Robust RB Strategy & Targets: David Montgomery, Joe Mixon, Saquon Barkley (2022 Fantasy Football)
The Robust RB strategy is considered the hyper-fragile nemesis of Zero RB, where the fantasy manager fills their two starting running back positions and any flex spots with running backs before selecting their wide receivers, tight end, and quarterback. The idea is that stud running backs who garner huge volume (and subsequent upside) are in very short supply, while high-scoring wide receivers and quarterbacks are as bountiful as the bison population before Manifest Destiny.
Robust RB draft advocates scoff at the mention of the “injury prone” label. It does not exist in their vocabulary. It is understood that running backs get injured, but every season features top running backs who stay healthy and produce a bounty of fantasy points unmatchable by late-round RB handcuffs. Meanwhile, there seems to be a new crop of wide receivers every year who take a leap from the mid to late rounds into WR1 superstardom.
To reiterate, Robust RB strategy is the overt act of filling all starting running back positions and drafting a RB for any flex spots before venturing into the deep blue ocean of quality wide receivers who have WR1 potential. One slight modification that I find helpful is to grab a top tight end early before the massive cliff at the position (if possible).
Zero-RB proponents insist the Dead Zone still exists, but they have conveniently changed the names for the 2022 draft season. Here are some of the inhabitants of the nether realm whom I expect to launch many fantasy teams to glory in their health.
- David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
- Ezekiel Elliott (RB – DAL)
- Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS)
- Aaron Jones (RB – GB)
- Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)
- J.K. Dobbins (RB – BAL)
- Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)
- Leonard Fournette (RB – TB)
- Josh Jacobs (RB – LV)
- James Conner (RB – ARI)
David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
David Montgomery finished as the RB12 and RB6 in fantasy points per game in each of the last two seasons, surpassing expectations. The Bears’ receiving weapons are depleted outside of Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet, so there’s an easy pathway for plenty of check downs weekly. With Fields under center, he saw 4.75 targets per game, which would be a new career-high if that repeats this upcoming season. Montgomery needs the added fantasy points through the air because outside of raw volume on the ground, the big plays likely won’t be there to lead to ceiling weeks. Montgomery is a volume RB2 with an upside for more.
– Derek Brown
They have all the incentive to ball out, and their teams have all the incentive to run them into the ground.
Notable 2023 free agent running backs are Devin Singletary, Saquon Barkley, Kareem Hunt, Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs and James Robinson.
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) May 23, 2022
Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)
Joe Mixon was an absolute steal in the second round of fantasy drafts in 2021 based on his easily projected large workload within an ascending offense. The Bengals running back finished the season third in total touches (334) and sixth in touches per game (20.9).
Mixon also ranked third in goal-line carries (16) and tied Jonathan Taylor/James Conner in red-zone touchdowns. 2021 was the perfect storm for the fantasy RB3 in half-points scoring coming off a truncated 2020 campaign, and there’s reason to believe the positive production will continue in 2022.
The Bengals offensive line has been revamped entirely, ensuring that Mixon will be able to repeat his top-10 PFF rushing grade from a season ago. He also flashed upside a receiver down the playoff stretch for the Bengals, averaging nearly six targets per game while running a route on 57% of offensive dropbacks through six games. That route participation would have ranked third among all running backs during the regular season.
Mixon fits all the criteria that a fantasy manager would want as a mid-range first round selection in fantasy football. However, he owns the RB7 ADP at 12th overall in early best ball drafts.
– Andrew Erickson
Awesome tool on @FantasyPros that I have been re-introduced to: The Boom or Bust Report
Makes loving RB Joe Mixon that easy.
Mixon and Jonathan Taylor were the only RBs to post 7 top-six weekly finishes in 2021. pic.twitter.com/dAKDV29zFG
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) May 17, 2022
Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)
Once a locked-and-loaded top-five fantasy football selection, Barkley is now routinely selected in the third round. His inability to stay healthy has hindered him from being able to recapture his rookie form in addition to the Giants’ h0rrible situation on offense. But under a new coaching staff and vastly improved offensive line, there’s reason to buy back in on Barkley at a massive discount. In 5 games last season when Barkley played a full snap share with Daniel Jones under center, the Giants RB averaged 16.2 PPR points per game (RB10). Backup Devontae Booker out-scored Barkley on a per-game basis in all other games played (10.0 vs 9.1).
– Derek Brown
Saquon Barkley in the 3rd round won’t last long but if/when he’s there 😍🥰 https://t.co/4eUudlAJCn
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) June 8, 2022
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