After looking at the ideal roster allocation for the quarterback position on Monday and then the running back position yesterday, we’re continuing that approach today by diving into the running backs.
If you’re new to best ball, they are fantasy football leagues that remove week-to-week management. You draft your team and your optimal lineup automatically gets set for the highest score each week. It’s that easy. No waivers, no trades, and no management in season. When the dust settles, the best team(s) take home the prizes.
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 WRs Selected and Win Rate
|# of WR||Fanball Tm%||Win %||FFPC Tm%||Win %|
*Fanball Data is from 2017-2019 **FFPC Data is from 2018-2019 (no SuperFlex)
The wide receiver position is the one skill position that has different starting requirements depending on which site you’re playing. Fanball requires three starting wideouts while FFPC only requires two.
Fanball owners have win rates above the 8.3% inherent baseline in just the 7-8 wide receiver range. Teams there selecting six or fewer wide receivers have posted a 7.1% win rate while teams attempting to overstuff the position with nine or more wideouts have had a 7.3% win rate. That 7-8 sweet spot is also the most popular pocket of drafters, accounting for 72.2% of drafted teams, with eight wideout rosters having a slightly better win rate while accounting for fewer than half of the 7WR rosters.
At FFPC, things are more spread out. It could be due to the expanded 28-player rosters paired with the one fewer required starting wide receiver, but there’s a much larger surface area in win rates across 7-10 total wide receivers drafted per roster. Those teams have combined for an 8.6% win rate. 60.2% of rosters have left their drafts with eight or nine wideouts, with the highest win rate belonging to the 9WR approach.
Allocation and Success Rate for First WR Drafted
If you circle back to the running back post, we can compare the two positions in terms of when it has been the most profitable to select your first player at each position. First-round wide receivers have posted below baseline win rates on both sites while first-round running backs were both above average picks to make with your first choice.
Taking your WR1 in the first round hasn’t paid off. And teams starting drafts off WR-WR haven’t fared much better, posting a 6.6% win rate on Fanball and just a 5.5% win rate in FFPC formats.
Outside of the first round on Fanball, the next three rounds have all been above the base rate to pluck your first wideout. Teams shopping for their lead wideout in Rounds 2-4 have posted an 8.8% win rate. You must start three wideouts there, so waiting too long to take a receiver is tough to overcome. Teams taking their first wideout outside of the fourth round notched just a 6.8% win rate.
At FFPC, the first two rounds haven’t been fruitful for teams taking their first receiver despite 57.5% of all drafted teams taking their lead wideout in those rounds. That aligns with the RB-heavier start discussed yesterday having more success at FFPC sites compared to Fanball. After that, things really pick up for FFPC teams taking their first wideout Rounds 3-5, as those teams have posted a 9.7% win rate.
The number of teams deploying a “Zero WR” approach at FFPC don’t make up a huge sample (3.7% of teams), but there’s been some success for those rosters. Teams taking their first wideout beyond Round 6 have an 11.8% win rate. The amount of final wideouts is vital if going that route, as teams waiting that late on their first receiver and still only ending up with fewer than nine total wideouts have just a 5.4% win rate, but those Zero WR drafters ending up with 10 or wideouts have had an 18.8% win rate. That group makes up 37.9% of the sample of Zero WR drafters.
Allocation and Success Rate for Total WRs Drafted Rounds 1-6
|# of WRs||Fanball%||Win%||FFPC%||Win%|
Focusing on where to allocate your early-round draft capital, we get a direct correlation to what we had from the running back position at Fanball. That running back data suggested that a “modified Zero RB” approach or a start with one or two backs and then hammer other positions was the best course of action. That other position to take with that approach is then loading up on wide receivers.
Teams at Fanball taking 3-5 wideouts with their first six draft picks have posted a 9.4% win rate. Since we’ve already established that taking your first wideout in the first or second round is a losing endeavor, we can marry both strategies.
Teams at Fanball starting their drafts off with a running back in the first round and then taking five straight wideouts have had an 11.4% win rate. Going four wideouts over the next five picks has yielded an 11.2% win rate and three wideouts a 9.3% win rate.
Teams starting off drafts RB-RB with their first two picks and then four straight wideouts (1.5% of teams) have had an 11.5% win rate at Fanball.
Over at Fanball, 37.2% of all teams have waited until after the sixth round to grab their third wide receiver. Those teams waiting to take their WR3 until after Round 6 have a 7.2% win rate compared to 9.0% prior. Teams taking their WR4 after Round 6 have an 8.1% win rate compared to a 9.6% win rate prior. The optimal approach there has been to go running back very early on and then pivot to hammering wideouts.
Yesterday, we showed that drafting RB-centric early on has yielded better results in FFPC formats than over at Fanball due to starting requirements. Pairing up both of the same RB and WR early-round allocation tables, more running backs has favored wideouts in every spot except for opening up with four wideouts over your first six picks compared to four running backs.
But there’s a catch here that’s different than Fanball. While those heavier RB-based FFPC teams early on are an approach you can have success with (and are above the base rate we were looking for) the modified “Zero RB” approach also has high success rates here.
The best win rates here above our baseline in FFPC formats have come from teams taking 3-4 wideouts over their first six picks, with the latter proving far more fruitful. Teams in FFPC formats taking their WR3 after Round 6 have an 8.2% win rate compared to an 8.6% prior. Teams taking their WR4 after Round 6 have the same 8.2% win rate while their win rate spikes to 9.2% prior.
We know we still don’t want to open with a wideout with our first overall pick in FFPC formats, but a heavier wide receiver approach can also work. Teams taking a Round 1 running back and then taking four wideouts over the next five rounds (5.2% of teams) have had a 10.3% win rate. Teams going running back in Round 1 and then taking three wideouts through six rounds have a 9.0% win rate.
Those same teams taking a Round 1 running back, but then taking three total backs through six rounds have an 8.8% win rate. FFPC teams taking a Round 1 back and then just one other back through six rounds have had a 9.2% win rate.
One thing remains ringing true regardless of the site: go with a running back over a wideout firsthand. But after that, FFPC formats have a larger open window for varying successful strategies in handling your “RB or WR?” question of roster capital allocation. We’ve now seen high success rates come from a “Robust RB” attack and the modified “Zero RB” approach, where there’s a large signal at Fanball to emphasize deploying the latter as your primary approach.