Fantasy football mock draft trials: Employing a hero-RB strategy

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Welcome to Part 3 of my fantasy football mock draft series! It's all under the umbrella of why you should mock draft often. The TL;DR version is that I'm doing a series of mock drafts in which I practice different draft strategies to better understand the draft board before I get into an actual fantasy draft. I'll share my biggest takeaways from the mocks I take part in and offer some of my draft preferences, with the hope of giving you something to consider when you go through the exercise yourself.

In case you missed them, here are the first two mock trials I detailed:

Today's strategy: Attempting a "hero-RB" build

What does hero-RB mean?

In case you're new to the strategy, you're drafting one star running back to anchor your team, then focusing on building out the rest of your starting lineup (except for your RB2) with as much high-level talent as possible. You might even fill out your first bench spot with another WR before grabbing your RB2.

In fact, that was the one rule that I had for this exercise: Always take a fourth WR before taking my RB2.

I'm drafting based on my rankings, so your teams might look totally different based on how you value certain players. This is not an exercise in me telling you which players to draft, but rather how a hero-RB draft strategy played out for me.

The logistics

  • I did six PPR drafts: three 10-team leagues and three 12-team leagues.

  • Draft slots: In the 10-team leagues, I drafted second, sixth and 10th, and in the 12-team leagues I drafted fourth, eighth and 12th.

Each position on your roster is going to be impacted by a different draft strategy, so how did using a hero-RB strategy impact my teams? After looking back at my mock rosters, I've included a few notes below about each key position, followed by a larger breakdown of my favorite team from this exercise at the end of the column.


I always grabbed a top-eight quarterback: I never drafted a tier-one QB (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts), but I always drafted someone from my second tier, which I've kind of fallen in love with. It's not that hard to leave a draft with a top-eight QB, which for me includes: Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence.

Mid-round QB value is where it's at

  • The earliest I took a QB was Lamar Jackson at pick 30.

  • The latest I took a QB was Trevor Lawrence at pick 59.

  • QBs went faster in the 12-team mocks, which makes sense given the extra teams -- and that made the pick feel more "worth it" than in a 10-team league.

Running Back

  • I left each draft with a different RB1. Not on purpose, that's just how the drafts fell.

  • Rhamondre Stevenson was my lowest-ranked RB1, drafted in the third round (he's 10th in my RB ranks).

  • I never drafted a second running back until the eighth round, and I really loved this strategy. There's a ton of value in the low-end RB2 range of these drafts.

  • Once I hit the eighth round, I primarily drafted RB-RB-RB with my next three picks (there were a few exceptions).

  • The five RB2s I drafted in the eighth round were: Rachaad White (twice), David Montgomery, James Cook, Antonio Gibson and Zach Charbonnet.

  • Charbonnet was my most-drafted RB. His ADP was perfect for this kind of build, and while he won't have a starting role right out of the gate because of Kenneth Walker III, I like his potential top-15 upside in case Walker misses any time.

  • My best RB3 was AJ Dillon, whom I selected in the ninth round.

Wide Receiver

  • I left each draft with a different WR1. Again, not on purpose, that's just how the draft fell based on my draft slots.

  • As stated above, I ALWAYS grabbed my first bench WR before taking my RB2. This was the only rule of the exercise -- to prioritize the top pass-catchers and see how the draft played out.

  • My flex spot was always filled by a WR. The WRs I grabbed for the flex spot were Amari Cooper, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin and, one time, DeVonta Smith, who even made it back to me in the fourth round of a 10-team draft as my WR3.

  • The most common WRs I selected in the mid-to-late rounds: Elijah Moore, Skyy Moore, Rondale Moore and Nico Collins. No truth to the rumor I'm partial to the surname Moore. Really.

Tight End

  • Similar to the QB position, I didn't take either of the top two guys (Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews), but I did make sure to leave every draft with a player I rank as a starting-caliber TE. That range went from T.J. Hockenson (my TE3, drafted in the fifth round) to Pat Freiermuth (my TE8, in the seventh round).

  • My best value at TE was Darren Waller (my TE4) in Round 7 with the 10th pick. Talk about a fall!

  • I made sure to always draft a TE before getting my RB2. After looking back at the rosters I drafted in this exercise, I'm pretty sure I'll always be grabbing someone from the TE2-to-TE8 range. I love the value here and don't see the need to punt on the TE position given the soft ADPs of some of these guys.

My favorite team from this exercise
(drafting from No. 6 slot in 10-team league)


QB: Lamar Jackson (4th round)
RB: Bijan Robinson (1st)
RB: Rachaad White (8th)
WR: Amon-Ra St. Brown (2nd)
WR: Chris Olave (3rd)
TE: Darren Waller (6th)
Flex: Terry McLaurin (5th)


WR Mike Williams (7th)
WR George Pickens (9th)
RB Zach Charbonnet (10th)
RB Samaje Perine (11th)
WR Elijah Moore (12th)
RB Elijah Mitchell (13th)

I've already said it once, but I'm going to say it again: I love this team. It's not perfect, no draft ever is, but this build is my favorite so far. I was able to grab a top-four QB in Jackson, who has QB1 upside every single time he steps on the field. I love getting Jackson for this team.

Robinson at sixth overall was an interesting pick for me. A lot of times, I end up waiting to see if I can get someone like Derrick Henry or Tony Pollard, but I decided to roll the dice with the talented first-round rookie. He'll be the anchor of my RB room and should provide plenty of touches in both the run and pass game for my squad. I then waited until the eighth round to grab my next RB and was thrilled when White made it back to me. He's a top-20 RB in my rankings, and pairing his pass-catching ability with Robinson gives me a really nice floor to work with every week. It didn't stop there, though, as I also drafted Charbonnet, who is a great insurance option if anything happens to Walker. Same thing with a pair of other insurance backs in Perine and Mitchell. I focused on two starting RBs and then tried to find players who have a path to good value throughout the season. The nice thing is, my RB3, RB4 and RB5 were all drafted in the 10th round or later, so if I need to cut them to make room for a better player off the waiver wire, I'm not throwing away an early-round pick. Again, I really like this build.

After taking Robinson, I was hoping a high-profile WR1 would make it back to me in the middle of the second. Thankfully, my prayers were answered when St. Brown fell into my lap. He's a top-10 WR for me, and this is where the fun started. After getting St. Brown, I snagged Olave, another young, rising WR, to lead this team. My flex options are McLaurin and Williams -- I'm especially interested in seeing how Williams looks in this new Chargers attack under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. The final two WRs I grabbed were Pickens, primed for a second-year breakout, and Elijah Moore, who has been receiving a ton of buzz during training camp. This WR room is full of talent with boatloads of upside!

Lastly, Waller made it all the way back to me in the sixth round, giving me another high-volume receiving option for this roster. Waller could very easily lead this Giants team in targets, and Daniel Jones needs playmakers to take the next step as a passer. I'm all-in on Waller this year.

In summary ...

  • I've really enjoyed grabbing a QB in the early-to-middle rounds (fourth through seventh), given the value that's available there.

  • Using a hero-/anchor-RB build showed me there are definitely RB2s available in Rounds 7 through 9 of fantasy drafts -- just stay patient and let the draft come to you.

  • My WRs are all upside plays. Every single one of them is in a potential smash spot this year. That doesn't mean all of them will pan out, but I love the floor (maybe Mike Williams excluded) to pair with the ceiling (hello, Mike Williams!) of these pass-catchers, and that includes Waller, even though he isn't a WR. Love this group!