A series on draft strategies for 2020 fantasy football drafts, this article focuses on Zero WR.
Zero WR is a fantasy football draft strategy where the owner doesn't draft a wide receiver (WR) until the 4th or 5th rounds of their fantasy draft. There never may be a better year to go with a Zero WR strategy than 2020. NFL teams are able to put out two, sometimes three viable fantasy WRs, whereas just a few years ago, some teams could barely put out one. The wide receiver group is deep this year, while the RB group is relatively thin. Loading up on RBs early in drafts lets owners take advantage of that depth at WR.
There are a few conditions that should be considered when building a team around a Zero WR draft strategy:
- Picking in the top half of Round 1 (Picks 1-5)
- Zero WR is a strategy that is best suited for owners who are drafting in the first few picks of the first round. Picking in this slot almost guarantees a chance to draft one of the top 4 running backs (RBs) in the NFL this year. Getting Christian McCaffery, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook or Alvin Kamara is a great start to a Zero WR draft strategy. Even picking in the mid 1st round can net a quality starter, so don't be afraid to go past these top 5 to make the strategy work.
- League Scoring Settings (No additional settings that would make WRs 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 WR strategy in a league that puts a premium on WR 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. The amount of value that can be added to 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. When employing a Zero WR strategy, this may elevate the value of some backs that would otherwise not be viable in other types of scoring settings. Taking later round fliers on RBs who don't rush a lot but stack up receptions can add quality depth to your team.
The goal is to come out of the first four rounds with 3-4 RBs, making RB the strongest part of your team, while other teams may take a more balanced approach, hedging the RB market early in the draft could be a league winning strategy this year. After round 4 or 5, there are still plenty of quality WRs to fill out your roster.
Players you should be targeting each round are broken down in the table below, utilizing the Zero WR strategy while picking early in the 1st round:
|Round 1||Christian McCaffrey|
|Round 2||Miles Sanders|
|Round 3||Deshaun Watson|
Mark Ingram II
|Round 4||Kenyan Drake|
Melvin Gordon III
*The table is divided into 4 rounds, with players to target in each round split by position, obviously leaving WR out since we are planning on not taking a WR in the 1st four rounds.
During round one and two of this strategy, you are almost locked into taking the best RB available. When you get to round 3, you have some flexibility. If Lamar Jackson or Deshaun Watson are available, they may be hard to pass up to take on a 3rd RB. The same goes for Travis Kelce or George Kittle; if you're not in love with any of the RBs on the board at your pick there, shoring up an elite TE prospect is a solid route to go. Round 4 would be where you take your 3rd RB, or if you already have three, then snagging a player like Mark Andrews or Deshaun Watson are excellent strategies.
By the end of Round 4, you are aiming to have 3 Top 25 RBs and either a Top 3 QB or Top 3 TE.
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