Should fantasy managers avoid the 'risk' of early-round RBs?

In the Yahoo Fantasy Forecast podcast, analysts Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski discuss the possibilities when prioritizing WRs in fantasy draft strategy.

Video Transcript

ANDY BEHRENS: As we think about drafting this in 2022, Dalton the other day said on the podcast that he was going to go really wide receiver heavy this season, avoiding some of the running backs. Running backs, of course, were there always a minefield to a certain extent, but they were certainly a minefield last year. Do you see yourself going particularly wide receiver heavy in most drafts this year?

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: I do. It's going to depend on, of course, what slots I draw. If I were to get the 101 slot, I'll pick Jonathan Taylor. I think that's a pretty consensus opinion.

But I want people to if they get a chance, go to my Twitter feed. And I pinned a piece I recently wrote about the aging curves of running backs and just the perilous area, where a lot of running backs are coming into that used to be Andy and I have been playing fantasy long enough for age 30 was the danger zone.

That's moved up significantly. Obviously, players come into the league at younger ages. But it's getting to the point now where a running back at the end of his first contract or at the beginning of a second contract can be really risky.

So I'm hoping for-- look, I welcome Jonathan Taylor anywhere I can get him. But I'm hoping I'm going to have some cup teams. I'm hoping I'm going to have some Justin Jefferson teams. I'm hoping I'm going to have some Ja'Marr Chase teams.

Specifically those last two guys, because I feel like they're still on the escalator. I feel like they're still a best season for them to have that they haven't had yet. I mean, look, as much as you can love Cooper Kupp, what he did is not repeatable.

And I think my builds will be more receiver-driven than usual. I would like to have that one back. I can kind of hang my hat on.

I don't want to go full into the zero-RB. I don't want Devin Singletary to be my best fantasy running back, or David Montgomery, or somebody like that. So hopefully I can get somebody one back in the first two rounds so I feel really good about.

But I think a lot of my teams after four rounds are going to be like three receivers one running back. I think it'll be a common build for me this year.

ANDY BEHRENS: I will occasionally stumble into a zero-RB build. It will only happen for me in full PPR formats. And last year, it happened to me in situations where I was drafting like 10th, 11th, something like that. I was drafting at the back end of round one.

And I just didn't love the-- it doesn't do anything for me to get the eighth best running back, right? The ninth best running back.

I like feeling that I've won a position in the first round or I've given myself a chance to win a position. So like if you're doing it, you're probably like, if you're really going like all in with a zero-RB approach, you're probably not-- you don't have anybody as good as Devin Singletary as your RB one, right? Because it usually means that you're spending like the first seven, eight rounds just pounding tight ends and wide receivers.

And so last year when I did it, Melvin Gordon was almost always my RB one. And that was a pretty good poll, right? Because Melvin had a pretty good year, and the Javonte people were fuming about it constantly, right? Because nobody liked that workload split.

But that's usually the best you can hope for is running back on a pretty decent team who's in a job share situation. Who might escape it and might not.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI: That's my flow chart for the first two rounds. Question 1. Is there a running back on the board right now you feel really comfortable drafting?

If so, take that running back. If not, do not pivot. And you know, wait around. Wait another round. And maybe you'll have to try to get lucky with a zero-RB build.

One thing I also want to point out is it's constantly mentioned that when you don't go-- when a team win a fantasy manager does not go heavy at running back, when they don't address it with the early draft capital, it's always floated like, wow, OK. I'm just going to pick up guy. I'm going to pick up Elijah Mitchell and guys like that, which is great.

Just understand that even in low competitive league, you know, maybe the more novice leagues, every league is trying to do that. When a player like Elijah Mitchell makes himself known you're going to have to elbow eight, nine, 10, maybe the entire league out of the way.

So it's great. People always tell me like, oh, yeah, I won't draft running backs, because I'm just going to rule the waiver wire. I mean, again, if you have a really casual league, where half the people don't really care, that's great.

Any strategy you use pretty much it's going to work. Your biggest obligation there is get the entry fees up front and try to keep people engaged for the full season. But just know that, yes.

Do we want to play the waiver wire? Yes. We want to find the Elijah Mitchell's? Yes. Is there going to be tremendous competition for those guys? Also yes.

In some leagues last year, Mitchell may have gone for $100 in a waiver run if he got into the first week of the season. So yes, that's something you want to do, but just everybody's going to do that.