Fantasy Football: RB2 By Real Life Committee, Does It Work?

Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell

Fantasy Football: RB2 By Real Life Committee, Does It Work?


Fantasy Football: RB2 By Real Life Committee, Does It Work?

Five years ago, I wrote a piece on a potential strategy to go with actual real life running back committees, and taking both backs, if you went with a WR-heavy strategy early. The theory was that you would be diversifying while going cheaper at RB. When it comes to some committees, there is some uncertainty about how the carries will be distributed. Maybe there is a rookie in the mix. Maybe it’s a free agent signing to go with a young player (see Chris Ivory with T.J. Yeldon). Maybe it’s an aging star going to a new situation (Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi). That uncertainty may drive the price down.

So, this is my attempt to look back on that strategy. I used average draft position data from My Fantasy League for the last five years. I pulled all cases where no backs on a team were drafted before pick #48 on average, but two (or more) backs from the team were drafted by pick 156 (Round 13 in a 12 team draft). I also compared it to backs drafted in what would normally be RB2 range, between RB13 & RB24 (note: there is some crossover, as some backs drafted in the low 20’s at RB were drafted outside the Top 48 overall some years).

Here are the results, based on end-of-year rank in total points at the RB position:

RB Committee Fantasy Comparison

That “RB2 Committee” is the result of taking the best finisher from our real life pair of teammates. The “RB2 Comm Comps” is a comparison of the most similar backs (by ADP) from other teams, paired together with non-teammates.

As you can see, the RB2 Committee does a pretty good job. It has slightly fewer Top 12 backs. It’s safer, on the other hand, with a higher rate of finishers in the Top 24, and fewer outright bust situations where you are scrambling for a starter.

It has other benefits, too. Sometimes, you get two good backs, or really good insurance that goes beyond what these rankings show. In 17% of the RB2 Committee cases, both finished in the Top 36. (The RB2 Committee Comps, on the other hand, provided a higher risk but reward scenario, as it gave a slightly higher chance of getting two Top 24 backs). Of course, the downside is, you have to be patient. If you have Fred Jackson and you had dropped C.J. Spiller back in 2011, you would not have reaped the rewards of the committee approach (Combined, they would have been RB4 that year, with Jackson starting early and Spiller late after Jackson’s injury).

It’s not a fail-safe method. Individual results may vary. Maybe you get a dud of a pair, or you could end up taking Devonta Freeman along with Tevin Coleman last year and getting the top scorer at the position.

But it’s a viable strategy if you want to forego taking a running back in Round 3 and instead try to get similar production by pairing teammates in Round 6 and Round 10 (the average ADP of the first member of the pair was 76.5, while the second member was 125.5).

Here are this year’s potential pairs, based on ADP:

CINCINNATI: Jeremy Hill (58) and Giovani Bernard (77)

SAN DIEGO: Melvin Gordon (71) and Danny Woodhead (81)

CLEVELAND: Duke Johnson (76) and Isaiah Crowell (128)

MIAMI: Arian Foster (77) and Jay Ajayi (115)

DETROIT: Ameer Abdullah (91) and Theo Riddick (121)

JACKSONVILLE: T.J. Yeldon (100) and Chris Ivory (104)

If I were to combine likelihood of pulling it off and who I like, I would go with Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Detroit as my top 3 plays employing this strategy, with Miami 4th. It will be hard to secure both Hill and Bernard (may need to go 5th & 6th round), and San Diego is also a challenge, as I’ve seen Woodhead go higher than that a fair amount of times.

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