A Shift in Fantasy Draft Strategy, a Study to Prove It

Chris D'AnielloAnalyst IJune 30, 2008

Running backs. Running backs. Running backs. 

That was always the fantasy football draft strategy. 

"You had better stack up on your running backs. They're going fast." 

Even now-a-days, RB-RB seems to be the most common drafting sequence. Round One, top tier RB. Round Two, best RB available. 

But is this the most effective strategy?

ESPN Fantasy Magazine recently took a look into this very question by examining the average round-by-round scoring totals for each position for the past five NFL seasons. You might be surprised by the results. 

The top scoring sequence wasn't RB-RB. In fact, RB-RB was only the fourth highest. Here are the highest scoring sequences in order: 

1. RB-WR-QB-RB-WR-RB = 1087 pts 

2. RB-QB-RB-WR-WR-RB = 1083 pts 

3. RB-WR-RB-WR-QB-RB = 1079 pts 

4. RB-RB-WR-WR-QB-RB = 1071 pts 

Now, I've always been one to grab every running back I could. But recently I've been jumping on top tier WRs early.

Why am I not so concerned with RBs all of the sudden? Why now? 

With the RBBC (Running Back By Committee) system being implemented in most NFL offenses, the drop off in value of running backs isn't so steep anymore. Very, very few teams now carry one work-horse running back.

Instead, they're splitting up the load between multiple backs. Teams like Houston and the New York Giants are providing Fantasy team owners with three viable options at running back each week. 

The rapidly growing RBBC system is creating more of a level field of running backs for fantasy owners. The drop off between the top tier wide receivers and the rest of the field has become steeper than the drop off between late first round running backs and the rest of the field. 

Maybe next time you're drafting, rather than grabbing Jamal Lewis or MJD to pair up with your first rounder Joseph Addai, you'll take T.O. then Mr. Romo and grab a deeper running back like Thomas Jones, Darren McFadden, or Julius Jones.


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