RB and WR "Hit Rates"

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

At the end of the day, there’s no single draft strategy that will work in every Fantasy Football draft. With that in mind, it’s essential to look at historical trends and base your decisions loosely around them. Today we’re diving into “Hit Rates” at the Running Back and Wide Receiver positions. How often does a pick in “round x” lead to a successful fantasy asset?

Terry McLaurin - 5th Round ADP - Photo Credit: Sam Navarro USA TODAY Sports

The Data

I’ve pulled all picks from round 1 to round 10 over the last 5 years (600 picks). I’ve then looked at their chances of finishing in the top 12, 24, or 36 at their respective position. If an RB finishes in the top 12, they are an RB1; from 13 to 24, they are an RB2; from 25 to 36, they are an RB3. The same applies to Wide Receivers in my analysis. Of course, some draft picks just don’t workout or BUST. That can happen at any point, but we look to mitigate BUSTS in our drafting process.

The Results

I’m hoping the visual below is something you can print out and bring with you to your draft along with TheCommish ECR Rankings.

This graph shows the odds of each pick finishing as an RB/WR 1, 2, or 3. Example: If you draft a Wide Receiver in the 4th round, there is a 17% chance he’ll finish as a top 12 WR, a 34% chance he’ll finish outside the top 12, but still in the top 24, and a 10% chance he’ll finish between 25 and 36. With those numbers in mind, that leaves a 39% chance that this pick with BUST and finishes outside the top 36.

Rounds 1 and 2

You can’t win the league in the first two rounds, but you can certainly give yourself an uphill battle. Overall, it looks like you’ll hit on most of your picks in the first two rounds. I don’t think we need to dive into the logistics behind the early picks, but there’s about a 25% chance your pick totally BUSTS. Like I said earlier, these picks are about mitigating risk. Take a player you’re confident won’t BUST and avoid those players with significant question marks.

Rounds 3 to 6

Picks in these rounds can help you build a GREAT foundation for the year. I notice from the graph that getting a top 24 Wide Receiver is far more likely than a top 24 Running Back. I ran some numbers behind the scenes that I’ll lay out for you here.

You’re about 10% more likely to hit on a top 24 Wide Receiver than Running Back in these rounds! Here’s my very simple takeaway from Rounds 3 to 6. If you’re more likely to hit on a Wide Receiver in rounds 3 to 6, it’s more favorable to take a Running Back in rounds 1 and 2. Leaving Round 2 without an RB might make things difficult in the long run.

Rounds 7 to 10

Things become a bit of a crap-shoot late in drafts, but the graph tells me what I need to know. Running Back depth is easier to find late in drafts. You’re probably not going to find a top 12 player at either position, but in these late rounds, you can build your bench with bye week fillers, or injury mitigation players!

Takeaways for Draft Day

It’s essential to remain flexible in your draft, but having a general strategy is a good idea. I’ve learned from analyzing hit rates that I can build my Wide Receiver core from rounds 3 to 6. If I can take 2 strong Running Backs in the first 2 rounds, the Wide Receiver position has far less risk in the middle rounds. Towards the latter end of the draft, Running Backs can be found to provide some safety, but every pick from round 7 on has a less than 50% chance of becoming a weekly starter in your lineup.