Dierks Bentley croons “Every mile a memory…every day a paged turned down” while I tap my right pinkie finger. The semicolons are blurred across my Word doc; writer’s block urges me to change it up. Delta is the Greek letter that symbolizes change, where a river meets the sea. Your fantasy football draft strategy from last year is no longer valid. If you are to traverse the rapids and prevail into an ocean of success unscathed, you mustn’t anchor in the sand. The current is the present. Today we are robust.
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Robust RB Draft Strategy & Advice (Fantasy Football)
The Robust RB strategy was that drumbeat to a fantasy winner’s pulse not too long ago. I started my draft with Larry Johnson alongside Willie Parker and Steven Jackson back in 2006 and annihilated everyone. It was en vogue to be a knuckle-dragging bell cow boss until the Zero RB soy boys entered the fray with their fancy-dancy analytics and mathematical reasoning. Hyper-fragility was like free love in the 1960s. Now that the refrain has completely shifted to a frenzy of anti-fragile receiver hoarding, we may grunt again and reminisce about the glory days. Our cave walls might be adorned with double-iso from 13-personnel sets, but our rags have fallen back into style like a fanny pack.
Overcorrection is ultimately the reason why Robust RB will be a viable avenue in 2023. As expected, a large influx of receiving talent has saturated the player pool. You can’t even throw a football randomly into the air without hitting a guy with WR1 upside. RBs are the Cinderella story, but not the post-waltz happy ending. They are cast into the shadows and expected to carry the yoke without a shred of appreciation for the physical toll. Elite RBs who are an “only child” in the backfield are in alarmingly short supply during this age of fantasy-hating running game communism. Average draft position (ADP) is currently interpreting as “Every RB will get hurt, so draft a WR.” The pendulum has swung to its maximum amplitude, and now must return to equilibrium.
The languid ease to replace an injured WR with a late-round overachiever implores us to target RBs early on in our fantasy drafts. How many? In order to be truly “robust,” the manager would fill their starting RB and flex positions before addressing the others. For some, that’s only three. Others will have a veritable stockpile of girthy quads to intimidate and thoroughly frustrate their league mates. Robust RB strategy is not for the faint of heart or even a mild case of risk aversion. Who it is for is the manager looking for a roster with immense upside and week-to-week roster fortitude and consistency.
Rather than agonizing over which RB is primed for a 400-point season in PPR, they lock in Justin Jefferson, who scored 360 fantasy points in a year where he had record-breaking production. Fundamentally, starting your team with the best WR in the NFL is smart. Austin Ekeler was better on a points-per-game basis than Jefferson last season, while Christian McCaffrey switched teams midstream and still yawned his way to 21.2 points per game. Unless you have Jefferson flirting with 2,000 yards again, there are a half dozen RBs who can match that production in good health. Some of those RBs will be drafted after the first round in 2023.
Who are the preferred Robust RB targets? Essentially, a case can be made for any of the guys sporting a first-round ADP. After that, the waters get a little murky and the talent vs. situation talks are broached. Here is a breakdown of the Robust RB strategy with target players through nine rounds, assuming QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/WR/TE/FLEX/FLEX with PPR scoring. ADP courtesy of FantasyPros.
Robust RB Draft Targets
Round 1 Targets
Round 2 Targets
Round 3 Targets
Round 4 Targets
Round 5 Targets
Round 6 Targets
Round 7 Targets
Round 8 Targets
Round 9 Targets
Example Starting Lineup
You can run FREE mock drafts using our Draft Wizard to get a sense of what your starting lineup and bench will look like using Robust RB strategy.
- QB- Justin Herbert
- RB- Christian McCaffrey
- RB- Tony Pollard
- WR- Jaxon Smith-Njigba
- WR- Jahan Dotson
- WR- Elijah Moore
- TE- Chig Okonkwo
- Flex- Breece Hall
- Flex- JK Dobbins
I, for one, would be ecstatic to start the 2023 season with this redraft lineup. The receivers are very young, but with immense upside relative to ADP. This also gives a nod to my dear friend Scott Simpson and his WR2 Theory. The four horsemen I selected were all fantasy stalwarts on a points-per-game basis last season. Herbert is in his first season with new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who brings with him a stellar reputation for scoring points. Give the Robust RB Strategy a try this season. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how dominant it can be in an era where your opponents still have Zero RB Kool-Aid stains around their mouths.