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Putting the RB first strategy to rest, a new strategy

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Putting the RB first strategy to rest, a new strategy

Postby BigBlue2005 » Mon Aug 29, 2005 11:17 am

This applies to to all leagues where RB's and WR's get equal points for yardage and touchdowns.

All I hear every year is how if you don't draft RB's first you are going to crash and burn. I want to say that from experience this simply isn't true. It is perhaps the biggest myth in fantasy football that you need a top running back to succeed and I'm not speaking from speculation I'm speaking from experience. Every year for the past 2 years I've played FF seriously in a money league. I have won both years and I have not drafted a single RB before round 4. That sounds like a violation of the FF Bible to drafting but it really isn't when you break down the numbers.

There are about 32-33 running backs in the NFL which will be starters for their teams. There are on average usually 5 or so RB starters which will either be replaced or injured during the year.

That means there are 32 RB's who will see 15+ carries a game regardless of what team they are on. Whether you get one of the top 10 in the first round or one of the bottom 10 in the 4th round you are still guaranteed to get 15+ carries a game which will translate into points.

This is not so with WR's. In the NFL there are only a handful of WR's far less than 20 who will put up consistant numbers each and every week. For those who are unfortunate enough to not get one of the top 15 WR's, they will be playing musical chairs with their WR position all year long trying to figure out if they should start the inconsistant WR who just had a huge game or the inconsistant WR who has a good match up. And more often than not they will find themselves wasting 2 full WR positions because they play the wrong WR. And god forbid one of their WR's get's injured it would be over from that point out.

Having 1-2 elite RB's on your team and 2 WR's who are not in the top 15 will mean you are competing with an opponent who has 2 non-elite running backs who are guaranteed to see 15 carries a game (unlike your WR's) and who also has top producing WR's.

If you truly want to win your league all you need is a little luck with injuries not killing you, and alot of strategy in being bold enough not to follow everyone else. The best value you can possibly get is to avoid the runs that occur in FF. When everyone else is selecting 1st and 2nd tier running backs in round 1 and 2 I advocate selecting WR's.

Last year I selected Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, and Derrick Mason. I won my league. This year in a 12 team league I have Randy Moss , Terrel Owens, and Joe Horn. My RB's are JJ Arington, Carnel Williams, Thomas Jones, Mewelde Moore and Kevin Barlow. I have 3 RB's who are starters all getting at least 15+ carries.

Let me put this into a better perspective.

Imagine elite RB's get 30 points a game
Elite WR's (only the top 3 WR's in the league) get 30 as well. Those who do the WR strategy land something like I did.

Here is my team and one of my typical RB first opponents team. This opponent in my league had the best running back draft IMO which is why I am using him.

My team

WR Randy Moss WR MIN
WR Terrel Owens WR PHI
WR Joe Horn WR NO
RB JJ Arrington RB ARI
RB Carnell Williams RB TB

Opponents team

RB James, Edgerrin RB IND
RB Jones, Kevin RB DET
RB Lewis, Jamal RB BAL
WR Driver, Donald WR GB
WR Houshmandzadeh, T.J. WR CIN

Now Randy Moss, Terrel Owens, and Joe Horn according to 2 year fantasy averages will score nearly the same as Jamal Lewis, Kevin Jones, and Edgerrin James. As far as fantasy points are concerned these players all nullify eachother.

Now ask yourself who will score points, the 2 WR's my opponent has who are inconsistant and unproven and who will not be guaranteed even a single catch as game? Or the 2 rookie runningbacks on my team who are both starters who are guarantted 15 rushes or more per game.

This is in a nutshell the reason why a successful drafting of WR's from round 1-3 against a full league of players who choose the RB first strategy will almost certainly be beaten in fantasy points.

This is not meant to be attacking anyone's strategy it is just a strategy that I have created for myself and had great success with.
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Postby Mercer Boy » Mon Aug 29, 2005 11:31 am

Interesting strategy...just kind of surprising that you would have gotten Moss and Owens together...and also getting Horn. What pick were you? I suppose if I were the last pick in a draft I would think about going Moss/Owens, but I probably wouldn't have.

I would have to say that having two WR's that can put up points like RB's do would be nice, and as long as you have some RB's that put up about 8-10 points a week that would end up acting like your WR's, I could definitely see it working. WR's are really a pain in the butt most weeks, and at least one of them normally gets 5 points or less.

Yes, your total point output could definitely be greater doing this...but you have to have two WR's that are great and don't get hurt. If they do, I would think you'd be in trouble.
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Postby BigBlue2005 » Mon Aug 29, 2005 11:56 am

I was overall the 1st pick in a 12 team league. I traded down to the 10th pick allowing me to do the strategy I just mentioned. It is important to judge where you think Moss and Owens would be taken and pick the appropriate spot in your league. In a 10 team league try to trade for draft spot 8-9 in a 12 team try bettwen 8-10.

Like you said WR's are a pain in the arse. That is why this strategy works so well because if you can fill your roster with 3 of the top 10 WR's which is very possible given everyone else's rushing in for RB's, you will have consistency with WR's.

Even if one of my WR's got hurt, my back up WR is Ashley Lelie and I took the rookie WR from detroit Mike Williams.

I will give a full list of my drafted players and explain what my full strategy was incase anyone is interested.


QB Jake Delehome

RB Carnell Williams
RB JJ Arrington

WR Randy Moss
WR Terrel Owens
WR Joe Horn

TE Alge Crumpler

K Shayne Graham

Defense Chicago Bears

Back ups

QB Aaron Brooks

RB Kevin Barlow
RB Thomas Jones
RB Mewelde Moore

WR Ashley Lelie
WR Mike Williams

TE Ben Troupe

K Nate Kaeding

Def NY Giants

My strategy had 5 main goals.

#1 Grab 3 of the top 10 wide receivers including 2 of the top 3.

#2 Grab 3 running backs who will be starters regardless of what team they play for or how good they are( usually this comes down to who is simply left who is a starter at RB position)

#3 Grab a top TE before round 7

#4 Grab 2 Extra RB's that either have the potential to keep and hold a starter job by playing well or will still see playing time and goal line carries as a back up(IE Thomas Jones as I have now, or TJ Duckett, Christ Brown and others like them) or who have a good chance to get s atsrting job based on injury ( I took Mewelde Moore predicting that Michael Bennet will be injured again) other such sniper RB's who exist are people like Larry Johnson, Marshal Faulk, Derrick Baylock.

#5 Avoid picking kickers and Defenses until after round 12. It is rediculous to pick them as they all score so erratically that you should be changing them according to match up most weeks anyways.
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Postby PBRmeASAP » Mon Aug 29, 2005 12:10 pm

Your strategy may very well pay off as you've landed top quality WR's. However, I would like to see the team you could have built with LT at no. 1. I think I'd rather build my team around him than Moss and Owens who both have question marks - unlike LT who is the f'n man. I also think you would have found some top 10 quality WR with your 2nd and 3rd round picks.

When you have the chance to get the no. 1 guy overall - you gotta take it!
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Postby BrutallyHuge » Mon Aug 29, 2005 12:12 pm

Your team will get laid to waste.

There's a reason that RBs usually go in the first 2 rounds...and it's a real good reason.

Sometimes the road less-traveled is less-traveled for a reason.
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Postby jblank » Mon Aug 29, 2005 12:13 pm

PBRmeASAP wrote:Your strategy may very well pay off as you've landed top quality WR's. However, I would like to see the team you could have built with LT at no. 1. I think I'd rather build my team around him than Moss and Owens who both have question marks - unlike LT who is the f'n man. I also think you would have found some top 10 quality WR with your 2nd and 3rd round picks.

When you have the chance to get the no. 1 guy overall - you gotta take it!

I agree 100%! I draft rather traditionally, conservatively if you will, but it pays off for me, and I am nearly always able to trade one of the 4 RB's I always draft, for a solid WR, at some point, if I happen to be weak there.

I've won several championships drafting the "RB first way" and I dont see myself changing. To me, RB's are still equivilent to Queens in a Chess match.
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Postby swyck » Mon Aug 29, 2005 12:20 pm

Interesting. I think its a reasonable strategy, but I'm not going to jump on this bandwagon just yet.

The problem as I see it is that those RBs you have on your list are not locks to get 15+ carries a game. A couple are rooks, who may or may not do well, and the vets aren't locked in starters either. There is a very real chance that your RBs wont do nearly as well as you're hoping. As far as comparing your team versus your opponents, Driver and Housh could outscore Arrington and Williams.

This is not to say that I totally disagree with you. I do believe that the 2RBs first thing is a bit overstated. However, I also think that scoring by WRs, even the top ones, is less consistent then scoring by comparable level RBs. Still, that should work out if you are starting 3 or 4 WRs.

And that is where I think this has the most value -- leagues that have a flex position and/or extra WR spots. I've seen some scoring analysis, and done some myself, that show a #3 WR generally outscores #3 RBs. So despite the protestations of some, starting a WR over an RB at the flex makes perfect sense, depending on your team and the matchups. Of course that is one of the arguments to grab RBs early -- so your #3RB is at a #2 level.

I still like having a top RB, but I think flexibility is the key, and I think this strategy is a viable option. Post again later in the season so we can get an idea on how its working for you this year.
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Postby Dan Lambskin » Mon Aug 29, 2005 12:30 pm

    2003 top 20
    2004 top 20

    R MOSS

    T HOLT
    J HORN


    T HOLT


    H WARD


    S MOSS





    J HORN








any names in this list jump out at you as WR who could have been had much later? it's just as easy to pickup WR in late rounds who will contribute as it is to grab RB who will.

did anyone really think Muhammed would be the #1 WR last year? did he even get drafted in your league? what about Walker or Wayne in the top 10? maybe, but i doubt they were taken before the 4th or 5th round. Burleson, Stokley, kennison...cmon, all WW guys.

while i'm not married to RB/RB the 1st 2 rounds, i stick dang close to it and usually do well with it
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Postby johnrambo » Mon Aug 29, 2005 12:55 pm

You got lucky to get Moss and Owens and your team is still a joke.
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Postby BigBlue2005 » Mon Aug 29, 2005 1:04 pm

See I won my league last with a WR first strategy and it was a 10 team league. This year it was a 12 team league and I think I did even better.

Last year I got Randy Moss, Marvin Harisson, and Derrick Mason, this year in a 12 team I got Randy Moss, TO, and Joe Horn.

You are missing one crucial point about those WR's who produced so well last year, most of them were flukes. I avoided drafting all of them this year. Let's look at 3 examples.

Michael Clayton, everyone rushed to draft him this year, the circumstances in Tampa last year were that every major receiving threat was injured leaving only him, he will be a bust this year or average at best with the return of all his fellow receivers.

Reggie Wayne - Peyton had a career season. Wayne capitalized on that as did every receiver on the colts team, but like every receiver on the colts team, except the elites expect him to see a sharp decrease in yards and td's. Peyton will not repeat his last year and with Harrison, James, Clark, and Stokely, don't expect Wayne to either.

Javon Walker - How many times have we seen WR's fall into a situation where they produce one big season out of nowhere and then fade into obscurity? Driver had one big year, now Walker, remember Price with the Falcons? The list is quite large and requires only a little research to find. Walker is no exception, he is playing for a team that is aging quickly and is prone to injuries. He will not see numbers anywhere near the amount he did last year and is another bust for a top round.

So as far as picking up good WR's in free agency that suddenly appear as fantasy studs, those FA's will have to replace someone who WAS a fantasy stud and guess what? It won't be Owens or Moss or Chad Johnson, or Joe Horn, or Marvin Harrison, or Tory Holt, it will be the Javon Walkers and Reggie Waynes and Michael Claytons of the NFL that fade away as another hot 1 year wonder rises to replace them.
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