By: Aaron Sopchak @AaronSopchak
Updated: 2/10/2018

2018 Articles

Double Down on Receiver

After playing fantasy football for many years I’ve had the opportunity to see the rise and fall of various players and strategies. My first year playing fantasy was in the running back glory days and I rode Priest Holmes to a championship, defeating my father and all of his co-workers. After winning the money I quit fantasy football for years and upon my return the landscape had changed. I returned in the midst of Calvin Johnson dominating the league. After drafting Calvin in the first round of redraft for the next few years the 0 RB strategy was a natural transition. I based my first two dynasty teams around collecting as many receivers as possible. And that brings me full circle to the 2016-2017 seasons as the running back position seems to be having a resurgence. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued with the idea of restructuring my strategy to go early RB and mid round receivers. But then I started to do some research.

Using PPR scoring from the 2012-2017 seasons I started with some basic math. The average point differential between the RB 1 overall and the RB 5 was 95.5 points. Going a little further, the differential between the RB 1 and RB 10 was a whopping 146.5 points! I flipped over to the WR position and noticed the differential between the WR 1 and the WR 10 was only 81.8 points. Comparing the two positions against each other the average point differential between the RB 1 and WR 1 was 27.5 points in favor of the RB position with the difference in the RB10 and WR 10 being 37.2 points in favor of the WR position. The WR position continues to outscore the RB position by an average of 34 points all the way to the WR/RB 20. There are a few things we can pinpoint from this information. The most obvious analysis is that having a top five running back, especially one of the top two can give you a huge advantage over your league. And wide receivers are a more stable asset especially the deeper you go. All this data at face value would actually support the early RB strategy. The idea of trying to draft a few top 10 running backs and scooping up mid round value receivers could win you a championship. However, here is where things get interesting. From 2012-2017 only 3 running backs managed to have back to back top 5 performances. LeVeon Bell, Marshawn Lynch and Matt Forte. The number 1 running back from each season was not in the top 5 the prior season. And after being number 1 did not return to be a top 5 running back the following year. Surprisingly, only 2 running backs managed to make the top 10 the year prior to becoming number 1. David Johnson and Jamaal Charles. And only 3 running backs were able to even make the top 10 after being number 1. Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Devonta Freeman. Although having the number 1 running back increases your chances of winning your league, the odds of you knowing who the top 5 running backs will be are pretty slim.

Going back to 2012, the number 1 RB in ADP has failed to make the top 5 every year. I’m talking to the guy who is about to draft Todd Gurley at the 1.01… With the incoming rookie class, now is the time to double down on wide receiver and shoot for the stars. In dynasty you want long term reliability and it’s much easier to project wide receiver production. On a year to year basis 42% of the top 10 wide receivers return to the top 10. Running backs return to the top 10 only 28% of the time. You’re welcome to go early RB but the odds are stacked against you. And with the 2016-2017 classes, running back should have plenty of depth for those of us who choose to go early receiver. If you’ve been a disciple of 0 RB don’t be the guy that gives up to soon. Double down on those receivers.

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