Running Back #2 By Committee (PPR)
By Jeff Pasquino
July 30th, 2010

Over the past few years, there have been two very popular articles written by our very own Chase Stuart that look at an interesting approach to building a fantasy team with late value picks. Based upon the theory of using both Strength of Schedule ("SOS") and taking two players as a combination to build one very good player, he has discussed both Team Defense by Committee ("TDBC") and Quarterback by Committee ("QBBC") as a general fantasy league strategy. In general I think that this is a wise move because very early on in fantasy drafts there are a ton of RB and WR prospects to go after to build a great team. While there are a few studs at QB and also a few choice defenses, I do not see a huge need in leagues to pursue either too hard in the beginning stages of a fantasy draft.

So with this in mind, I started to think about what else can be done with the committee approach. Tight end? Perhaps. Wide receiver? A possibility, but it might be better to look at third WR options than any other option. What about running back? Hmmm, that's really intriguing. What if you could grab two running backs later in the draft that could combine to perform on a RB2 - or even RB1 - level, based solely on their current projections and their schedule? Now we're talking. This really got my attention, so I went after this one first. Let's take a look at how I went about this and then we can digest and discuss the results.

The Ground(game) Rules

So how to begin? Defenses and quarterbacks are relatively easy to "committee" together. There's usually only one QB and certainly only one team defense per NFL club, so the approach is pretty simple as far as picking out which players / teams to try and pair up. When it comes to running backs, the line is not quite so easy to draw, but I needed some basis to pick which players it made sense to try and combine for a decent committee. I decided that I would use the following criteria to decide which players to start with for evaluating:

Criteria #1 - RB25 and Beyond

This seems pretty simple. If we want to have a duo that puts up RB2 numbers, that means we want RB24 or better production - else we would just draft RB24 or higher and forget the whole idea. So here is the list of players with which I started, based on their Average Draft Position (ADP):

ADP
Running Back
ADP
Running Back
RB25
C.J. Spiller
RB37
Clinton Portis
RB26
Ricky Williams
RB38
Jerome Harrison
RB27
Darren Sproles
RB39
Steve Slaton
RB28
Justin Forsett
RB40
Darren McFadden
RB29
Cadillac Williams
RB41
Laurence Maroney
RB30
Ahmad Bradshaw
RB42
LaDainian Tomlinson
RB31
Matt Forte
RB43
Leon Washington
RB32
Brandon Jacobs
RB44
Correll Buckhalter
RB33
Michael Bush
RB45
Marion Barber
RB34
Fred Jackson
RB46
Arian Foster
RB35
Tim Hightower
RB47
Montario Hardesty
RB36
Chester Taylor
RB48
Donald Brown

Table 1: Running Backs RB25-RB48 Based on PPR ADP

Great, now we have 24 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 276 potential committees, so there had better be a decent one (or several, we hope) out of all of those couplets. Now, before I go over the method of how to pair them up and the results, we need one more rule:

Criteria #2 - No more than one RB from Round 5 and one from Round 6.

This could get tricky here, but understand the overall goal. The point of RB2BC is to "free up" the first 4 rounds of your fantasy draft to pursue 3 receivers (especially in PPR leagues) after grabbing a stud RB in Round 1. This also gives you the flexibility of grabbing two receivers and a stud QB or TE, depending on your personal preference, or even to get RB2 and have the "RB2BC" be your RB3. Flexibility is the name of the game here. We all want value in our drafts, and having the ability to grab two RBs in Rounds 5 and 6 to act as our RB2BC gives us that ability.

Here is the good news - nearly all the running backs on the list above have ADPs that are Round 6 or higher (later). Only Matt Forte and Brandon Jacobs are being selected on average in Round 5 with two more (Ricky Williams and Marion Barber) expected to go early in Round 6. We will have to keep that in mind when we look at the result because it would not make sense to expect to get two of these four backs in a combination based on their ADP.

So what do we do now to figure out some RB pairs?

Criteria #3 - Use Footballguys' RB Strength of Schedule

This sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Just take the RB Strength of Schedule to figure out when certain players are more likely to score well. What I did is similar to what the Projections Dominator and Draft Dominator do for you - take the projected fantasy points and slice them up over 16 weeks based on the strength of schedule. I call this result the "distributed fantasy points" for each back.

After I had all 24 running backs with distributed fantasy points on a weekly basis, I just compared all of the possible RB pairs to find the best duos for RB2BC. So here we are - time for some results.

Rk
Running Back 1
Running Back 2
Value
1
C.J. Spiller
Ricky Williams
205.7
2
C.J. Spiller
Matt Forte
204.8
3
C.J. Spiller
Darren Sproles
201.9
4
C.J. Spiller
Ahmad Bradshaw
201.3
5
C.J. Spiller
Brandon Jacobs
200.2
6
C.J. Spiller
Cadillac Williams
198.2
7
C.J. Spiller
Justin Forsett
197.0
8
C.J. Spiller
Michael Bush
196.9
9
C.J. Spiller
Chester Taylor
196.8
10
Ricky Williams
Darren Sproles
194.8
11
Ricky Williams
Ahmad Bradshaw
193.3
12
Ricky Williams
Michael Bush
192.2
13
Ricky Williams
Brandon Jacobs
192.2
14
Ricky Williams
Fred Jackson
192.1
15
Justin Forsett
Matt Forte
191.9
16
Ricky Williams
Matt Forte
191.4
17
C.J. Spiller
Clinton Portis
190.6
18
Darren Sproles
Justin Forsett
190.2
19
Ricky Williams
Cadillac Williams
190.1
20
Darren Sproles
Cadillac Williams
189.2
21
C.J. Spiller
Steve Slaton
188.7
22
Ricky Williams
Clinton Portis
188.7
23
C.J. Spiller
Tim Hightower
187.8
24
Cadillac Williams
Matt Forte
187.6
25
Justin Forsett
Ahmad Bradshaw
187.5
26
C.J. Spiller
Jerome Harrison
187.4
27
Matt Forte
Fred Jackson
187.2
28
C.J. Spiller
Darren McFadden
186.6
29
Justin Forsett
Brandon Jacobs
186.5
30
Darren Sproles
Fred Jackson
186.1
31
Ricky Williams
Tim Hightower
186.1
32
C.J. Spiller
Arian Foster
185.5
33
Justin Forsett
Cadillac Williams
185.1
34
C.J. Spiller
Laurence Maroney
185.1
35
Ahmad Bradshaw
Fred Jackson
185.1
36
Ricky Williams
Chester Taylor
185.0
37
Justin Forsett
Chester Taylor
184.6
38
Cadillac Williams
Ahmad Bradshaw
184.1
39
Matt Forte
Michael Bush
183.9
40
Ricky Williams
Jerome Harrison
183.6
41
Cadillac Williams
Fred Jackson
183.2
42
C.J. Spiller
LaDainian Tomlinson
183.1
43
Brandon Jacobs
Fred Jackson
183.0
44
Ahmad Bradshaw
Tim Hightower
182.7
45
Cadillac Williams
Brandon Jacobs
182.6
46
Darren Sproles
Tim Hightower
182.5
47
Justin Forsett
Fred Jackson
182.2
48
Ricky Williams
Darren McFadden
181.5
49
Darren Sproles
Matt Forte
181.4
50
Brandon Jacobs
Tim Hightower
181.4
51
C.J. Spiller
Donald Brown
181.1
52
Matt Forte
Tim Hightower
181.0
53
C.J. Spiller
Leon Washington
180.7
54
Darren Sproles
Ahmad Bradshaw
180.6
55
Cadillac Williams
Michael Bush
180.6
56
Ahmad Bradshaw
Michael Bush
180.6
57
Darren Sproles
Clinton Portis
180.1
58
C.J. Spiller
Marion Barber
179.9
59
Cadillac Williams
Tim Hightower
179.7
60
C.J. Spiller
Fred Jackson
179.7
61
Michael Bush
Fred Jackson
179.7
62
C.J. Spiller
Correll Buckhalter
179.6
63
Cadillac Williams
Clinton Portis
179.6
64
Justin Forsett
Tim Hightower
179.5
65
Ricky Williams
Marion Barber
179.5
66
Justin Forsett
Michael Bush
179.4
67
C.J. Spiller
Montario Hardesty
179.1
68
Brandon Jacobs
Michael Bush
179.0
69
Darren Sproles
Brandon Jacobs
178.9
70
Ricky Williams
Justin Forsett
178.9
71
Matt Forte
Clinton Portis
178.7
72
Ricky Williams
Steve Slaton
178.5
73
Ricky Williams
Montario Hardesty
178.5
74
Fred Jackson
Chester Taylor
178.3
75
Ahmad Bradshaw
Clinton Portis
178.3
76
Ricky Williams
LaDainian Tomlinson
178.1
77
Justin Forsett
Clinton Portis
178.0
78
Cadillac Williams
Chester Taylor
177.8
79
Darren Sproles
LaDainian Tomlinson
177.7
80
Michael Bush
Tim Hightower
177.5
81
Ricky Williams
Donald Brown
177.4
82
Darren Sproles
Steve Slaton
177.0
83
Darren Sproles
Chester Taylor
176.7
84
Darren Sproles
Correll Buckhalter
176.6
85
Ricky Williams
Arian Foster
176.6
86
Brandon Jacobs
Clinton Portis
176.1
87
Darren Sproles
Leon Washington
176.0
88
Michael Bush
Chester Taylor
175.9
89
Darren Sproles
Michael Bush
175.7
90
Matt Forte
Leon Washington
175.5
91
Ricky Williams
Correll Buckhalter
175.4
92
Darren Sproles
Laurence Maroney
175.2
93
Justin Forsett
Jerome Harrison
175.2
94
Cadillac Williams
Jerome Harrison
175.2
95
Cadillac Williams
Laurence Maroney
175.1
96
Darren Sproles
Jerome Harrison
175.0
97
Matt Forte
Steve Slaton
175.0
98
Darren Sproles
Arian Foster
174.9
99
Darren Sproles
Donald Brown
174.6
100
Darren Sproles
Marion Barber
174.5
101
Cadillac Williams
Steve Slaton
174.1
102
Darren Sproles
Montario Hardesty
174.0
103
Michael Bush
Clinton Portis
173.3
104
Tim Hightower
Chester Taylor
173.2
105
Ricky Williams
Laurence Maroney
173.0
106
Matt Forte
Darren McFadden
172.9
107
Ahmad Bradshaw
Matt Forte
172.3
108
Cadillac Williams
Leon Washington
172.2
109
Justin Forsett
Marion Barber
172.1
110
Matt Forte
Correll Buckhalter
172.0
111
C.J. Spiller
None
171.9

Table 2: PPR Running Back #2 Committee Pairs

As we can see from Table 2, we have some very good pairs to select from for RB2BC. There are 110 pairs that are worth more than C.J. Spiller by his lonesome. I have included Spiller by himself as Pair #111 for comparison reasons. Let's also take a look at how often some of these guys show up on the table:

Running Back
Frq
Running Back
Frq
C.J. Spiller
24
Chester Taylor
8
Darren Sproles
22
Jerome Harrison
5
Ricky Williams
22
Steve Slaton
5
Cadillac Williams
16
Correll Buckhalter
4
Justin Forsett
14
Laurence Maroney
4
Matt Forte
14
Leon Washington
4
Michael Bush
12
Marion Barber
4
Ahmad Bradshaw
10
Arian Foster
3
Fred Jackson
10
Darren McFadden
3
Tim Hightower
10
Donald Brown
3
Brandon Jacobs
9
LaDainian Tomlinson
3
Clinton Portis
9
Montario Hardesty
3

Table 3: PPR Running Back #2 Committee Pair Appearances by Player

As we can see from Table 3, six RBs show up on this list with a lot of regularity - C.J. Spiller, Darren Sproles, Ricky Williams, Cadillac Williams, Justin Forsett and Matt Forte. All six backs are in at least 14 of the 110 pairs each. This should surprise no one that read Table 1, as these six guys are all near the Top of the RB25 and beyond ADP list. They should have good value and should make for good pairs.

Putting It All Together

Now that we have 110 possible pairs that are better than C.J. Spiller, what exactly does that mean? Should C.J. Spiller be the basis of our comparison? Of course not. Remember our goal - find a pair of running backs that can combine for RB2 (or better) fantasy production. To figure that out we need a better metric, so here are the projections for RB12 through RB25, using PPR:

Rk
Running Back
FPs
12
Knowshon Moreno
205.3
13
Joseph Addai
202.2
14
Ryan Grant
201.1
15
Ryan Mathews
199.0
16
Michael Turner
196.9
17
Jonathan Stewart
191.4
18
Reggie Bush
190.2
19
Jahvid Best
189.9
20
LeSean McCoy
184.5
21
Cedric Benson
183.0
22
Ronnie Brown
182.9
23
Felix Jones
180.1
24
Shonn Greene
179.4
25
C.J. Spiller
172.0

Table 4: Projected PPR Fantasy Points for RBs 12-25

Based on Table 4, we see something that catches our eye. Ryan Mathews (RB15) projects to have about 200 fantasy points this season. Looking at our possible pairs, we have five duos that meet or beat 200 fantasy points. This tells us that choosing the correct pair can give us the result we wanted - RB2 production on the cheap.

Now, to look for the best bargains available, let's take one more final look at these pairs, focusing on those that project to be comparable to RB19 (Jahvid Best, 189.9 points) or better:

Rk
Running Back 1
Running Back 2
Value
ADP1
ADP2
1
C.J. Spiller
Ricky Williams
205.7
25
26
2
C.J. Spiller
Matt Forte
204.8
25
31
3
C.J. Spiller
Darren Sproles
201.9
25
27
4
C.J. Spiller
Ahmad Bradshaw
201.3
25
30
5
C.J. Spiller
Brandon Jacobs
200.2
25
32
6
C.J. Spiller
Cadillac Williams
198.2
25
29
7
C.J. Spiller
Justin Forsett
197.0
25
28
8
C.J. Spiller
Michael Bush
196.9
25
33
9
C.J. Spiller
Chester Taylor
196.8
25
36
10
Ricky Williams
Darren Sproles
194.8
26
27
11
Ricky Williams
Ahmad Bradshaw
193.3
26
30
12
Ricky Williams
Michael Bush
192.2
26
33
13
Ricky Williams
Brandon Jacobs
192.2
26
32
14
Ricky Williams
Fred Jackson
192.1
26
34
15
Justin Forsett
Matt Forte
191.9
28
31
16
Ricky Williams
Matt Forte
191.4
26
31
17
C.J. Spiller
Clinton Portis
190.6
25
37
18
Darren Sproles
Justin Forsett
190.2
27
28
19
Ricky Williams
Cadillac Williams
190.1
26
29

Table 5: Top 19 PPR RB2BC Options for 2010

Lastly, we should focus on the best of the bargain bin - pairs of running backs that include no more than one RB with ADP of RB27, and possibly both backs with ADP of 30 or higher. The trick to RB2BC will be timing, as it is quite possible that the top four RBs on the list will be selected in Round 5 and the next four (RB29-32) are unlikely to escape Round 6. That is why the recommendation for RB2BC for 2010 is C.J. Spiller and Ahmad Bradshaw. Take Spiller in Round 5 and Bradshaw in Round 6 to pair together for your RB2 committee.

Note that there is more than one way to use this strategy. For thoroughness, Table 5 should be your guide on Fantasy Draft Day if you attempt to use RB2BC. Take the top back available from the list in Round 5 and grab the next best back to pair with him and keep on going.

Here is a final summary of the combined schedules for C.J. Spiller and Ahmad Bradshaw, and when the committee approach suggests starting each one:

Wk
Suggested Starter
Opponent
1
Ahmad Bradshaw
Carolina
2
Ahmad Bradshaw
at Indianapolis
3
Ahmad Bradshaw
Tennessee
4
Ahmad Bradshaw
Chicago
5
Ahmad Bradshaw
at Houston
6
Ahmad Bradshaw
Detroit
7
C.J. Spiller
at Baltimore
8
C.J. Spiller
at Kansas City
9
C.J. Spiller
Chicago
10
C.J. Spiller
Detroit
11
C.J. Spiller
at Cincinnati
12
C.J. Spiller
Pittsburgh
13
C.J. Spiller
at Minnesota
14
C.J. Spiller
Cleveland
15
C.J. Spiller
at Miami
16
C.J. Spiller
New England

Table 6: Suggested PPR RB2BC Schedule Plan

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.

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