Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Is Zero RB Actually Working in 2017?


Zero RB truthers (that’s me) - this article is for you. Did you do the right thing by sticking to your guns after a rough go in 2016?

If you were savvy/lucky enough to select the right WRs in the first 4-5 rounds (Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Michael Crabtree, Larry Fitzgerald, Adam Thielen), then you’re probably in good shape. And if you were savvy/lucky enough to follow that up with the right RBs (Chris Thompson, James White, Jerick McKinnon, Alvin Kamara, Duke Johnson) in rounds 5-8, then you are most likely at the top of the league.

But if you didn’t do both of those things, then your fantasy teams must be struggling as you watch RB-heavy teams rise up the ranks. So is Zero RB actually working in 2017? Let's break it down.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

2017 RB and WR Disappointments

It is not the job of an analyst to look at anecdotal evidence as the crux of an argument, but in the world of fantasy the performance of the big names plays a big role in perception. So let’s take a look at those names and see if it follows our narrative.

Some of the disappointments on the RB side include David Johnson, DeMarco Murray, Jay Ajayi, Isaiah Crowell, Marshawn Lynch and Ameer Abdullah.

On the WR side, we have names like Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, TY Hilton, Amari Cooper, Terrelle Pryor, Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffery, Martavis Bryant, Devante Parker, Willie Snead, Jamison Crowder, Sammy Watkins, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Decker, Donte Moncrief and Kenny Britt.

There are clearly more disappointments on the WR side, which leads us into some analysis that furthers this notion.

 

Zero RB Results Through Week 8

After wasting my time researching those lists above, I needed to get to the real info that would validate Zero RB truthers or bury them in the past. I looked at the top 48 ranked players pre-draft, at both RB and WR, and their respective season  point totals (half-PPR scoring).

I tiered these players out into four tiers, reflective of a 12 team league, and looked at the average total points of each group.  Something to point out is that I included injuries, suspension and byes. Points are points, and your guys either played or did not. We can’t worry about other variables such as depth chart changes, roster moves etc. We are evaluating Zero RB in a vacuum, isolated away from your ability to work the waiver wire or start the right matchups.

Well after completing this simple analysis, we have our answer folks. At least thus far in the season, the tables have turned in a big way and Zero RB has let you down. Check it out:

  • The top 12 ranked pre-draft RBs (RB1s) have on average outscored the top 12 ranked pre-draft WRs (WR1s) 114 versus 90, or a 24 point difference. Over an eight game stretch that’s a three point difference per player/per game.
  • For the next group of 12 (RB2s), the RBs outscored the WRs (WR2s) 83 versus 73, or a 10 point difference. That’s 1.25 points per player/per game difference thus far. Are you following me?
  • The RBs ranked 25-36 (RB3s) on average have been outscored 55 versus 44 points over the first eight weeks. That’s 1.375 points per player/per game less.
  • Anything different for RBs ranked 37-48 (RB4s)? Nope, it actually gets worse. This group was outscored 50 versus 31 on average. That's 1.58 points per player/per game less.

 
The other data that is pertinent is the drop off in points from RB2 to RB3 and WR2 to WR3. This is around the area that a Zero RB strategy would have you shifting to draft RBs. For RBs, the drop-off from RB2 to RB3 was 39 points on average. Holy Shmoly. For WRs, the drop-off from WR2 to WR3was only 18 points.

 

The Bottom Line

So, what does this data analysis mean? I’ll try and make it as simple as possible with some quick bullets:

  1. The top two tiers of RBs have drastically outperformed the top tiers of WRs. The deficit you had to make up in the later rounds after drafting early RBs was massive.
  2. RB3s and RB4s are performing well below WR3s and WR4s. So when you looked to make up your RB deficit after going early on WRs, you actually widened it.
  3. Zero RB has been flipped on its head, with the data showing that the exact opposite strategy would have reaped you optimal rewards.

Of course, there are and were exceptions as I mentioned above. You may have drafted the exact guys needed to defy this analysis. You may have made up for the deficit mentioned above at QB or TE. But for the most part, Zero RB has been disproven through Week 8.

 

How Did This Happen?

My last article showcased the reason why this is happening. Simply put, RBs are getting more passing targets than ever before.

This trend is decimating the Zero RB argument from both sides of the equation. More RBs are receiving more targets, scoring more in half and full point PPR leagues, and taking targets away from WRs. And most importantly, RBs receiving more targets and in-turn running less is lowering the injury risk. Compound that with an inherently lowered injury risk for many teams employing RBBCs, and you’ve got your secret sauce. Mind Blown.

As always, this has been a fun column to write. Thank for taking some time to read this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic as well. I can be reached on Twitter @BrettMitchellFB.

Sincerely,
Brett Mitchell

 

More Weekly Lineup Prep




More Recent Articles

 

Week 12 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


Colts Conundrum: What To Do With Marlon Mack Hurt

Hello, my name is Eric Samulski, and I spent all my FAAB on Brian Hill last week. Phew! I’m glad we got that out of the way. Now that that’s on the table, we can talk honestly about this week's biggest running back decision: How the Colts will replace Marlon Mack, who just underwent surgery on... Read More


NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 12) - Targets and Avoids

Sunday was one of the worst Sunday's Vegas has had all season and remaining entrants in survivor pools nearly had the same fate. However, the Vikings rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit, the 49ers scored late, and the Cowboys win was much narrower than it should have been. The Saints, Bills, and Ravens took care... Read More


Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 12

Apologies for not making it out last week. I welcomed my daughter into the world, and while I would have loved the distraction of looking at the ability of offensive lines, that wasn't going to happen. Moving onto Week 12, the outcome of your season-long leagues is now taking shape and you know if you... Read More


Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Kenny Golladay

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More


Wide Receiver Leaderboards Entering the Final Stretch - NFL Next Gen Stats

We've consumed our first "double-digit week" set of games. That means we've entered the final part of the season and, in fact, the fantasy football playoffs are closer than you may realize. There are just three more weeks to go until we hit Week 14 and celebrate our presence in the run for the chip,... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Jeff Driskel, Deebo Samuel, Kenyan Drake

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 12

Rotoballers, if you're not active on the waiver wire this time of year, there are only two reasonable explanations: 1) You're sitting at 3-8 (or worse) and don't find it enjoyable to play spoiler to your league mates, or 2) You're 8-3 (or better) and have nothing but matchup-proof studs on your starting lineup and... Read More


FAAB Bidding - Week 12 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More


Week 12 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

This could be the most exciting installment of waiver wire adds in a while. Not that any of these choices are necessarily league-winners but at least we have a bunch of new names to ponder. Bye weeks are nearly over but this one will be particularly tough with the high-scoring Chiefs, Vikings, Chargers, and Cardinals... Read More


Week 12 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Almost out of time to make that last push for the playoffs--no time like the present to squeak out a win because you picked the right defense. Below are RotoBaller's Week 12 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 12 of the NFL and... Read More


Week 12 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

It's Week 12, and the fantasy football playoffs are just around the corner. Teams are jostling for playoff position both in the real world and the fantasy world. You gotta have the right kicker at the right time in the right matchup, and it matters now more than ever. The margin for error in these... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 12. Some of you are concentrating on building lineups that will commandeer a spot in the fantasy playoffs, while others are making slight adjustments to teams that have already secured their place in the postseason.... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

Week 11 is behind us and we're getting closer and closer to the end of the fantasy regular season. For some of us, Week 12 represents the final chance to get into the postseason, while for others we have another week or two left. Here, to help you get ready for the playoffs, is a... Read More


Week 12 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

With fantasy football leagues only a couple weeks away from their playoffs, this is not the time for teams to be short a tight end. Not only do fantasy footballers have no Travis Kelce or Hunter Henry during this crucial week in their fantasy seasons, they do not get to take advantage of using a... Read More