Should You Prioritize Running Backs or Wide Receivers in Your Fantasy Football Draft?

Your league's scoring system can often dictate who resides at the top of your fantasy football draft board.

There is a broad consensus that when participating in your fantasy football draft and crafting your perfect team, you should use the first several rounds to acquire several RBs and WRs as opposed to targeting an elite QB. A common question is whether to alternate these selections or to focus more on drafting elite RBs before WRs or vice versa. Every fantasy football owner has his or her own preference, and this is something you will have to cultivate the more you play. (Try Draft on iOS or Android)

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each.

RB Strategy

Darren Sproles

In addition to deciding whether to select RBs ahead of WRs, there is also variation in strategy depending on the type of league you are in. In standard leagues, targeting RBs who get many carries and score several touchdowns are preferable (for example, Marshawn Lynch); however, in PPR (point per reception) schemes, you would be better off finding more versatile RBs who are pass-targeted frequently (such as Ty Montgomery). The difference in the number of receptions in PPR leagues could equate to many more points over the course of the season and insulation against low yardage.

Once you get to the middle rounds, target RBs (like the ageless Darren Sproles and Theo Riddick) who have impressive receiving prowess. I would have added Baltimore's Danny Woodhead into the mix but, alas, he has suffered a season-ending injury, not unlike the multi-threat Julian Edelman in New England.

There is a growing trend among some fantasy owners to forego selecting RBs in early rounds because of the fragility of the position. Those who are adamant about the early selection of RBs tend to draft handcuffs—or players on the same team who split the carries. This way if one is injured, you still have the other one.

WR Strategy

Again, fantasy draft strategy for WRs varies depending on the type of league. Clutch receivers who score frequently without amassing mass yardage (like Brandin Cooks, Dez Bryant and Davante Adams) are best in standard leagues where beaucoup points are given for touchdowns, while oft-targeted receivers who may not score as much (such as Willie Snead, Jarvis Landry, and Larry Fitzgerald) are better fantasy picks in PPR leagues.

With respect to the aforementioned trend in early selection of WRs, the fact remains that WRs are safer than RBs, and WRs tend to score more fantasy points on average than RBs. Also, there are more changes in RB scenarios on teams based on production, injuries, and other unforeseeable events. Thus, there is more safety and security in the WR position and, therefore, prioritizing WRs over RBs may be the way to go.

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