While you want to keep tabs on everything that’s relevant in fantasy football rankings, the running backs are arguably the most important position. As you’re drafting your fantasy football team, most of your attention needs to go to your running back.
Your running back is the offense player who runs the ball and catches passes that come from the quarterback. There are three types of running back. There’s a halfback, a tailback, and a fullback.
The differences in these three types of running backs are based on their position on the field as well as their strength and size.
Running backs are a pivotal part of a team’s overall strategy, so in order to have an excellent team, you need strong running backs.
Below we’ll talk more about the role of a running back and why they matter so much in fantasy.
Type of Running Backs
We briefly mentioned the types of running backs above.
A halfback is a running position close to the quarterback for running plays. A halfback will take handoffs on running plays, and they’re small and fast compared to a fullback. The halfback is the ball carrier for the majority of plays.
Tailbacks are behind the quarterback, making a T-shape on the field. A tailback catches the ball and runs it. The player has to be versatile, and they’re often required to fill in where they’re needed for a play. A tailback can gain yardage if they catch the ball when they’re in the backfield.
A fullback is close to the halfback or tailback at the start of a down, and they’re bigger than a typical running back. The role of a fullback is to protect the ball carrier from getting tackled.
Why the Importance of Fantasy Football?
Along with running backs, wide receivers make up the two most important positions in fantasy. Many fantasy experts and analysts will tell you to wait to draft your tight end and quarterback until the middle rounds, and in the early rounds, you should be loading up on your skill positions.
There is a disclaimer to this, though—you draft for value first and foremost.
Value is the player being available past what the consensus thinks they should be. You shouldn’t choose a running back you have ranked lower than a running back just because they’re a running back.
However, for a successful draft, it’s good to go into understanding why your running back position is more valuable than the position of a receiver.
With running backs, the workloads tend to be consistent, and that’s a big part of success in fantasy football. It’s better to have a running back getting 16 carries every game than one who gets four carries in one game and 30 in the next.
You want someone reliable which, regardless of what else happens, is going to get touches.
Much of the explanation as to why running backs are important in fantasy is that they get the ball more than receivers. Running plays tend to average fewer yards than passing plays, but targets aren’t guaranteed a catch.
There are other factors that some fantasy players also point to. One is that there’s often a bigger pool of consistent and decent wide receivers compared to running backs. Once you’re several rounds in, the pool of running backs is limited, so it’s tough to find someone who’s going to be able to put up points consistently. As far as comparing running backs to wide receivers in another way, there are good values for a WR throughout the draft, so you don’t have to use your first round on them.
Drafting Running Backs
If you’re drafting for value, as you’re making your plans, you should work off the assumption that running backs are more valuable.
If you don’t have a decent set of running backs, it’s not likely to matter who else you have.
Try to build your strategy around filling running back spots as the main priority in your initial rounds and draft depth at this position.
Each year there will be a handful of elite running backs, and they’re likely to be the very first players selected during a draft.
Try to leave the first two rounds with at least one running back, and two might be better.
Overall, if you want to succinctly sum up why running backs are so important in fantasy, it’s because the top running backs, when you can draft them, are most likely to deliver a reasonably high amount of points consistently.