Fantasy Football

2012 fantasy football draft strategy

Fantasy football draft "strategery" comes down to QB vs RB in 2012
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Ryan Fowler

Ryan Fowler has spent the past 10 years covering and talking sports on TV and radio, in newspapers and on the web. He joined as lead Fantasy Sports Editor and also acts as Digital Content Manager at Follow him on Twitter. Listen to his FOX Sports Team Report Podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes


Choosing the incumbent or the challenger is one of the most polarizing decisions this nation faces. Families are divided, colleagues are annoyed and the best man at your wedding … defriended on Facebook.

It gets ugly.

But, in this case, I’m not speaking of Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, or Libertarians. Fantasy football owners are adapting to the environment around them as a new age of draft strategy continues to evolve.

NFL running backs have long carried the torch as fantasy incumbent. Great leaders like Priest Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson and, yes, Mike Alstott racked up point totals that made you proud to be an American and their fantasy owner.

Drafting a running back in the first round was a rite of passage passed down from father to sons. But as little Johnny grew up, so did the NFL, into a pass-happy, quarterback-driven league with a knack for RBBC (running backs by committee). If George Carlin were still alive, he’d add RBBC as the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh words.

Fantasy football quarterbacks will finally shed the challenger stigma in 2012. Since public leagues began drafting on August 1, the top 10 players (based on average draft position data) have been:


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1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Arian Foster
3. Ray Rice
4. LeSean McCoy
5. Tom Brady
6. Calvin Johnson
7. Drew Brees
8. Maurice Jones-Drew
9. Cam Newton
10. Chris Johnson

That’s five running backs, four quarterbacks and one wide receiver. For months now, I’ve been preaching that owners strongly consider drafting a top-tier quarterback in the first round. It would seem that fellow fantasy owners embraced similar strategies save from the usual rushing suspects.

To test my draft strategy, I wanted to review the success rate owners enjoyed in 2011.

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First, I wanted to know what percentage of owners who drafted…

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Tom Brady
3. Drew Brees
4. Cam Newton
5. Matthew Stafford
6. Mike Vick
7. Tony Romo
8. Eli Manning
9. Peyton Manning
10. Philip Rivers

… finished their league’s regular season with the best record and went on to win league Super Bowl.

Out of 223,175 total drafted team (all leagues, all draft types):

• 23.4 percent drafted a listed QB in the first round
• 3.9 percent won their division
• 3.1 percent won their league’s championship

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To counter, I wanted to know what percentage of owners who drafted …

  1. Arian Foster
  2. Ray Rice
  3. LeSean Mccoy
  4. Chris Johnson
  5. MJD
  6. Matt Forte
  7. Darren McFadden
  8. DeMarco Murray
  9. Michael Turner
  10. Adrian Peterson

… finished their league’s regular season with the best record and went on to win league Super Bowl.

Out of 223,175 total drafted team (all leagues, all draft types):

• 54.4 percent drafted a listed RB in the first round
• 6.9 percent won their division
• 6.0 percent won their league’s championship

So, what does this 2011 data tell us? Well, at face value it suggests those owners who selected one of the listed running backs (who currently reside as our top ranked RBs for 2012), won a league title twice as often as those owners who drafted a listed quarterback (who currently reside as our top QBs for 2012). Thus, the data makes an argument against my draft strategy.

However, when you consider four of those listed running backs are returning from injury and one is holding out (see: CJ2K 2011 for production concerns), some of their mojo is lost.  Plus, dozens of other variables could have impacted the data above including, but not limited to, owners draft strength Rounds 2-15, in-season waiver wire additions, strength of fantasy schedule, competing against AWOL owners (stopped paying attention), etc.

The data is simply to illustrate what the trend was in 2011.  It doesn't mean that trend will continue in 2012 especially with the swing in draft strategy focused on quarterbacks.  With four quarterbacks coming off the board, on average, in Round 1, the chances are strong that 3.1 percent will be on the rise come January.  It's a fitting month for the former challenger to take his place in fantasy football's highest office.

What do you think? Are you going RB/QB in the first round of your fantasy football draft? Hit me up on Twitter @FOXSportsFowler .

Note: no matter what you believe, there is no underlying political message here.  It's fantasy football for goodness sakes.  Have some fun out there!

Tagged: Bears, Lions, Packers, Raiders, Patriots, Saints, Giants, Eagles, Panthers, Ravens, Texans, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, Cam Newton

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