Ignoring Fantasy Football Bellcow Running Backs: Can it Work?
Adapt to your draft. You can win from any draft position. Best player available.
There are more clichés out there for this line of draft strategy. Honestly, the reason it’s so cliché is because it’s the best approach… overall. It’s even the strategy I most often employ: drafting the best value with team need factoring in to a lesser degree. But can that strategy lead to failure? It doesn’t seem that taking the best value would send you down a path of disappointment, as if you get a greater return than your cost on each pick, you should be better for it. As with stocks, buy low-sell high.
However, we already know that ignoring a team need altogether would result in a poor team. If there is a run at tight end and you keep waiting on the position because the talent doesn’t supersede value elsewhere, you’d be left with Austin Hooper as your only option.
With that in mind, I’m going to break down my Pros vs. Joes draft. To start, and despite it sounding like self back-patting (okay, maybe it is a tad), I’ve been extremely successful in these leagues. I won it two years ago and have an overall ranking of second since I joined. Again, while that sounds braggadocious, the point is that I know how to work these drafts. So, even though my original plan went out the window faster than Johnny Manziel’s NFL career, there is a method to the madness… now we have to also decide if it has the potential to work.
(Format: Best Ball – Full PPR, 1.5 PPR TEs – 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 FLEX, 1 DST, 1 K)
I drafted out of the 11 spot, and while I prefer 10 or 11 over No. 8, 9 or 12, I still wasn’t thrilled because I knew I was missing out on one of the big six running backs and Antonio Brown. When DeAndre Hopkins was still there, especially in a full PPR, I was surprised and knew I couldn’t pass on him… or should I have? My ideal situation was the turn team taking Odell Beckham and either Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette. Nope. The owner went Cook and Fournette with Christian McCaffrey as the next best running back and OBJ was staring me in the face. I couldn’t pass on the enormous advantage I would get with Beckham versus everyone else’s No. 2 receiver (RPV 101), as McCaffrey would have been the tail end of everyone’s No. 1 running back list.
Round 3 is churning along, and a few more running backs come off the board leaving LeSean McCoy (if no suspension) as the best options. Well, T.Y. Hilton somehow fell, and I knew the turn wasn’t taking more running backs, so I grabbed Hilton to have the definitively best No. 3 receiver by a large margin and grabbed McCoy on at pick 4.02. McCoy could be a RB1, especially in PPR, as long as he doesn’t catch the NFL’s randomized disciplinary choices or more evidence comes to light.
So, there we go. Your champion of the #BellcowRB plan went with a near #ZeroRB approach. For a brief moment, I thought it was going to work out even better than expected with Ronald Jones inexplicably sliding in the fifth, but Joseph Jerkface timed out and auto-picked Jones. That was the clear end of that tier, so I went back to the receiver well and took Marshawn Lynch on the way back. I paired him with Doug Martin later to cover myself, but even with the Raiders backfield, Jamaal Williams, Kenneth Dixon, Elijah McGuire and De’Angelo Henderson, I’m skating on thin ice… with a giant boulder strapped onto my shoulders.
Let’s pretend that I could find the online Fantasy Football version of a DeLorean and go back to pick 1.11. Would I still draft Hopkins? As amazing as the value was, no, I would not. As a redo, I would have taken Cook, still drafted Beckham (despite still being blocked by him on Twitter), taken Hilton in the third round and went safer with Guice over McCoy since I didn’t need the highest ceiling. Jeffery was still a solid pick, but I could have taken Marvin Jones or Chris Hogan next instead of Lynch, which would have created a ripple effect allowing me not to puke a bit with my Martin pick and even be more aggressive at tight end (a backup such as Charles Clay or Austin Seferian-Jenkins instead of Jake Butt). I could have also passed on Williams – again, chasing upside – for a longer play like Nick Chubb or a PPR solid producer such as Chris Thompson.
For comparison’s sake, this is what the potential roster would have looked like with the actual results side-by-side.
To be fair, the receivers I drafted are drool-inducing. However, Jeffery to Jones isn’t much of a loss, if any at all given Jones’ ascension of late. The main difference is Hilton to Jeffery, but it’s easy to offset that gap with Guice over Lynch and a Chubb or Thompson being safer than Williams… and possibly outscoring him anyway with Aaron Jones a threat.
My draft could work. The receivers in a full PPR could dominate enough to make up for the running back deficiencies. That’s a lot of ifs and risk though. Plus, we’re still leaving out the tight end wasteland that I’m hoping Voltron’s together to produce a TE1 for all 16 weeks (Njoku, Butt, Mark Andrews and Blake Jarwin).
In the end, it was fun to give myself the finger, so to speak, as I’m sure many of you have done plenty times. It’s even fitting, as the name of our division is The Upside Down from Stranger Things. This certainly was the “Upside Down/screw you Jake/#BellCowRB is stupid” draft of drafts. In the end, I would have taken Cook and been a much happier owner. It’s a testament to the need for a bellcow running back and the volume taken in the first two rounds. Again, this #ZeroRB of sorts might work and has a chance… I just wouldn’t want to drop $1,000 to find that out.
Main Image Credit: AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo