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There is no such thing as zero-RB strategy


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1 hour ago, Dylanfan66 said:

I play with a guy that does this every year.  He doesn't draft a rb until the 4 or 5th round.  And every year his team sucks unless he gets lucky on waivers and get's a good back up to a injured player.  But for the most part it's a horrible strategy.   I draft 3 straight to begin most drafts.

Starting 3 RB is one of the best ways to end up but it's tough unless you pick early on.

Something like CMC, Dobbins, and Sanders would be very good and probably the best case scenario you can get in the first 4 rounds. However, it's always unlikely. RBs always go higher in my leagues than their ADP reflects. 

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There is such a thing as a 1 RB strategy though.    all you need is king Henry.

Necro post, but a lot of you need to hear this. Zero RB works. But... it only works when the player pool justifies the strategy. You have to remember the era in which 0RB gained it's ma

I thought ZERO RB meant to draft a RB with your first pick lol 

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wait. i thought 0RB was sometimes actually just "take a RB stud with your 1st pick if you're picking in the top of the draft then don't draft another RB until the 6th round or higher". 0RB doesn't necessarily mean don't pick any RBs early, does it? I've heard different definitions over the years.

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23 minutes ago, yossarian said:

wait. i thought 0RB was sometimes actually just "take a RB stud with your 1st pick if you're picking in the top of the draft then don't draft another RB until the 6th round or higher". 0RB doesn't necessarily mean don't pick any RBs early, does it? I've heard different definitions over the years.

I think what you're describing is "modified zero RB."  I'd call it "anchor RB" with your first pick being the anchor.  I believe true zero RB really means not taking RBs for the first 4-5 rounds.

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3 hours ago, yossarian said:

wait. i thought 0RB was sometimes actually just "take a RB stud with your 1st pick if you're picking in the top of the draft then don't draft another RB until the 6th round or higher". 0RB doesn't necessarily mean don't pick any RBs early, does it? I've heard different definitions over the years.

 I thought ZERO RB meant to draft a RB with your first pick lol 

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Posted (edited)

https://twitter.com/evansilva/status/1397679677855121408?s=20

 

Best ball of death, Siegele has won this 3 times in 7 years, I have a feeling had he had pick 8 here he doesn't go RB 1st round (maybe 9 if he likes Zeke I'm not sure) he went RB, TE, 4 WR, I assume he would have stayed away longer but Javonte Williams at 7.7 RB 27 was too good to pass considering they traded up for him and also year 2 with Shurmur. I took Williams in round 5 (5.06) in a recent best ball myself as RB24, RB24 in the best ball of death didn't go until 6.10

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On 5/23/2021 at 4:47 PM, DeliciousGravy said:

So I have managed to secure pick 12 in my 12-team 0.5ppr league (last two years: 11th and 11th) - I feel like I'm being set up for this...

I will write a lot more on the topic, but the conundrum for the late first-round drafter is: there's very much a scenario where 11 RB's are off the board in the first round (McCaffrey, Henry, Cook, Kamara, Barkley, Elliott, Chubb, Taylor, A Jones, Akers, Ekeler). Are you passing on Travis Kelce and Davante Adams to take Joe Mixon? If you do, what do the RB's in rounds 3-4 look like? (Josh Jacobs? Myles Gaskin?) Does anyone from rounds 5 onwards have a path to more snaps and RB2 value (let alone RB1)?

I have absolutely no love for Joe Mixon. I don't think I'll be taking an RB at the 1/2 turn unless I can talk myself into something like Najee Harris or D'Andre Swift. And now you can see where going 0RB might not be a design flaw, but a feature of drafting later in (esp) PPR leagues.

In this situation I would go Kelce and Tyreek or Kelce and your top WR. TE in round 1 or round 2 have generally paid off, Gronk his last year in New England and Kittle last year are like the only busts of the top of my head.

I like Ekeler with the best free agent center added, 2nd best tackle drafted and a new coordinator from new orleans and also the first 10 you listed but I wouldn't take Akers based on his small sample it feels similar to Sanders last year, Drake last year, Jeremy hill his rookie year etc... where Kelce, Adams and Hill have done it for years.

I would take Carson at 36 but if he's gone 2 more non RB's for me, as they say scared money don't make money then if you can guess right on say the Jets or Niners backfield or benefit from a injury you could be a dominant force and even if not you could get into the playoffs and find the tim hightower, damien williams, deandre washington, cj anderson etc... that if the first 11 teams or even 10 not including akers take RB's won't be on the lookout as much as you.

In 2015 I had a zero rb team that used Hightower en route to a fantasy title, the same year I won another league but I didn't even add Hightower as he would never be used.

in 2018 iirc, I made it the finals with a make shift backfield, James White and co....Week 15 Aaron Jones went down and I adden Jamaal Williams and Gurley was out and Cj Anderson was signed off the street, last minute I went with Anderson over White who was solid all year and I won by single digits and without Anderson would have lost.

Zero RB is a high risk but HUGE reward as the article above says but should only be done in your situation you mentioned. For me personally Chubb is iffy and at this point in time so is Aaron Jones but if I land pick 8 and the first 7 picks are RB's I'm going Ekeler but if Ekeler is gone and I'm picking 9-10-11 or 12 as of today I'm going Kelce and WR or WR WR (assuming at least a 3 WR league, if it is a 2 WR league then Kelce RB or maybe Kelce WR but zero RB if the RB's don't hit can still squeak by if you are better then your opponent at wr 1 and likely much better at, wr 2 and wr 3 and likely flex and te.

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Necro post, but a lot of you need to hear this.

Zero RB works.

But... it only works when the player pool justifies the strategy.

You have to remember the era in which 0RB gained it's massive following.  For the goldfish of this forum, it went a little something like this: Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, Larry Fitz, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson...

Do any of these ring a bell?  Every single one of them could have been defined as generational talents in their prime and they were dominant year after year after year, not only relative to their WR competition, but also relative to their RB competition at well.  There were years in which Megatron was the #1 draft pick, and it wasn't just because 1 or 2 people in your league subscribed to ZRB, it was because that's legitimately how valuable he was at the time.

Think about it, in 2012 Adrian Peterson had a historic season and became (at the time) just the 7th RB to ever rush for 2000 yards in a season.  He scored 249 fantasy points 21.8 PPG.  Calvin Johnson in that same year scored 248 fantasy points despite only 5 TDs, lol.

This was a time, in which the WR's mentioned above were just beginning their careers and the next 3-5 years were going to be their prime.  Meanwhile, the RBs we all remember (Foster, Rice, Lynch, Jamaal, Forte, Peterson, CJ2k, F.Jax, S.Jax, MJD) had just hit their apex, and the next 3-5 years were not only their down-trend, but simultaneously when we started seeing an incredibly high rate of injury and turn over at the RB position. (Doug Martin, T.Rich, E.Lacy, etc)

Suddenly, taking a RB in the first became a coin flip at the same time, that the elite WRs were continually dominant AND scoring equal to elite RBs.

But time goes on and we see the cycle reverse.  The next 3-5 year cycle now see's those WR's after their apex on the downtrend.  Tron, Andre, and V.Jax retire, Dez and AJG injury plagued, Fitz/Julio getting older, AB goes insane, DT disappears... and what's happening at the same time?  A new breed of workhorse RBs are cycling into the NFL.  David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell, Gurley, Zeke, Barkley, Henry, CMC... and the NFL passing stats continue to rise, suddenly the 2nd and 3rd WRs on teams are getting 1k yards at will, which deteriorates the PPG advantage that the elite WRs use to have, but workhorse backs have become more rare, raising their PPG advantage in fantasy.

The NFL and fantasy football along with it, are continually evolving.  I don't care what strategy you use, but if you aren't choosing or adapting your strategy to the trends and talent of the NFL, then you're making a mistake.  Blindly applying a strategy purely based on past success, with no consideration for how it corresponds to the current/future pool of players in the draft lobby, is a disservice to yourself.

Any strategy can work, if you pick the right players.  We can play the hindsight game all day.
How many people had the #1 pick, took CMC, got James Conner and Lamar Jackson at the wrap and thought they were going to dominate their league?  How many had the #5 pick and went Michael Thomas, Chris Godwin, and Kenny Golladay and quit fantasy forever?  Anyone at the 12 spot land Joe Mixon, Miles Sanders, and OBJ thinking they had it made after their first 3 picks?  However, at the same time, many of us landed a late round flier on James Robinson, blew our Faab on Mike Davis and coasted to the playoffs no matter what we did in the first 3 rounds.  That's fantasy.

For snakes, Zero RB may come back around when the talent pool AND/OR draft spot dictates it.  If I were sitting at 6 or 7 in a 12 team ppr snake this year, I would strongly consider it.  I'll probably look stupid down the road, but hypothetically, Adams, Ridley, and your choice of Jefferson/A.Rob/McLaurin in the 3rd could easily anchor a team.  All it takes, is the right late round RBs you like to justify Zero RB.  How many people are looking at Najee Harris in the 6th round right now, and thinking he's an RB1 they could build around? 

In Auction leagues on the other hand, I don't think ZRB will ever die, because it's so easily supported by mathematical fact.  I've broken it down in past years, but due to the nature of how auctions work, low end starting RBs, go for a fraction of the price of low end starting WRs, and the inverse is also true, in that high end RBs, consistently cost more than high end WRs.  Because of how snake values force people to pay 'equal rounds' but auctions allow us to pay 'specific dollar amounts' there is a financial benefit.  To simplify, in snake a 1st round pick and a 6th round pick have the exact same price investment for all owners.  You spend your 1st on Henry, I spend mine on Adams, neither of us has any draft capitol advantage.  However in an auction, Henry will likely go for ~$10 more than Adams, so despite an equal value in snake, I have a $10 advantage in auction for the same exact players in different formats.  $10 in an auction is basically a free 6th round pick.  Meaning I get a 1st and (2) 6ths, but the RB early drafter only got only their original 1st and 6th.

Last thing I want to add.  On draft day RB is the most scarce position.  But throughout the 16 week fantasy season, RB has the highest turn over rate of any position, due to the risk, injury, or natural job loss.  ZeroRB, even when the player pool doesn't fully support it, can still be very effective, because of how many WW RBs there ends up being, through every fantasy season.  WRs pop up too, but it's significantly harder to predict a WRs workload and usage(or which one will benefit most), than a RB when a starter goes down, which typically tends to be more clear, or worst case scenario a committee, in which case, there are technically 2 WW options, although less valuable.
Also, in PPR leagues, ZRB is more feasible, not only because of the scoring benefit to the position itself, but because of how it alters change of pace RBs value respective to traditional bellcow backs.  For example, James White, Tarik Cohen, McKissick, Hines, can all match the output of many 3rd/4th/5th round RBs on any given week, due to catches alone, and a single TD makes them difference makers given their investment.
RBs are often measured by their year-end stats and finish, but we play the game weekly.  15 points per game is an RB1 on average for the season.  That's 5 catches, 40 yards, and a TD for any of the CoP backs, or a backup, those random weekly fill ins, etc.  You can't rely on them weekly, but they add up and partially add to the devaluing of the position.  Similar things can be said/found of many WRs though, but personally I find RB fillers easier to predict, find, obtain and actually meet expectations.  RBs have a much easier and more reliable path to workload when the starter is out, than WRs.

Just my .02

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That mention of Peterson vs Megatron took me back as i remember that same scenario.   I didn't quite zero RB here but in my two QB league I remember the light going on in a draft where the receivers were the targets.  Yahoo history helped me dig this up from 2013:

Top 10 RB's drafted included Peterson first overall (he did ok but regressed big time from the prior year) and misses like Doug Martin, CJ Spiller, and Trent Richardson.   The rest where good names in theory, i didn't look up their results though.  

I took Megatron, Dez, and Jimmy Graham in the first three rounds, and still ended up with two top 10 RB's- Lions Reggie Bush and rookie Eddie Lacy. Those first three picks all had around 250 pts apiece in half PPR, including 41 TD's total.  Everyone thought I was nuts, and I finished 2nd.  

And yes, 100% agreement here- there are draft years where zero RB (or close to it) make sense, and years where it doesnt.   

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Running Backs are the brick and mortar of your fantasy team. No matter how great Wideouts are, inconsistent production from the RB position will kill you eventually. With the very few workhorse Running Backs in the league today, it makes it a scarce position for consistent production whereas there is a plethorea of potential wide receivers to be had later in the draft.

My 2 cents

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last year was a god awful year for the round 1 and round 2 rbs. zeke got sunk by dak injury cmac saquon mixon ceh had injuries drake had edmonds cucking him for a good bit miles sanders got hurt and was in a bad offense with no o line. Even guys like jonathan taylor jk dobbins cam akers david mongomery they did not help you until the 2nd half of the season. Even the so called safe round 1 and round 2 picks like michael thomas and kittle were letdowns due to injury. I still rather look for my stud rb in first 3 rounds and then pivot to wr instead of counting on someone like james white tarik cohen to help me weekly at the rb position. Getting that 2020 kamara dalvin d henry is just such a huge weekly advantage when all the other rbs fall by the wayside due to injuries. I rather look in later rounds for the 2020 version of justin jefferson diontae johnson  diggs etc.

 

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With top 8 RBs costing you your first round pick or 33% of your auction dollars, yet missing at a 50% clip most years, I have always seen the logic of stocking up on a few top WRs and maybe a hot TE and then trying to catch lightning in a bottle with mid-to-late round flyers like the Tre Mason CJ Anderson Isaiah Crowley types.

But, as was said, if you pick the wrong guys, it will not work.

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I think 0 rb is doable in an auction draft

 

You could trot out a line up 

Kelce or Waller

Adams/Ridley

Keenan Allen 

Michael Thomas

 

Build a team around those guys and you'd still have plenty of $ left over to play with on other positions. Maybe even enough to allocate to some kind of reliable rb2 just to have some stability at the position to start with. 

 

I think in snake it would be hard but something like Adams/Hill/Kelce in the first, Ridley/Diggs in the second, Allen/A-Rob/Waller/Kittle/McLaurin in the third and maybe an elite QB in the 4th or 5th would be doable. After that spam rb picks and hope some work out enough to get some serviceable weeks. 

 

 

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It's doesn't work unless you get really lucky and add players or have a rb get more carries because of injuries.

The number three wr on a team can have big games but the number three rb doesn't unless he is a starting or there are injuries

 

 

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Another thought about finding RB WW gems and why it may be wise to not completely eschew RBs in the draft: it's true that there are usually at least a few gems each year, and that serviceable WW RBs can be found.  However, in articles touting zero RB I feel like there's always an unstated assumption that you are going to be the one to pick up the best WW RBs.  We're in leagues with 9, or 11, or whatever other number of managers.  Not all of them might be active as you, or may not be keeping track of things on a day-to-day basis as I'm sure many of us on this forum do, but it doesn't take a genius to see who's the backup if there's an injury or to notice that some no-name RB had a huge game on Sunday and it's now Tuesday.  Other managers may have a higher waiver priority than you or may spend more FAAB than you.  You might be churning the WW looking for the gem, and you end up letting the potential gem go a week or two before the breakout game.  Sometimes there might not be a clearcut backup who takes over, and you end up picking up the "lesser" name who turns out to be the better option.  Still, unless you're in a league with large benches where you can horde RBs, I wouldn't let the fact that great WW RBs can be found mean you should assume that you'll be the one to get them.

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2 hours ago, ZappB said:

However, in articles touting zero RB I feel like there's always an unstated assumption that you are going to be the one to pick up the best WW RBs.

This is a great point and I totally agree with you (and I think the same thing goes for picking up WW QB's as well). Fantasy "experts" and regular players alike both fall trap to this way of thinking about the best WW players.

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On 6/13/2021 at 6:32 AM, Boudewijn said:

I'd say that's at least .06 or .07.

He owes me way more than that for trying to read that wall of text. Could've been summarized by one sentence in the post : 

"Any strategy can work, if you pick the right players"

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6 hours ago, owenmills said:

He owes me way more than that for trying to read that wall of text. Could've been summarized by one sentence in the post : 

"Any strategy can work, if you pick the right players"

Although he literally said that, it was hardly the main point of his post.

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On 6/22/2021 at 9:42 PM, Boudewijn said:

Although he literally said that, it was hardly the main point of his post.

Didn't I say he literally said it?

It's fine, dissecting this stuff ad nauseum. That's what this board is for. But every fantasy draft just comes down to picking the players that don't suck, regardless of strategy. And having a rigid strategy going in usually makes it harder to do that. 

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1 hour ago, owenmills said:

Didn't I say he literally said it?

It's fine, dissecting this stuff ad nauseum. That's what this board is for. But every fantasy draft just comes down to picking the players that don't suck, regardless of strategy. And having a rigid strategy going in usually makes it harder to do that. 

I don't think it's a rigid strategy; more circumstantial. Nobody would tell you to pass on CMC at 1.01 to stick by a 0RB mantra. But if you're at the tail end of a snake draft and you're looking at "certainties" like Kelce/Hill vs "maybes" like Akers or Mixon, the risk-averse drafter might opt for the former. And ditto in the 3rd. I wrote a thread (read: collection of 3am incoherent thoughts) about drafting 12th in 0.5PPR this year (have a look) that almost backs into 0RB if you go BPA for the first 4 rounds.

Like all drafts, it's about flexibility. Why not practice a few 0RB starts in case your draft turns weird?

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1 hour ago, DeliciousGravy said:

Nobody would tell you to pass on CMC at 1.01 to stick by a 0RB mantra.

Actually, the philosophy of zero RB works great if you have 1.01. Caveat: Of course you take CMC.

Zero RB suggests loading up on WRs and then taking a bunch of shots at RB in the middle rounds just hoping you hit on one good one and one ok one. If you start with CMC, you don't have to use any of those middle picks on RB. 

So, modified zero RB with CMC would be CMC in round 1 and then 4-5 of WRs, then maybe take a decent QB, then 3 or 4 more rounds of WRs. Looking at the current FFC ADP, your team would look something like this:

CMC/Keenan/JJeff/Cupp/Dak/Higgins/Chark/Cooks/Landry. 

Note with that last pick you could go with Singletary/Hines/Moss as your 2nd RB instead of Landry or Cooks. 

This would be a very strong best ball team. 

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11 hours ago, DeliciousGravy said:

I don't think it's a rigid strategy; more circumstantial. Nobody would tell you to pass on CMC at 1.01 to stick by a 0RB mantra. But if you're at the tail end of a snake draft and you're looking at "certainties" like Kelce/Hill vs "maybes" like Akers or Mixon, the risk-averse drafter might opt for the former. And ditto in the 3rd. I wrote a thread (read: collection of 3am incoherent thoughts) about drafting 12th in 0.5PPR this year (have a look) that almost backs into 0RB if you go BPA for the first 4 rounds.

Like all drafts, it's about flexibility. Why not practice a few 0RB starts in case your draft turns weird?

You're basically describing value based drafting. If the RBs available when you're picking aren't blowing your skirt up, then you draft another position. That's what people should be doing, instead of panicking and taking a RB early just because you feel like you need to fill that slot. Trust me, I've done that before(plenty of times) and ended up with a RB I didn't love who crapped on my team. 

I've learned to not do that though, even if it is an uncomfortable feeling watching RBs go off the board while you don't have one. I can't remember what round I selected my first RB last year but I was loaded at WR and my top 3 RBs were Melvin Gordon, Swift, and Rojo. Not terrible, but certainly a bit dicey. I finished 2nd and probably should've won but I'm a dumbass and made a bad sit/start decision in the finals. 

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10 hours ago, Andypro said:

Actually, the philosophy of zero RB works great if you have 1.01. Caveat: Of course you take CMC.

Zero RB suggests loading up on WRs and then taking a bunch of shots at RB in the middle rounds just hoping you hit on one good one and one ok one. If you start with CMC, you don't have to use any of those middle picks on RB. 

So, modified zero RB with CMC would be CMC in round 1 and then 4-5 of WRs, then maybe take a decent QB, then 3 or 4 more rounds of WRs. Looking at the current FFC ADP, your team would look something like this:

CMC/Keenan/JJeff/Cupp/Dak/Higgins/Chark/Cooks/Landry. 

Note with that last pick you could go with Singletary/Hines/Moss as your 2nd RB instead of Landry or Cooks. 

This would be a very strong best ball team. 

Loading on WRs is ok but after the top 10 maybe 15 they are so close, similar and are all pretty much maybe 1,000 yards and some TDs. Names like Schuster smith, dionte Johnson, Higgins, boyd, cupp, theilen, lockett, golladay, lamb, Godwin, Evans, chase, Sutton, chark, Anderson, Moore, Beckham, fuller, aiyuk, Samuels, ect.

Of those one listed they are pretty much the same.

While someone is loading there team with these players you could add good RBs like Carson, Jacobs, gaskins, Davis.

 

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5 minutes ago, ChrisChinMcCaffrey said:

Loading on WRs is ok but after the top 10 maybe 15 they are so close, similar and are all pretty much maybe 1,000 yards and some TDs. Names like Schuster smith, dionte Johnson, Higgins, boyd, cupp, theilen, lockett, golladay, lamb, Godwin, Evans, chase, Sutton, chark, Anderson, Moore, Beckham, fuller, aiyuk, Samuels, ect.

Of those one listed they are pretty much the same.

While someone is loading there team with these players you could add good RBs like Carson, Jacobs, gaskins, Davis.

In that case the value may not be there. 'Loading up' would be more like grabbing 2-3 of the top 10-15 and having a marked advantage at WR over other teams. That opportunity wouldn't always be there but if it is a manager should ignore other positions and jump all over it. Similar if that happens at the RB position, and guys you love keep dropping to you. Load up

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42 minutes ago, owenmills said:

In that case the value may not be there. 'Loading up' would be more like grabbing 2-3 of the top 10-15 and having a marked advantage at WR over other teams. That opportunity wouldn't always be there but if it is a manager should ignore other positions and jump all over it. Similar if that happens at the RB position, and guys you love keep dropping to you. Load up

Yeah. Just draft. But if you have opportunity to chose Calvin ridley and Metcalf or swift and Mixon I would want to take ridley or metcalf.

 

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