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Hero-RB Dynasty Startup Strategy (2023 Fantasy Football)

Hero-RB Dynasty Startup Strategy (2023 Fantasy Football)

I realize there might not be droves of crazed fans who follow everything I create and take my word as gospel. Hell, even I don’t like myself that much. But, on the same token, you would have fared pretty well in dynasty startups by simply walking into Mordor and heeding my advice last offseason. The old Bruce Lee cliche tied to fantasy football drafts is “Be Water.” As in, don’t cement yourself into a predetermined philosophy before the first domino falls. While that is generally sage counseling, there is something to be said for catering a plan to your position on the board regarding coveted players in a dynasty startup.

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Hero-RB Dynasty Startup Strategy (2023 Fantasy Football)

Perhaps the hottest strategy in the biz is “Hero-RB” or “Anchor-RB.” By definition, the dynasty manager anchors their team around a stud at the RB position, then fills every other starting position before revisiting RB. I like calling it Hero-RB because it rhymes with its creepy uncle, “Zero-RB.” I also can envision Christian McCaffrey standing on a mountaintop, hands on hips and chin up, as his cape whips in the wind. He was our hero last season. I mentioned his name outright in the 2022 version of this piece here and reinforced it with the CMC as the 1.01 drumbeat later in the preseason. I also advocated for risk-tolerant managers to take a shot at fantasy football icon Austin Ekeler as their hero. All he did was take home the RB1 crown last season.

The Hero-RB strategy, like Uncle Zero, is based upon the relentless pursuit of a WR1 stockpile. A great deal more WRs appear as safer bets to score points relative to their draft value than RBs, especially once the top tier of ball carriers dries up. The key is to pick the right WRs (and elite TE) without leaving RB as a position of outright weakness. Although I don’t necessarily believe there to be much of an “RB Dead Zone” heading into 2023, there is still a clear drop-off from the Heroes to the guys who carry more risk than a WR on the rise with a similar ADP.

The Actors

Most dynasty leagues have switched to Superflex, which puts QBs in the value driver’s seat. There are currently eight QBs who I would pick in the first round of a 12-team Superflex startup draft. After that, there isn’t much difference between Single-QB and Superflex startups. QBs are independent actors to me, as I put much more focus on skill players when strategizing. The RBs to target as a Hero/Anchor in dynasty startups heading into 2023 are as follows: Jonathan Taylor, Christian McCaffrey, Bijan Robinson, Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker, Saquon Barkley and Travis Etienne.

For the managers with iron stomachs, riskier heroes are Austin Ekeler, D’Andre Swift, Javonte Williams, Rhamondre Stevenson and Jahmyr Gibbs. Those guys have massive upside, but also sport later average draft position (ADP) due to factors like age, injury or complete uncertainty. Using an early pick on the risky guys might be prudent if using a first-rounder on an elite WR or TE. Hero-RB means hitching your wagon to one RB, along with a litany of top pass catchers. If you believe in one, show it!

Why Not More?

As with Zero-RB, the depth at the RB position comes much later. After all of the starting WR, TE and flex positions are filled with elite receivers, you must build an anti-fragility “platoon.” I picture it as my RB2 is six to eight guys with no speaking role in the movie. They are NPCs, extras. As injuries and depth charts unfold, the picture clarifies. Hoarding handcuffs is my true passion.

It’s incredibly empowering to have my opponents come to me on bended knee to kiss the ring and overpay for a living, breathing RB who was rotting on my bench as a sleeper cell until that day. Backup RBs see astronomical value swings during the season and are either key cogs to a winning roster or the ultimate bargaining chip. The understated dark web of dynasty is the thirst for reserve ball carriers for Zero and Hero-RB managers. It is unquenchable and expands like the universe. They are the blood diamonds of our sport.

With elite receivers entrenched on our rosters, the only point of contention is predicting RB usage. The Hero-RB strategy largely gives the manager one RB spot to worry about, barring injury to the anchor back. Even in that event, a well-prepared manager can still stay above water in many cases. It’s no wonder why this strategy has become so popular among the sharpest minds in the dynasty community.

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