Running Backs To Target For Zero RB Drafters In 2017

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In the first part of my Zero RB analysis, I discussed why Zero RB will be a winning strategy in 2017 and why the value of running backs league-wide is headed for regression. In this article, I will discuss some of my favorite Zero RB targets for fantasy football leagues this season.

The Zero RB strategy can be employed many different ways, so in this piece I will list ideal running back target in order of average round selected.

Note: I will be using PPR ADP data from FantasyFootballCalculator.

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RB Targets for Zero RB Strategists

Mark Ingram (RB, NOS) ADP: 7.03

Thanks to the signing of Adrian Peterson, Ingram has seen his fantasy stock plummet. This is great for those of us who are starting wide receiver heavy in our drafts. Despite only receiving 205 carries in 2016 Ingram piled up 1,043 yards and 6 touchdowns. He's also caught 96 passes the last two seasons combined. Over those two seasons he has finished as PPR RB15 and RB10. Peterson, meanwhile, is coming off knee surgery and is 32 years old. He didn't look good when healthy in 2015 and at worst this should be a 50/50 split. If Peterson really has lost it, or if he can't stay healthy, Ingram has big upside for a seventh round pick.

Other 7th rounders to target: Paul Perkins (RB, NYG) ADP: 7.01, Frank Gore (RB, IND) ADP: 7.09, Theo Riddick (RB, DET) ADP: 7.10

 

C.J. Prosise (RB, SEA) ADP: 8.07

In the six games Prosise played in 2017 he did not disappoint. He turned 30 carries into 172 yards and one touchdown while adding 17 receptions for another 208 yards. With Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls likely splitting early down carries, Prosise should assume the third down role. He could have similar value to Danny Woodhead who is being drafted two rounds earlier.

Other 8th rounders to target: Latavius Murray (RB, MIN) ADP: 8.07

 

Rob Kelley (RB, WAS) ADP: 9.05

Despite being the current starter for the Redskins and playing well in his first NFL season, fantasy drafters just can't help themselves. Rookie teammate Samaje Perine is being drafted a full round ahead of him. I expect Kelley to begin the year as the starter and at worst this to become a RBBC. The upside is that Kelley keeps the job and you get a starting running back in the ninth round who had 786 scrimmage yards and 7 touchdowns despite not starting a full season. Perine has definite limitations in the passing game, so Kelley can't be dismissed outright as many drafters seem to be doing.

Other 9th rounders to target: Matt Forte (RB, NYJ) ADP: 9.06, James White (RB, NEP) ADP: 9.12

 

Duke Johnson (RB, CLE) ADP: 11.05

Coming off a rookie season in which he amassed 913 scrimmage yards with 61 receptions, Johnson was a sexy mid-round pick in 2016. Unfortunately, he disappointed as his usage dropped considerably. The good news is his role in the passing game remained largely unchanged. He received the same number of targets in 2016 as he did in 2015 and totaled just 20 less receiving yards. His carries dropped by 30 but his efficiency went way up as he increased from 3.6 YPC to 4.9. Now in his third year as head coach, I expect Hue Jackson to use Isaiah Crowell and Johnson in a similar fashion to Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard in Cincinnati. If that happens Johnson could see a big increase in his usage and fantasy value.

 

Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, TAM) ADP: 12.07

I wrote about Rodgers in my Best Ball Sleepers article so I'll quickly cover the aspects I like. He is likely to be the starter for the first three weeks of the season while Doug Martin is suspended. In the five games where he saw at least 15 carries in 2016, he totaled 14.8, 15.8, 17.3, 17.9 and 8.9 PPR points. That 8.9 game came against Carolina, one of 2016's best rush defenses. The Bucs don't seem to be fully committed to Martin, so Rodgers could still have a big role even when Martin comes back. At worst you get a starting running back for three weeks, at best you get one for 16 weeks.

Other 12th rounders to target: Dion Lewis (RB, NEP) ADP: 12.04 

 

Darren Sproles (RB, PHI) ADP: 13.04

I also wrote about Sproles in my Best Ball Sleepers article. Sproles is the quintessential Zero RB pick. At his ADP, he presents very little risk with big upside. Over the last two years he has 107 receptions with 1,571 total yards and eight touchdowns. He should continue to be heavily involved in the Eagles passing game and will get his share of carries as well. Donnel Pumphrey may inherit his job next year, but Sproles should still be efficient for the time being.

Other 13th rounders to target: Gio Bernard (RB, CIN) ADP: 13.11

 

DeAndre Washington (RB, OAK) ADP: 14.06

If not for the signing of Marshawn Lynch, Washington would likely be a mid-round draft pick. Running behind one of the leagues best offensive lines in the league, Washington turned 87 carries into 467 yards (5.4 YPC) and two touchdowns. Lynch will likely be the starter, but Washington will still get touches. Should Lynch not perform well coming out of retirement, it will likely be Washington's job. He's worth the risk with one of your last draft picks.

Other 14th rounders to target: Charles Sims (RB, TB) ADP: 14.03, Chris Thompson (RB, WAS) ADP: 14.07

 

More 2017 Fantasy Football & ADP Analysis