Running Back Deep Dive

Alllllright, now things get interesting. While Quarterbacks (which I went over in the previous article) are the most important position on the football field, Running Backs (RB) may be the most important position in Fantasy Football. Because there is such a massive difference between the superstars and everyone else – choosing these guys correctly or incorrectly could make or break your line-up each week.

As their name implies, Running Backs are the guys who… well… run from back behind the QB. Isn’t American Football simple!? The majority of the time, they score points by running (called rushing in Football) the ball towards the opposite team’s endzone. For every 10 yards they run, they score a point. And if they run the football into the end zone for a touchdown, they score another 6 points. It is VERY common for the RB to get the ball when they are close to scoring, that is why this position is so important.

Rushing VS Receiving

Some RBs are known for not only rushing the ball, but also catching it (called receiving in football). IMPORTANT note here… if the QB hands the ball to a player behind them, it is considered a run. If they pass the ball IN FRONT of them, it is considered a pass. Why does this matter? Because in NFTdraft, players get a point just for catching a pass – it’s called PPR (Point Per Reception). So, if a player rushed for 50 yards, they get 5 points. BUT if they CATCH 3 passes totaling 50 yards instead, they get 8 points. And that’s going to make a big difference in their overall score.

The Stud RB1s

There are superstar RBs that you will be tempted to play almost every week – CAR, MIN, NO, DAL, NYG, TEN, GB, etc. While these players are the most consistent, safe, and highest scoring players, they (and others) cost the max 20 points each to play.  The trick here is picking the one or two who will have the best week based on their matchups, the expected game script, etc.

The Role of the RB: Staying Ahead or Playing from Behind

The rest of the RB1s also have some solid value if you know how to play the matchups. Since they don’t cost as much as the sure-fire studs, any of these guys can lead you to victory if you are smart. The trick is to pay close attention to their opponent that week and know what kind of player they are:

  • Option 1: If the team is expected to win easily, by the second half of the game they may just run the ball if they are ahead – and that means points for the RB. Think about it. If you are winning the game, why would you throw the ball and chance the other team stealing it from you? Give it to you big, buff, massive RB and let them run out the clock.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Without getting too much into the nitty gritty, just know that it is easier to run out the game clock by running the ball vs throwing it. So if you want the game to end – Run Forrest Run – and the RB benefits.
  • Option 2: If their team is expected to be losing and playing from behind, then the pass-catching RBs are going to be better plays. Because if you are losing, you will be looking to gain more ground and want to make the game last longer so you can catch up.

What About RB #2?

Remember when we talked about pass-catching RB’s? When a team’s RB1 is more of a traditional runner, it’s common for their RB2 to be more of a pass-catching specialist. So especially games where these teams are expected to be playing from behind, these RB2s could easily outscore the RB1 on their team.

For example, two teams with interesting RB2s are Cleveland and Washington.

  • CLEVELAND: RB1 Nick Chubb was outscored by his RB2 Kareen Hunt multiple times over the season, even when they both played full games. In fact, Kareen Hunt ended the year with the 11th most fantasy points out of ALL Running Backs in the league. And while it costs 20 POINTS to play CLE RB1, it only costs 14 POINTS to play CLE RB2 this year.
  • WASHINGTON: Do you know who had the most targets (aka getting a ball thrown to them) out of ALL running backs last year? It was WAS’s RB2 J.D. McKissic with 110. While a lot of people are predicting a massive year for their RB1 Antonio Gibson (20 POINTS to play), I’ll take the discount on their RB2 (14 POINTS) any game where they may struggle to keep up with their opponent.

TL; DR you can spend up for those superstar RB1s if you don’t want to do the research. Chances are they will give you a safe floor and will rarely destroy your team. But if you want to find the advantages, look into lesser known RB1s, RB2s, and yes, even RB3s as the season continues and play the matchups.

Also, a lot of these guys will move up in ranks and usage without the depth chart reflecting it. Keep an eye out for those aspiring superstars (or stay tuned for future articles) and you can ride your RB to that big ol’ digital money bag!

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Chase aka MAXParzivaL believes that running backs are like a box of chocolates. They all look amazing at the start of the season, but most are filled with that weird marshmallow stuff.

*** All rules are subject to change.