Stacking Running Backs Could Help You Bust Through In Fantasy Football

Written By Ian Henson on 08/11/2021
Fantasy football draft strategy

Let us be honest, if you do not win your fantasy football league this season it is because of the person in the mirror.

However, if you miss on a chance to make the playoffs in your league it is most likely a direct result of your drafting and your moves on the waiver wire. So, what is the best way to mitigate risk and gobble up all of the points for the taking?

I am not here to teach you how to participate in your league, I am here because you are about to draft and you need to know how to stack your draft board. You do have a draft board, right? Don’t just rely on your favorite fantasy football strategist and their board, as the likelihood of someone else in your league using that exact same board is incredibly high.

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Stack your fantasy football draft board

I want to focus on running backs, but also I must insist that you draft wide receiver Stefon Diggs if he is within reach in your second or third round. Especially if you are in a points per reception league (PPR).

There are countless strategies in drafting: 0-RB, Late Round QB, 0-WR/Heavy RB, Best Player Available (BPA), One RB/Elite RB, Punting TE/TE Late, Value-Based Drafting (VBD), TE Early, QB Early. No matter your strategies, have a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C, know the Average Draft Position of the guys who you want and don’t draft anyone too early or you can almost guarantee that you’ll be feeling that move later in the draft (or worse later in the season).

About that risk mitigating I mentioned earlier, think back to last season, those who drafted Christian McCaffrey (probably in the first three picks of the first round) were immediately hampered when after four touchdowns in two weeks McCaffrey was sent to the Carolina Panthers injured reserve for essentially the rest of the season. Enter his (then) backup, Mike Davis. If you had Davis on your roster (or you were lucky enough to be awarded him off of waivers) you barely missed any points.

This type of situation is where your fantasy draft capital is best spent, get your stud running backs, and handcuff them. However, this does not work for just any running back. The McCaffrey model does not work this year, because Davis is likely to be the lead running back with the Atlanta Falcons this season. It does work for a running back like Ezekiel Elliot, whose backup Tony Pollard is just waiting to break out.

Fantasy running backs to stack in 2021

The top four running backs in your draft will probably be some variation of: McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara. While injuries are impossible to predict, Henry and Kamara have not had any major injuries in their professional careers thus far. Both McCaffrey and Cook have missed large chunks of time in their career due to injury, McCaffrey’s backup this season is Chuba Hubbard, a player who may be able to compete as your RB2 if McCaffrey is injured, but most weeks you’ll likely fade him. While Cook’s backup is one of the best backup running backs in the league in Alexander Mattison. If Mattison were the starter in Minnesota he would still be a Top 5/10 running back.

You can see where I am going with this. Yes, McCaffrey is likely the No. 1 overall pick in your draft, but a Cook (first round) and Mattison (eighth round) haul should be a league winning strategy at running back. However, Cook may go too early in your draft for you to get your grubby mitts on him, so who else can stack like Cook and Mattison? Glad that you asked …

Be mindful of running back by committee

Kamara and Latavius Murray with the New Orleans Saints are two of the best you can possibly draft (outside of Cook and Mattison), the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon will work nicely in your lineup, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns are pretty tempting but be careful of a running back by committee. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams with the Kansas City Chiefs are both great on your roster. The Los Angeles Chargers duo of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson seem stackable (and Ekeler could finish as one of the best in the NFL this season). And if you need a deep reach it seems as if the Arizona Cardinals will use James Conner as a goal line back and his backup is the incredibly affordable Chas Edmonds.

If you want to keep it Colorado, Melvin Gordon’s current average draft position is around the same area as you are seeing backups being drafted, Gordon can be stacked with rookie Javonte Williams,who is a bit pricey at his current ADP, but could be the long-term answer for the Broncos at running back.

Photo by AP / Duane Burleson
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Ian Henson

Ian Henson is a showrunner and filmmaker by day, and an NFL Fantasy Football enthusiast by night. While at CBS, his news and sports programs won over 30 Associated Press awards. His Denver Broncos podcast was nominated as Best in Colorado and he hosted Mile High Report Live for over three years. He has appeared on the NFL Network and appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and GQ.

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