Stud Running Back Theory

The Stud Running Back Theory (SRBT) is based on the premise that stud running backs are a scarce commodity.

Many leagues require lineups similar to the following

1 QB
2 RB
3 WR
1 TE
1 K
1 D

Now let's break that down to percentages of available NFL players. Assuming a fantasy league of 12 teams, each position will be multiplied by 12 to show how many players at each position start each week.

Starters Per Fantasy Team

Position

Total Starting in 12-team Fantasy League

Total NFL Starters % of NFL Starters Playing on Fantasy Football Rosters Each Week
1 QB 12 32 38%
2 RB 24 32 75%
3 WR 36 64 56%
1 TE 12 32 38%
1 K 12 32 38%
1 D 12 32 38%

The scarcity of running backs is apparent and would be even more dramatic if teams with running back by committee (rbbc) approaches were removed from the NFL starters to identify true "stud running backs" who are going to get the bulk of a team's touches at the position.

Let's look at it one more way. Sure, there are 32 NFL teams with X number of starters at each position - but how many of those are "quality" starters. A wide receiver starting on an NFL run-heavy team may not be playable on fantasy football teams even though he is a starting wide receiver in the NFL.

For purposes of the calculations below we have made a few assumptions. First, we have taken the average yards for the top 12 players at each position for 2008. Then we have multiplied the average yards for the top 12 players times 75%. This assumes that a "quality" NFL starter is one who has at least 75% of the yardage of the average top 12 player at his position. This is an arbitrary cutoff, but gives us the general idea.

The following table shows us the results for "quality" NFL starters:

Starters Per Fantasy Team

Position

Total Starting in 12-team Fantasy League

Total "Quality" NFL Starters % of NFL Starters Playing on Fantasy Football Rosters Each Week
1 QB 12 22 55%
2 RB 24 16 150%
3 WR 36 23 156%
1 TE 12 12 100%

The results are surprising in that WR's are elevated to status equivalent to that of RB's and TE's surpass QB's in terms of scarcity. However, WR's are usually less consistent producers than running backs. The stud running back is going to get 20 to 25 touches in almost every game. A stud wide receiver on the other hand is going to have big weeks here and there that are hard to rely on for consistent fantasy production.

Because of this scarcity, the SRBT holds that the savvy fantasy team owner will do everything possible to get his hands on 2 of the 26 or so true stud running backs. This usually means drafting a running back with the first 2 picks of the draft.

Even when drafting late in the first round, a solid argument can be made for taking a running back late in the first followed with a running back early in the second. Using this approach improves your odds of matching up well with other fantasy owners at the running back position - even against those who get the elite running backs at the beginning of the first round. This is because your second running back will likely be stronger than the other owners' second running backs.

Whatever draft strategy (or combination thereof) you choose to employ in your draft, we wish you the best of luck. We hope that you will utilize the resources here at Fantasy Strategies to help you have a great draft!

FantasyStrategies.com on facebook