Running Backs Over Wide Receivers in the Middle Rounds
Like several other points in this article, this one is more opinion than fact. However, having played fantasy for half a decade now, I can unequivocally say that I have yet to regret taking a running back over a wide receiver in the middle rounds.
You know how it goes. You’re first six picks are in the bag and you have some combination of two or three receivers, two or three running backs and maybe a quarterback and a tight end. You review your roster and feel like your picks are strong (of course you do… you picked them). You start to relax. Trouble ensues.
Here comes pick No. 7 and you’re thinking, “I’ve got my starting wideouts and my backs. I’ve got a top-notch QB and a decent tight end. Time to play.”
Now, if you’re anything like me, the wide receivers available in the middle rounds always look bigger, badder and sexier than their running back brethren. The narrative “I could see that guy getting 800 yards and six touchdowns this year,” runs through your head. The remaining RBs, on the other hand… pedestrian, lackluster, the weaker half (or third) of a running back by committee.
Is this logic wrong? No. The wideouts at this stage are likely more inspiring than the running backs. But that’s just it. As a fantasy player, you are trying to fill 16 slots with the best talent possible. If you’re already into backups and timeshares in the running back cohort, it’s time to strike. Wait another round, and you’ll likely be in pure retread territory.
Whereas, there’s always another possible “800 and six” receiver on the board.
When push comes to shove, I’ve conditioned myself to always lean running back. Is Jordan Matthews more exciting than T.J. Yeldon? Without a doubt. Is Josh Gordon sexier than Jay Ajayi? Unquestionably. Is Mike Wallace likely to outshine Jerick McKinnon nine out of 10 seasons? I’d wager yes.
However, bolstering your roster with middling RB talent is likely to pay off long term. Running backs go down. The tide among them shifts quickly. One day, you’ve got the starter locked down. And the next, the whole pecking order has been tossed.
And you can’t rely on the waiver wire either. First off, half of the talent that is allegedly available on most waiver wires will not be in your league. That’s because other smart/desperate league mates of yours will have already snatched them up.
Secondly, if you’re doing well (and I hope that you are), you’ll be down the waiver order far enough that it will be extremely difficult for you to snatch any wire layups.
So, when the seventh round rolls around, and you’re feeling like you’ve got a plum roster, don’t muck it up.
Pull the trigger on that uninspiring, run-of-the-mill running back. There will always be a big, bad, sexy “800 and six” receiver waiting for you in the next round.
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