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Hero-RB Dynasty Startup Strategy (2022 Fantasy Football)

Hero-RB Dynasty Startup Strategy (2022 Fantasy Football)

The 2022 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and we’ll have you covered with everything dynasty fantasy football as you prepare for your startup and rookie drafts. We’ll have several dynasty strategy articles similar to this as well as dynasty veteran and rookie profiles, featured rankings, and ways to engage with our analysts in our upcoming 2022 Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit.

A hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities – a champion for a worthy cause. A running back spends his playing career trudging through the muck, dodging men with bad intentions. Nobody totes the rock more often than a starting running back, other than the glorified field general barking out the orders. Some of these ball carriers possess a level of talent that stands out on their team and the league like towering lighthouses of blindingly bright fantasy potential. They are the heroes of the aptly named Hero-RB draft strategy in dynasty fantasy football. This strategy is an ode to them.

Andrew Erickson Mock Draft

Analytically speaking, Hero RB is the most successful startup strategy among all of them. Sometimes lazily referred to as “Modified Zero RB,” Hero RB is the overt act of laying the bedrock of a startup dynasty roster with a running back of singular talent in the first round of 1QB leagues or the first two rounds of superflex leagues. Rostering an elite performer at the running back position, followed by a cornucopia of non-RB draft selections, paves the way to a lineup dripping with positive expected value (EV+).

The detractors will argue that running backs don’t matter, that they are doomed to dash your championship hopes in a puddle of injury-related tears. They will insist that spending such a valuable early pick on a quickly depreciating asset shrinks the “window” of competing for the gold. I would argue that the Hero-RB strategy makes up for its longevity in the championship window with its potency within. Since the ideal dynasty roster build should consider the next two to three seasons ahead, there are six running backs upon whom you can build a Hero-RB startup around.

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The Actors

Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) is the obvious one. It may have taken Frank Reich a year and a fortnight to realize that Taylor is a generational back and worthy of an Earl Campbell-esque workload, as he has been the most productive running back in the NFL going away. He is only 23 years old and is entering his third season with the Colts, who have both a solid offensive line and a run-friendly scheme in which Taylor will thrive. We should also note that the consensus 1.01 in 1QB startups is 225 pounds, and one of the fastest running backs in the NFL, with developing vision and versatility at the professional level. An early pick is very well spent on Taylor.

The other five are as follows: Javonte Williams (RB – DEN), D’Andre Swift (RB – DET), Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR), Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN), and Najee Harris (RB – PIT) (in order of personal preference). Each of these running backs has either star quality or youth on their side (or both). Depending on the scoring format, they currently have ADPs within the first round of startup drafts. Some managers might also spring for the likes of Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC), Derrick Henry (RB – TEN), or Alvin Kamara (RB – NO). Those are all fantastic players by their recent fantasy accolades, but their age and mileage make for a riskier proposition for a dynasty startup. If you have the risk tolerance of a base jumper, go for it. The key with Hero RB is to lock down the RB1 position as a top priority, then fill in all of the remaining starting slots before revisiting running back again in the draft.

Now What?

Once the RB1 is entrenched, be Ricky Bobby’s dad. You’ll inevitably be back for Career Day, but not before you sow wild oats at wide receiver and tight end. I am biased toward snatching an elite tight end as soon as possible to leverage my competition at the position with the most scarcity. If I get a scary running back followed by Kyle Pitts (TE – ATL) or Travis Kelce (TE – KC) (or both in a Bully-TE scenario), dozens of coveted wide receivers will later fall into my lap.

Startup drafts are the first opportunity for a dynasty manager to flex some big moves to intimidate the competition. Don’t be afraid to mortgage late-round draft picks by trading up to earlier picks. Whether using the rankings and tools at FantasyPros or a personal system, be sure to get your guys. The benches in dynasty should constantly be churning, so I find it very valuable to pack as many studs into the starting lineup as possible.

Once you fill the other starting positions, have a plan for a flurry of RB2 options. Another way I can flex on my opponents: I hoard handcuff running backs. I want the handcuff to my RB1 and all the valuable handcuffs I can get my grubby fingers on. They can be more of a value on my bench as leverage against RB-thirsty league mates than in my starting lineup. Especially in Hero-RB or Zero-RB strategies, make a conscious effort to build running back depth from the middle of the startup and onward. A bias toward receiving backs who stand to see a jump in snap share if the starter on their team goes down will pay big dividends throughout the season.

The Hero We Didn’t Ask For

Roster construction will ultimately even out by the end of dynasty startups, but the Hero-RB strategy is a springboard to a juggernaut squad that will defeat and frustrate opponents. Most dynasty diehards have more of a fluid approach to drafting than a set-in-stone strategy. Finding the balance between your risk tolerance and the flow of the specific draft is essential. It also matters which draft position you select. A late first-round spot might preclude you from taking a coveted running back for the Hero-RB setup to progress optimally. Locking down a stud RB1 is a means to an end, especially with win-now aspirations. It is ultimately up to each manager to weigh the fear of injury to their hero with his upside.

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