Fantasy Football Draft Strategies 2020 - Zero RB

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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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