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Is this the year to draft WRs early in fantasy football?

Running backs are flying off the board early and often. Here's when and why you should consider drafting wide receivers.
Julio Jones has consistently been an elite producer at wide receiver in fantasy football. (Twitter // @yardbarker)

Fantasy football drafters are loading up on running backs for 2020. In the NFFC, 12 of the top-20 picks according to average draft position are RBs. The next closest position is wide receiver with just five.

Admittedly, in the drafts I have been a part of, my strategy has been to hoard RBs early. Clearly, I’m not alone on this.

53% of the people who participated in the poll stated their strategy is to double-up on RB in the first two rounds, while 93% select at least one RB in either Rd. 1 or 2. In contrast, only 47% of people select at least one WR in the first two rounds.

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Seeing the numbers helped me contextualize exactly what is going on. There’s a clear opportunity to load up on high-end WR talent for anyone in the draft. A chance to ‘zig’ while everyone else ‘zags’ for lack of a better phrase. Is it worth doing, however? Or is it better to enter the RB blitz and hope you end up with the best tandem and some solid mid-round WRs?

The statistics from last season don’t support stockpiling WRs early. Not only did the top-end tailbacks outscore premier wideouts, but the middle-round WRs were better options than their RB counterparts. The numbers clearly suggest stashing RBs first then approaching WR.

Despite the disapproval of statistics, I wanted to try the strategy out in some 12-team mock drafts on Yahoo.

Mock Draft 1

This mock draft was my favourite of the two. Picking from No. 8, Thomas fell to me. Adding Jones and Robinson in the ensuing rounds really bulked up my team’s WRs. Fournette finished as RB6 in PPR leagues last season and I don’t see how his situation will differ much in 2020. Johnson is going to see a massive workload, because Bill O’Brien will have to do everything in his power to ensure that trading DeAndre Hopkins away wasn’t a mistake. Akers is exactly the high-upside RB that fantasy players should be targeting if drafting WRs early. Overall, I was really happy with the final product.

Mock Draft 2

Picking from No. 7, I was also happy with how this mock draft played out. I liked my RBs and flex from the first mock draft more, but adding Mahomes to the team was a nice upgrade. There’s no question that mock draft No. 1 was better than No. 2, but I still didn’t mind the result. (Full disclosure: I timed out in Rd. 14, hence why I selected a kicker before the final round)

Even though doubling-up on WR in the first two rounds is not ‘mainstream’, or statistically the better option, I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Of course, utilizing this method will depend a lot on where I select and who’s available. If Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook or Joe Mixon are available, I will start my draft with an RB. These five RBs are worth the first-round investment. If all five are off the board, I’ll take the plunge and draft a WR in the first and follow it with another in the second. Creating a surplus at WR by drafting the position early while also taking advantage of the values available later in the draft will create opportunities to improve an average running back situation via trades throughout the season.

More from Rally Towel

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