by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
For the past few years one of the popular strategies in recent seasons has been stockpiling running backs. In was common to go RB-RB-RB the first three rounds, to make sure you had adequate depth.
This season things are a little bit different, however, especially with more and more teams gravitating towards a committee approach. There is still extreme value in going RB-RB, but using your first three picks on running backs is no longer a given. Granted, a Frank Gore or Maurice Jones-Drew could be there early in the round, but if you are drafting towards the back of the rounds? The options are questionable…
According to fantasypros.com the following running backs are available late in the third round/early in the fourth round:
- DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – Can he stay healthy?
- David Wilson – New York Giants – Will he earn the coaches trust?
- Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – How bad will the offenses be, limiting his potential?
With those three options bringing significant risk, who should fantasy owners be targeting?
Quarterbacks - Obviously a few of the elite will likely be on the board, like Tom Brady or Cam Newton. I’m not completely averse to drafting one of them here, but does it fully make sense? Considering that you could get a guy like Colin Kapernick or Andrew Luck or Matthew Stafford 2-3 rounds later, it may not. The dropoff isn’t great enough that you should feel it’s a necessity. It is a viable option, if you want to take it, but not a must pick.
Tight End - Rob Gronkowski maybe? He brings with him his own set of injury risks and the position is extremely deep. The value is potentially right, but it’s hard to pull the trigger.
Wide Receiver - That leaves wide receiver, where you should have the opportunity to get a WR1 at this spot, at least a lower end one. Names like Vincent Jackson, Randall Cobb and Victor Cruz will all likely be on the board. Are they ideal top receivers? Not necessarily, but they certainly have appeal. It’s not a “reach” by any stretch to take them and they are nice cornerstones to your receiving corps.
So, what’s the verdict? Honestly, it’s cloudy at best. There is no clear-cut “right” selection to be made at the tail end of the third round, barring a RB or some other elite talent falling in your lap. The best pure value likely comes from the quarterbacks, opening you up to supplement your receiving corps a few rounds later with guys like Pierre Garçon or Mike Wallace or DeSean Jackson. That certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.
You may want to say the RB are alluring, and to an extent they are, but keep in mind that Eddie Lacey or Giovani Bernard or a few other high upside RB should still be available a round or two later. Those are guys with similar risk, but also plenty of upside and come at a lower cost. Assuming you have already filled your top two RB spots, there actually is no reason to pass up strengthening your lineup elsewhere.
How about wide receiver? It makes sense, though taking a Marques Colston in the fourth and then getting a Garçon a few rounds later is just as enticing.
The moral of the story? Your scoring system is going to play a major role in your decision making process. That said, the best bet would likely be going with a QB or a WR, depending on how the draft is going and who is available to you.
What are your thoughts? Is there a specific position you are targeting in the third round? Why?
Make sure to check out all of our 2013 preseason rankings: