Running back Archetypes Updated: Catching Fantasy’s Golden Snitch
Written By: Adam Cahill – Twitter: @TheOtherFFGuy
In this article, The ADP (Average Draft Position) data is from My Fantasy League MFL10 drafts from 2015 and 2016 drafts conducted between August 1st – September 1st. The PPR results from 2015 are compiled from sportingcharts.com.
In recent years, the search for the next breakout running back in fantasy football has become the equivalent to catching the Golden Snitch in the Harry Potter universe. A nearly impossible task, that if somehow pulled off, is a game changer that will take a mediocre fantasy team to the promised land of a fantasy championship. Last year’s little flying golden ball was Atlanta Falcon’s running back Devonta Freeman, who went from being drafted on average as the 30th RB in 2015 My Fantasy League MFL10s to finishing as the number one overall fantasy running back. Devonta wasn’t the only running back to seemingly come out of no where to post a Top 12 overall performance. In fact, half of the Top 12 running backs in 2015 were actually being draft outside the Top 24 at their position.
|| 2015 ADP (RB)
|| 2015 FINISH (RB)
| Devonta Freeman
| DeAngelo Williams
If these six breakout running backs could have been identified prior to the 2015 season, a drafter could have effectively punted at the running back position for the first six rounds and still locked up at least three of these elite RB performers. Take DeAngelo, for example, who had the largest difference between his ADP and actual finish. He effectively performed first round fantasy value while he was being drafted in the 14th round or later! Beyond these six, the Top 25 running backs had another five players who outperformed their ADP by more than 15 spots.
|| 2015 ADP (RB)
|| 2015 FINISH (RB)
| Darren McFadden
|James Starks|| GB
All together, 11 of the Top 25 weren’t even being drafted within the Top 25 last summer. Three of those 11 were being drafted outside of the Top 45! This year the rhetoric on most fantasy podcasts, in articles, and on Twitter is stating that drafts are more wide receiver heavy earlier than ever before. However, with a simple glance at the ADP numbers from 2015 and drafts from the past month we see a very different narrative emerge. One year ago (August 1st – September 1st 2015) My Fantasy League MFL10s were in full swing and their ADP data showed that the 12th running back going off the board was Latavius Murray and he was on average being draft as the 38th player, while the 24th running back was being drafted 73rd. Flash forward to the present and it’s like a bad sci-fi film where we are supposed to be in the future but they are still using microwaves and their touch screen phones just look a little bit thinner. Not a whole lot has changed in a years time. The 12th running back is being drafted 32nd and the 24th running back is still going 70th. Please double check my work here because I had to do so about 20 times before I accepted the cold reality; we as a fantasy community are insane, if you define insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and over expecting different results’.
So how do we break away from the insanity of drafting 24 running backs in the first six rounds knowing that nearly half are doomed to fail? We wait… and take as many shots at identifying breakout performers like the 11 listed above as we can. Although, rather than spend our time walking around in the dark with as much of a chance of stubbing a toe on Andre Williams as finding the pot of gold that is DeAngelo Williams, lets look deeper into the 11 backs that I profiled earlier to identify the qualities that each of them possess that allow us to forecast future breakouts.