The idea that running backs rule fantasy football is so antiquated is it truly becoming a source of frustration with me when I still see “experts” writing about the necessity of getting an elite running back. Does it help? Absolutely! So does having an elite wide receiver and an elite tight end. We can’t really have all of them unless your research prior to the draft allows you to identify the potential breakout candidate for the upcoming season.
The fact is the Top 9 scoring players in my fantasy league last year were quarterbacks, not running backs. The margin of points between the top scoring quarterback and the 12th quarterback (the last of the necessary starters) was 275 points. The margin between the top scoring running back and the 12th running back (the last of the RB1 slots) was 125. A total of 150 points was the difference between the separation of QB1 and RB1 1st/12th slots. Just to put it in even more perspective – with Drew Brees as your quarterback last season you could have had, say, Shonn Greene, the 18th overall running back from last season and made up that difference, with another running back slot still to fill. Quarterbacks dominate the modern day NFL and they now dominate modern day fantasy football as a result. Either you need to embrace that idea or hope and pray you come up with two Top 20 running backs and two Top 20 wide receivers. Should you not acquire those, you’ll most likely crash and burn trying to play matchups all season long with a quarterback by committee.
There are five quarterbacks that should go in the first 10-12 picks (Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton. I don’t agree with Newton, but he will likely be a first-round pick this season) and another five that should go in the next 10-12 picks (Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger). Matt Ryan and Romo are a close 11 and 12 behind that second grouping, but both certainly have the potential to be Top 10 quarterbacks. This obviously won’t happen in a vast majority of leagues but I can guarantee that myself and several of the other owners in my league will ensure that we get someone from the first eight names I mentioned early and then load up on wide receivers and running backs. The dropoff is huge after the first grouping of quarterbacks and even larger after the Top 12 that I expect to be the QB1s at the end of the season.
It is much easier to find/plug and play wide receivers and running backs than it is to do with quarterbacks. There is just simply too much parity in those two positions to invest in those positions when you have the ability to get a quarterback that you can put in every week. Great examples are a couple of my picks the past two seasons, in particular getting Willis McGahee in the eighth round last season and Austin Collie in the 11th round the season before. Granted both had injury issues, but I was able to take both players despite injury and use them as trade chips at different points to upgrade elsewhere because I had so much depth at those positions.
Standard operating procedure for serious fantasy football owners should be to acquire a top-tier quarterback at all costs. Obviously not everyone will be able to do that. If you’re one of those people, you’d better hope that you’ve done your research and done it well because you’re going to need to be solid from top to bottom everywhere else. Should you choose to stay with the outdated traditions of taking running backs only in the first round and wide receivers/running backs only in the second round, well I welcome you to come and join my league. I’d love to have you!