After looking at the ideal roster allocation for the quarterback position yesterday, we’re continuing that approach today by diving into the running backs. 

If you missed out on that first post, the two most popular places to currently compete in best ball leagues are on Fanball BestBall 10s and in FFPC satellite leagues. With those two places being the focal point of popularity, we’re going to dive into some data from the past few seasons for what has been ideal lineup allocation and construction per position just to provide a few guidelines in building successful teams. You can also check out our 2020 rankings hub for early 2020 rankings that will be updated throughout the offseason to apply to these early drafts.

Number of Total RBs Selected and Win Rate

# of RBFanball Tm%Win %FFPC%Win %

*Fanball Data is from 2017-2019 **FFPC Data is from 2018-2019 (no SuperFlex)

When looking at quarterbacks, the only main difference between the Fanball and FFPC formats was that the overall size of the rosters (20 total players at Fanball versus 28 on FFPC) impacted things. That is still true here, but the rest of the positions are a different story as varying starting requirements come into play at the other positions. Both sites still only require two starting running backs, but Fanball requires three wide receivers and just one regular FLEX position whereas FFPC requires only two starting wide receivers with two regular FLEX positions for the starting lineup. So in theory, you have the potential for four starting running backs in FFPC formats versus a max of three at Fanball. We’ll see the impact of that potential shortly.

From a top-down perspective at Fanball, 78.9% of teams are leaving the draft with five or six running backs. Those two buckets also have the only win rates over our inherent 8.3% win rate for showing up on an equal playing field. While 6RB teams have success slightly above that rate and are more popular, the 5RB approach has been the most successful.

In FFPC formats, the expanded rosters allow for more wiggle room in allocation and success rates, but once again we see that less is more within the successful ranges of allocation. 52.2% of teams have settled on six or seven running backs with both marks well above our baseline win rate. 

Over at FFPC, drafting eight running backs has been a more common approach than six, but much less successful and below that benchmark, notching an 8.0% win rate. That win rate even falls below 5RB drafters, although there’s a sizable sample discrepancy in the overall amount of teams deploying each strategy.

With an idea of where to land on the total amount of backs on your roster, let’s check out the success rates for when teams are selecting the first running back on their roster.

Allocation and Success Rate for First RB Drafted

RB1 RoundFanball%Win%FFPC%Win%

Taking a running back in the first round is the most popular strategy on both sites, which is no surprise. The win rates for teams taking their first running back in the opening round are above water on both sites. 

Fanball drafters are coming away with their first running back in the opening two rounds in 79.4% of drafts. Drafters there taking their first back in the second round also hold steady, but overall at FFPC, they fall below our baseline win rate over the next four rounds despite 30.8% of teams taking their first running back over Rounds 2-5.

Both sites see a drop-off in win rate for teams settling in that third- and fourth-round range before popping back up in the fifth and sixth rounds, despite that being a less popular approach. If you’re opening your draft without a running back in the first two rounds, you don’t need to force one in Rounds 3-4 even though you’ll likely internally feel as if you’re chasing the position. You should stay patient and wait until Rounds 5-6 to take your first back in those scenarios. 

Even teams going with a full “Zero RB” approach had equal or more success than those chasing their first back in rounds 3-4 on both sites. At FFPC, those teams even had more success than teams taking their RB1 in the fifth round.  

That said, neither site has yielded consistently positive results for those going with a full Zero RB approach. Which to be fair, isn’t many teams at all. Less than 1.0% of the teams on each site have waited until after the sixth round to take their first running back.

Allocation and Success Rate for Total RBs Drafted Rounds 1-6

# of RBsFanball%Win%FFPC%Win%

How to play the start of drafts is a critical element for success. This is where both sites split in terms of optimal allocation with early-round picks due to overall starting requirements. 

Drafting more than two running backs over the opening six rounds has depreciating odds over at Fanball, where drafting with more a Robust RB approach has had more success in FFPC formats.

At Fanball, teams that waited to select their RB3 until after Round 6 had a 9.0% win rate compared to 7.7% win rate otherwise even though 52.3% of teams have taken at least three running backs through six rounds of the draft. 

To go even a step further, teams that took their RB2 after Round 6 at Fanball had a 9.3% win rate compared to 8.2% prior. Even another step further, teams that took their RB1 with their first pick and then waiting to select their RB2 until after Round 6 had an 11.6% win rate. Given that you must start three wide receivers before even accounting for the FLEX spot at Fanball, going running back heavy over the initial six rounds yields diminishing returns. A full Zero RB approach isn’t optimal, but a modified version of the approach is where you draft a running back (or at max two) very early and then wait on filling out the position is. 

At FFPC, teams that waited to take their RB2 until after Round 6 produced a 7.9% win rate compared to 8.4% prior. Teams that waited to take their RB3 until after Round 6 posted an 8.2% win rate compared to 8.5% prior and even teams that waited to select their RB4 until after the sixth round posted a lower win rate (8.3%) compared to teams who selected their RB4 prior to that point (8.4%). Given that you have the potential to start four running backs while only required to start two wide receivers in FFPC formats, drafting running backs heavier with your premier capital has generated better results.

For the very start of drafts, teams that started RB-RB with their first two picks had the same 8.6% win rate on each site, but that’s where the similarities end. Teams that started their drafts of RBx3 had an 8.7% win rate in FFPC leagues (11.1% of drafted teams) compared to a 6.8% at Fanball (7.3%). Teams that started RBx4 in FFPC (3.1% of teams) had a 10.7% win rate in FFPC compared to a 4.7% win rate at Fanball (1.3%) and even teams that went with the rare RBx5 to open their drafts had a 20.2% win rate on FFPC, although that group makes up just 1.1% drafted teams.