Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Born to Run - A Case for Going RB/RB Early in 2017 Drafts


 The NFL is changing. Over the past several years the league has become increasingly pass-happy, leading to a rise in overall points scored. Due to this, the wide receiver position has taken center stage on Sundays, and top WR are being selected early and often in round one of fantasy drafts. We are also at a point where many teams feature two, if not three WR in their offense. This has led to the receiver pool continuing to fill up with more solid options, deeper into the later rounds.

Where does this leave the running backs? The same position we historically saw being selected in the top three slots of round one, where players like Adrian Peterson, Ladainian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander and many others resided for years on end. We are seeing many less 300-carry and even 200-carry running backs each year. The days are nearly over for offenses that attempt to ground and pound their opponents as their number one offensive philosophy. We are also witnessing the rise in offenses that give multiple RB enough touches in a game-by-game basis to become fantasy relevant. This all adds up to a higher quantity of fantasy RB available, however the quality you receive is much less than in years passed. This has made bell-cow running backs few and far between in fantasy. To ensure you grab one or even two of the top 15 RB off the board early, your opponents will be scrambling through their lists to find the next RB to fill those ever-important starting lineup spots.

I want to show you how this season, taking the “RB-RB” approach in your draft will cause panic for your league-mates, and leave you with the best Week 1 starting roster in all of your leagues.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Ideal RB/RB Scenarios from Any Draft Slot

Here's a typical first two rounds for Standard Re-Draft 12-Team Leagues:

  1. David Johnson (RB)
  2. Antonio Brown (WR)
  3. Julio Jones (WR)
  4. Le’Veon Bell (RB)
  5. Ezekiel Elliot (RB)
  6. Odell Beckham (WR)
  7. Mike Evans (WR)
  8. LeSean McCoy (RB)
  9. AJ Green (WR)
  10. Melvin Gordon (RB)
  11. Devonta Freeman (RB)
  12. Jordy Nelson (WR)
  13. T.Y. Hilton (WR)
  14. DeMarco Murray (RB)
  15. Jordan Howard (RB)
  16. Amari Cooper (WR)
  17. Dez Bryant (WR)
  18. Todd Gurley (RB)
  19. Jay Ajayi (RB)
  20. Rob Gronkowski (TE)
  21. Aaron Rodgers (QB)
  22. Michael Thomas (WR)
  23. Lamar Miller (RB)
  24. Leonard Fournette (RB)

Take note that out of these commonly selected first and second round players in a standard draft, only 11 of 24 are running backs. If you find yourself with a top-five pick in round one, you could take the best RB on your board, and with your 2nd choice, grab whichever of these RB remain.

 
Pick #1 Scenario:

1.1 David Johnson (RB)
2.12 Leonard Fournette (RB)

With this, your next selection at 3.1 can be the best WR remaining on your board (recommended) or if a top QB or TE are still there, roll the dice. Same rules apply for any of the top 5 spots.

 

Pick #2 Scenario:

1.2 Le’Veon Bell (RB)
2.11 Lamar Miller (RB)

Lamar Miller was a popular choice in the back end of Round 1 a season ago. Those dreams of a breakout season were derailed by the disappointment that was QB Brock Osweiler. Now with rookie QB DeShaun Watson under center, Miller should continue to see upwards of 300 carries.

 

Pick #3 Scenario: (If DJ and Bell are gone by this point)

1.3 Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
2.10 Jay Ajayi (RB) or Miller/Fournette

To land Jay Ajayi in round the later stages of round two might be on the optimistic side, but I see Miller and rookie Leonard Fournette as quality choices here also. Ajayi was on a tear during a stretch of 2016, boosting him to top 10 RB status. He finished with 1,272 yards and 8 rushing TDs on 4.9 yard per carry.

 

Pick #4 Scenario: (Top 3 RBs are taken)

1.4 Antonio Brown (WR) VALUE ALERT!
2.9 Todd Gurley (RB) OR Ajayi OR an even higher ranked RB on your board slips such as Jordan Howard (RB).

In this case, the drop-off at RB in terms of value is too great to employ this strategy, so you're better off going with the top receiver in your rankings. In this case, I have Antonio Brown as the fourth overall pick.

 

Pick # 5 Scenario: (Top 3 RBs and A. Brown are taken)

1.5 Julio Jones (WR) VALUE ALERT!
2.8 Jordan Howard (RB)

The last two first round choices are picks of high value no matter what type of league scoring. They are both generational players both in fantasy and reality and I would advise selecting either Brown or Jones if given the chance.

 

Pick # 6 Scenario: (Top 3 RBs, Brown and Jones are taken)

1.6 LeSean McCoy (RB)
2.7 Jordan Howard (RB)

This is where it will get interesting. At #6 you have to assume all of DJ, Bell, Brown, and Jones are gone, and the manager selecting at #5 will have a choice between Zeke Elliott, Odell Beckham Jr (WR), and Mike Evans (WR). If they take Zeke, I like LeSean McCoy here, and love him in the middle or back half of round 1. This is a former perennial #1 overall pick from a few years ago, and he certainly looked youthful this past season. In his age 28 season in 15 games started, McCoy carried 234 times for 1,267 yards and 13 TDs. Vintage Shady. He was also targeted 57 times and racked up 50 catches for an additional 356 yards and a score. He is the focal point of an improving Buffalo offense, behind a tremendous O-line.

 

Pick #7 Scenario:

1.7 LeSean McCoy (RB)
2.6 DeMarco Murray (RB)

DeMarco Murray ended up being one of the biggest values a season ago, partly because the Tennessee Titans selected former Heisman Trophy Winner Derrick Henry #45 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. This looked to be a 60/40 split if not closer. However, Murray got the opening carries early in the season and never looked back. The former Oklahoma standout put up 1,287 yards and 9 TDs on 293 carries, while adding 53 receptions on 67 targets, for an additional 377 yards and 3 TDs. Massive numbers and still one of the league’s true bell-cows behind one of the best line’s in the league. Now with an improved passing attack under Marcus Mariota, along with the signing of Eric Decker and addition of WR Corey Davis, there Murray should see a lot less eight and nine-man defensive fronts in 2017.

 

Pick #8 Scenario:

1.8  LeSean McCoy (RB)
2.5 Murray/Howard (RB)

Most of your leaguemates are likely not employing the RB/RB strategy without a top-three pick, so there's a good chance McCoy is still around if you've got the eighth pick.

 

Pick #9 Scenario:

1.9 LeSean McCoy (RB)
2.4 Devonta Freeman (RB)

Assuming Shady McCoy is there for the taking at #9, I would love picking in this spot the most right now. Freeman caught fire down the stretch last season, scoring eight TD in the final six regular games for Atlanta. Tevin Coleman was also a factor, but Freeman out-carried him 227 to 118. Kyle Shanahan has moved on to San Francisco, and the Falcons could go back to more of a one back system. Freeman will be looking to cash in during his contract year.

 

Pick #10 Scenario:

1.10 Melvin Gordon (RB)
2.3 Freeman/ Murray/Howard

L.A. Chargers RB Melvin Gordon makes a lot of sense near the end of Round 1 due to his breakout campaign in 2016. He was able to amass 1,416 yards from scrimmage to go with 12 TD.

 

Pick #11 and #12 Scenarios:

1.11/1.12 Gordon/Freeman

2.2/2.1 Murray/Howard

At the end of Round 1, you will have a choice of several remaining RB. This is a prime position to employ the RB-RB strategy, as you will have both RB lineup slots filled with 300-carry candidates - a dream scenario in standard leagues.

To summarize, executing any pre-draft strategy from beginning to end over the course of a draft will require patience and the ability to use your tiers as you sift through pre-determined choices. You will simply need to feel comfortable without having the upper-echelon WRs on your roster for likely the first time in a few years. Instead of seeing names like AJ Green, Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman as your WR1 WR2 and WR3 respectively, you might see Doug BaldwinDonte Moncrief and DeVante Parker in those slots. The WR position might be deeper than ever, and you can still grab 1,000 yard 10 TD players in round three and beyond. So just remember, while your opponents shuffle in and out RB with up and down touch amounts on a week to week basis, you might just be kicked back watching NFL Redzone to see your top RB breaking through the goal line and lighting up your laptops and devices all Sunday long.

Happy Draft Season!

 

More 2017 Fantasy Football Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




More Recent Articles

 

Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 15 David Njoku is a surprise inactive for Week 15. Chris Godwin has been ruled out with a hamstring... Read More


Fantasy Football Mailbag - Q&A for Week 15

This article's content may vary week-to-week, but generally, it will be answering questions fielded from either the @RotoBallerNFL twitter account or my personal one (@RotoSurgeon). This week, the focus is on start/sit questions, and there were plenty. Every week, many of us struggle with which quarterback to start, or who to flex, and I am... Read More


Week 15 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 15... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More


Updated Week 15 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 15 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 15 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: David Njoku is a surprise inactive for Week 15. Bo Scarbrough has officially been ruled out. Josh Jacobs (shoulder) is expected to suit up and should be... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 15

Welcome to our Week 15 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More


Wide Receiver Matchups To Target In Week 15

In Week 14, DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas were the high-end options that came through with solid performances, both finishing in the top-five even though they had fairly tough matchups. A.J. Brown finished as the No. 1 receiver on the week, scoring two touchdowns off of just seven targets, while Darius Slayton and Emmanuel Sanders... Read More


Week 15 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Kenny Golladay, Kenyan Drake, James White

If there was ever a week to have more booms than busts in your fantasy football lineup, it’s this week. The playoffs are either underway or about to start in fantasy football leagues across the nation and around the world. If you are lucky enough to be the proud owner of a playoff team, then... Read More


Key Starters and Tough Calls - Lineup Spotlights for Week 15

Welcome to Week 15, RotoBallers! Below you will find some of my spotlight plays and tough lineup decisions for the upcoming week of the fantasy football playoffs. These player selections are based on my Premium Weekly Lineup Rankings, available as part of the RotoBaller's NFL Premium Pass. Enter promo code KING at checkout for a... Read More


NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 15) - Targets and Avoids

Week 13 was a pretty chalky one with just three underdogs winning outright. The biggest upset was the Broncos absolutely annihilating the Houston Texans who were still celebrating their "Super Bowl" win against the Patriots the week prior. Three weeks remain and I'd be a fool to think there are hundreds who are reading this... Read More


Woos and Boos - Starts and Sits for Week 15 Lineups

The trend of fresh faces being among the tops of the fantasy scoring leaderboard continued in Week 14. Across the skill positions, we saw players that took advantage of plus matchups and excelled for fantasy owners during the first week of the playoffs. Mitchell Trubisky and Drew Lock came out of nowhere to finish inside... Read More


Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More


Week 15 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the playoffs are in full swing in most leagues and the final march for a championship has begun, streaming becomes a  necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions could easily be the difference in winning... Read More


Week 15 Panic Room: Outlooks for Slumping and Injured Players

As you set your Week 15 fantasy football playoff lineups, there may be some players who make you feel very uncomfortable about starting them. Based on recent lackluster performances, injuries, or just an intangible bad vibe, it's a struggle to insert them into your lineup in a do-or-die week. But you may also nervous be... Read More


Drew Lock: Is He Ready For Fantasy Football Playoff Consideration?

There is much excitement in Denver after Drew Lock put on an air display at Houston last week. In just his second NFL start, the rookie threw for 309 yards and three TD passes, all in the first half, as the Broncos stunned the AFC South leaders, 38-24. The final score doesn’t indicate what type... Read More