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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!