2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

2017 Fantasy Football Running Back Heavy Draft Strategy: Pound The Rock!

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There always seems to be a constant, yet gradual shift in the way football is played. This, in turn, changes the way fantasy owners draft their teams. Preseason rankings used to be led by workhorse running backs, with the exception of a top flight receiver or two. In the past couple of seasons, you were considered a fool to take a running back in the first round, and anybody who was anybody was running the “Zero-RB” strategy.

Whether it be politics, economics, or football, the market has a way of correcting itself.  If something swings too far in a given direction, you can always bet on it swinging back. The NFL has become pass happy, and a few opportunistic offenses took advantage of the new age NFL defenses, who are mostly worried about not getting it thrown over their heads. And what do you know… three running backs sit atop most preseason rankings for the upcoming season.

These teams zigged when everyone else zagged. Going against the grain is often a good strategy, especially when drafting your fantasy team. If everyone is using the same draft strategy, copying them is no way to make your team stand out.

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2017 Fantasy Football Running Back Heavy Draft Strategy

Supply and Demand

Supply and demand is a basic concept. I bring it up all the time when analyzing any fantasy sport. If there is less depth at a given position, the value of players at that position are inflated. The perfect example of this is the running back position. The workhorse running back is a dying breed. Running the ball has become secondary, and most teams are not willing to invest in a franchise back anymore.

This is why I am firmly against the “Zero-RB” strategy. It makes no sense to load up on wide receivers when there are viable options deep into the draft (Martavis Bryant is currently going in the 8th). In fact, I’m suggesting the opposite. Load up on running backs, and leave your league-mates with the scraps.

Roster Construction

The “Zero-RB” way of thinking is the same mindset that used to see people taking quarterbacks in the first round. “Well Aaron Rodgers is going to score the most points, so I had better draft him early.” This makes no sense from a roster construction standpoint.

The running back heavy strategy is much more sensible in this respect, as you can grab top workhorse backs in the first couple of rounds, and still get good receivers in round 3 and onward. If you wait until round three or four to grab your first running back, you will most certainly disappointed in what is left.

The War of Attrition

If you watch football regularly, you won’t argue that there is no one on the field who takes more punishment than the running back. His job is basically to run into a crowd of people who have 100-150 pounds on him and try to find his way out. Getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage and cut down by the legs in the open field takes its toll on the body.

Most running backs would count themselves lucky to make it through a season having played all sixteen games. This is just another case for loading up on them. Receivers suffer their fair share of injuries, but as we stated earlier, there are more capable receivers available than running backs. Good luck going to the waiver wire looking for a running back guaranteed more than ten touches in a game.

Execution

Patience will be the most important tool when running this draft strategy. For it to work properly, you are not going to end up with a top 5 quarterback. You should be prepared to be one of the last people in your league to draft their starting quarterback. The same goes for tight ends. This strategy is predicated on loading up on running backs early, loading up on receivers late, then filling out the rest.

As I stated earlier, don’t panic when you don’t end up with one of the flashy names at receiver, there are plenty left. Early on I am looking to fill out my running back slots and hopefully flex a running back in round three or four. This not only assures you are three deep at running back, the toughest position to fill, but it also constricts the options of your league mates.

When it comes to receivers, you are going to want the safest guys available to fill out your starting lineups. Consistent production trumps boom or bust quality here. Then, in the later rounds, find guys that are maybe an injury away from seeing a starting job, but aren’t completely unproven.

As always, run this strategy through a few mock drafts. Draft from as many positions as you can before draft day. Practice makes perfect. Find out what about this strategy works for you and ramp it up or tone it done as you feel comfortable.

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Draft Day

In any fantasy draft, you have to let the draft come to you. You could easily walk into a draft with every round planned out, but don’t be too frigid in your convictions. Doing this will cause you to miss out on great value picks. The idea is to go into the draft with the following idea in mind: “running backs go fast, and if I don’t grab a couple of them early, it could get ugly very quickly.”

If five of the first six picks are running backs, and you’re sitting on the seventh pick, it might be time to consider holding off on Devonta Freeman and take Odell Beckham Jr while you still can. If this happens to you, don’t scrap everything because the draft didn’t fall how you expected. Just know that rounds two and three might just be your last chance at a solid running back.

About Chris Wright

Chris is a self-diagnosed, non-recovering Fantasy addict. Balances stats on paper with actual on field evidence when making projections. Check him out on Twitter @ChrisWright_F6P

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