Fantasy football 101: Draft Strategy and Waiver Technique Pt. 3

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I will conclude this series in a series with running backs, the once golden child of the NFL – now not so much. For those who have been playing fantasy football for more than a couple years, you can remember a time when drafting running backs early was key. That ended last year with Jamaal Charles going first overall, getting injured and screwing up every league playing that year. He was the last of the every down power backs, who could be relied on to take an expected 5 yard gain and turn it into a 45 yard touchdown.

Nowadays that isn’t the case.

Running Backs

The NFL in general has transitioned away from every-down backs, and tends to use committees. This means when you play a running back, there are far more downs where they are on the bench. This has made them worth less on your fantasy team.

While there are a few backs to target early, like Le’Veon Bell, in the first three rounds the draft will be dominated with receivers coming off the board. Remember that when you draft you want to focus on value and opportunity, running backs don’t get a lot of opportunity so if you see them getting taken too early that means elite wide receivers are getting passed over.

It’s important to do your research in particular with running backs, just because Devonta Freeman went crazy for 4 weeks last season doesn’t mean you want to get him at the fifth pick of the first round. If you are watching someone else make that pick, look at who they are letting go and maybe someone like Odell Beckham Jr might fall to you.

As with wide receivers, you do want to try and pick up someone who could be a play maker for you, someone usually with a weak quarterback but a good offensive line. This means that the back will be given the ball more often and will have more chances to make plays. Having someone who may not consistently bring in huge numbers but does every couple weeks, with a high floor, lays a good foundation.

Your second running back spot can be streamed each week. Look at the matches for the week and find the defense who is weakest against the run. Try and pick up from the waiver wire the main running back from the opposing team. Even if you do that each week and dedicate a bench spot to that player, you can take the rest of the week to decide if that player is better than who you are already playing in that position. Also, its a strategy move because now they are unavailable to the rest of the league without a trade.

Here are a couple running backs to think about for the first three rounds:

Le’Veon Bell- (PIT)

Todd Gurley- (LA)

David Johnson- (ARI)

Devonta Freeman- (ATL)

(Adrian Peterson)- (MIN) I put him in only because he has been a beast, I personally think he’s going to be a bust this year because of his age.

(Ezekiel Elliot)- (DAL) While Dallas spent a first round pick on this rookie, he is just that and I think Darren McFadden is going to see more snaps to begin the year.

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About the Author

Nathan Cheatham
Nathan Cheatham grew up in downriver Detroit, and after much traveling landed in Hartford, CT. A journalism major, he has been writing news for the past four years. You can see examples of it at and contact him at A newer football fan, Cheatham became a Detroit Lions fan soon after the 0-16 season. An avid Fantasy Football enthusiast, he has been running his own personal league for nearly 10 years. Regardless of what some might say, he is convinced the Lions will have Super Bowl Victory next year!