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]

Why Zero RB Will Work In 2019


James Conner, Phillip Lindsay, Damien Williams, Gus Edwards, Austin Ekeler. In the final month of the 2018 fantasy season, these five running backs were regularly ranking amongst the top-20 at the position, often as high as top-10 or top-five. One thing they all had in common: None of them even sniffed the top 100 preseason rankings for 2018 fantasy drafts. In standard leagues, Williams and Edwards couldn’t be found on rosters until around Week 8.

Try and play that same game with wide receiver. Tyler Boyd is probably the best name you could come up with in terms of someone who was a super late draft pick and who you could regularly and confidently start by season’s end. After that, maybe Tyler Lockett, Kenny Golladay and D.J. Moore, but those three were all regular top 150 picks.

The problem with waiting to take wide receivers in your drafts is that the likelihood of finding a week-to-week stud either in the late rounds or on the waiver wire is very small compared to running back. Any injury to a lead running back opens up the potential for a starting-caliber fantasy running back. But an injured #1 wide receiver doesn’t typically pave the same path. Do you necessarily need to start (or want to start) the #1 receivers for the Redskins, Dolphins, Cardinals or Giants? Yet at the same time, the #1 running backs for those abysmal offenses are all being drafted regularly in the first five-or-so rounds, with two being regular first-round picks. The guaranteed workload of a Saquon Barkley or Christian McCaffrey is tough to pass up, but there are several reasons why passing on them might be the best option for the makeup of your team.

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!

 

Abundance of Mid-Round RB Options

If you wait until the third round of your draft to take your first RB, some of the options you’re likely to have available include Chris Carson, Kerryon Johnson and Devonta Freeman. Two of those three RBs play on elite offenses and all three could realistically have just as good of a year as someone like David Johnson or Nick Chubb, both of whom currently cost you first-round picks.

But the third round’s no fun for zero RB supporters. Let’s dig deeper.

Let’s say fifth round. You’ve drafted two or three receivers as well as a tight end or quarterback (or both). If you’re in a 10-team league, some of the guys you could be looking at with ADPs outside the top 40-45 include Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay and Tevin Coleman. In 12-team leagues, Lindsay with an ADP of 56 could still be on the table as well as Coleman (61), but some more sure-thing options include James White (66), Miles Sanders (68) and Duke Johnson (69).

Not loving those last three options? Fine. I get it. White’s volatile from week-to-week, Sanders and Johnson have workload concerns. Totally fair. How about some more options in that range…

  • Latavius Murray (ADP: 73) – The successor to Ingram’s role in New Orleans, should see around 8-10 touches per game in a dominant rushing offense. Becomes elite if Kamara is out.
  • Austin Ekeler (74) – Current lead back for an elite Chargers offense.
  • Derrius Guice (75) – Probable lead back for an anemic offense, but with opportunities aplenty and an undeniable skillset.
  • Kenyan Drake (76) – Another victim of an anemic offense, but with a track record of strong fantasy production.
  • Tarik Cohen (78) – Finished 11th at the position in PPR last year. No need to say more.
  • Matt Breida (92) – Finished 26th at the position in PPR last year, part of an extremely fantasy-friendly Kyle Shanahan offense.

In rounds five through eight, zero RB drafters should be selecting four of these guys. It’s not only realistic, but likely, that two or three of these guys will perform as weekly top-10 or top-15 RBs during some point of the season. You don’t need to guess the exact one, or at what point in the season they’ll be most relevant. The goal is to take as many as you can from this group and bank on having at least two of them perform sufficiently for you at any given time in the season.

It might not be as clean of a method as plugging in Barkley as your weekly starter throughout the year, but that Barkley owner sure is going to be jealous of your wide receiver situation, which takes us to our next point…

 

Top-Heavy WR Position

If you miss out on one of the top 8-10 receivers, it’s very likely that you are going to be regularly suffering at the position. In fact, in an ideal zero RB draft, you would end up with either two top-10 WRs or one top-10 WR and Travis Kelce.

Antonio Brown (WR9) and Keenan Allen (WR10) are the two borderline WR1s right now. Brown could suffer greatly from his new offense. Allen should be a fine WR1 in PPR but his TD deficiency makes him more of a high-end WR2 in non-PPR.

Meanwhile, the top eight guys – DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Evans – should deliver either strong yardage or a touchdown (or both) most weeks, which is a reliability that you just can’t find as you look into the depths of the position more.

Here are some of the top WR2 options on the board after Brown and Allen…

  • Adam Thielen (WR11) – Started last season on fire, but finished the year with under 40 receiving yards in four of his last eight games and only topped 100 yards once in that stretch.
  • Amari Cooper (WR12) – Over nine games with Dallas last year, Cooper had two monstrous games, but those were his only games with over 80 receiving yards and he failed to top 40 receiving yards on four occasions.
  • T.Y. Hilton (WR13) – His last season without Andrew Luck was far and away his worst with just 57 catches for 966 yards and four touchdowns.
  • Stefon Diggs (WR14) – Eight times last year Diggs failed to reach 50 receiving yards in a game. Eight.
  • Brandin Cooks (WR15) – The most consistent of this group, but Cooks was still under 40 receiving yards in two of his last four games and scored just five receiving touchdowns on the year.

The Barkley owner is likely looking at one of these five guys above as his WR1. Or if he goes with another running back in the second round, he’s digging even deeper for his first receiver.

It only gets hazier after this 10-15 group. In 12-team leagues where you’re starting three WRs, some of your options on the outskirts of the top-36 WRs include Dede Westbrook, Will Fuller, Sammy Watkins, Christian Kirk, Curtis Samuel. Those are wide receivers 32 through 36 by ADP right now.

Go a little deeper (37-42) and you’re looking at Corey Davis, Marvin Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, Sterling Shepard, Dante Pettis and Larry Fitzgerald.

Now I’m not saying there isn’t some upside here, but what I am saying is that for weekly starter options, you NEED to find a way to prioritize the position so you aren’t stuck starting Larry Fitzgerald as your weekly WR3. As a bye week fill-in, sure. Fine. But as a weekly starter, it is very tough to rely on anyone in this 32-42 range.

Things are slightly better if you’re in a ten-team, three-WR league with guys like D.J. Moore, Alshon Jeffery, Josh Gordon, Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry slotting in at 26 through 30 at the position. And if you’re only starting two wide receivers, the options are of course even better, but the general problem remains the same. The drop-off from starting Mike Evans as a WR2 to Chris Godwin or Kenny Golladay as a WR2 is immense. The workloads for Godwin and Golladay are going to fluctuate heavily from week-to-week, whereas running backs taken in the same range as them like Marlon Mack, David Montgomery and Ingram (ADPs in the 40s), should be locks for around 20 touches on a weekly basis.

 

Top-Heavy TE Position

Everything said above for WRs can be echoed here, only to an even greater degree. The top three tight ends, Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz, should be weekly studs in your lineup, putting you ahead of your competition.

The next three after that, O.J. Howard, Evan Engram and Hunter Henry, could also put you ahead of your competitor or at least in the same ballpark if they have one of the top three.

But if you miss out on that top six, you could find yourself grasping at straws for a TE starter every single week.

In PPR leagues, Kelce (294 pts) scored more than double the amount of points as the #8 tight end, Trey Burton (147 pts). Ertz (280) and Kittle (258) weren’t too far behind Kelce.

 

Abundance of Late-Round and Waiver Wire RB Options

Once you get into the ninth round and double-digit rounds, there are still some extremely intriguing, high-upside flyer running backs. Just a few of the names include Devin Singletary, Kalen Ballage, Ronald Jones, Jaylen Samuels and Alexander Mattison.

Ballage and Jones could be starting in week one, Samuels and Mattison could have big roles in strong offenses and Singletary could emerge as a #1 in Buffalo.

But then there’s more. So many more that they can’t all be summed up here in a timely fashion. If Aaron Jones goes down, Jamaal Williams is an instant top-20 RB. If Le’Veon Bell struggles or goes down, Ty Montgomery becomes a potential star. Giovani Bernard excelled with Joe Mixon out last year. Gus Edwards helped people win leagues last year and is next up after Ingram in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense.

Again, the methodology might not be as neat and tidy as the easy plugging in of those top-drafted bell-cows each week, but if the zero RB strategy is executed the correct way and you can build a roster with two stud WRs and a reliable WR3 if needed, a top-three or top-six TE, a QB when the value is right and then a stable of flyer RBs assembled through both the draft and the waiver wire, you’re going to be happy with how your team performs.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




More Recent Articles

 

Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More


Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

You have to love fantasy football. You have to, otherwise you would have given up by now. In a week that most likely represented the first matchup of the fantasy playoffs or a must-win in some form for the vast majority of players, we were treated to the following: Alvin Kamara netting three fantasy points,... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

It is almost inconceivable that we are progressing into the second week of fantasy postseason matchups. Congratulations to those of you whose teams are still competing in the playoffs. Your meticulous planning during the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to win your leagues' championships. This critical week provides the opportunity to... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

Week 15 is upon us, which means that even the holdovers who play in leagues with four team playoffs and no byes are now in fantasy playoff mode. This is it: the home stretch. Are there any wide receivers left on the waiver wire who can help you in the playoffs? Let's look at some... Read More


Week 15 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football season is over, either because you did not make your league’s playoffs or because you have had enough of failing in DFS contests, then this column is not for you. Congratulations if you HAVE qualified for your fantasy league’s playoffs! To reach the postseason you must have received some decent play... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs in almost in the books, and if you're fortunate enough to have advanced then it's already time to start thinking about Week 15 lineups, especially for those who stream quarterbacks. Luckily, there are plenty of viable options available as eliminated owners have stopped making moves, and if you... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 15 Lightning Round

An injury-laden Week 14 decided many matchups, with several big names going down in a Red Wedding-esque affair. Not only was Josh Jacobs was a late inactive, but Jared Cook, Devante Parker, Albert Wilson all left with concussions, Mike Evans pulled up with a hamstring injury, Calvin Ridley and Ryan Griffin hurt their ankles, Derrius... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 14 Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Jared Cook has been ruled out of the game after... Read More


Monday Night Fantasy Football Starts/Sits - Week 14

Finally, we had a good fantasy matchup last week. And now, as punishment, we get this. The Eagles against the Giants is a good rivalry game. But for fantasy? Not so much. Even key players Saquon Barkley and Carson Wentz have been severely disappointing in 2019. The game is not going to be something to... Read More


Week 14 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 14... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More


Updated Week 14 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 14 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 14 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Will Fuller (hamstring) is expected to miss Week 14. Adam Thielen (hamstring) has officially been ruled out. Le'Veon Bell... Read More


Fantasy Football Mailbag - Q&A for Week 14

This article's content may vary week-to-week, but generally, it will be answering questions fielded from either the @RotoBallerNFL twitter account or my personal one (@RotoSurgeon). This week, the focus is on start/sit questions, and there were plenty. Every week, many of us struggle with which quarterback to start, or who to flex, and I am... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 14

Welcome to our Week 14 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More


Wide Receiver Matchups To Target In Week 14

In Week 13, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were the high-end options that had great matchups. Adams had a huge two-touchdown game while Hill only came up with 55 scoreless yards, falling victim to game flow as the Chiefs led from start to finish, scoring a defensive touchdown in the process. Several of the wide receivers... Read More


Week 14 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