Best Ball: Drafting RBs that Actually Hit Your FLEX Position (Fantasy Football)

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The RB position is divisive in Best Ball as we often discuss on the Fantasy Footballers DFS Podcast.

  • Some people are Zero RB enthusiasts punting the position for upside later.
  • Some prefer Hero RB selecting one elite player in the first round & load up on WRs.
  • Others get two studs and plan on riding them all year long filling in rest of their draft with high upside backups like Alexander Mattison or Darrell Henderson Jr.

There isn’t a wrong strategy but as we wanted to highlighted on Thursday’s Underdog BestBall Breakdown, your 3rd & 4th RBs matter in terms of weekly scoring. We found a window of players going past RB30 we are targeting. I queued it up on YouTube if you want to full visual of Mike breaking this down.

Flexin’ Your RBs

In Bestball, every team starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, TE, & a FLEX based on their optimal scores.  

But based on this roster construction, it can seem like loading up on WRs is ideal. Their volatility & spike weeks are worth chasing as fellow writers Matt DiSorbo and Matthew Betz discussed in Embracing Volatility: Quantifying the Value of Variance in Best Ball.

But RBs actually hit your FLEX spot slightly more on average than you might realize especially because Underdog Fantasy is 0.5-point scoring, NOT full PPR.

Per Hayden Winks of Underdog Fantasy, using 0.5 point scoring data over the last seven years: “in general about 50% of flex spots should filled by RBs, 45% should be filled by WRs, and 5% should be filled by TEs”

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Since 2015, the RB30 on avg scored the same as the WR40But ADP does not reflect this on Underdog.  WRs are being pushed up across the board in ADP creating RB values. For example, the RB30 (Kareem Hunt) and WR46 (Treylon Burks) are being drafted back-to-back.

Here are some RBs (going past RB30) that we think could hit your FLEX more often than some WRs going in the same range.

Kareem Hunt (RB30/94th overall)

You might’ve forgotten but Hunt started out the year on fire scoring five TDs in his first five games. Before going down with an injury in Week 6, he averaged 87 total yards per game as the RB8 in fantasy. He tried to return from his ankle injury but it was a lost season for Hunt and the rest of the Browns. A lot has changed since with Deshaun Watson in town and now Hunt enters the final year of his contract. He’ll always play second-fiddle to Nick Chubb in terms of usage but the upside is still apparent if Chubb went down. If there is another area of concern, it’s the fact that during his last three full years as the Texans’ starting QB, Watson targeted the RB position 14.7 percent of the time, dead last in the NFL. He’ll need to overcome Chubb and Watson to truly be a fantasy force once again. He’s a risk/reward RB in the 7th round.

Rashaad Penny (RB33/103rd)

For the first 12 weeks of the season, you probably forgot Penny was even in the league with 43 total rush yards as the (checks notes… scrolls… hold on… wait for it…) RB119. Heck, his brother Elijhaa Penny had more fantasy points as a full-back. But boy did things change… He ended up leading the league in yards per carry (6.3) and running for 700+ in his final six games. It was the stuff of fantasy legends and the Seahawks decided to bring him back on a one-year deal. He’s a bruiser so his running style might not hold up over the course of a season. With Kenneth Walker III selected in the 2nd round, you’re not expecting the same magic from Penny for long. But maybe he’s the type of first-half RB2 your best ball team needs at an affordable draft price.

Cordarrelle Patterson (RB34/105th)

If you saw Patterson’s 2021 season coming, take a bow. He came out of nowhere as the lone Atlanta Falcons player with weekly upside for fantasy, From Weeks 2-14, he was the RB7 in total points and RB9 in fantasy points per game. However, he ran out of gas in the final month (RB56, 31, 37, 70) which raises some questions heading into 2022. He scored more points as a receiver than as a rusher making him an odd RB to project moving forward. The only competition in the backfield is journeyman Damien Williams and 5th-round rookie Tyler Allgeier. Approach with caution knowing you could have your draft pick evaporate into thin air but also know that in Best Ball, you are looking for FLEX-type numbers and for him to beat his draft cost.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chase Edmonds (RB35/106th)

Through Week 8, the Cardinals were 7-1 as Edmonds was the RB20 averaging 14 opportunities per game including a healthy 4.6 targets. However, he was injured the next week and didn’t return until Week 15. Now in Miami after signing one of the first free-agent deals of the off-season, he’ll be in the mix with Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel, and Myles Gaskin. Edmonds profiles as the best fantasy option of the bunch given his receiving abilities. The beat reporters recently have steamed him up as the clear starter and 60+ receptions aren’t out of the question. His point projections in the UDK are strong given his role outpacing other wideouts (DeVonta Smith, Gabriel Davis) that are being drafted much higher. He’s one of our favorite RB3s and someone rising up on our exposures list.

Melvin Gordon (RB36/108th)

The Broncos waited a while but eventually re-signed the veteran RB despite the groans of fantasy managers. Gordon surprisingly hung around all year as a capable RB2 on your roster finishing as the RB18, one spot behind backfield mate Javonte Williams. They had the same exact carries (203) and although things are trending for the talented Williams to take over, Gordon won’t go away. He’s a TD machine averaging double-digit TDs for the last six seasons and Russell Wilson should transform this offense to be even better in 2022. Don’t forget about Gordon as a valuable depth RB for your roster in the later rounds with clear upside if Javonte Williams were to go down.

Rhamondre Stevenson (RB38/111th)

Yes, he’s a big boy but Stevenson impressed in his first year. He’s one of six rookie RBs since 2013 with multiple games of 100+ rushing yards & two TDs. The upside was there and he looked much more fluid as a pass-catcher than most realize. Damien Harris will still be the lead back but if Stevenson supplants at some point, it shouldn’t be surprising. He is one of Betz’s Best Ball league winners previewed earlier this month and one of our “co-tweet” targets I signed off on. Hours and hours of debate to get to that final list.

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Ronald Jones (RB39/123rd)

Rojo goes from a TB12-led offense to Patrick Mahomes handing him the rock. Not a bad life. We know what he is at this point of his career: a 1st & 2nd down runner who has stone hands that even his coaches shy away from. But we need to be reminded that Clyde Edwards-Helaire has failed to finish a season and backup Darrel Williams became a fantasy league winner down the stretch as the goal-line back for KC. Jones is an efficient back averaging 4.5 yards a tote in his career and during the Patrick Mahomes era, the KC RB group has averaged nearly 12 rushing TDs per year. If Rojo falls into the end zone 7-8 times this year, you shouldn’t be surprised.

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