Do Not Fear The Zero RB Approach
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
There is a lot of advice you hear in when it comes to drafting in Fantasy Football. One of the most popular ones you hear is "Wait on a QB, there's so many that you can get in the later rounds" and that for one is definitely true. Another is, "Take an Running Back early, it is so HARD to find any good RB in the later rounds" and this one to me, is NOT true. Not to say I always take the Zero RB approach, but I for one am not scared of it, and I will explain why.
Everyone loves stats, so here's some for you on running backs and where they end up fantasy wise. Let's just use last year as a platform so it'll be easier to understand. I'm sure we can all agree an RB1 is someone who lands in the top 10-12 overall for RBs correct? Especially when it's a 12 team league. So that means an RB2 would be some who finishes in top 10-20 fair enough? Last year, 9 running backs out of the top 20 where drafted AFTER the 4th round. Two of them actually ended up in the top 10 and those 2, being James White and James Connor, were drafted in the 9th and 14th rounds last year. I mean just to name a few in the top 20 you had players like Tarik Cohen, Philip Lindsay (to be fair he was mostly found on waiver, but still just strengthens my case more for the Zero RB approach), Nick Chubb, Chris Carson and Adrian Peterson. With these RBs last I mentioned, if you went the Zero RB approach, you could have realistically drafted, according to the ADPs (Average Draft Position) on FantasyFootballCalculator.com, DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas, and Adam Theilen and have your RB1 and 2 be James Connor and Philip Lindsay? Or even James White? That sounds great to me and i'm sure you won your won league last year if that was your team.
Let's give you some more stats and numbers from previous years this way you could see the bigger picture of what I mean. If a RB, depending on where you drafted him, gives you at least 10 points, AT LEAST, well it's nothing to get super happy or excited about, but at the same time you don't think it's a failure. Once again that depends who your RB is. Over the past 5, there was an average of almost 30 running backs that gave you at least 10 points a game AND played at least 10 games. This is of course in PPR formats. If you want to count all the RBs that gave you at least those 10 points over the past 5 years, then it's an average of 34 per season. Thats a lot of RBs that you could find in the later rounds and also off waiver wires. A lot of those RBs who did not play at least 10 games, but still averaged 10 points are some pretty big recognizable names such as Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, David Johnson, Le'veon Bell, Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson just to name a few. These are all 1st round draft quality names, and that 1st round pick was just thrown away, because some one felt that had to get that stud RB early because they couldn't find one later. Numbers I have just provided show there are still plenty of RBs that find that will do just fine for your team.
Don't get me wrong, there are definitely way more Wide Receivers than Running Backs in the NFL, and i'm not saying that Running Backs aren't important. Another thing I know too is when you take a Zero RB approach, i'm sure the names aren't sexy enough to give you that confidence, but do not forget, if you went the Zero RB approach, it's because you. more than likely went WR heavy or took that stud Tight End that is definitely way harder to find. The point of this article is to show you some numbers, that you don't have to rush and take an RB early. If the WR is a better player than the RB that is next best available, then take it, don't fear. You could find handcuffs, and find Running Backs off waiver wire, and if you went heavy with the WRs you could look to trade one late to go with the RBs you did draft. So do your mock drafts, study the depth charts, and do not panic if you do not grab a RB early.