Adventures in ADP: Return of the Running Back

Leveon Bell

Running backs have been the centerpiece of fantasy football since it's inception. Simply put, they were the most reliable producer of points, and therefore the first choice off fantasy boards. But with the rise of the two back system went the reliability of running backs. And this shift away from running backs hit critical mass in 2016.

 fantasy football adp 2016

That has never happened. We have never had a top 15 that resembled that. Hell, 2007 looked like this:

fantasy football adp 2007

God I miss Brian Westbrook and dominant Steve Smith.

Anyway, it wasn't just the top of the draft that was wide receiver heavy. There were more pass catchers taken in the top 12, 24, 36 and 48 for the first time. With injuries, multiple back systems, and pass happy offenses, wide receivers were finally the majority.

fantasy football adp comparison

But the 2016 season, and as a result, 2017 mock drafts, have seen the return of the back and a drop in wide receivers. fantasy football adp comparision

The trend was headlined by a reappearance in one-back backfields (LeSean McCoy emerging in Buffalo/Demarco Murray revival) and dominant performances (David Johnson/Ezekiel Eliott/LeVeon Bell).

fantasy football adp 2016 vs 2017 

So what does this mean for 2017 and the future? The easy way out is for me to say that it all depends on your personal draft strategy. But outside of that rightful top 3 running backs, I still see wide receivers as the wave of the future and the more consistent option. The market on running backs has corrected, but corrected too far. Read: I don't trust Jordan Howard/LeSean McCoy or many of the highly ranked running backs at all. 

And for the future, I would proposition that it will be a mix of 2016 and 2017. 2016 was most likely an anomaly, as the top 3-5 picks will still be dominated by running backs. But the changes in how football operates are here to stay, meaning the number of wide receivers taken in the first four rounds will continue to grow. The days of LT, Larry Johnson, and Shaun Alexander are gone for good.

Filed under: Advice

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