The Difference Between a RB1 and RB2

When we talk about players as being RB1 or RB2 caliber, we are not trying to confuse you.

Okay. Okay. Well, maybe we are just a tiny bit, but that’s a small satisfaction of mine. I have to compensate for all the spammy emails I get from Russia that make me feel “small,” okay?

There exists in the fantasy football lexicon a set of definitions that helps in classifying your expectation for players. These definitions break down the projected performance of a player over the course of a season. “RB2″ is just one of many.

Associating these tags with players on your cheat sheet — maybe by tiering them off into RB1 and RB2 categories — you can better prepare for the kind of team you want to build and better evaluate potential trades.

Yes, you could always jump into a draft expecting to take the next stud available, but there comes a time in every fantasy football players life when they realize that they can’t just fill an entire team with studs of unending potential. You’ll run out. Some of us have more than 6 teams in our league.

You have to decide whether you want to go after a RB1 or take a stud at another position and take two RB2s when you get the chance. Now, that’s getting crazy, but sometimes crazy works. Just try it in a bar fight. No one messes with the crazy guy…

Notch this one on your fantasy football reference manual and clear a spot for your merit badge. These definitions are talking standard scoring (6 point TDs, 1 point for every 10 yards).

RUNNING BACK 1 (RB1)

The king of the “1” positions. RB1 is your workhorse and one of the most dependable (hopefully) players on your roster. Expectations can vary greatly, depending upon whether you have LaDainian Tomlinson or not, but you always want your RB1 to be a touchdown machine or a dependable yardage beast.

At the top, you can usually pray for 10+ touchdowns in a season and 1500-2000 yards. Not too many full-load running backs out there nowadays who can put that up though.

Usually, there are only about 10-12 true RB1s to even draft, and the number of stud RBs has been dropping ever since the dreaded running-back-by-committee system (RBBC) came into place — another dastardly effect of global warming…

Good examples: LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, Joseph Addai
Weekly expectations: 100+ yards and at least 1 TD with occasional bonus TDs

RUNNING BACK 2 (RB2)

In contrast, your RB2 is a complimentary back — and the “all you got left” for picks near the end of a big league — here’s to you, picks 11 and 12.

These days, any running back scoring around 8+ touchdowns with around 500 yards or reaching 1000 yards with fewer TDs is pretty exceptional as a RB2. Many of the top RB2s are of the TD-vulture variety.

Any running back that finishes in the top 30 is obviously a pretty decent RB2. You want to collect a couple of these guys if you can to sub in and out on a weekly basis and play those match ups.

Good examples: Brandon Jacobs, Deuce McAllister, Chester Taylor, DeAngelo Williams
Weekly expectations: 100+ yard and, frequently but not always, a TD

RUNNING BACK 3 (RB3)

As a BONUS — aren’t you lucky? — let’s talk RB3s. If you are in a league that plays three, you are probably looking to snag quite a few running backs and get two RB2-caliber guys. Technically, RB2 guys are the last ones you want to start on a regular basis.

A RB3 would be someone you expect to keep on the bench for a stretch — a new rookie perhaps. If they end up making waves and parting seas to the endzone, you could move them into your starting lineup. Otherwise, they are there if you get in a bind and for potential big games a few times in the season.

Good examples: Jerious Norwood, Tatum Bell, Leon Washington
Weekly expectations: 50 yards and occasional TD unless “special sleeper powers” activated by alien meteor or starting running back injury

PARTING NOTE

There is always some room to play here with these projections. If the league suddenly gets flooded with Adrian Petersons — or more likely, nine or ten Travis Henry types with all the kids he is producing — the RB2 position expectations will fluctuate.

Having trouble classifying a running back for this upcoming season? Post the players in the comments if you want a foolish expert opinion.

Look forward to  more foolish differences explored for the QB and WR position as the offseason’s “Are we there yet?” period continues.

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  • http://www.forpoorcollegestudents.blogspot.com Devin

    I deviated from taking a RB in the first round the last two years, instead going for that top flight receiver. It hasn’t worked out for me. I’m sticking to the 1-2 RB rule, especially with all the teams starting to employ 2 RB system. Less Studs!

  • http://www.forpoorcollegestudents.blogspot.com Devin

    I deviated from taking a RB in the first round the last two years, instead going for that top flight receiver. It hasn’t worked out for me. I’m sticking to the 1-2 RB rule, especially with all the teams starting to employ 2 RB system. Less Studs!

  • http://www.fantasyfootballfools.com Jacob

    @Devin:

    I wouldn’t recommend taking a WR as your first pick unless you are picking near the end of the first round and can get a top RB in the top of the second, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider an elite WR as your second pick. WR could be the new RB, and you have to make sure that you get a stud at both positions this year.

  • http://www.fantasyfootballfools.com Jacob

    @Devin:

    I wouldn’t recommend taking a WR as your first pick unless you are picking near the end of the first round and can get a top RB in the top of the second, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider an elite WR as your second pick. WR could be the new RB, and you have to make sure that you get a stud at both positions this year.

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  • Nick

    Who do I play this week…Cedric benson, Clinton Portis, Adrian peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, or Marion Barber…I can play up to 3 and have to play at least 2

  • http://www.fantasyfootballfools.com Jacob

    I think you have to play Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson this week. Benson's pumped to go in a revenge game against Chicago, and Peterson's bound to do some damage against the Steelers, who just lost run-stopper Aaron Smith.

    After those two, you've got some definite downside in each of your other choices: Portis, Barber and Mendenhall. Having run on the Eagles in the past, Portis has the better history, but he hasn't looked like himself (or healthy) through these first six weeks. Barber will split time with both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Mendenhall faces the stout run defense of Minnesota.

    If you start a third back, I'd play it safe and start Barber. I'd rank Portis next and Mendenhall last. Good luck this week.

  • http://www.fantasyfootballfools.com Jacob

    I think you have to play Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson this week. Benson's pumped to go in a revenge game against Chicago, and Peterson's bound to do some damage against the Steelers, who just lost run-stopper Aaron Smith.

    After those two, you've got some definite downside in each of your other choices: Portis, Barber and Mendenhall. Having run on the Eagles in the past, Portis has the better history, but he hasn't looked like himself (or healthy) through these first six weeks. Barber will split time with both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Mendenhall faces the stout run defense of Minnesota.

    If you start a third back, I'd play it safe and start Barber. I'd rank Portis next and Mendenhall last. Good luck this week.