Fantasy Football Drafting 101: Running Backs Still Rule

elite RB’s should be the staple of your team and should lead your team to a strong finish this upcoming year.

Top-Tier RB’s are the primary building blocks for carrying fantasy teams deep into the playoffs

Every fantasy football fanatic wants to know the secret strategy to rack up wins in order to acquire bragging rights, and, in some leagues, even a hefty sum of cash. Many people build fantasy teams that are designed to thrive in the fantasy regular season without considering the ramifications during the post season.

Historically, I’ve tried a bunch of multiple approaches in my quest to assemble the greatest fantasy team. Last year, my team boasted a miraculous implosion during the championship round, and I finished second with a very strong team featuring Andrew Luck, Jamaal Charles, and Calvin Johnson. The question that I am most often asked is what positional player to target first, and my answer has always been RBs.

Why? Wouldn’t you rather take an Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning who can get you a constant 25 points per week? Well, it depends. Of course if elite quarterbacks fall far enough, there is no choice but to pounce; however, your focus should be geared towards grabbing elite RBs with your first two picks. This strategy is just as sound in 2015 as it was in 2005. First, let’s examine the top six finishers last year in both the QB and RB positions, and then note their suggested ADP based on ESPN’s Top 300 rankings

Quarterback:                                                                             

  • Aaron Rodgers (ADP 12)                                        
  • Andrew Luck (ADP 45)
  • Russell Wilson (ADP 99)
  • Peyton Manning (ADP 8)
  • Ben Roethlisberger (ADP 123)
  • Drew Brees (ADP 17)

Running Back:

  • DeMarco Murray (ADP 13)
  • Le’Veon Bell (ADP 14)
  • Marshawn Lynch (ADP 5)
  • Matt Forte (ADP 4)
  • Arian Foster (ADP 9)
  • Eddie Lacy (ADP 7)

This list suggests that the top finishers at the QB position are wildly erratic, while all of the players in the elite RB tier all project to be taken by the end of the second round. A fantasy owner could have chosen Forte and Murray back-to-back and scooped up Roethlisberger in the eighth or ninth round, and would have boasted three of the top ten fantasy performers with those three picks alone. Thus, choosing to invest your first five or six draft picks in running backs and receivers is a sound strategy. Let us also note the marginal benefit in investing in backs and receivers first. Standard leagues have one slot for quarterback, while you play a total of five backs and receivers combined per week. What good is having Rodgers if half of your team is subpar? Numerically, picking up the biggest potential point-earners that you play the most often makes sense.

Some people are still concerned, stating that the only quarterbacks left by the sixth and seventh round are lower-tier and poor quality players in terms of consistent point production. I know that I was a bit hesitant when the best QB left in the draft two years ago was one Eli Manning. However, I got some inspiration from my similar Fantasy Premier League strategy, where I was forced to rotate two subpar goalkeepers based on matchup, which resulted in overwhelmingly positive results. So, after picking up a solid core of WRs and RBs, shift your focus to picking a one-two punch of historically solid quarterbacks to round out your team, and then rotate them based on who they’re up against in a specific week. The owner that bested me last year did particularly well with a combination of Nick Foles and Carson Palmer (until they both got injured).

Obviously, use common sense while drafting. If your league puts more weight on the QB position (say, six points per passing touchdown) then it would be in your best interest to invest heavily in that position; same with all other positions. Also, if a solid quarterback falls drastically past his ADP for no significant reason, then it would be wise to pick him up. However, elite RB’s should be the staple of your team and should lead your team to a strong finish this upcoming year. Good luck, happy drafting, and let the season begin.

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