We’ve entered a new fantasy world. Since the days of the fantasy dinosaur, the common drafting strategy has been to take running backs with your first two picks no matter what. If one chose to draft a wide receiver, or quarterback, in those early rounds, that person was the subject of ridicule, and, more than likely, had consistency issues with their second running back position throughout the year. My friends, those days are no more! A new dawn has risen! Change your strategy before others and you’ll be sipping from the cup of victory.
The NFL is changing, thus we must change with it or get steamrolled by the alternative. The fad of using multiple running backs has hit the NFL with full force. Teams that employ one workhorse back are growing slimmer by the year. First off, understand your league’s scoring system to determine your draft strategy. I’m in multiple leagues and each league’s scoring system is different. On one of my leagues, a quarterback gains six points for a passing touchdown and a defense scores five points for safeties and for blocked kicks. In a league like that, one might put more emphasis on having a topline quarterback and defense. That doesn’t affect the strategy I’ll be suggesting, but be aware that there will be runs at positions that have a scoring advantage. Plan accordingly for it.
Instead of blindly choosing two running backs with your first two picks, one now must consider an alternate method. The method I suggest is to draft impact players through your first three rounds. We’re not completely abandoning our dinosaur methods. You still want to draft at least one running back during those first three rounds. Otherwise, take the player that can carry your team on his back and win you games by himself.
Don’t reach for a running back, or any other position player, just choose the player you believe can be the biggest difference maker for you. For example, you might be in a position to draft
Matt Forte or
A.J. Green. Are you going to take Forte just because he’s a running back or take the player that most people believe would have a greater impact in Green? Always draft the player that can have the most impact on your team. This drafting strategy is like Batman because the previous sentence is the only rule.
During the first three rounds is where you’ll be drafting the foundation of your team. It’s stupid to be reaching for players just because they play a certain position during these crucial rounds. You might hit on some upside guys in later rounds that could turn into stud players, but your bread is going to be buttered in these first three rounds.
Pretend you’re a real life general manager and make a draft board of what you consider to be the top-50 impact players in the draft. Stick to that list, but there is an exception to the only rule. The exception is you definitely want to draft a running back within the top three rounds. More than likely you’ll want to take one within the first two rounds but it’s not a necessity. Three years ago I spent my first two picks on
Peyton Manning and
Andre Johnson. I was fortunate to choose wisely on
Jamaal Charles in the third round (his 2010 breakout year) but pickings may be slim at the running back position by then. You want to have a No. 1/high quality guy at your top running back slot.
If you have two running back by committee guys starting as your top two running backs, you may be purchasing a one-way ticket to fantasy hell. Let the draft fall to you and draft value. If there’s an early run on running backs and Calvin Johnson, or Drew Brees/Aaron Rodgers are available, choose one of them and look at your second or third pick to acquire a running back. It’s better to have the top player at another position than pick the sixth-best running back. You can always draft high impact running backs during the second and third rounds.
If you come out of the first three rounds with one running back, you’ll be just fine. Draft depth at that position in the early portion of the middle rounds. There are only so many front line starters these days, and, with all the running back by committees going on, you’ll have plenty of guys from which to choose. It’s always good to have running back depth on your bench. I always have two to three bench spots reserved for running backs.
If you draft a Brees, Rodgers, or Tom Brady type at quarterback you won’t be drafting a backup until later rounds, so why draft a backup at all? You can get a
Christian Ponder type on the free agent market. Instead of wasting a late-round pick on that type of player, use that reserve position for a running back instead of a backup quarterback you’ll use once. Same goes for other positions at which you have drafted good depth. If you have a great tight end, or great defense, instead of drafting backups that will rarely play, add depth to your running back position. It’s always good to have depth at other positions but don’t be paranoid about it.
If you can predict injuries, give me a call because you’ll be my new best friend. You want to make certain you have depth at running back. After the draft it’s hard to find decent free agents or waiver wire pickups at that position. It’s much easier to find depth at other positions drafting that route, so use the draft to get your depth at running back.
You want as many studs on your team as you can get. Your best player can’t carry your team every week so make sure to get as many guys that can carry your team as you can. That’s what these early rounds in your fantasy draft are about. Using this drafting method ensures that you’re choosing impact players and not reaching for guys. Make up a draft board and stick to it. Get your No. 1 running back in the first three rounds but don’t reach for him. Remember the only rule! Always draft the player that can have the most impact on your team. Abandon the dinosaur drafting methods and take a calculated risk. That’s how you win fantasy championships.