The NFL is becoming a passing league with multi threat RBBC systems killing the old school workhorse RB. 300 touch per season running backs are hard to come by. This impacts your fantasy draft strategy at multiple levels. Let's take a look.
The running back position, while still a big part of the offense, isn't utilized like it used to be. There is no better example than this year's NFL draft where no running backs were drafted in the first round, the first being the Bengals' pick of Giovani Bernard with the 37th overall selection in the second round. Bernard can run, block and catch, which will help him push BenJarvus Green-Ellis for touches as the season goes on. This class clearly wasn't as strong as last year, where Trent Richardson, Doug Martin and David Wilson were all first-round picks. But it's still somewhat of a tell-tale sign that running backs in the NFL aren't used as much as they used to be.
While there are still full-time running backs such as Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster, injuries and changes to offensive philosophies are causing a lot of teams to slowly convert to the dreaded Running Back By Committee approach. Is it a bad thing? Yes, because RBBC is killing off the workhorse back. No, because RBBC has created more depth at the RB position, allowing you to find some decent mid round picks at the RB position.
How This Plays Into Your Draft StrategyPackers QB Aaron Rodgers scored more fantasy points than guys like Doug Martin, Ray Rice and Marshawn Lynch last year.
While you'll find a bevy of RB depth in the draft, few hold the title of "workhorse RB". If you have an opportunity to draft two top tier workhorse running backs (top 10 guys) then I would pull the trigger. You can then go with a two mid-round QB system where you play the QB based on matchups, allowing you to fill your WR with picks 3, 4 and or 5. Look for our QB, TE and WR draft strategies here.
In a recent mock draft that I plan on covering in the next week, I took Rodgers with the 1.12 pick and A.J. Green at the 2.1 pick. Who are my top two running backs? Stevan Ridley and Vick Ballard, who I listed as one of my breakout candidates. I didn't force myself to take a running back simply because of outdated rules. Keeping up with the new way of thinking will help you maximize the value of every player you draft.
Here is a summary that every fantasy owner will want to consider when looking at running backs during their draft:
- If you can't grab 2 workhorse backs in the first 3 rounds, then just grab one then wait for a couple sleepers or value picks later.
- Don't feel the need to draft 2 Running Backs early if your scoring rules dictate other positions having greater value (6 points for all TDs, PPR, etc). Don't forget rule 1!
- The dreaded Running Back By Committee isn't as dreaded as it used to be since it opens up more possibilities for a sleeper to be had later in your draft.