Zero RB Draft Strategy in 2019

Zero RB Draft Strategy 2019

Football season is creeping upon us and that means fantasy football draft season is even closer. I think the draft is the main difference between having a great season and having your season crumble in front of you. The draft sets up your main roster construction and fills your roster for most of the season. Mess up the draft, and you will be like The Red Viper before The Mountain gets his hands on him. Master the draft and you will be looking down on all of your league mates like you are Cersei looking down on Daenerys before beheading Missandei.

As the most exciting time of year nears, everyone is going to be trying to figure out the best strategy possible for their draft. Each person is looking for an edge over their opponents. Several people are wanting to zig when the rest of the league zags. The best way to gain an advantage is to do as much research as possible and be prepared with several different draft strategies. One strategy worth considering in 2019 is Zero RB or Modified Zero RB.

PPR Average Draft Position 2019

Top30 ADP Name Pos Team Bye Overall
1 1.02 Saquon Barkley RB NYG 11 1.7
2 1.03 Christian McCaffrey RB CAR 7 2.7
3 1.03 Alvin Kamara RB NO 9 3.4
4 1.04 Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL 8 3.5
5 1.06 David Johnson RB ARI 12 6.2
6 1.06 Melvin Gordon RB LAC 12 6.3
7 1.07 DeAndre Hopkins WR HOU 10 6.5
8 1.08 Davante Adams WR GB 11 8.2
9 1.09 Michael Thomas WR NO 9 9.6
10 1.10 LeVeon Bell RB NYJ 4 10.3
11 1.11 Julio Jones WR ATL 9 10.7
12 1.12 Joe Mixon RB CIN 9 12.1
13 2.01 Odell Beckham Jr WR CLE 7 13.2
14 2.02 James Conner RB PIT 7 13.9
15 2.03 JuJu S.Schuster WR PIT 7 14.9
16 2.04 Travis Kelce TE KC 12 15.3
17 2.05 Dalvin Cook RB MIN 12 16.5
18 2.06 Todd Gurley RB LAR 9 17.8
19 2.06 Antonio Brown WR OAK 6 18.1
20 2.07 Mike Evans WR TB 7 19.5
21 2.08 Damien Williams RB KC 12 20.5
22 2.09 Nick Chubb RB CLE 7 20.9
23 2.11 Keenan Allen WR LAC 12 23
24 2.12 Adam Thielen WR MIN 12 24.7
25 3.01 T.Y. Hilton WR IND 6 25.8
26 3.02 Aaron Jones RB GB 11 25.9
27 3.03 Leonard Fournette RB JAX 10 27.9
28 3.04 Amari Cooper WR DAL 8 28
29 3.05 Zach Ertz TE PHI 10 28.4
30 3.06 Pat Mahomes QB KC 12 29.4
  • 12 WR’s in the top 30
  • 2 TE’s in the top 30

PPR Average Draft Position 2018

Top30 ADP Name Pos Team Overall
1 1.01 Todd Gurley RB LAR 1.5
2 1.02 David Johnson RB ARI 2.8
3 1.03 LeVeon Bell RB PIT 3
4 1.04 Antonio Brown WR PIT 4.7
5 1.05 Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL 5.3
6 1.06 Alvin Kamara RB NO 6.1
7 1.07 Saquon Barkley RB NYG 6.5
8 1.08 DeAndre Hopkins WR HOU 8.8
9 1.09 Melvin Gordon RB LAC 9.1
10 1.10 Leonard Fournette RB JAX 9.4
11 1.11 Odell Beckham Jr WR NYG 11.2
12 1.12 Kareem Hunt RB KC 11.4
13 2.01 Christian McCaffrey RB CAR 12.7
14 2.02 Julio Jones WR ATL 14.2
15 2.03 Dalvin Cook RB MIN 15.6
16 2.04 Michael Thomas WR NO 16
17 2.05 Keenan Allen WR LAC 17.2
18 2.06 Davante Adams WR GB 18.2
19 2.07 Devonta Freeman RB ATL 19.1
20 2.08 Jordan Howard RB CHI 20
21 2.09 Rob Gronkowski TE NE 21
22 2.10 A.J. Green WR CIN 21.3
23 2.11 Joe Mixon RB CIN 23.3
24 2.12 Tyreek Hill WR KC 23.7
25 3.01 Mike Evans WR TB 25.5
26 3.02 Stefon Diggs WR MIN 26
27 3.03 T.Y. Hilton WR IND 27.4
28 3.04 Travis Kelce TE KC 28.5
29 3.05 Royce Freeman RB DEN 29
30 3.06 LeSean McCoy RB BUF 29.9
  • 12 WR’s in the top 30
  • 2 TE’s in the top 30

As you can see the landscape hasn’t changed much from last season’s top 30 ADP to this year’s ADP.

Zero RB Strengths

Current ADP has only 4 receivers being selected in the first round. Those players are DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Michael Thomas, and Julio Jones. It is obvious at this point that if you get a top 4 maybe top 5 pick you will most likely be selecting a running back. With a pick that high, I would also recommend avoiding the Zero RB draft strategy. This strategy is going to work best if you have a mid to late-round pick. If you land a pick between 9 and 12 you are set up perfectly to execute this strategy. Your first two rounds can start Julio Jones and Odell Beckham or Michael Thomas and Juju Smith-Schuster. Any combination of those 4 receivers is going to be dynamic for your roster.

As you near your 3rd round selection, a guy like Stefon Diggs and possibly A.J. Green could be options and that could be followed up in round 4 with Julian Edelman or Brandin Cooks. A start like this has the potential to put you so far ahead of your opponents at this position. Sitting there for you in round 5 could be James White, Tarik Cohen, or Derrius Guice. Cohen and White are perfect Zero RB running back options. They are pass-catching backs for their respective teams and are capable of having huge weeks at any time.

With a 5 round start of Thomas, Smith-Schuster, Diggs, Cooks, and Cohen you are looking at 4 receivers that finished in the top 13 in 2018 and a running back that finished as RB11. All 5 players scored over 230 points on the season in 2018. Keep in mind, there were only 30 non-quarterbacks to score 230 points in 2018 and you were able to grab 5 of those players when most will only be getting 2 or maybe 3.

 

 

Zero RB Weaknesses

Arguably the biggest weakness to this strategy is the lack of depth a Zero RB drafter will have at running back. The depth at running back is more likely to consist of backs with potential as opposed to running backs with guaranteed touches and a known role. A quick look back at the 2016 season is a perfect example of what can go wrong. 2016 saw only 3 of the first 6 receivers selected reach 200 points. Additionally, only half of the 14 receivers taken in the first two rounds finished in the top 23. The running back position came back with a vengeance this year and it crushed those that did not draft running back early. Running back by committee had taken over the league for a few seasons but we are starting to see a shift back to bell-cow runners. With the shift away from RBBC running backs have gotten their value back along the way.

Wide receiver is such a deep position this year. There are so many guys that can produce at a high level in 2019. In 2018, 7 receivers produced 300 points compared to 5 running backs. 22 receivers topped 200 points while only 16 running backs were able to score that many. A bigger leap is seen at 150 points where 43 receivers reached the mark compared to 31 running backs. The biggest difference is in the number of players having fantasy relevance at some point during the season and scoring 100 fantasy points. 73 receivers did this and only 47 runners accomplished this task. It is easier to find receivers that can produce from time to time than it is running backs.

Another thing that can derail a Zero RB draft strategy is when several people utilize it. The advantage gained from being able to draft 3-4 stud receivers can shrink when the receiver pool dwindles faster than usual because multiple people are using this strategy. This also brings up a new strategy that began to form last year. It has been referred to as Modified Zero RB.

What is Modified Zero RB?

This is a strategy for those people that are able to land a top 4 or 5 pick. It means the drafter takes a stud running back with their first-round pick and then attacks the receiver and tight end position. The stud at the top of the draft is too good to pass up and the value that can be had at receiver after that is great. Utilizing the Modified Zero RB draft strategy and current ADP, a player could draft Ezekiel Elliott, Adam Thielen, Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Lockett with the first 5 picks. Not a fan of these players? Here is a shortlist of other options at the same draft position that you could have.

  • 1st round – Saquan Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara
  • 2nd round – TY Hilton, Zach Ertz, Mike Evans
  • 3rd round – Amari Cooper, George Kittle
  • 4th round – Kenny Golladay, Calvin Ridley
  • 5th round – Sammy Watkins, Chris Godwin, Jarvis Landry, OJ Howard

As you can see, there are several strong options at receiver which makes this strategy very dangerous for opposing teams. When you start your draft this way, you fill out the rest of your roster just like you would with Zero RB. Pick pass-catching backs and guys with potential to take over a backfield.

Best Draft Strategy

Ultimately your draft position is going to make a big difference in the strategy that you will utilize as you enter the draft. With that being said, just be prepared. Study, know your league, think on your toes, and be ready to change your strategy as the draft happens. Both the Zero RB draft strategy and the Modified Zero RB draft strategy are viable options to bring you success.

My Strategy

I have done several best ball drafts already this season and have yet to get a top 4 pick. I have drafted Zero RB in most of the drafts and been pretty happy with the results. I have not entered these drafts with that intention, I have just taken best available players early on and it has lent itself to a Zero RB approach. I will continue to approach each draft with a best available strategy and adjust as the draft moves along. If I land a top 4 pick, I will most definitely use the Modified Zero RB draft strategy as I think it brings the most bang for your buck.

About the author

Avatar

Derek Wiley

Father to a daughter and son as well as a husband to a wife. I have a healthy obsession with football and not so healthy obsession with ice cream. I have been following the NFL closely for over a decade all while working full-time jobs, primarily as a police officer.

2 Comments

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  • Had the 10th pick in my draft. 12 Team PPR. Went as follows. Feeling pretty damn good! Thanks for the guide.

    Adams, JuJu, Kittle, Golladay, D.Williams (KC), Cohen, AJ Green, Breida, Goff, Bears. The rest is kind of irrelevant.

  • Picking 10th in a big $ PPR redraft Sunday. Thinking of going WR heavy with first 5, then a TE then back to WR. Getting a QB in rounds 9-12 depending on flow and taking RB sleepers in rounds all rounds after 8/9 after I get a QB

    Thoughts?