Alternative Draft Theories: Single RB (2019 Fantasy Football)

by Jason Katz | @jasonkatz13 | Featured Writer
May 21, 2019

Drafting one elite RB, like Ezekiel Elliott, early is the foundation of the Single RB strategy

The most important thing to understand about draft theories is that no one theory is objectively superior to any other. When you plan for a draft, you absolutely should have a set strategy you want to employ. You should also be prepared to call an audible based on how the draft goes. If you’re looking to go “Zero RB,” but your draft goes unusually heavy at WR early, the value will likely be in abandoning your original plan and grabbing an RB or two early.

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Today, we are going to discuss my favorite draft strategy — Single RB. I am sure I am not the originator of this strategy, but I haven’t come across any other articles describing it as Single RB and whenever I hear others speak about the strategy, it’s more as a deviation from Zero RB than a standalone approach.

What is it?

The primary tenet of Single RB, as you likely already deduced, is to grab an elite RB in one of the first two rounds before loading up on WRs. This strategy is derived from two fundamental aspects of fantasy football. 1) We know that the single most decisive advantage you can have on your fantasy team is an elite RB. 2) We know that as we get farther away from the top, specifically at RB, the odds of a player busting increase dramatically. Check out this article from Jacob Herlin for a more in-depth analysis of how draft position correlates to bust potential.

To summarize, the odds you hit on an RB1 in either of the first two rounds isn’t much different. In the third round, it dips considerably. In the fourth round, it takes a nosedive.

Strategy

The goal of Single RB is to secure an elite RB early and then figure it out on the fly at RB2. You are much better served gobbling up WRs in the middle rounds.  You likely will not draft your second RB until the fifth or sixth round. Essentially, the same ideas behind how to handle RB with Zero RB are applied here, except instead of having to “figure it out” at RB, you only have to figure it out at RB2.

Assuming normal sized rosters and benches, you should draft a total of five RBs and you should target RBs with RB2 upside. You want RBs on the wrong side of timeshares that have the potential to flip the script either via on-field performance or injury to the primary back. You want satellite backs that have a safe PPR floor with upside for more. You want handcuffs of other teams’ RBs that are one step away from weekly productivity. Basically, you want RBs that could plausibly become starting fantasy assets.

When people think Zero RB or Single RB, the focus is primarily on the running back position. You mustn’t forget the WRs. The wide receiver position is arguably more important to making this strategy successful. You can discover all the viable RB2s you want, but if you don’t have that WR advantage, the strategy implodes. Your odds of securing a trustworthy WR1 in one of the first two rounds are relatively high.

The key is in those next two WRs. You need to hit. As this is a general strategy article, providing names is only helpful for one season. Do your usual due diligence in your draft preparation and nail those WRs. When your draft is over, not only should your only weakness be RB2, but you should clearly see an edge on your team at the wide receiver position as a whole. You should be able to look at your team and know that if you can find a weekly RB2, you are going to be a team no one wants to face.

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Jason Katz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive or follow him @jasonkatz13.

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