Yahoo! Expert Highlights Fantasy Football Strategy of Selecting Running Backs Early in 2019 Drafts
By Dan Israeli
There's a strategy in fantasy football known as "Zero RB." It encourages waiting as long as possible to draft starting running backs in favor of loading up at all of the other skill positions. The theory was running backs were greater injury risks and, as a result, easier to replace on the waiver wire as the season went on.
However, one Yahoo! Sports fantasy football expert, Brad Evans, thinks the value of running backs is seemingly higher than ever. Based on data from last season, Evans says the idea of waiting to draft running backs may be ill-advised.
The 2018 season was clearly a big year for running backs, as the majority of early-round picks returned great value, with the exception of a few held back by injury, such as Leonard Fournette. When you strike Le'Veon Bell's name from the list, proven backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon had monster years in 2018, while Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey had breakout seasons, somehow exceeding their preseason hype.
There is a cluster of running backs at the top of most preseason rankings and average draft position (ADP) boards coming into the 2019 season. And, if Evans' breakdown is correct, it might be smart for fantasy owners to draft those top RBs. The top six players, according to ADP, are running backs, while there are 14 being taken in the first 24 picks of early mock drafts.
Beyond those first 14 running backs are several guys with the potential upside to jump into the top 10, or even better, at the RB position in fantasy this season. Some of those names include Aaron Jones, Derrick Henry and Marlon Mack.
Of course, trends can alway change from year to year, but given the age of many of the top 20 running backs this upcoming season, it may be wise to target them early and often in 2019. That could mean taking two RBs in the first four rounds of 10-team leagues, or even two in the first three rounds of 12 teamers.
If this trend continues in the 2019 NFL season, we may be at the forefront of a new golden age for running backs in fantasy football.
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