RB-RB-RB Fantasy Draft Strategy August 17, 2014  |  Justin Edwards

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Where you pick in the first round can completely change the whole outlook on your draft. You should have a separate strategy for each position in the draft, and should never think “I’m only going WR-WR in the first two rounds no matter what”. Don’t limit yourself.  With that said, if I’m in the first half of the draft I’m only going RB-RB-RB. And here’s why I don’t think I’m wrong:


Why I don’t want early round QUARTERBACKS:


If you’re taking Peyton Manning with the 1st-6th pick you have a lot of confidence that he is going to match a record breaking year, a year in which four receivers scored 10+ touchdowns under him, he threw nine 4+ touchdown games, and completed 450 passes. Seabiscuit coming back from the grave and racing Santa’s Little Helper is more probable than anyone in the league doing that again this year. Peyton (1.10), Aaron Rodgers (2.07) and Drew Brees (2.08) are far and away the first 3 QBs off the board this year so far, going more than two rounds before Matt Stafford (4.09)

Once Rodgers and Brees come off the board there’s a chance your league will start bum rushing the QB spot, and I say let them do it. There is a plethora of Tier-2 QBs this year. If I can get Romo/Cutler/Rivers in the 9th round I am a-ok. Romo is going as the 12th guy off the board, and if that’s who I’m “getting stuck with” then I’m tickled pink.

The difference in fantasy points between #1 (Peyton Manning – 406 points) and #3 (Cam Newton – 282 points) in 2013 was 124 points, or almost 8 points/game, which is a huge deal. Sorta makes you want to draft a QB as quick as possible so you can guarantee a guy who will score you 400+ points. But take this into account: The difference between Cam Newton (282) and the #15 QB (Alex Smith) was 44 points, or 3 points/game which is a bit of a difference, but not very substantial.

Since Manning – or any other QB in the league for that matter – will not replicate his 2013 campaign, so the gap between the #1 QB and the #15 QB will almost assuredly shrink much lower this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were closer to 100 fantasy points or 6.25 FP/game. Getting a Manning/Brees/Rodgers in your lineup should be a priority only if you’re willing to completely boot the chance at getting an elite player in one of the much more shallow positions. The gap between the #1 RB and the #15 RB could easily match that of the QBs, and possibly exceed it. What amplifies that is the fact that you have 2 and maybe 3 running backs starting every week. You should be looking at the gap between #1 RB and atleast the #40 RB. That gap is 212 points. Or 13.25 FP/game. That is huge. You want to grab up those running backs before that incredible drop off.


Why I don’t want early round WIDE RECEIVERS:


Josh Gordon stomped all over  the league last year in only 14 games. But I’m not an attorney and have no idea what’s going on with that situation. If I’m drafting today I’m not taking him until double-digit rounds so he’s eliminated from this conversation in my book.

Calvin Johnson is the obvious choice as the number one wide receiver in the draft but if you take him with the fifth pick you’re saying that he is 18 picks better than Jordy Nelson (2.09), and I just don’t see how you can justify that.  Jordy gets Aaron Rodgers back this year which certainly boosts his value. Or you’re saying he’s 21 picks better than Antonio Brown (2.12) who only scored 15 points less than him.

Having Calvin Johnson would be great. He may be almost guaranteed a great finish among the top WRs, and he’s a lot of fun to watch but you can get his production from a combination like Roddy/Floyd or a number of combinations of those guys that will probably still be available.

The difference between the #1 WR and #2 WR was ONE fantasy point last year. Difference between the #1 RB and #2 RB was 33 fantasy points. WR is a deep position this year, you want to build your RB crew before you lose your chance.

Here are the WRs sitting snug in round 4: Victor Cruz, Pierre Garcon, Larry Fitzgerald, Wes Welker, Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Cordarelle Patterson. And round 5: Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, DeSean Jackson, Michael Floyd, and T.Y. Hilton. You can still get great receivers without taking them in the first 3 rounds.


Why I don’t want early round TIGHT ENDS:


This is a much easier argument, for obvious reasons. There are only three guys consistently being chosen in the first three (or four) rounds; Jimmy Graham (1.09), Rob Gronkowski (3.03) and Julius Thomas (3.07). This is certainly an elite group of players with a huge dropoff in fantasy production behind them but guessing which tight end will go for 65/759/5 (Martellus Bennett) and which will go 65/788/12 (Julius Thomas) in the field of big guys is a difficult game.

Tight ends are incredibly dependent on touchdowns. We can take educated guesses but it’s impossible to know for sure which tight ends are gonna eat (Joseph Fauria – 30 targets/7 TDs) and which can’t fall down in the end zone (Heath Miller – 78 targets/1 TD).

A few picks later in the first round, pick 10 or so and I can see taking Graham, but I don’t see passing up on one of the first 5 running backs to chance that he will beat the field that bad. Picking Gronk or Thomas at the end of the 2nd or beginning of the 3rd is excusable, but I still think there is better value on the board with our running backs.


Why I don’t want early round DEFENSES:


I lied. I’m drafting the SEA defense in the 1st round and assuring a fantasy title.


Why I don’t want early round KICKERS:


Shut up.


So now we come down to RUNNING BACKS:


They are tough this year. There are a lot of question marks and rookies that could make a big difference. This is why I want to snatch the sure ones right off the bat, fill up my roster in the middle rounds and then cap it off by taking fliers in the end.


First Round:

The only excuse you have to pass on running backs right now is if you’re willing to snatch Calvin Johnson, but that’s still a bad excuse. You’re reaching. And even if you’re only reaching a few picks, that’s still reaching. Everything is magnified in the first round. You want to take something that’s as set in stone as you can possibly have here. You know the usual suspects. I’m not touching Lynch in the first half of this round, think he’s got some competition that will cut into his usual 300+ carries,  but besides him I think the first four RBs are interchangeable (McCoy/Charles/Peterson/Forte).

If you miss that train I would still take Lacy or even Montee Ball as long as this appendectomy thing is not a big deal. If Ball looks like he’ll miss time, I would even take DeMarco Murray. Wouldn’t be my first choice, but I wouldn’t be mad with him as the sixth overall pick. It might feel like a reach, but after these guys it drops dangerously close to RB2 territory, I think he still has a good chance of finishing Top 5 and that’s what you have to look for.


Second Round:

At this point you’ve seen a ton of runners get wiped off the board, and you would have loved to have made absolutely any of them your RB2. And you’ve watched Graham/Calvin/Peyton and a plenty more players from other positions find their way to another team and you’re already cursing this strategy. There are too many players in the NFL to want to get every one of them, just move on. At this point you can grab Alfred Morris or Zac Stacy, who are both bottom level RB1s, who you are using as your RB2. Not bad.


Third Round:

CJ Spiller. Toby Gerhart. Reggie Bush. This is where the entire idea of a RB-RB-RB draft could help you demolish a league. The guy who you are assuming will be your FLEX has a really, really good possibility of being as good as your RB1. You of course can’t guarantee that you will get one of these guys but Ryan Mathews and Frank Gore are sitting behind them as a back-up plan. You take your third guy here and you don’t have to even look at another running back until the 10th round, plenty of time to fill your team in around your loaded RB crew.


Judging by the ADP from fantasyfootballcalculator.com you could continue with the #5 spot as such:


4: Welker

5: Michael Floyd

6: Sammy Watkins

7: Jordan Reed

8: Romo


Which would make my skill positions (possibly):


QB: Tony Romo

RB: Matt Forte

RB: Alfred Morris

WR: Wes Welker

WR: Michael Floyd

TE: Jordan Reed

FLEX: CJ Spiller


BENCH: Sammy Watkins


You certainly don’t have to wait until the 8th round to grab yourself a quarterback, that’s just personal preference and a completely different subject, but you get an idea of how you’re lineup looks with the RB-RB-RB strategy. Seems like a moderate risk with the possibility of a very high ceiling.


22 Responses

  1. Shawn says:

    Sorry to be a dissenter here but I went 3 WR’s and I’m thinking it worked out unbelievably. 10 team ppr. Demaryius, AJ, jordy. I followed them up with Ryan Matthews and Jennings for my rb’s in round 4 & 5. Sprinkle in Edelman in the flex and Matt Ryan at QB and you have fantasy gold!!

  2. Austin says:

    Tried this in my 10 team PPR league. Happy with the results. 1.Lacy 2.Murray 3.Stacy and then Antonio Brown was still there in the 4th.

  3. Ryan Seacrest says:

    I can’t imagine leaving a draft happy after getting Morris and Spiller in 2nd and 3rd round.

  4. RORY says:

    Rb rb rb sounds good preseason it doesn’t sound so good 6 7 weeks in when injuries kick in I’m 7th in ppr I’m looking at Jimmy Graham or megatron if I’m lucky then Julio or Jordy in the 2nd 3rd round I’ll be looking at Ellington Martin Reggie Bush and I’m bullish on Vereen thinks he will have a huge year so I don’t need to jump on injury prone rb like forte and lacy Charles a 29 year old Peterson in my first two rounds I am drafting about 200 receptions and 20 tds rbs are not what they used to be and I also love Stacy in the 3rd if lucky thx

  5. jeremy says:

    2 questions…

    in a 14 team PPR league, would you still use this strategy?
    i have second pick.. am i crazy for wanting matt forte over any other running back?

  6. @belaireric says:

    I’m assuming this is for non-PPR, correct? Can’t see passing on Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas for a Montee Ball-type in PPR, right?

    So, when would you feel comfortable taking Calvin, and what RBs would you take before him?


  7. Norman says:

    12 Team PPR, I have the 9th pick in our draft. In your opinion, what is the best draft #? I’d be willing to try to trade for a different spot, if it’s worth it.

  8. jose says:

    Went with AP l bell Zac

  9. John says:

    I have the 5th pick in my draft, but Lacy and Ball are being franchised so they are not an option. I have the opportunity to keep spiller as my 5th round pick. So with this situation, do I still go RB-RB-RB, or do I take Megatron with my 1st pick.

    Also, for my second keeper, would you keep Stafford as 6th round or Michael Floyd as 8th round?

  10. Mary says:

    I’m 2 drafts into the season and I’ve taken RBs with my first 3 picks in both. Draft 1 got me Charles, Foster and Martin. Draft 2 got me Lacy, Murray and Stacy. Loving this strategy this season!

  11. Ed says:

    I feel like this is a good strategy for standard leagues but I’m skeptical of its application with positive results in a ppr format. You start passing up way too much wr value and once you get past the second tier of running backs things start to become a fantasy whack-a-mole with the rb position. This was a great article nonetheless

  12. joshyjosh says:

    I’m definitely thinking about RB early, but in PPR you really want to have a WR in your flex…that’s the conundrum. I have the 8th pick, which is tough…unless Lacy falls there’s almost noway I can justify passing Demaryius or Dez for a RB there. Lacy though…I’d do it. And then stack WRs after that.

  13. Andre says:

    How far does this strategy go out the window if that RB2 slot becomes a RB/WR slot?

  14. Norman says:

    Hi Justin, great article. I’m drafting 9th out of 12 in a PPR league. The starting roster is: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 RB/WR/TE, 1 K, 1 D. Any advice?

    • Justin Edwards says:

      Thanks Norm!
      I’d certainly stay away from QBs for a little bit with an extra flex spot but I’m not sure you’d change your strategy too much. Put more emphasis on WRs in a PPR, there’s a lot of valuable WRs in the middle rounds, I’d load up on em.

  15. aiden says:

    i did this exactly, I had the first pick, this is my roseter:
    qb: brady
    rb: j. charles
    rb: a. morris
    wr: andre johnson
    wr: michael floyd
    te: k. rudolf
    flex: spiler
    bench: rashad jennings …

  16. Rush says:

    also very good article and strategy!! good read!

  17. Rush says:

    is forte that much better than lacy at #4. Forte been getting milage last couple years and always missed games (except last year). Lacy produced nicely without Rodgers. ?? what you think?? is Lacy over Forte justifiable ?

    • Justin Edwards says:

      I think you can honestly justify switching out any of the top 5 guys, it’s really about your own preference. Both GB and CHI force defenses to respect the pass so they’ve each got room to run. They’ll both snag some passes.
      If you think Forte is at more risk for injury I’d absolutely take Lacy!

  18. fknuckes says:

    Right on. This has been my strategy of late. Love the end results in my mocks. Glad someone else agrees with this strategy.

  19. ashley says:

    This guy knows what he’s talking about! :)

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