You need good running backs to win in Fantasy Football. Even the curmudgeon-liest Zero-RB truthers -- a population I am adjacent to, if not a full fledged member -- will admit that having an elite running back is one of the best pieces to have if you want to win a championship.
The debate is about the best way to go about building a team. Knowing you want an elite RB, should you chase the position heavily at the top of your draft, invest several of your first half-dozen or so picks, with the hope you'll end up with at least two must-start guys? Or should you avoid investing heavily at all, knowing the attrition rate of the position means you're likely going to be wasting at least a few of your most valuable picks on players who won't end up being worth it?
Loyal reader of the Fantasy Football Today Newsletter that you are, you've already seen my early-round road map, where I walk you through how to approach the early rounds no matter what strategy you want to go with. Me, I prefer to take one elite RB in the first two rounds and then focus on my other positions for the next four to six rounds. But that's just me! You may prefer a different plan.
I know Dave Richard does. He's always been a heavy-RB proponent, and that's especially true this season, when the crop of potential three-down difference makers looks deeper than it has in a long time. In today's newsletter, Dave will walk you through his approach to the position along with his tiered rankings from Round 1 all the way to the deep backups, letting you know when the right time to move on each player is.
We talked about the running back tiers on Tuesday's episode of Fantasy Football Today, with Dave, Heath Cummings, and Adam Aizer breaking down the position and talking about who belongs with who, where to draft them, and why they disagree. And if you need a longer view on the position -- one that has a ton of yearly turnover -- Heath's RB Dynasty tiers are right here, where he talks about why Chris Carson, Kareem Hunt, and -- gulp -- Derrick Henry might be at or near the peak of their values.
If you missed the QB tiers discussion, check it out here. For now, here are Dave's latest RB tiers:
Dave Richard's Updated RB Tiers
Drafts this year will be no different than those in the past: Running backs are going to be popular. But this season, even the people who don't like taking running backs early are admitting it's a good idea to take running backs early.
The reality is that there are right around 25 different rushers considered majority-workload players for their teams. Many of them have upside as pass-catchers, and most will have the opportunity to rack up a solid number of touchdowns. Those running backs make up the first four running back tiers, and they are going to fly off the draft board.
The majority of Fantasy drafters love locking up their starting running back spots with these types of backs. You might already know you're one of them, which is fine. But in case you're not sure if you want to invest heavily in running backs, consider the following checklist:
- Look over the players in the first four running back tiers. If most or all of them are guys you could see yourself starting, you could probably get away with spending at least one of your first four picks on a non-running back. If you don't like as many names, then you've got to chase the running backs you do like with your first two, maybe three picks.
- Check out the rushers in the fifth and sixth tiers. If the thought of willingly starting any of them makes you violently ill, then you know you should prioritize running backs with your early choices.
There's also the concept of passing on running backs entirely with most or all of your first four picks to stock up on elite talents at other positions. In such a case, your roster might have a core of Travis Kelce, Stefon Diggs, DK Metcalf and Lamar Jackson. That's nothing to sneeze at, but think of what's left at running back if you choose that route. Are you cool with starting Melvin Gordon and James Conner in Week 1 knowing that both won't have the roles you remember them having? Some people love this strategy, called Zero RB (because you literally draft zero RBs with at least your first four picks), but in a year where stud running backs are actually plentiful, Fantasy managers shouldn't have to commit to such a strategy.
An alternative is to draft one running back early, then fill up on other positions before coming back to running backs in Round 5 or later. At least you'll have one top-tier hero tethered to your lineup while you hope to luck into another with your other picks and waiver moves during the year.
The other piece of advice is to draft a lot of running backs. Remember, this position tends to score more than their counterparts, people love trading for them, injuries can change their values quickly, and you need to start at least two of them every week.
Also, the league's move to a 17-game schedule is yet another reason to bulk up. Coaches will devise a plan to keep their running backs fresh by installing some sort of "pitch count," even for the top stars in the league. You'll see two-back tandems more often, though it shouldn't affect the premier guys as much as others who aren't as explosive. Combine that with the normal wear-and-tear running backs deal with, and we will all find more running backs stumbling into reliable pockets of playing time once the season unfolds, even if it's just for two or three weeks.
Fantasy Football Today Newsletter
Know What Your Friends Don't
Get tips, advice and news to win your league - all from the FFT podcast team.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
DAVE'S FAVORITE STRATEGY: Take at least two running backs with your first three draft selections and plan on grabbing a third running back from the third or fourth tiers if one is available in Round 4. Then collect at least three more running backs the rest of the way.