Here’s a look at the RBs that finished 25th through 36th over the last four years:
RB3/Flex: A solid 3rd RB in Fantasy football can be gold as long as you have strength at your other positions. A good third running back will help you in bye weeks, and that player could be serviceable at the flex position. The third set of 12 RBs averaged 147.67 Fantasy points in full point PPR leagues or 9.23 points per week, which was almost identical to 2015 (146.48/9.16) and 2016 (146.40/9.23). Typically, each year we have a group of elite running backs that have about a 60-point edge over the next group. Each group from there on will drop down a level or about 60 points. The 60 points don’t sound like much, but it adds up over the course of a season. If you are weak at two positions on your roster, you most likely will miss the playoffs in your Fantasy league.
Observation: It is critical to draft some upside running backs on your team, but they will hurt you if you are forced to play them due to an injury to one of your top options if they are not getting regular playing time. Fantasy football is a pretty simple game. Most of the action will happen inside of the first 12 rounds of drafts. Every team should have their starting lineup after eight or nine rounds. Their decisions from rounds 9 to 12 will be crucial especially if you have a weakness at a position.
In the FFWC, a team will need to score 1600+ points (11-week regular season) to be in the playoff hunt. A top team could score more than 1800 points. I think a fair goal from your starting QB and first 2 RBs would be to beat 55 fantasy points (QB – 23+ points, RB1 – 18+ points, and RB2 – 14+ points). A top RB, a solid RB2, and mid-tier QB would deliver that score from a front position. If you are drafting later in this type of format, an elite QB with two-second level RBs may provide a similar score. It then would come down to the WR and TE positions to reach your target number.
After looking over each group of RBs, it’s interesting to see how close the final scores are each year considering the vast changes in playing time and the high rate of injuries at the position. The overall player pool changes each year, which creates different tiers at each starting position. The key is gaining an edge whenever possible plus identifying when there is a definite drop off in talent at each position.
To show you have weak the RB options will be if you miss on your RB2, here is a look at the results over the last four seasons for the 37th to 48th ranked backs:
When building your RB depth on draft day, your first goal is finding the edge with your RB1. This player needs will be a three-down back with value on first and second down plus catching ability. Also, your RB1 should have upside in TDs. If you feel the available options don’t meet these qualifications, you must gain an edge at another position.
The most successful Fantasy owners will make these evaluations before draft day once they know their draft position. The goal is to determine your best start to your team based on the current draft flow or ADPs. The more thought a Fantasy owner does before the draft; the better he will be at making decisions when on the clock on draft day. It is also important not to be naïve when identifying an upside player. In the Fantasy football market, there is a ton of information written, and many Fantasy owners will come to the same conclusion with upside job opportunities.
In this particular case, there may only be one RB you view as a difference maker going early in the second round. If you have a draft pick late in the first round, the data points to your “targeted back” to be available for you with your second pick. This deduction leads to you looking at the best options at other positions while most likely settling in at the WR position unless a top RB with three down ability slides to you in the draft. If you review the best options at WR, the player pool may dictate multiple players of similar value. When seeing this develop, a Fantasy owner has to be open to moving the “targeted back” up to the first round to avoid being sniped by another sharp Fantasy owner. By doing this, a Fantasy owner accepts the closeness in value at the WR position while knowing there may be a chance their number one WR option may still slide to them in the second round.
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Many times late in the draft season, the edge players with upside will see their draft value rise. It’s important to keep in mind what the real upside of this player is. You don’t want to overvalue this player where you end up drafting him before players with proven resumes.
If you get beat at the RB1 position, the next drop down should be a passing catching back with early down ability in PPR leagues. Many times Fantasy owners will look to a back with early down action plus TD ability. I believe this type of back leads to many failed scores when he doesn’t deliver a TD. Within each one of these decisions, a Fantasy owner must also look at the value of the RBs’ offense.
The RB position runs out of talent quickly, but a Fantasy owner has to understand that there will be multiple starting opportunities created during the season by injuries. If I miss on the top RB2 options, I will focus on finding the best pass-catching talent in PPR leagues to fill the short-term gap. The more outs that you give yourself on your roster; the better chance you have of filling your weakness at some point later in the season.
If you would like to see the full offensive projections, they can be found here.
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