There is more than one way to prepare for your fantasy football draft. You could wear your lucky hat that always guarantees your favorite team the win. Maybe you find that listening to Taylor Swift is the best way to draft. Everyone has their own superstitions, but what doesn’t change is the importance of the first round pick. And who should you choose? In the list of the Cooper Kupps, Derrick Henrys, and Ja’Marr Chases, what do you do? Wide receiver or running back? Here, I will break down the two most popular positional choices to give you the edge in your fantasy league.
Ah yes, the tried and true #1 overall pick every year without fail. Everyone knows that when the clock starts counting down, it won’t be long before Christian McCaffrey’s name disappears from the available player pool. This year, it’s Jonathan Taylor’s turn to be the player taken first overall across nearly every league. But Christian McCaffrey’s stint as poster boy for the fantasy running back tells a lot about drafting one with the first pick.
The number one pick is supposed to give you the most points. So if you’re on my team, I want you playing every week except the bye. And running backs are consistently the position that get hit the hardest and most often. Just listen to the gripes from guys who take McCaffrey or “King” Henry first, and you’ll think twice before you finalize your pick.
The big upside in drafting running backs first, is the consistency in points scored each week. The NFL might be a pass-first league, but not every play will have the quarterback throwing downfield. And if you can take a star running back early, odds are he’s getting the ball on a run.
The other position that gets a lot of points on gameday is wide receiver. With a lot of precise routes and speedsters darting downfield, big play potential is always possible at the position. With the two dynamic LSU alums Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase near the middle of the first round, is it worth it to pass them up?
Points Aren’t Promised
The main detractor for this position is the defenses they’ll face. Matchups are king, and corners can lock down star players in double coverage. Receivers don’t get the ball as often as running backs and have to make do with what they have. Some weeks might give you little return on investment.
Big Play, Big Pay
With more room to maneuver, wide receivers benefit from getting the ball downfield rather than in the backfield. This means more potential to slice a defense to ribbons and earn you more points. Quarterbacks are throwing more touchdown passes on average than running backs can get on the ground. And if you snag a favorite target early on, those touchdowns will be on your side too.
Ultimately, while the running back provides more consistency week to week, the pool of star backs in large. Every team has to run the ball, and while some players are more effective than others, the gaps in point totals aren’t end all be all. If you can’t get a point monster like Jonathan Taylor or Austin Ekeler, look to the receivers. Game changes like Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, and Justin Jefferson can’t be found in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. It’s best to grab one sooner rather than later and worry about a good running back after.
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