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A series on draft strategies for 2020 fantasy football drafts, this article focuses on zero RB.

Zero RB is a fantasy football draft strategy whereby the owner doesn't draft a running back (RB) until the 4th or 5th rounds of their fantasy draft. Zero RB is one of the riskier strategies to build a team around in 2020. The quality depth at WR this year, with more offenses moving to 3 WR sets as their base offense, leads to solid starting WRs in the 6th-9th rounds in most drafts. Also, with teams utilizing multiple running backs rather than just one workhorse back, finding consistent scoring RBs is harder than ever.

There are a few conditions that should be considered when building a team around a Zero RB draft strategy:

  • Picking in the mid-late 1st round.
    • Picking in the top half of the 1st round (Picks 1-5) would not be a wise spot to employ the Zero RB Strategy. The sacrifice you would be making in value by not taking one of the top 4 or 5 RBs could be catastrophic to your chances of building a winning roster. You would be drafting a WR that would most likely be able to be acquired at a later pick in the first round.
  • League Scoring Settings (No additional settings that would make RBs more valuable)
    • Most leagues run a scoring system that closely mimics the industry standard, but there are plenty of leagues that award bonuses to make different positions more valuable (1.5 PPR for tight ends, bonus points on long touchdown runs or chunk runs). Using a Zero RB strategy in a league that puts a premium on RB scoring could be setting your team up for failure before the first game is even played. Make sure you are checking your league's settings when developing your draft strategy.
  • PPR vs Non PPR
    • PPR (Points Per Reception) adds a different dynamic to fantasy football. There is immense value in running backs who can run AND act as a viable pass catcher out of the back field. You are not only getting points for the yards gained, but also points for the actual reception. This would make running backs, who may not get a ton of rushing chances but who catch a lot of passes out of the backfield, more valuable. By not taking advantage of that value early on in drafts, you could be missing on value by actively avoiding taking a RB early.

Your plan would be to target elite QB and TE players, as well as 1 top 5 WR from the draft board. While other teams are adding WRs in the later rounds, your goal is to draft players that may not have a direct path to starting jobs or who have immense talent but are playing second fiddle to a veteran RB. You're basically looking for Boom/Bust players and hoping that 1 or 2 end up being a top 25 scorer at RB.

Players you should be targeting each round are broken down in the table below, utilizing the Zero RB strategy while picking mid-late in the 1st round:

Round 1Michael Thomas
DeAndre Hopkins
Davante Adams
Tyreek Hill
Julio Jones

Round 2Lamar Jackson
Patrick Mahomes
Chris Godwin
Amari Cooper
Mike Evans
Kenny Golladay

Travis Kelce
Round 3Deshaun WatsonAdam Thielen
Cooper Kupp
TY Hilton

George Kittle
Round 4DK Metcalf
AJ Brown
Calvin Ridley
DJ Chark Jr.

Mark Andrews

*The table is divided into 4 rounds, with players to target in each round split by position, obviously leaving RB out since we are planning on not taking a RB in the 1st four rounds.

Remember to be flexible, if Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are taken by the time you pick in the 2nd round, maybe think about adding a second WR or going with Travis Kelce. You can always nab Deshaun Watson at the back half of round 3 if Jackson and Mahomes go earlier than expected. If both Kittle and Kelce are taken by the time you get to Round 4, Mark Andrews is an excellent consolation prize.

The goal is to come out of Round 4 with a Top 3 QB, Top 3 TE and 2 Top 15 WRs.

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Kyle Anderson Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former UCLA star might have taken the tale of the tortoise and the hare a little too seriously, but the "slow and steady" mantra has given him a successful NBA career and impressive fantasy numbers. For the past week, Slow Mo has averaged 16.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting, seven rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 made threes, two steals and one turnover a game.

Anderson has been a consistent contributor throughout the season and it's tough to see his numbers take a hit even when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns at the end of the month. If you haven't rostered him yet, it would be a huge mistake.

Jalen McDaniels Forward/Center Charlotte Hornets

Staying on the court has been a problem for McDaniels this season, but the absence of Gordon Hayward has forced the Hornets to look for other options on the court and the second-year player has been one of the beneficiaries. In the last three games, the San Diego State product averaged 16.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting, two made threes, five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He even threw in 1.3 steals and one block per game.

Hayward is expected to be out for at least three more weeks. Until he's back, expect McDaniels to continue his more proactive approach on this team.

Miles Bridges Forward Charlotte Hornets

McDaniels isn't the only one who has taken advantage of Hayward's injury. Bridges has cranked his game up a notch, averaging 21.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting, three made threes, six rebounds and one steal in the last three games. He may have even had the dunk of the year, posterizing Clint Capela on Sunday.

Until Hayward is back, Bridges will get a lot more freedom to operate and that means more fantasy contribution in the coming weeks.

Reggie Jackson Guard Los Angeles Clippers

Depth has not been a problem for the Clippers the last few seasons, but it has been trouble for fantasy managers looking for consistent contributors on that team. Rest and injuries haven't slowed the Clippers' winning ways this week because Reggie Jackson stepped up for them and gives fantasy participants a short-term high performer to lean on for the week.

In a week where Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Paul George missed time, Jackson thrived, averaging 17.3 points on 61 percent shooting, three made threes, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in four games.

With Beverley out with a fractured hand and Rondo/George/Kawhi undoubtedly taking games off to save themselves for the playoffs, Jackson may not be a bad desperation option in standard fantasy and worth tracking in daily fantasy formats.


Tim Hardwaway Jr Guard/Forward Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks' recent success has not translated into numbers for all players. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of them.

The Michigan product averaged 12 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in four games last week. He did make two three-pointers per game in that span, but that is like threading a silver lining on a used rag.

Hardaway is still the third scoring option on the team, so he will get more chances to increase his production, but this week was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fantasy managers.

Derrick Rose Guard New York Knicks

Rose has found a home with the New York Knicks, but his role has not been kind to fantasy managers. We all know the former MVP can still score, but head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't asked him to do much else.

In the last four games, Rose has averaged 14.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That kind of one-dimensional play is a killer of many fantasy teams looking for a more diverse portfolio of contributions.

If you need a boost in scoring, Rose isn't a terrible option to consider, but if you need anything else, you should leave him on the waiver.

Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks

Like Rose, Williams isn't asked to do anything other than score at this point in his career. But even in the past week, he can't even do that at an elite fantasy level. Only averaging 11.8 points per game, 1.8 made threes, 2.8 assists and basically non-existent in every other category in fantasy sports.

It's safe to say that Lemon Pepper Lou's effectiveness as a fantasy star is gone.

Jusuf Nurkic Center Portland Trail Blazers

Okay, I know Trail Blazers have been trying to ease Nurkic back into the lineup and giving him restricted minutes. However, with the fantasy managers looking for that final push to the postseason, there might have to be an executive decision on whether Nurkic needs to be played or pitched.

Teams firmly in playoff position can hold out for him to be used properly again, but other managers won't be able to stomach another week of missed games and low-end production.

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