You need good ball carriers to win in Fantasy Football. Even the grumpiest true Zero-RBs — a population I’m adjacent to, if not a full member — will admit that having an elite running back is one of the best pieces to have if you want to win a championship.
The debate is about the best way to build a team. Knowing you want an elite RB, should you chase down position at the top of your draft, investing several of your half-dozen top picks, hoping to end up with at least two go-to guys? Or should you avoid investing heavily at all, knowing that the position’s attrition rate means you’re likely to waste at least a few of your most valuable picks on players that aren’t worth it?
Faithful reader of Fantasy Football Today Newsletter you are, you have already seen my roadmap for the first laps, where I explain how to approach the first laps, whatever strategy you want to adopt. Me, I prefer to take an elite RB in the first two rounds and then focus on my other positions for the next four to six rounds. But that’s just me! You may prefer a different plan.
I know Dave Richard knows that. He’s always been a strong supporter of RB, and that’s especially true this season, when the crop of potential three-point difference makers looks deeper than it has in a long time. In today’s newsletter, Dave will walk you through his approach to the position as well as his tiering from round one through to deep saves, letting you know when is the right time to move on to each player.
We talked about running back levels on Tuesday’s episode of Fantasy football today, with Dave, Heath Cummings and Adam Aizer breaking down the position and talking about who belongs to whom, where to write them and why they disagree. And if you need a longer view of the position – the one with a ton of annual turnover – Heath’s RB Dynasty levels are here, where he explains why Chris Carson, hunt kareemand — swallow — Derrick Henry could be at or near the top of their values.
If you missed the discussion on QB levels, check it out here. For now, here are Dave’s latest RB levels:
Dave Richard’s Updated RB Levels
This year’s draft will be no different than in the past: running backs will be popular. But this season, even people who don’t like picking up running backs early admit that it’s a good idea to pick up running backs early.
The reality is that there are around 25 different rushers considered majority workload players for their teams. Many of them have the advantage of being pass catchers, and most will have the opportunity to rack up a good number of touchdowns. These running backs make up the first four tiers of running backs, and they’re going to fly off the draft board.
The majority of fantasy writers love locking down their starting spots with these types of backs. You may already know you’re one of them, which is good. But in case you’re not sure you want to invest heavily in running backs, consider the following checklist:
- Look at the players in the first four levels of running back. If most or all of them are guys you could see yourself starting, you could probably get away with spending at least one of your first four picks on a running back. If you don’t like that many names, then you have to chase the running backs you like with your first two, maybe three picks.
- Check out the fifth and sixth tier rushers. If the thought of intentionally starting one of these makes you seriously ill, then you know you should prioritize running backs with your top picks.
There’s also the concept of passing running backs entirely with most or all of your first four picks to stock up on elite talent in other positions. In such a case, your list might have a core of Travis Kelce, Stefan Diggs, DK Metcalf and lamar jackson. It’s nothing to sneeze at, but think about what’s left for the running back if you go that route. Are you okay to start Melvin Gordon and James Conner in week 1 knowing that both won’t have the roles you remember? Some people love this strategy, called Zero RB (because you’re literally drafting zero RB with at least your first four picks), but in a year where running backs are actually plentiful, fantasy managers shouldn’t have to s engage in such a strategy.
An alternative is to draft a running back early, then fill other positions before switching back to running backs in Round 5 or later. At least you’ll have one top hero attached to your roster while you hope to get lucky in another with your other waiver picks and moves over the course of the year.
The other tip is to draft a lot of running backs. Remember that this position tends to score more than their counterparts, people love to trade for them, injuries can quickly change their values and you need to start at least two per week.
Plus, the league’s move to a 17-game schedule is another reason to go from strength to strength. Coaches will devise a plan to keep their running backs fresh by setting up some kind of “pitch count” even for the top stars in the league. You’ll see two-back tandems more often, although this shouldn’t affect the better players as much as the others who aren’t as explosive. Combine that with the normal wear and tear of running backs, and we’ll all find more running backs stumbling through reliable pockets of playing time once the season is over, even if it’s only for two or three weeks.
Please check the subscribe box to confirm that you wish to subscribe.
Thank you for your registration!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
An error occurred while processing your subscription.
DAVE’S FAVORITE STRATEGY: Grab at least two running backs with your first three draft picks and plan to grab a third from the third or fourth tiers if there’s one available in Round 4. Then, collect at least three more running backs the rest of the path.
By Andre Swift