Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: RB-Heavy Early
To begin this article, I’m going to define what I see as an RB-heavy early draft strategy. To me, it means grabbing 3 RBs in the first 4 rounds of drafts. This article applies to a standard 12-team league.
As of today, July 1st, there are 24 RBs usually going in the first 4 rounds. Therefore, half of the players taken in the top 4 rounds are RBs, so grabbing 3 isn’t an absurd strategy. It could also definitely pay off depending on who you take, because RBs thin out a lot after round 4-5. So, I’m going to break this down into 3 categories: first 4 picks, middle 4 picks, and last 4 picks. I’ll explain the viability of each and my thoughts overall on the strategy.
Top 4 Picks:
If you have a top 4 pick it’s basically a lock that you are taking Barkley, CMC, Kamara or Zeke in the first round, opening up the RB-heavy option right away. In the round 2/3 turn, there may be some very good RB options still on the board, such as Todd Gurley, Damien Williams, Marlon Mack, or Aaron Jones. However, there will likely be several good WR options, as well as George Kittle and Zach Ertz. Personally, I don’t think those TEs are worth the late 2nd or early 3rd value, so RB and WR is the likely option, unless there are 2 great WRs. Finally, at the end of the third, you probably need to grab an RB at this point, and there are some decent options left: Phillip Lindsay, Kenyon Drake, Sony Michel, Chris Carson and Mark Ingram. That being said, there are many good WR options at this point and they would be better options. Overall, I think RB-heavy early is a decent option if you have a top 4 pick, but based on current ADPs, I wouldn’t suggest it.
Middle 4 pick:
The first round has either RB or WR options. You can either grab DJ or Melvin Gordon, or you can take DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Michael Thomas or Julio Jones. In the second round, there are plenty of good RB options (Dalvin Cook, Todd Gurley and Damien Williams) along with some good WR options and potentially Travis Kelce, who is the only TE that I would take in the top 4 rounds. In the third round, there are several good RB options: Jones, Freeman, Mack, Jacobs and Johnson. Also, at this point there are several back end WR1’s who are appealing, and then the other TEs that I wouldn’t take this high. Finally, in round 4, there are a couple of options: Lindsay, Ingram and Drake, none of which I’m particularly high on, but wouldn’t be bad RB3s. In this range, the WRs are a much better option and even the TEs if they’re available, which I doubt they would be. Overall, I think taking RB in the first 3 rounds with this pick set is a good option. Being able to grab guys like DJ, Cook and Mack would be a very strong grouping and would lock up the position for the majority of the first portion of the draft, so WR can be focused on in the middle rounds, where there are many options that have good upside.
Last 4 picks:
The first and second round turn present several good RB options for someone with a late draft pick. Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Dalvin Cook, Todd Gurley and Damien Williams may be available, along with any remaining elite WRs and Travis Kelce. I’d expect most teams to grab at least one of these RBs because the drop-off between an RB now and an RB at the ¾ turn is significant. At that ¾ turn, there are some good options still (Mack, Jacobs, Johnson, Derrick Henry, and Ty Montgomery) along with great WR options. Overall, taking three RBs at this position isn’t a bad option because being able to grab a combination of two low end RB1s and a mid RB2, or one low end RB1 and two mid RB2s would lock that position up, and still leave you open to grab an elite TE or an elite WR.
All in all, draft strategy has a lot to do with understanding your league mates and deciding between values at different position. Going RB-heavy early is a good strategy, but it’s a common strategy. Therefore, there could be a loss of value by utilizing it in a league where several teams are going to use it. For instance, there will be some quality WRs that are available, but passed on because of sticking to this strategy. This means that they will be available for other people who may not have gotten them before. If you can take advantage of the decisions that other people make in the draft, you may come out ahead of your league mates. In conclusion, it is important to stay fluid in your strategies and locate several players that you are comfortable taking at a draft position, so you aren’t locked in on any one player. If you are too focused on a certain player, you may make a bad decision if they are taken before your pick.