities.
But how does one decide on a course of action with so many tempting options available?
Here are a few avenues, many of which I've successfully navigated, that can help lead you down the road to victory.
QB or not QB?
Having a great quarterback is not a prerequisite to fantasy success. I've won with Kerry Collins and tanked with Peyton Manning. Still, having a stud gunslinger is never a bad thing.
Drew Brees was my great equalizer in 2011, masking my roster's deficiencies and carrying me within an Abba-Zaba of back-to-back titles.
Starting a draft with a heavyweight QB like Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Matthew Stafford can provide a solid foundation as well as allow you to be a little more daring the rest of the way.
If you miss out on the top guns, the second tier is littered with money arms. Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Michael Vick, the Manning brothers and Cam Newton all can deliver first-round stats at third- and fourth-round cost. Peyton Manning is the position's biggest wild card. If healthy, he could be that Peyton Manning, which could move some to pounce as early as Round 2.
If you opt to pass on passers early on, the cupboard won't be bare by the time you arrive. Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub could all be bargains in the middle rounds, where you're also likely to find rookie Robert Griffin III. And for the QB procrastinators, Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer offer value in the middle to later rounds.
Run to the hills
Running backs, though always coveted, are no longer make-or-break options. Flex maneuverability and the adoption of points-per-reception formats have made it more common for owners to regularly start three receivers.
I remained in title contention a year ago despite my only true No. 1 rusher, Rashard Mendenhall, clowning out before being transferred to my Abu Dhabi bureau and having Michael Bush, a clear-cut No. 3, as my only real rushing threat.
The running back conversation begins with Arian Foster, whose all-purpose ability will make him the No. 1 overall pick in most leagues, with fellow dual threats Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy not far behind. Other backs sure to make the first-round cut are Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew.
The second and third rounds should provide a smorgasbord of rushing options, including Marshawn Lynch, Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson. McFadden and Mathews are dynamite when their bodies allow them to be, and both Charles and Peterson are coming off knee surgery, but each could pay huge dividends for those willing to tempt fate.
If you prefer to go the QB/WR route in the early rounds, 1,000-yard rushers like Michael Turner and Frank Gore could still be on the board as late as Round 4, while Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles and Ahmad Bradshaw are quality middle-round options.
It's better to receive
"Have running back, will travel" was once the universal fantasy mantra. While that sentiment remains today, many leagues (mine included) have gone to a PPR format, which has increased the value of primo wide receivers and tight ends.
Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Wes Welker are the cream of the receiver crop, with Greg Jennings, Roddy White and 2011 breakout star Victor Cruz not far behind. All are point machines who will be gone by the end of Round 3 in most leagues, so don't wait.
Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham carry the banner for tight ends and are worthy of second-round consideration. In fact, Gronk could become the first tight end in the recorded history of man to be taken with a first round pick in some leagues.
If you decide to go the QB and RB routes early on, Marques Colston and Brandon Marshall are clear-cut No. 1s who could be available as late as Round 5, while Jordy Nelson and Hakeem Nicks are rock-solid No. 2 wideouts capable of delivering No. 1 production as fifth- or sixth-rounders. The same can be said for Dez Bryant and Julio Jones, who could be the most coveted WR on the board this time next year.
Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, A.J. Green and Stevie Johnson are safe middle-round picks with huge upside, particularly Green, who could make the leap into the Megatron zone in his sophomore NFL campaign.
Receivers are like outfielders in baseball, in that supply never exceeds demand, and steals could be found in the later rounds in Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie Justin Blackmon, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, who could burst onto the scene in Jacksonville the way Green did a season ago in Cincinnati.
Bee fantasy sports columnist Stu Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.