2021 Robust RB Strategy

A popular strategy for 2021 will be the robust RB strategy. It takes the opposite approach of the Zero RB drafts. It is certainly a popular strategy currently with the lack of true bell-cows. The rationale is that instead of fading the RB position and hoping to grab upside options, you hammer the position early to give yourself options. Then, you look to fill out the rest of your roster.

The exact round that you should start looking elsewhere is up for debate. But, I tend to view it as you should fill your starting RB slots and any flex options that you can start one in before. The strategy itself is far more effective the more players that you can start that are RBs, as you are able to really drive that advantage of selecting the elite early.

How to implement this strategy

Running Back

As outlined above, you need to be taking RB options early and often. This is because you are looking to take those players and ride the (supposed) advantage to victory. The reason being that you want depth for any injuries that occur, and any lack of form your players might have. This allows you to target WRs on the waiver wire, rather than have to spend large amount of FAAB/ waiver priority on the RBs that emerge.

Wide Receiver

You are going to be fading this position early. Typically, if I’m using this strategy I’ll look to grab a mixture of players I think are bound to get a lot of targets and mix in some upside plays. Similar to how you would target RBs in the zero RB strategy.

Quarterback/ Tight End

Dealers choice. I’m typically a guy that will try and grab a few options late in drafts, in the hope I catch one that is about to blow up. If they don’t, then no worries, I can just cut them and move on. Unlike in other strategies you aren’t forced to grab one early to negate a disadvantage that you have at receiver or RB.

WR Targets

You really need to think about the type of WR that you are aiming/ thinking that you are going to be able to obtain. You really want a mix of players that are likely to be given a good target share, and some players that are going to stand a chance of breaking out if things go their way.

Target Hogs

Now, you aren’t going to get a BIG hog, like Davante Adams, but you can get some lower tier players that still get a good share of targets. Ideally, you are looking for stable offenses. That’s not always possible, but some options for the 2021 season I’d look to are:

  • Cooper Kupp
  • Tyler Lockett
  • Brandon Aiyuk
  • Ja’Marr Chase
  • Brandin Cooks
  • Jarvis Landy
  • Odell Beckham

Upside/ Boom Players

These guys are ones that could take a step forward if things go their way. They are typically going to be players that can disappear at times, struggled to make an impact last season, or have changed teams. The types of players I’d be looking at in this category would be:

  • Michael Pittman
  • Will Fuller
  • Gabriel Davis
  • Mecole Hardman
  • Rashod Bateman
  • Sammy Watkins

Worked Mock Draft

To try and show you what the robust RB strategy looks like, I completed a 1 QB 12-team, 15-round half PPR draft. I was selecting from the 8 spot. Below is the roster, and clicking through to the link will show how it ranked amongst other teams in the league.

Link to the overall draft board

Early Rounds

The opening four rounds really showcased the strategy in action:

  • Jonathan Taylor
  • Joe Mixon
  • J.K. Dobbins
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire

I snapped up four top talents at the position, who should all be given the vast majority of touches in each of their backfields. I even managed to get an upside pick in Edwards-Helaire, who could take a big step forward this season.

Middle Rounds

My next picks were:

  • Tyler Lockett
  • Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Lamar Jackson
  • Brandin Cooks

Here, I had a mix of picks. Lockett and Cooks should both see a decent number of targets. Lockett is Russell Wilson’s favorite targets, and should see a healthy target share. Equally, while there are question marks around the QB in Houston, Cooks is the clear target leader in that offense and there should be plenty of targets too. Beckham is a mix, he should be able to command a decent target share in the offense, and could outperform his ADP if he stays healthy.

The Jackson pick was a little early for me generally, but I wasn’t a massive fan of the board at the time, so thought I’d take one of the better QBs for fantasy here and let the board fall a little bit to me.

Late Rounds

My last picks were:

  • A.J. Dillon
  • Nyheim Hines
  • Latavius Murray
  • Logan Thomas
  • Mecole Hardman
  • Denzel Mims
  • Cole Kmet

My last picks I went robust RB again, taking a group of players that should be able to be used in my flex at times in the season at least. If there is an injury ahead of them, then they would be a great headache to have working out the players I start at RB. Outside of that, I went for some upside options at WR. Hardman has an opportunity to step into a larger target share on a good offense, while Denzel Mims should get a number of targets- albeit on a weaker offense. The selections of Logan Thomas and Cole Kmet give me an opportunity to see if I’ve managed to find a breakout TE for my season.

Image Credit: Denny Medley – USA TODAY Sports