RB Draft Strategy: Target Cheap Touches

Jul 30, 2018
RB Draft Strategy: Target Cheap Touches

The Consensus—that studied, faceless thing that hovers above everything in fantasy football—says that you must, at any cost, lock down at least one elite running back or you shall perish in this, the Year of Our Lord 2018.

The Consensus isn't totally preposterous. A handful of runners have emerged as dual threats who will dominate touches on mostly decent teams. Here's what the Consensus ignores: An almost historic production drop off among wide receivers in 2017 that screams regression and depressed ADPs for the game's top wideouts headed into 2018.

More 2018 Positional Draft Strategies: IDP | TE | DST | QB | WR

If you're ready to go Full Thelma And Louise with me and cut against the running back-centric grain of this fine summer, you're either going to be wrong alone or right alone. And when you're right alone, you win a lot of leagues.

Buck the consensus and its online flacks and come with me as we try to pile up potential running backs touches later in the draft, after exploiting the sweetly-deflated ADPs of elite receivers. Why are we so laser focused on touches? Why not evasiveness or explosiveness or a nose for the end zone? Because, well, nothing correlates to running back fantasy production like touches. No other stat is even close. As Chris Raybon, formerly of 4for4, so succinctly put it, “roughly three-quarters of RB fantasy scoring comes from yardage. More often than not, yardage will grow from a steady diet of touches rather than one-off long gains.”

Sometimes this little game doesn’t have to be seven-dimensional chess. Keep it simple, stupid. Or keep it stupid, simple. Either way.

Side note: Fading running backs through the opening two or three (or four rounds) isn't great process in standard scoring leagues where one must start two running backs, two receivers, and a flex. You still have the opportunity to plug in two top-end receivers every single week—think Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones, or Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins—but hammering receiver with these lineup settings makes as much sense as trying to slip a 69 joke onto a respected fantasy football site.

Let’s start the search for (relatively) cheap running back touches in the fourth round, since this exercise assumes you’ve used your first trio of picks on receivers, and maybe Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce. The projected touches are courtesy of 4for4's superb projections.

RBs in Rounds 4-5



Projected Touches

Alex Collins



Rashaad Penny



Jay Ajayi



Kenyan Drake



Sony Michel



Mark Ingram



Royce Freeman



Lamar Miller



Ronald Jones



Dion Lewis



Continue reading to see what Denny has to say about the running backs going in rounds four to five, as well as which later-round running backs he believes are worthy of their draft day cost...

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