Failed Experiment: Drafting WR-WR in First Two Rounds of My Fantasy Football Draft

Prior to last year’s draft I saw many articles lamenting the problems besetting the running back (RB) position in fantasy football. There was one big problem in particular: the prevalence of the running back by committee (RBBC). The term RBBC means that, unlike the days or yore, no single RB carries the entire load for their team. Instead, now most teams allocate carries among several RBs. Moreover, there are RB specialists: third down specialists, receiving-down specialists, blocking specialists, and goal line specialists. All of this had made drafting RBs much less clear cut because so much production was divvied out. In fact, many experts advocated ditching the classic approach of drafting two RBs with your first two picks of the draft and instead drafting two WRs. Their rationale? Why end up with two mediocre RBs when you can get two top-flight WRs?

As I became more experienced, I emphasized RBs in my drafts. However, several years ago I started a draft by spending my first two picks on RBs LaMont Jordan and DeShaun Foster (with the 11th pick and 13th picks in a 12-team league) and they both failed miserably. I knew they were probably mediocre but stuck to my strategy to build RB depth. That memory piqued my interest in the WR-WR approach and I decided to try it last year. I drafted again at the 11th spot (out of 12) but this time I drafted Terrell Owens and then got Reggie Wayne at 13. I went on to draft what looked like a good RB corps that included Willie Parker, Darren McFadden, Ronnie Brown, DeAngelo Williams, and Rashard Mendenhall. (I took Parker in the third round, McFadden in the fourth, and Willliams, Brown, and Mendenhall late.)

Unfortunately those RBs turned out to be mostly underwhelming. While Williams performed better than I would have thought in my wildest dreams, and Brown came back sooner than I thought, Parker, McFadden, and Mendenhall were largely unavailable all year. Meanwhile, Owens and Wayne disappointed much of the year. So I was weak at RB and WR did not atone for that even though I invested heavily in that position.

Of course, you can look at this and say it was a good strategy overall that was just ruined by injuries. But there were a few major names at RB I missed out on because I went with the two WRs to start. Any one of those big names would have made a difference in my season. Instead, I every RB I took came with big question marks, as that was all that was left after the first two rounds.

I doubt I will ever start a draft again with two WRs. While WRs can explode, their performances are volatile. High draft picks should minimize risk and maximize upside and that this is done by taking the best player available while also striving to fill out your the crucial RB corps early. Aim to get some combination of at least two very good RBs and two very good WRs with your first five picks. That fifth pick can then be allocated for another RB for depth (trust me, you want a lot of depth at RB) or another WR for flexibility, starting requirements (if your league starts three WRs), or trading possibilities. You could also use that if you have a chance for a sure-fire QB, but it is probably better to wait and get a QB a little later, as the difference in scoring between top QBs and mid-level QBs is not that great.

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