Fantasy Football

2019 Fantasy Football Zero RB Draft Strategy


We’ve all been in the position where we are forced to choose between a good running back or a great wide receiver. Often overlooking the value of a pick and focusing instead on filling out the roster. This is where the 2019 Fantasy Football Zero RB Draft Strategy comes in.

The most common draft strategy year in and year out is always going to be the RB heavy approach. People, myself included, have a sense security when they have a few good running backs.

So if you pick at the end of the first round, let other people reach for second-tier talent or ignore red flags to “get their guy”. As a man who made the mistake of drafting Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook in the same league last year, I can be trusted when I say don’t do that.

When you’re the only one thinking value some truly great talent can end up slipping to you toward the end of the first round.

2019 Fantasy Football Zero RB Draft Strategy

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Why You Don’t Need An Elite RB

There are currently only a handful of workhorse backs with no major injury history. Which is why every draft will start out with Barkley, McCaffrey, Kamara, and Zeke going in no particular order. That is the way it should be done. However, after that, it’s up in the air who gets taken next.

But the next tier of RBs has a fair amount of red flags that need to be considered. For example, Todd Gurley‘s knee, Le’Veon Bell‘s extended vacation, and Joe Mixon‘s team as a whole are all cause for concern.

Also being drafted in that range are Deandre Hopkins, Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, and Davante Adams. All of whom have no competition for targets, great QBs, and are major parts of their offenses.

Essentially the decision you have to face is simple. Do you want to take a chance on a second or third tier player because he plays your preferred position? Or would you rather have the best players you can get to build around? This is the reason zero-RB is and should continue to be a thing.

Who do you draft early?

Elite Wide Receivers

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I know you know this already. It’s obvious that you need elite receivers. If this happens to be the first Fantasy Football website you’ve ever been on and you don’t know anything at all about football, then welcome. Check out our staff rankings here.

Assuming you know your stuff, you know who to get and I don’t think I need to convince you the value of wide receivers.

Elite Tight Ends

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This year there might actually be enough value at TE that you may not need to necessarily grab one of the top 3 to have an overwhelming advantage. But there is still a very steep drop off instability after Kelce and Ertz are gone and almost no value to be had outside of the top 10.

Last year there were 22 wide receivers to break 200 points in PPR scoring. There were also 16 running backs who broke 200 points. But there were only 4 tight ends who managed to accomplish the same feat. This position scarcity is what drives up the price of guys like Kelce Ertz and Kittle. It’s also what makes them worth their cost.

As a prime example of the value of elite TEs lets look at Jimmy Graham. Last year Jimmy Graham had an ADP of 52 overall according to fantasy football calculator and he put up a respectable 130.6 PPR fantasy points. A performance that made him the 12th best TE.

That would have made him WR56 right between Donte Moncrief and Danny Amendola. Travis Kelce and his 294.6 PPR points was the TE1 and would have been the WR9 right between Juju and Mike Evans.

So while guys like Vance McDonald and Mark Andrews have their appeal, there really and truly is no substitute for an elite TE and they should be made a priority.

Elite Quarterbacks

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As long as you are in a 1QB league this is the lowest priority. But when intentionally neglecting runningbacks this is still a priority all the same.

It’s also best to have an elite QB when they are scheduled to go up against an elite defense. Pat Mahomes for example only dipped below 20 points twice in weeks 1-16. Phillip Rivers, a late round favorite, had less than 20 points 8 times in the same time span.

Who Do I actually Draft at RB

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Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins, RB27

The Dolphins top option is currently going in the early 5th round according to the fantasy pros, which is crazy to me. His upside is massive if he can remain as efficient as he was last year. Even if his efficiency regresses, his volume should improve now that Adam Gase and Frank Gore have left town.

Our consensus rankings have him ranked as the RB22 but his ADP has him at RB27

Lamar Miller, Houston Texans, RB32

Lamar Miller is criminally under-rated. His only legitimate threat to take work from him is D’Onta Foreman who suffered an achilles injury that we still haven’t seen him fully bounce back from. And with Miller sitting outside the top 30 PPR runningbacks that risk is already baked into his ADP.

If Foreman can’t manage to take away any work from Miller than he’ll be a low end RB2 at an RB3 price.

Targets With Upside

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Jordan Howard, Philadelphia Eagles, RB31

Did you know that Jordan Howard holds the Bears franchise record for the most rushing yards in his first two seasons? Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, and Matt Forte all had fewer yards to start their career. The talent is there and so is the offensive firepower around him to succeed.

Volume is justifiably a concern, but Howard is currently being drafted as the RB31 despite being the RB20 in all scoring formats last year. So despite the risk, his value and opportunity are still undeniable.

Carlos Hyde, Kansas City Chiefs, RB49

Is Damien Williams really that good? Maybe. But if he is he hasn’t shown it. Williams only became the primary back after injuries and the unfortunate Kareem Hunt situation last year. So can we really expect Williams to own the backfield?

Either way, Carlos Hyde is currently on average the 118th player selected this year. Damien Williams is being drafted as the RB13 and 23rd overall. With 95 picks between the two, it’s worth having Hyde even if Williams had no doubt surrounding his status as a true lead back. But given his upside Hyde become a great target.

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers, RB43

After finishing as the PPR RB25 last year with an average of 12.1 points I’m kind of surprised that Ekeler is as low as he is. His week to week consistency is as irritating as anybody’s. But his big game potential and handcuff value make him an excellent option.

But his stand-alone value is what separates Ekeler from the average handcuff. Even when Melvin Gordon was on the field Ekeler still had touches and targets with regularity.

Best Handcuffs in Football

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Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals, RB80

Edmonds is likely going to be a pure handcuff and be very dependent on an injury to David Johnson. But he has proven his ability with the small sample size we have seen so far in his career.

David Johnson may not be as injury prone as others but with the expected volume Edmonds would see after an injury, combined with his ADP Edmonds earns this years title of my top handcuff.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns, RB65

Duke is in a complicated spot as far as the depth chart goes. But two years ago when the volume was there Duke was a borderline elite option. Then the Browns actually went out and got good which left Johnson in a complementary role.

So while Johnson might get some touches before Kareem Hunt comes back he is a going to need an injury to have any significant or reliable value. The hope here is that Johnson could get traded, but as the 65th RB off the board there is almost no risk as Johnson is basically free.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams, RB56

Henderson may or may not get volume without an injury. Coach talk can’t be trusted so I’m just going to assume Henderson will have a handful of touches a game without an injury. But if Gurley were to get hurt Henderson becomes an immediate must-start option as the lead back in the Sean McVay offense.

The reason Henderson isn’t higher on my list of handcuffs is that he has been being drafted before the handcuff range. It is a safe bet his volume exceeds what the Rams gave any other back last year. It’s just not a surefire thing that he will be used as often as other backs in his draft range. But his risk is absolutely worth the reward.

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Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2019 season.

About Bobby Shepherd

Bobby has played fantasy football since he was first tall enough to reach a draft board. He eats sleeps and breathes stats and is always excited to share his findings.

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