The Robust-RB Draft Strategy: More Familiar Than You Think
There are many different ways to attack fantasy football drafts. Previously, I wrote about the Zero-RB draft strategy. Now I will focus on an old school approach with what’s called a Robust RB draft strategy.
In my first six years of playing fantasy football, my league-mates and I would draft running backs in the first two rounds every year. As I grew in the hobby and played in different types of leagues, I learned to change my draft strategy up. The Robust RB strategy harkens back to that beginner’s strategy we used many years ago, but now, it’s been refined with an expert’s precision.
Fantasy managers in standard-scoring leagues most often use it. With the blossoming of stud running backs in recent years, more and more managers are grabbing their running backs early, even in PPR leagues. Like any other strategy, I would be careful going into any draft with a predetermined plan because you never know what can happen in a draft. However, if the draft starts to break a certain way after a couple of rounds and you find yourself drafting two RBs early, the Robust RB strategy will help you corner the market at a position where there are always big surprises.
If you are considering using the Robust RB strategy, you have to know which wide receivers and tight ends will be available when you decide to dip into that end of the player pool. The number of viable fantasy WRs is higher than the number of running backs, and because of that, it’s easier to find an impact receiver on the waiver wire than it is a running back.
One of the issues you could run into using this strategy is if most of your early-round RBs end up hurt or underperforming. However, these risks exist for all positions. If you decide to go the Robust RB route, I think it would be good to grab a pass-catching back and a back that can score 12-15 touchdowns. There are different ways to find consistency. A diversified group should give you a nice base of points each week between a PPR-leaning back with his receptions and the heavy-yardage back with many goal-line opportunities. You could also see Robust RB drafters grabbing a top QB to cushion the blow of fading WR or TE.
Like any good draft strategy, you want to test it out first, so I went about my task of putting together a Robust RB team. I have to be honest: For something I haven’t gone into a draft considering for a long time, it turned out pretty well. I started my draft with the two running backs I wanted.
I decided to use the Sports Illustrated Mock Draft Simulator, which is free to use and a great tool for practicing your mock drafts. I wanted to show you guys how it can be done. You can also submit your team if you like it and it’s entered into the Mock Draft World Championships, which is a free-to-enter best ball contest for the upcoming season. There are all sorts of cool prizes you can win, including the Ultimate Fantasy Football Experience.
I think Nick Chubb can be the best running back in fantasy football this year, even though he shares a backfield with Kareem Hunt. Chubb can run for well over 1,000 yards, and I’m assuming he can get to double-digit touchdowns, which would make him a plus asset.
I followed up with Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler. He’s coming off a career year, and Ekeler is not your typical between-the-tackles runner. His pass-catching ability makes him very valuable!. The third RB I was looking to add to his team was Todd Gurley. He’s coming off a down year, but I like the fact that he is on the Falcons. He seems to have the backfield all to himself. His potential volume and nose for the goal-line should make him a draft day steal.
Unfortunately, I missed Gurley by one pick, but I got Le’Veon Bell as a consolation prize. He could pay off too as he’s already proven to be a talented back over the years. We’re looking for a rebound though since Bell did not play well in his first season in New York.
Jets insider Kristin Dyer brings us this quote from Bell: “Damn, I could be better, like, I wasn’t my best last year. I wasn’t the best me. I know physically I wasn’t 2014, 2015 me. So if I can look at myself in the eyes and be like damn everyone is talking about the OLine and me not getting the ball,” Bell told Hot 97.
Bell was right; last season was his worst. The Jets didn’t help him out much as we are counting on QB Sam Darnold to take a big step forward to improve the offense’s efficiency. Still, it’s good to see Bell take responsibility for his play, I think he is too talented not to bounce-back this season.
The tough part of putting together this team is going to be assembling the wide receiver group. I started with T.Y. Hilton. He has long been one of my favorite players. When things line up right for him, he can put up big numbers. I think that can happen again this season. Fortunately for Hilton, Philip Rivers is the type of quarterback that loves to take shots down the field. Hilton could be one of the best value picks this season.
Next up, I love Terry McLaurin from Washington. He should be another high-volume target and lead the charge of this passing offense. “Scary” Terry burst onto the scene as a big-time playmaker in his rookie season. I think QB Dwayne Haskins will have a huge jump in production this season.
I was able to add other receivers like Tyler Boyd, Emmanuel Sanders, and Will Fuller. I think there’s a good mix of upside, stability, and target-share in this group. If these guys hit and the running backs live up to expectations, this is a playoff-bound team that can compete for a fantasy crown. Plus I’ve got Patrick Mahomes at QB, how can you not love that?!
Finally, I can’t stress this enough: Never go into a draft with a set strategy. Remember that if you found yourself in a position to load up on RBs early, be confident in your ability to flesh out a great squad.
QB Patrick Mahomes
RB: Nick Chubb, Austin Ekeler, Le’Veon Bell, Kerryon Johnson
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Terry McLaurin, Tyler Boyd, Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Emmanuel Sanders, N’Keal Harry
TE: Austin Hooper
K: Justin Tucker
D: Tennessee Titans