The Art of the Fantasy Football Late Round Flier: RBs
Here at FootClan HQ, our goal is to provide a number of strategy-based articles which can help you prepare for your fantasy league #footclantitle in 2017. We’re going to embark on a 3-part series looking a commonly used term in fantasy mock drafts: the late round flier.
A late round flier is simply a pick used at the end of your draft with the ultimate goal of finding a player with major upside at minimal cost. In 10-12 team redraft leagues, we are talking about players taken in Rounds 13-15 that fill the last available spot on your bench. We’ll be looking at specifically back-up RBs, WRs that are the 2nd or 3rd options on their team and lower tier TEs that could make a splash.
We will start with the running backs and a couple of late round flier “archetypes” that seem to spring up every year when scouring mock drafts, average draft position (ADP), and early rankings.
Note: We must remind ourselves that buying a lottery ticket in fantasy football is not an exact science as much as …. well, buying a lottery ticket. There is a bit of randomness involved alongside the puzzle pieces of injury, opportunity, and offensive schemes in football. In other words, these are simply suggestions which have the possibility of striking fantasy gold.
The Committee Member
This is always the hardest to swallow in a draft but certainly deserves a roster space at the end of the bench. As teams in 2017 often deploy a committee backfield, fantasy owners sometimes shy away from investing in a 3-way split. However, often times what seems like a mess turns into a clearer picture after 2 or 3 weeks of the season. In PPR leagues, the back who can corral 6-7 targets is a valuable piece at the end of a bench. Dion Lewis was an awesome example of this in 2015 as he parlayed a strong preseason into a valuable pass catching role for the first half of the Patriots season. In those 7 games, he averaged 17.5 fantasy points per contest in PPR leagues, 5th best among RBs for the year.
The Veteran Opportunist
RBs and age seem to be arch nemeses in fantasy football. We often hear of a cliff that even the stoutest of runners succumb to and yet this is an opportunity that could present value in your draft. Find a veteran RB that people assume is done and bet on their experience and wily skills to win out. Chris Ivory was the 142nd pick off the board (basically undrafted) in 2014, receiving little laud after averaging 4.6 ypc in his first year after leaving New Orleans. He eventually supplanted Chris Johnson as the lead back for the Jets, scoring 7 TDs and steam rolling towards a big 2015.
The Annoying Handcuff
Insuring your top notch investments at RB in fantasy is sometimes a necessary annoyance. Ultimately, this player holds little value unless your early round back goes down with an injury. However, holding this over your opponent is another intriguing way to get something out of your last draft pick. As an Ezekiel Elliott owner last year, I was pestered everyday by the Alfred Morris owner until I finally broke and made a trade to protect my investment during the playoff stretch run.
The Hungry Rookie
Finding fresh blood and fresh legs in the backfield is something every owner should target at the end of their fantasy draft. However, there must be the right mix of opportunity, offensive scheme, and location colliding to hit on a rookie RB as a late flier. Dynasty enthusiasts can lay claim to the fact that after this Thursday’s NFL draft, rookie RB prices will go through the roof as we speculate volume and roles for 2017. I felt like a genius in 2015 for selecting some guy named David Johnson, formerly of Northern Iowa, as my last bench spot… only to trade him after 3 weeks in the season. Regardless, a hungry rookie RB can jump the depth chart especially if they gain the trust of their coaching staff as Johnson did with Bruce Arians.
***Flier(s) for 2017: Alvin Kamara, Marlon Mack, Kareem Hunt, D’Onta Foreman
***These reflect current ADP prices but certainly will change after NFL Draft.