The Zero RB strategy was first created a while back, but can you apply it in 2020? And what does that look like? To explain the rationale behind it, you make the most of the wide receiver position by targetting top players at the position, waiting till the mid to late rounds to draft more high-upside running backs. Therefore, all in the aim to exploit the fragile nature of the running back position.
The beauty of the Zero RB strategy is that everyone has their interpretation of when to draft their first running back. Some people may say to wait till round three to take your first RB, others may say wait till much later, even double-digit rounds. Truthfully, I would be somewhere in the middle if I was to implement this strategy in my 2020 drafts.
Typically, the smaller the league is in terms of teams, the more influential the Zero RB strategy becomes.
How to implement this strategy early
As mentioned already, targeting the wide receiver position tends to be the optimal play when utilising the Zero RB strategy. This is often because elite wide receivers can consistently produce year-on-year for your teams whereas even the round one running backs can be hit and miss for their cost. Additionally, when it comes to in-season and the waiver wire, fantasy-relevant wide receivers are much harder to come by than say a running back, where injuries can occur more frequently plus depth is often there.
The same argument can be made for tight ends, although not to the same quantity as wide receiver unless you are drafting in a league with a unique scoring system where multiple is required early. Locking up elite talents at any position is never a bad thing.
Alternatively, especially if you are a part of 2QB leagues and Superflex leagues, then it should be a consideration to pick up an elite QB (or even two if you are looking to lockdown in the position!) in the early rounds to secure that position moving forward in the draft. This becomes more of a priority if you only have eyes on a few QBs that are going early, rather than the group as a whole.
To conclude, focusing on drafting wide receivers when conducting a Zero RB strategy is the optimal play, especially in the early rounds with a second eye on the draft board to see where quarterbacks and tight ends are being selected, ensuring a top-tier talent is obtained for both positions.
To demonstrate the Zero RB strategy in play, I completed a 1QB 12-team, 15-round PPR draft where my first RB selected, Kareem Hunt, was in the seventh round.
Below is our roster and clicking through to the link will show you how this ranked amongst the other teams in the league.
As you can see from the roster above, the strategy discussed was implemented. Grabbing three WR1s according to my PPR rankings is the ideal start to the Zero RB strategy, alongside adding elite tier talents at their position in Prescott and Ertz.
When it came to the running backs, we were fortunate that an RB1 in Cam Akers fell to us in the seventh round, which can be a luxury in implementing the strategy when it lasts this long.
Outside of that, managing to draft running backs who offer the upside plays you want at their discount average draft position (ADP).
RBs to Target
So now you have heard a bit about the strategy and seen an in-action draft equivalent, here are some targets that should be available in every one of your drafts.
Sticking to the theme of the mock draft, all players recommended here will have a seventh-round or later ADPs in 12-team drafts.
- James White – RB32, Pick 8.05
- Phillip Lindsay – RB35, Pick 8.10
- Matt Breida – RB38, Pick. 9.07
- Zack Moss – RB40, Pick 10.01
- Latavius Murray – RB41, Pick 10.12
- Joshua Kelley – RB66, Pick 19.02/Undrafted
Image Credit: Jason Getz – USA TODAY Sports