If you don’t already know what the Zero-RB strategy is, it pretty much suggests it in the name. However, the odds are that you probably do know it, as it is one of the more popular “outside-of-the-box” strategies in Fantasy Football.
Now, the name doesn’t tell you everything. The strategy isn’t that you do not select a single running back. That would be foolish. The strategy is to wait on taking your running backs so that you can stack up on talent at other positions.
The thinking behind this strategy is that the running back position is the hardest to predict coming into the season. Data shows that wide receivers are much more predictable than running backs, and also that it is more likely to pick up a league winning running back off of the waiver wire in the middle of the season than it is to do so with a wide receiver.
So, basically, the idea is to load up on wide receivers early, get your quarterback and likely even your tight end, focus on consistency and then grab your running backs. With these running backs, you want a good mixture of pass catchers/guys with big workloads and the sky-high ceiling players. That way you will be able to get production at the position and even have a chance to get very good production if you hit on a few picks.
Also, you obviously want to watch the waiver wire closely. Pounce on the running backs that you think could fill up your RB slots and win you a championship.
Another note is that your team will improve as running backs bust. When a star running back for an opposing team gets injured or drops off in performance, you will be able to enjoy the nice, steady points of your consistent (and hopefully healthy) players at other positions.
I hope by now you understand the reason behind the Zero-RB strategy and why it can be so effective. Now, let us put all of this information that I just went over into a mock draft.
Zero-RB Strategy Mock Draft
1.3: Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
When I opened up the Wizard, it turns out that I was given the third pick. As it turns out, this isn’t a terrible spot to use the Zero-RB strategy. David Johnson and LeVeon Bell were the first two players off the board and the two next best RBs had question marks (Ezekiel Elliott, suspension and LeSean McCoy, injury proneness). The rest of the running backs aren’t even in consideration for the third overall selection. While everyone is scrambling for running backs, I will opt for consistency at the wide receiver position with Brown.
2.22: Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
With this pick, Amari Cooper was an option, but he has been so inconsistent. Baldwin gives us consistency with a lower ceiling. Although I do like Cooper this year, he doesn’t exactly fit our strategy, and in what might be a controversial selection, I am going Baldwin.
3.27: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
This one was another selection that may be controversial. I had it down to Kelce or DeAndre Hopkins. I love Hopkins, but I couldn’t take him due to the Will Fuller injury, especially not in this type of draft. Here I get my big-time tight end in Kelce.
4.46: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
I didn’t have to think about this one much. The Zero-RB strategy requires strengths at all positions and Brees gives me exactly what I need at the quarterback position.
5.51: C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos
While some may feel like it is too early to pick a running back in a Zero-RB draft, and while I do admit that I could have waited longer, I wanted to get at least one running back with a solid floor. I feel like C.J. Anderson fits the bill for what I wanted perfectly, so I couldn’t pass him up.
6.70: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
I was hoping that Powell would fall but he didn’t, so I was back to the drawing board. I didn’t have to stay there for long, however, because, in a draft based on consistency, Larry Fitzgerald was still available.
7.75: Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I saw Doug Martin and considered it a done deal. Yes, he is suspended, but the value here is incredible. He is the perfect Zero-RB draft target.
8.94: Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins
Here I went running back again. Samaje Perine was shockingly still available, and he has huge upside if he wins the starting job (which I think that he will). He could end up being a huge steal in the eighth round.
9.99: Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints
With Brandin Cooks gone and a quiet Top 35 season last year, Willie Snead makes for one of my favorite sleepers in all of Fantasy Football.
10.118: Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers
I figured that here would finish my RB core. Jamaal Williams had to be the pick here. He has huge potential if he takes over the starting role, and I don’t believe that Ty Montgomery can make it as a full time running back.
11.123: Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Here I picked another receiver; one with huge potential if he can bounce back from a couple of down seasons.
12.142: Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills
I am kind of glad that Mike Wallace was taken or else I would have come out of this draft with six WRs. I needed a backup QB and Tyrod Taylor is a great option for that spot on my roster.
13.147: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans
Fiedorowicz should be a huge beneficiary of the Will Fuller injury, making him a great backup tight end.
14.166: Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens
Best kicker in the game. No further analysis needed.
15.171: Buffalo Bills D/ST
I will be streaming my D/ST and the Bills are playing the Jets Week 1, so I love this pick here.
Fantasy Pros gave me an 88/100 on this draft, which I feel like is spot on. Although I picked running backs a little early for the Zero-RB strategy, I feel like I ended up with an amazing, deep wide receiver core, a solid couple of tight ends and quarterbacks, and a group of running backs that should be able to hold down the fort as I look for a star on the waiver wire (if this was a real league).
QB: Drew Brees
RB: C.J. Anderson
RB: Doug Martin
WR: Antonio Brown
WR: Doug Baldwin
TE: Travis Kelce
FLEX: Larry Fitzgerald
DST: Buffalo Bills
K: Justin Tucker
QB: Tyrod Taylor
RB: Samaje Perine
RB: Jamaal Williams
WR: Willie Snead
WR: Randall Cobb
TE: C.J. Fiedorowicz
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