Fantasy Football

2021 Fantasy Football Best Ball: RB Hit Rates

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Best Ball season is in full swing, and there’s no better way to prepare than with some good old-fashioned data and analytics. This week we’ll be taking a dive into hit rates for the running back position.

The information covered should apply to most Best Ball sites, whether full PPR (DraftKings and RTSports) or half PPR (Underdog and Yahoo). Be sure to check out my other hit rates articles on quarterbacks and tight ends if you haven’t done so already.

One last note, if you’re new to Underdog, use our sign-up link to receive your first draft for free on us.

2021 Fantasy Football Best Ball: RB Hit Rates

The Process

Hit rates are one of my favorite tools, not just for Best Ball but for all Fantasy Football formats. They paint an excellent picture of how ADP correlates with weekly scoring trends.

Not to mention, hit rates are a great way to filter out the noise for a position like running back, which is so dependent on injuries. Season-long fantasy finishes can easily be affected if a player played all 16 games.

Hit rates can also demonstrate the concept of quality vs. quantity when it comes to Best Ball. For instance, how many tight ends would be needed to match the hit rates of an elite tight end like Travis Kelce?

For the sake of this article, I will break down all hit rates into tiers of RB1, RB2, and RB3. All of these tiers are based on 12-player leagues. Additionally, a top-6 metric will be utilized to capture the overall ceiling. So let’s check out the hit rate thresholds:

RB Hit Rates (PPR)

Weekly FinishScore
Top-622.24
RB117.57
RB211.51
RB37.62

RB Hit Rates (Half-PPR)

Weekly FinishScore
Top-620.75
RB115.68
RB210.27
RB36.73

As one would expect, the trends match up relatively well between PPR and half-PPR. Now that the thresholds are established let’s dive into how the hit rates correlate with ADP.

The Trends

I find it extremely useful to compare hit rates to ADP, at least for Fantasy Football Best Ball. By looking at these hit rates in ADP, we can identify where trends can occur during our drafts.

Rather than focus on where a player finished the season compared to ADP, we can focus on their usable weeks. In other words, how often a player is likely to make it into our Best Ball lineups based on where they’re drafted. So let’s take a look at how these hit rates varied with ADP.

2021 Fantasy Football Best Ball RB Hit Rates

2021 Fantasy Football Best Ball RB Hit Rates

As one would expect, all three hit rates naturally decline as ADP increases. The most exciting thing to note, though, is how the trend lines begin to rise towards the end.

More specifically, the RB1 hit rates increase at the end of the draft. At least compared to the middle rounds. Two names come to mind regarding this trend from last year: Mike Davis and James Robinson.

Both of these running backs seemingly arose into valuable situations for Fantasy Football out of nowhere. Davis and Robinson were virtually going undrafted but ultimately finished as RB1s overall on the season.

This isn’t an unusual trend in Fantasy Football. Every running back being drafted in the last few rounds are either a backup, change of pace about, have a minor role in a committee or are in some form of an ambiguous backfield.

Those backups that can take hold of a job when the starter is injured (Mike Davis) or those that can run away with the job in a backfield filled with uncertainty (James Robinson) can be league winners.

The Results

Now let’s take a look at the average hit rates associated with ADP tiers of running backs. These will include groups of six running backs, working back to the RB78 based on 2020 ADP.

Average RB Hit Rates (PPR)

GroupTop-6RB1RB2RB3
1 to 60.420.630.810.92
7 to 120.210.300.650.84
13 to 180.130.320.590.78
19 to 240.120.210.420.61
25 to 300.080.180.420.67
31 to 360.040.070.260.51
37 to 420.020.090.240.41
43 to 480.030.060.270.45
49 to 540.070.090.310.51
55 to 600.020.130.280.43
61 to 660.090.140.310.52
67 to 720.020.040.120.25
73 to 780.060.100.270.40

Average RB Hit Rate (Half-PPR)

GroupTop-6RB1RB2RB3
1 to 60.420.620.810.93
7 to 120.180.340.660.87
13 to 180.130.310.610.77
19 to 240.040.140.300.51
25 to 300.140.260.500.74
31 to 360.020.040.150.45
37 to 420.040.150.310.50
43 to 480.040.090.190.31
49 to 540.010.080.240.45
55 to 600.060.130.320.43
61 to 660.030.070.270.44
67 to 720.090.170.370.52
73 to 780.050.110.200.28

Something interesting here is the massive falloff after the first six or so running backs were drafted. The top-6 and RB1 hit rates are cut in half after the first tier in both scoring formats.

This shows how truly valuable the workhorse running backs like Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook is. This also has implications within two of my favorite drafting strategies: Zero RB and modified Zero RB.

For those unfamiliar with the latter concept, the Spark Notes version is essentially Zero RB, except you anchor your roster with one elite workhorse top-6 running back. The idea behind this is that it’s tough to justify giving up Christian McCaffrey at the 1.01 to go pure Zero RB.

The data clearly shows that here as well. The fall-off is quite massive after those first six or so running backs are drafted.

Takeaways

My goal is to eventually begin comparing more of this data altogether for all of the positions. By compiling all of the positional hit rates, we can take a more macro approach to the draft. This data coupled together should help identify what positions typically yield the highest hit rates in a particular zone of the draft.

Additionally, the data for all positions should help in the next venture of identifying the best drafting strategies. For instance, we were already able to see some of the evidence behind the theory of modified Zero RB drafting here in the running back hit rates.

Thank you to stats4fantasy, FantasyPros, and DraftKings for the data!


Be sure to check out more of our Fantasy Football content from the F6P Staff.

About Preston White

Preston is a long time Fantasy Football player, and a big time Best Ball guy. He finds great joy in life's pleasures including data, analytics, IPAs, and #ZeroRB drafting. Feel free to give him a shout on Twitter (@FF_Engineer_) regarding anything Fantasy Football and Best Ball related.

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