MikeMeUpP's 2019 ZeroRB Drafting Guide

Some of you may have seen the ZeroRB drafting guide I put out last season and at the request of a few footclan members, I’ve decided to hit the refresh on that and show you guys what that might look like this year.

Now I’ve been a big proponent of the ZeroRB draft approach for a while now mainly because of the RB craze that has taken over the fantasy community which has caused elite WRs to fall into the late 1st and early 2nd rounds which has made this strategy more viable as of late.

Couple of ground rules:

  1. I find this strategy to be most effective when picking from 1.08 to 1.12. If you are picking from the top 4-5 picks, take one of the elite RBs.
  2. ZeroRB does not mean you simply ignore value that falls to you. Reason why I implement it is because in most instances, the best player available (BPA) is typically not a WR. But if Kamara falls to you at 1.08, you jump on that like hotcakes.
  3. Only implement this strategy in ppr formats. Preferably, it’s full PPR but at a bare minimum, it has to be half ppr. DO NOT try this in standard leagues.
  4. This works best in start 3 WR leagues with at least 1 flex or 2WR + 2 flex. Basically allowing you to start up to 4 WRs. If your league only allows you to start 2-3 WRs, then would not recommend this strat.
  5. Most important of all, you need to always stay flexible. Never go into a draft fixated on a strategy and pass on better players just to follow a strategy. Think of this as a general guide and not a bible. In the words of the legend Bruce, #BeWater.

Without further to do, let’s kick it off. I’ll be basing this off of the latest week of PPR ADP per fantasyfootballcalculator.com.

1st / 2nd Rounds: In the first 2 rounds, I’m looking to land 2 of the following WRs which I have in my 1st tier.

Tier 1: Adams>OBJ>Nuk>JJSS>JJ>Hill
Tier 2: M. Evans > M. Thomas
Alternative: T. Kelce

If I can’t get 2 from tier 1, then I’m perfectly fine landing one guy from tier 2. I might be alone on this but I actually have Evans ahead of Thomas this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Evans finished as the WR1. I think his ceiling is as high as any of those in tier 1 but he has a lower floor which is why he is in tier 2. Conversely, MT has a high floor but I don’t think he has the same ceiling as those in the first tier. Evans will almost always be there given his current ADP of 20th overall. He’s been criminally underrated with all the Godwin hype. I doubt you will have any issues with landing 2 of these guys.

Now some considerations for the above, it’s all about the pairing. You don’t want to take 2 super high ceiling but low floor guys like Hill + Evans. One of my favorite pairings that I’ve been able to get consistently is OBJ + JJSS. JJSS has a great floor in ppr formats and I think OBJ might be my favorite to hit the WR1 this season. The pairing with him and Baker is going to be magical. A 1400+ yard season with 14 TDs is definitely within reach.

3rd / 4th Rounds: If Kelce somehow falls here, I’m copping him immediately but that rarely happens. I’m also totally fine with grabbing Kittle in the 4th. Definitely fading Ertz in this range. Now this is where I think that taking a slightly deviation this year by doing a modified ZeroRB is fine by snagging one of A Jones (3rd), Chris Carson (3rd), Sony Michel (4th). The reason why is because after these 3, I think there’s a massive drop off and basically a deadzone for RBs while there are a tonne of WRs I like. This is where understanding roster construction really comes into play. Like I said before, don’t get fixated and be water. Basically you’re looking to exit these rounds with 1 of Kelce, Jones, Carson, Michel and 1 of Kittle, Edelman, Cooks, Woods, Godwin, Locket.

5th / 6th Rounds: If you passed on Kelce/Kittle up until now, this is where I would be looking at TEs. My favorite is Evan Engram. He’s the teams best WR and should be fed a tonne of targets this year without OBJ. Not to mention his efficiency metrics improved drastically in the 2nd half of last year. He was either 1st or 2nd in every relevant metric (yards per route run, catch %, yards after catch, etc). And if he gets volume like his rookie season, he’s in for a monster season. Think Kittle light. But if you already got one of Kelce/Kittle, this is where I would be pivoting back to WRs cause there’s a bunch of guys I like here. Would look to land one of Lockett, Moore, Boyd, Williams, Ridley, Josh Gordon. One RB who I would consider taking here outside of that WR group is Ekeler. The reason why I like Ekeler is the Gordon hold out. He’s the clear lead back and has high RB2 and low RB1 upside if Gordon holds out the first 8-10 weeks as expected and still has RB3/Flex appeal even if Gordon comes back. But I would only consider Ekeler if Moore, Lockett, Williams and Boyd are gone.

7th/8th Rounds: This is a zone for potential massive upside RBs. And part of the reason why I advocated for grabbing one of Carson/Michel/AJones earlier on. They give you the floor to chase the upside in these rounds. My top targets in these rounds are Duke>Henderson>Drake. 3 guys who have league winning upside but also have non-existent floors. I would thank Ballage truthers for driving Drake’s ADP down a full 1-2 rounds in the past month and also Henderson’s early struggles in pre-season for depressing his draft capital as well. Unfortunately with Lamar’s injury, Duke is much more expensive now. Even before the injury, he was the most talented back but the reason why I like Duke this year is because he has a realistic shot to be on the field for all 3 downs. He’s been labeled with the scat back but he was a workhorse in college and has the size. Don’t think he’ll ever be a true bell-cow but getting 65% of the touches with majority of the pass catching duties is within the reasonable outcomes. My top WR target in this range is Curtis Samuel (assuming you didn’t get Moore). He’s one of the reasons I’d actually fine with missing on Moore earlier in favor of Lockett/Boyd/Williams.

From there, you just gotta let the draft play itself out but try to get a healthy balance of high upside / floor combos. In the late rounds, I go for higher upside fliers / other peoples handcuffs so if their starters go down, they’re league winners and if not, you can either drop them quickly or use them as trade sweeteners to those owners who want handcuffs.

There are 2 guys that I absolutely target in every single draft and have been for months. If you follow me on twitter (@MikeMeUpP), you’ll know the 2 guys I will be mentioning next.

My #1 Target: Matt Breida who I don’t even consider a handcuff if I’m being honest. Breida remains the best value of drafts this season. I’ve been pounding the table for him all offseason, even before the McKinnon injury. The McKinnon injury just made it that much more obvious and unfortunate for us, more expensive. People will shy away from him thinking that Coleman will be the guy. But this is going to be a committee backfield. And in committee’s like this, you want to get the cheaper option. And quite frankly, I think Breida is the most talented and best runner in that backfield. Coleman was given the chance to be the lead back with falcons last season and could barely fend off Ito Smith. Breida is 10x better than Ito and my money is on him to lead the backfield in scrimmage yards this season and he’s currently going in the 9th/10th round. Even just watching Coleman vs Breida so far in pre season, Breida has been the more explosive/efficient back. Happy to hit the cop button on him here or even a bit earlier to land him.

My #2 target: Tony Pollard. Unfortunately, his price has also come up quite substantially as of late but is there anyone else in this range that has more upside than Pollard? I’d argue no. He has the prerequisite size and passing skill set to be a 3 down back. If Zeke holds out into the season, Pollard is going to dominate snaps. He has been on the field for 100% of the 1st team offensive snaps this offseason. Has been getting great reviews from coaches, ownership and beat writers all offseason. I typically avoid all that noise but when every single person has positive things to say and his film checks out, I’m on board. He used to be going in the 15th+ rounds and is now frequently showing up in the 10th/11th but even at those prices, I’m happily hitting the cop button.

Other late round cuffs to target this year include: Jaylen Samuels, Chase Edmonds, Devin Singletary, Justin jackson, Darwin Thompson.

One other thing I will add is that when doing this strat, I avoid drafting scat backs / 3rd down specialists. I only pick guys who have the potential to play all 3 downs. So I don’t waste draft capital on guys like Cohen, White, Hines, etc. Those guys have limited upsides and when implementing this strat, you need as much upside as you can get.

For those of you who shy away from this, I strongly encourage you give it a shot. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how your rosters turn out. I’ve liked my ending teams using this style much more than the traditional RB/WR or RB/RB approach when drafting from late position.

Hope this helps and wish you all happy drafting! Can’t wait for the season to begin!

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@ukridge @Optimus_PRIME_TIME @psychosem17

As promised. My 2019 ZeroRB guide.

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Awesome, I’ll check it out!

Pretty sure I know your answers… but thoughts:

10 team league. .5ppr

Do I try and move Evans or Woods for a RB? Thinking Dalvin Cook? Or stay pat with a WR heavy roster?

QB: Goff
RB: Aaron Jones, Tevin Coleman, Miles Sanders, Latavious Murray
WR: Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Robert Woods, Geronimo Allison, Curtis Samuel, Tyrell Williams
TE: Hunter Henry
D: Eagles

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Excellent guide Mike, and good to see you around again this year @MikeMeUpp. Deff ran a similar strat to this last year and went very well for me, recommend at least giving it a shot to anyone that reads it :ok_hand:

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Your RB situation is decent but if you can move someone for Cook, i’m not against it. I love cook. ZeroRB doesn’t mean you have to get fixated on your players. If there’s value, feel free to take it.

I personally prefer Breida over Coleman so if you could get Breida or Pollard or something, I’d be willing to do that. WOuld just drop like ALlison or Williams or something to make room for that if it works.

Sanders isn’t going to to produce right away so you’re going to need some guys to bridge you over. Jones/Coleman help with that. Another thing is your league is half ppr which makes this strat less desirable. Still works but just not as well. You also have decent depth at WR to be able to give up someone like Evans or MT to get a stud RB. I love woods as a WR3. Huge value there.

So I have a 10 team full point PPR draft tonight. I’ve got 4th pick. I’m in agreement with what you said about if you have one of the top picks then take one of the top RB’s but my thought was if you have one of the first 3 picks (Barkley, Kamara, CMC) and I noticed you mentioned if you have a top 4 pick so who would you take at the 4th pick then? My thought was that I’d go with Hopkins but since you said RB with the top 4 pick which one did you have in mind at number 4?

I have Adams as my WR1 and Nuk as my WR2. I wouldn’t fight you for taking either of them there. But if you want to play it a bit more risky, you could just draft Zeke or DJ and then implement a modified ZeroRB. That is another strat that works well where you anchor your team to an elite RB and then just draft a lot of WRs following that pick.

If you got Zeke, I would definitely make sure you secure Pollard. I do think Zeke plays this season, doesn’t make sense to hold out and I think Jerry caves after a few weeks. But it’s definitely a high risk strategy.

If you want to play it safer, take Adams and hope someone like Chubb or Cook makes it back to you in the 2nd. Then start hammering out more WRs after that.

I’d love to take a shot on Zeke but the Leveon stuff from last year scares me and there’s a lot at stake in this league ($1500) so I just don’t know if I can take the chance lol. I’m still debating. So if I went WR in the first you think I should definitely go RB in the second (assuming there’s no crazy value on another position at that point of course)? Also, at what point (round) would you take a shot on Melvin Gordon?

I’m not taking any shots on melvin Gordon. If you don’t want to take the risk, then go with Adams or Nuk. But honestly, this situation is nothing like the Bell situation which gives me some comfort that Zeke will get paid. Steelers are notorious for not giving out guaranteed money while Jerry is Notorious for spending big and taking care of his guys. Only diff here is Zeke held out 1 year early. And like I said, I think Pollard is a great insurance policy.

Just completed my draft in a 12 Team, 0.5 PPR league and I kind of fell backwards into this strategy based on the how the draft flowed. It is really scary going into round 4 of a draft with no RB’s on the roster. I started off WR, WR, TE, RB. I still may need to drop a player and pick up a back. What do you think of the roster below?

QB: L. Jackson, J. Allen
WR: D. Adams, J. Smith-Schuster, M. WIlliams, D. Jackson, G. Allison, G. Tate
RB: S. Michel, T. Coleman, D. Johnson, R. Penny
TE: G. Kittle, D. Waller

Shouldn’t have 2 QB unless SF. Same with 2 TEs. Especially when you have top TE like kittle. Waller is never starting for you. Those are both roster cloggers. Go get like Pollard/Breida or other cuffs.

Here’s my results (and BTW I never take 2 QB’s myself but I waited REALLY late on drafting one this time and I felt good enough about my team otherwise and wasn’t crazy about the options available at that point with RB and WR’s)

QB: Big Ben, L. Jackson
RB: Mixon, A. Jones, M. Sanders, Ekeler, Pollard (almost had Breida but he was taken 2 picks ahead of me)
WR: Hopkins, Tyreek, Godwin, J. Gordon, Kupp, E. Sanders
TE: Engram
K: Lutz
DST: Eagles (I stream DST)

What you think?

I only have 2 QB & TE for the Bye weeks. Do you just keep 1 until the bye week and then pick up someone for that week only?

Yeah man. Wasting 2 slots on 2 positions you don’t need is not ideal. Early season roster slots are so important to pick up the right guys. And swing out and grab a TE or QB on waivers or that matchup when the time comes. No need to jump the gun this early.

That’s what I’ve always done. Just stream a QB/TE on the BYE weeks. I’ve always used my bench spots for RB & WR only and I always pick kickers and defense (which I stream weekly) in the last two rounds, no exceptions.

Like your team. But again, not sure why you need 2 QBs. Personally I’m rolling with LJax all day and dropping big ben.

Love your RBs a lot. Love your WRs too but lack some depth there in terms of injury. Kupp and E sanders i’m still not fully bought in on. Esp Kupp. Coming back this soon from ACL, i don’t think he’ll be as good as people think.

Love your TE that’s my dude.

Personally would drop the D and K and grab some hand cuffs in case someone gets injured in practice. Assuming everyone else has D already so you can just pick one up later. If Pats D is available, I’d snag them once te season stats.

Not much to complain about though, really like that team you put together. Sucks you sniped on Breida but Pollard is a more than fine consolation prize. Can flip that to the zeke owner if Zeke even holds out one week.

This is great information, Mike! Thank you for sharing such valuable information.

I’m kind of on the edge. I’m picking 5th in a little 8-team league, but expect to get one of the top 4 RBs. It’s a .5 PPR league, but we start 3 WRs, 2 RBs and 2 flexes so going WR heavy early makes sense to me.

I need to just NOT screw up my draft like I usually do!

If you’re willing to take the risk with Zeke, go for it. I did it in a personal league of mine and just took a modified ZeroRB approach after that. You do have to reach a bit and make sure you secure Pollard though. Trust me it will help with your sanity and peace of mind if nothing else.

I’ve found that Mike Evans is routinely falling back to me when picking from that position and given I have him ranked as a top 6-7 WR (ahead of MT), been happy to take him there. And then would be targeting a group of Locket/Boyd/Edelman/moore. Although Moore moves back slightly in a half ppr given he isn’t as big of a TD threat and you can get CSam who has been more efficient in redzone for cheaper.

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