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Draft Strategy

My RB Shares in Early Underdog Best-Ball Drafts

By Matt Schauf 10:40am EDT 4/11/22


I already shared my rostered rates at QB across 45 Big Board drafts (plus one $3 12-teamer) on Underdog for drafts across February and March. Now comes a position with bigger numbers up top.

Before we get to the players, a quick rundown on the format:

– Half-PPR scoring
– 20-round drafts
– Large-field tournament with 14-week regular season then 3 one-week playoff rounds
– Lineup:

QB
RB
RB
WR
WR
WR
TE
FLEX

Across my 46 entries, I got shares of 62 different RBs. I primarily took 5 per draft, with a few 4-RB and 6-RB builds mixed in.

(You can also find my shares of WRs and TEs.)

Now for the names …

Chris Carson, Seahawks – 43.5% (20 of 46 teams)
Miles Sanders, Eagles – 32.6%
Antonio Gibson, Commanders – 30.4%
Nick Chubb, Browns – 23.9%

This is the crew that made it onto 10+ teams.

Is that an excessive amount of Chris Carson? (It feels like an excessive amount.) Part of my early Carson drafting was a bet on Rashaad Penny signing elsewhere in free agency. Frankly, it would have been smart for Seattle to let him do so rather than spending nearly $6 million on a 1-year RB deal for a roster that’s clearly in rebuild mode after the Russell Wilson trade. Of course, betting on these Seahawks to make the smart move doesn’t seem to be such a smart move.

Still, even with Penny back and getting the shot to lead Seattle’s backfield, I don’t mind these late-round bets on Carson. Reports have been positive on the expected return from his neck surgery, and we know he can produce when the opportunity is there.

Outside of last year’s final 5 games, Penny hasn’t exactly been the picture of health or performance.

Carson aside, I feel great about being heavy on Miles Sanders when he’s going deep in RB3 range. You could get Sanders as late as Round 10 (perhaps even Round 11 on occasion) in these drafts. That’s absurd. The upside FAR outweighs the downside on him anywhere in that neighborhood.

Antonio Gibson and Nick Chubb, of course, occupy a very different ADP range than Carson or Sanders. But each guy started draft season as a value.

Chubb has consistently gone late in Round 2. I think his RB11 ADP across sites is appropriate. But his spike-week potential is particularly attractive in this format. Chubb’s 5 weeks of more than 21 half-PPR points each of the past 2 years – despite missed games each season – would help you a lot more than his 6 single-digit outings from just 2021 would hurt.

Betting on Gibson carried more upside before they re-signed J.D. McKissic. But I still think there’s nothing wrong with him in Round 3. You’ll also find more early-round RBs high in my player exposures than you will WRs, because Underdog drafters in general show a surprising level of thirst for wideouts given the half-PPR format.

Note: I’m not saying it’s a mistake to target early-round WRs here. But when the drafting population is collectively pushing WRs up the board, I’m more motivated to lean into multiple early RBs to get different.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs – 19.6%
Saquon Barkley, Giants – 17.4%
Alvin Kamara, Saints – 15.2%
Austin Ekeler, Chargers – 15.2%
Josh Jacobs, Raiders – 13.0%
Travis Etienne, Jaguars – 13.0%
Cam Akers, Rams – 10.9%
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers – 10.9%
Javonte Williams, Broncos – 10.9%
Aaron Jones, Packers – 10.9%
Breece Hall, ??? – 10.9%

I probably would have drafted even more CEH in this tournament if I hadn’t taken so many early RBs. We all know the downside on him, but that evaporates when you give him a RB3-level ADP.

As I mentioned on last week’s podcast, Saquon Barkley is 1 of my favorite values right now. What’s the healthy floor on him? He produces inefficiently in a bad offense but still holds the clear touch lead. The ceiling? He gets back to being something close to early-career Barkley in an offense that significantly improves under a new coaching staff.

I’ll gladly take that range of outcomes in Round 3 – or even in the 2nd half of Round 2, if I need to later in the draft cycle.

Alvin Kamara is risky with the uncertainty surrounding his Vegas arrest. I’m willing to take that risk when it’s pushing him near the Round 2-3 turn.

Travis Etienne is another player I probably would have taken more had I more commonly left Round 3 with fewer than 2 RBs. His availability has been a reason I opt for the WR in close early decisions at times.

Dalvin Cook, Vikings – 8.7%
Gus Edwards, Ravens – 8.7%
Kenneth Walker, ??? – 8.7%
Tyler Allgeier, ??? – 8.7%
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys – 8.7%
J.K. Dobbins, Ravens – 8.7%
Kareem Hunt, Browns – 8.7%
Joe Mixon, Bengals – 8.7%
Derrick Henry, Titans – 8.7%
Khalil Herbert, Bears – 6.5%
Devin Singletary, Bills – 6.5%
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Buccaneers – 6.5%
Isaiah Spiller, ??? – 6.5%
Alexander Mattison, Vikings – 6.5%
Damien Harris, Patriots – 6.5%
Sony Michel, ??? – 6.5%
Melvin Gordon, ??? – 6.5%
AJ Dillon, Packers – 4.3%
Ronald Jones, Chiefs – 4.3%
Raheem Mostert, Dolphins – 4.3%
Brian Robinson Jr., ??? – 4.3%
Trey Sermon, 49ers – 4.3%
Mike Boone, Broncos – 4.3%
D’Andre Swift, Lions – 4.3%
Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers – 4.3%
Rashaad Penny, Seahawks – 4.3%
Zack Moss, Bills – 4.3%
Dameon Pierce, ??? – 4.3%
Najee Harris, Steelers – 4.3%
Zamir White, ??? – 4.3%
Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles – 2.2%
James Cook, ??? – 2.2%
Mike Davis, Falcons – 2.2%
Tyler Badie, ??? – 2.2%
Pierre Strong, ??? – 2.2%
Darrell Henderson, Rams – 2.2%
James Conner, Cardinals – 2.2%
Elijah Mitchell, 49ers – 2.2%
Zonovan Knight, ??? – 2.2%
Jonathan Taylor, Colts – 2.2%
Kyren Williams, ??? – 2.2%
J.D. McKissic, Commanders – 2.2%
Tarik Cohen, ??? – 2.2%
David Montgomery, Bears – 2.2%
Kenyan Drake, Raiders – 2.2%
Tony Pollard, Cowboys – 2.2%
Nyheim Hines, Colts – 2.2%

We’ll see lots of movement in rookie ADP once they find NFL landing spots, so snapping up shares of them now is a good idea.

You could see above that Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker lead the way, as they seem the likeliest 1st 2 RBs to get drafted (and thus the best bets for opportunity and ADP jumps). We’ve already seen Hall’s ADP climb, and he was already going earlier in FFPC drafts than on Underdog or Drafters. That’s noteworthy, because the higher entry fees tend to breed a sharper community of drafters.

In hindsight, I certainly wish I had taken more Leonard Fournette and James Conner before they signed in free agency. I do think that generally being hesitant on veteran RBs without contracts is a good idea. But those 2 are probably each still younger than you realize and had easier paths to favorable landings than most in a similar situation.

Wondering about why I treated any other player the way that I did? Ask me about him in the comments section below.

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