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Fantasy Football Fallacy: Zero-RB Strategy

People can find fantasy football advice all over the place today; it’s 2018, and everyone wants their voice to be heard. But unfortunately, all advice isn’t good advice, even among the “experts.” So, over the next few weeks, I am going to breakdown a “Fantasy Football Fallacy” that a significant amount of people believe or follow by explaining why it’s wrong, starting with the “zero-RB strategy.


For those who don’t know, the zero-RB strategy is the approach where you don’t select a running back for the first few rounds of your fantasy draft. The idea is that backfields are much more volatile than quarterbacks and wide receivers, so you should get “sure things” at positions other than running back before targeting high-upside options in the later rounds.


There are several reasons why committing to this strategy is a huge mistake, and the easiest way to tell you if by showing you. Here is an example draft (using FantasyPros draft simulator) where I pass on running backs for the first five rounds.


1.3: Antonio Brown, PIT WR

-RBs passed on: David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott


2.8: Davante Adams, GB WR

-RBs passed on: Melvin Gordon, LeSean McCoy, Devonta Freeman


3.3: Tyreek Hill, KC WR

-RBs passed on: Jordan Howard, Christian McCaffrey


4.8: Russell Wilson, SEA QB

-RBs passed on: Joe Mixon, Jerick McKinnon, Jay Ajayi, Alex Collins


5.3: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI WR

-RBs passed on: Derrius Guice, Kenyan Drake, Rashaad Penny


6.8: Ronald Jones II, TB RB

7.3: Tevin Coleman, ATL RB

8.8: Hunter Henry, LAC TE

9.3: Chris Thompson, WAS RB

10.8: Aaron Jones, GB RB

11.3: Devontae Booker, DEN RB

12.8: Nick Chubb, CLE RB

13.3: Corey Clement, PHI RB

14.8: Josh Doctson, WAS WR

15.3: Rams D/ST

16.8: Jake Elliott, Eagles K


So, this is the roster using the zero-RB strategy:


QB: Russell Wilson, SEA

RB: Ronald Jones II, TB

RB: Tevin Coleman, ATL

WR: Antonio Brown, PIT

WR: Davante Adams, GB

TE: Hunter Henry, LAC

FLEX: Tyreek Hill, KC

D/ST: Rams, LAR

K: Jake Elliott, PHI

BE: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (WR)

BE: Chris Thompson, WAS (RB)

BE: Aaron Jones, GB (RB)

BE: Devontae Booker, DEN (RB)

BE: Nick Chubb, CLE (RB)

BE: Corey Clement, PHI (RB)

BE: Josh Doctson, WAS (WR)


Maybe Aaron Jones turns into a stud for Green Bay, or Devontae Booker unlocks his potential in his third season, or Nick Chubb seizes the Cleveland backfield, but I would not feel good at all about going into the season with Chris Thompson as my RB3, especially with no legitimate studs on the roster. And when you look at the guys you pass on (David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Jordan Howard in each of the first three respective rounds alone), it seems even worse.


The biggest flaw of the zero-RB strategy is that is literally cuts your player pool down by nearly half (42% to be exact using FantasyPros rankings) for the first five rounds. Why in the world would you do that to yourself? If there’s a run on wide receivers, shouldn’t you take advantage of that and get an excellent value at running back?


In theory, zero-RB strategy might be a decent approach, but it’s done under the assumption that you will have mid-to-late round options fall in your lap. Instead, sticking to overall rankings and taking the best player available will maximize the value you get up and down the board.


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