A week ago, RotoViz published the first in an ongoing Conventionalist series, suggesting the RB-RB approach to fantasy drafting is back. Many VBD advocates have always done this, of course, but picking a mediocre RB late in Round 1 has often seemed like tanking. This year is different.
Since the article went up, I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about RB-WR-RB. Despite setting a single-season receiving yards record, Calvin Johnson’s ADP sits in the mid-to-late first round of most formats. The big reason drafters feel comfortable passing on Megatron is the presence of Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, and Julio Jones in the second round.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 2nd Round RB
Round 2 will obviously be the difficult part of executing RB-RB. When compared to the almost demigod-like young receivers, the second round runners lack a certain panache. Back when people were drafting Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, and Matt Forte with any enthusiasm it was still trendy to like Mad Men.
But Round 2 is also the perfect example of a place where you might be able to benefit from emotion. Let’s look at a couple of the young receiving stars and compare their RotoViz projections with a couple of fantasy douche favorites.
|Julio Jones||A.J. Green||Vincent Jackson||Marques Colston|
As you can see, the Sim Score likes the veterans at both the low and median levels. Vincent Jackson doesn’t have quite the upside, but Colston outdoes the youngsters at every point. This doesn’t necessarily mean Jackson and Colston should be drafted earlier than their youthful counterparts – although that’s a legitimate conclusion – but it does mean the opportunity cost in passing on Jones and Green isn’t as high as emotion might suggest. (If you’re wondering how Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas compare, the app has the answer.)
On the other hand, if we do the same analysis with the RBs, we find that the RB10-20 range is far, far safer than the RB21-30 tier. I recommend trying out the RB Similarity Score App, and you’ll see this collapse in value very clearly.
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Some fantasy drafters emphasize projected usage over raw talent in building at the RB position. Since touches correlate a lot better with fantasy value in year N+1 than efficiency, it’s hard to argue against that approach. Those who opt to wait for their RB2 may prefer to find guys with muddled usage situations who could explode if things break properly. C.J. Spiller was an example of this in 2012. His absurd talent level combined with a cheap ADP made him a no-brainer in the Round 6/7 range.
Beyond the ability to use the RotoViz Arbitrage App to capitalize on the mispricing of receivers, the absence of a 2013 version of Spiller argues strongly for the RB-RB approach. RotoViz likes David Wilson to emerge as a star and Lamar Miller looks like a reality draft steal, but, at 3.05 and 4.02 respectively, their potential breakouts are already priced in.
My pre-draft RB analysis suggested Le’Veon Bell has an excellent chance of becoming the next Ray Rice or Doug Martin, but even Rice had no fantasy value as a rookie. Bell is going off the board at 4.01. When you consider the just completed rookie seasons of Wilson and Miller, drafting Bell in that range strains credulity.
Conversely, the second round represents a discount for many veterans. A quick study of DeMarco Murray’s historically comparable players suggests he’s headed for a breakout that isn’t priced into his late second round ADP.
You don’t need VBD to go RB-RB this year. You just need the apps.