If you’re looking for a dive into whether the “Zero RB” draft strategy works for fantasy football, then go search elsewhere.
That discussion is pointless. It has worked. Rotoviz’s Shawn Siegele has proved it in practice since introducing the theory back in 2013. And countless others have employed it since then.
It can work. It has worked. Does that mean you need to employ it? Of course not. If everyone drafted a certain way, then this whole fantasy exercise would come down to mere luck.
The method -- and, really, any fantasy-drafting innovation -- has always been based in venturing down a path that veers from what most of your competitors are doing. That allows you to attack their weaknesses and siphon value.
Does Zero RB always work? Of course not. Take a couple of early-round receivers who don’t hit and miss out on the biggest waiver finds of the year, and you’re headed for a non-descript fantasy finish.
But here’s why you should consider it for your 2020: We’re all pushing RBs back up the draft board again. If it’s close, your league mates are more likely to take the RB over the WR or elite TE. Here are the total RBs coming off the board by round (in 12-team drafts) in recent years:
For 2014-19, I used MyFantasyLeague.com 12-team, PPR drafts after Aug. 15. The 2020 ADP data turned out goofy, with QBs shoved way up the board. (Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in the middle of Round 1; Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray in Round 2, for example.) So I used BestBall10s ADP for July in the 2020 row (hence the asterisk).
Lest you worry that best-ball drafting skewed the numbers, I compared 2019 and 2018 BB10s (the years they have available) ADP to the MFL numbers and found the results close.
So there’s room for you to find an advantage over your league and contest mates by ignoring RBs early. And even if you can’t bring yourself to pass over that RB in the 1st half of Round 1, the “modified Zero RB” approach has emerged.
Of course, any drafting method relies on proper application. So here’s a guide to drafting your Zero RB roster in 2020 …
What is Zero RB?
In case you’re not familiar with the method, let’s run through a Cliff Notes version:
RBs have long been considered the bedrock of fantasy teams. But they get hurt more often than players at other positions. By loading up on top options at other positions in the early rounds, you are betting on the fragility of RBs.
Then you fill your RB slots with players poised to gain value when others go down. This can prove especially effective in PPR formats, where later-drafted RBs might not even need the starter to get hurt. And PPR stands today as the preeminent offensive scoring format.
Zero RB, however, also calls for working the waiver wire in season. Not only do you draft handcuff types to build your roster’s upside and chip away at the rosters of your competitors. But you mine the inevitable in-season revelations to help bolster your RB group.
Missing out on waiver gems at WR matters less because you overloaded on early-round options at the position.