The fantasy draft season is upon us and it’s time to dive into hero RB and zero RB strategies.
I am a believer in the hero running back or zero-RB approaches, but for these draft strategies to be successful you need to be well disciplined to avoid the best value RBs in your draft spots.
The two strategies have picked up a lot of steam recently with the pass-happy NFL.
What makes these two strategies more successful in the recent seasons is the lack of healthy running backs.
Only six played in all 17 games of the top 20 fantasy RBs in 2021. Three of them – Javonte Williams, Devin Singletary and Darrel Williams – played in running backs by committee backfields.
All of the Top 20 WRs played 16 or 17 games except for one – Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin, who missed the final three games with an ACL tear.
Let’s get into the approaches!
This one is the easier strategy. It allows you to draft a top RB in the first or second rounds.
But once you have your RB, you will need to be very discipline to not to dip back into the RB pool.
The No. 1 running back position is much easier to replace during the regular season than trying to find No. 1 wide receiver.
Your draft position plays a role on who you should take in the first round.
In a 12-team, PPR-league, the early picks allow you take a Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry or Christian McCaffrey. If any of those four are still there in the middle to late portions of the first round I would snag one of them.
But it can be tricky late in the first round!
You will have some tough decisions, but I would lean toward taking an elite WR before taking your hero RB in the second round.
Do not look at the RB pool again until after the fifth round.
Now is the time to gobble up all the top WRs or tight ends and even be gutsy and take an elite QB in rounds 3-5.
The strategy says it all – do not draft a RB until the fifth round!
You will more than likely be taking an elite QB in those first five picks along with elite WRs and a top-tier TE.
That icky feeling you may have from drafting RBs early in previous years will subside when your top WRs are outscoring your opponents’ WRs.
Late Round Targets in Zero RB/Hero RB
– Melvin Gordon III, Denver: Javonte Williams should be 1A in this RBBC this year, but the two combined for more than 2,300 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. With a capable QB in Russell Wilson running the show, the backfield duo could have an even bigger season.
– Kareem Hunt, Cleveland: Hunt may be the best running back in the league without a starting job as he continues to be the No. 2 behind Nick Chubb. But Hunt is no slouch even in a shared role. He produced five games with a least 10.2 points in his eight games played last season.
– Tony Pollard, Dallas: If Ezekiel Elliott continues to show wear and tear, Pollard’s role may continue to expand in the Cowboys’ offense. Pollard scored at least 6.7 points in 12 of 15 games last season. He may see time in the slot early this season.
– Darrell Henderson Jr., LA Rams: Henderson Jr. will be available in the mid to late rounds this season. He played in 12 games and scored 13.3 or more points in seven in of those games. With no Sony Michel, Henderson is in prime position if Cam Akers’ leg injury issues pop back up.
– AJ Dillon, Green Bay: Dillon started to have more of a 1B role instead late last season and his role should expand in the passing game. The departures of Devante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling open up more than 200 targets. And Dillion scored more than 7.0 points a game from Week 9-17.
– Darrel Williams, Arizona: This play has more to do with James Conner’s ability to stay healthy for a whole season. Conner managed to play in 15 games last season, a career high. But, Williams proved he can handle the lead role last season at Kansas City. In games he touched the ball more than 14 times, he averaged more than 19 points a game.
Check out my Boom-Bust stories on RB, QB, WR and TE!
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