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Fantasy Football Mock Draft Strategies: Zero RB (2020)

Fantasy Football Mock Draft Strategies: Zero RB (2020)

Mock drafts are a crucial part of your offseason preparations. They help you follow trends in players’ average draft positions (ADP) and where they sit in our expert consensus rankings (ECR).

They also allow you to experiment with different draft strategies. You can punt running backs (Zero RB), wide receivers (Zero WR), quarterbacks, or tight ends. While you won’t be able to rely on many late-round or streaming options at running back or wide receiver, you can employ a draft strategy where you do that at quarterback or tight end.

Punting a position helps you secure an advantage at other positions. It’s usually unwise to punt on running backs, but it can pay off if you find some diamonds in the rough. You will probably need to start taking running backs — and a lot of them — by the fourth or fifth round.

This year, FantasyPros is debuting a tool to help you stick to that strategy in your mocks. Just start up a draft, click the gear next to “Summary,” and choose your plan from the drop-down list. In this article, I’ll try out our Zero RB option for a 12-team PPR league with rosters of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 WR/RB/TE, and 7 BN. The client assigned me the tenth spot, which is a good one from which to try Zero RB.

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The Picks

1.10 Julio Jones (WR – ATL)
I landed the best receiver available at this spot. Jones has been an incredibly consistent receiver, as he’s finished as a WR1 every year since 2014. He’s been a high-end WR1, too, as he finishes (from 2019 to 2014) were WR3, WR4, WR7, WR6, WR2, and WR6. He’s a known quantity, and I’ll keep taking him until the Falcons start to move away from him.

Players also considered: Tyreek Hill.

2.03 Tyreek Hill (WR – KC)
If Jones is a high-floor option, Hill brings the upside. Since entering the league in 2016, he’s posted a pair of WR1 finishes (WR3, WR9), and he may have had another if not for injuries last year. Hill’s exceptional athleticism means that he can turn even limited usage into weekly WR1 results. You just can’t say that about any receiver left on the board right here.

Players also considered: None.

3.10 Zach Ertz (TE – PHI)
I had a difficult time pulling the trigger on Ertz. Not only is he entering his age-30 season, but he’s also bound to face competition from Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor. That said, Ertz earned the 12th-most targets among all receivers in 2019 at 135. Even if Goedert and Reagor picked up, say, a quarter of those (33), he’d still have 100-plus targets, and that leaves him in high-end TE1 range. I ended up going with Ertz over a WR3 due to the positional scarcity at tight end.

Players also considered: Robert Woods, Calvin Ridley.

4.03 Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL)
I was thankful that one of my preferred WR3 options slid to me here. Ridley’s 2020 season could mirror Chris Godwin‘s 2019, and I’m projecting him to finish as a WR1. The losses of Devonta Freeman, Austin Hooper, Mohamed Sanu, and Justin Hardy leave 158 targets up for grabs, and he already had 93 last year, so there’s plenty of volume for him.

Players also considered: None.

5.10 David Johnson (RB – HOU)
It’s time to start digging myself out of this hole at running back. Johnson has had the offseason to get healthy, and the Texans will want to get the most out of his loaded contract. Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson totaled 14 scores and almost 2,000 yards last year, and even if David has to split time with Duke, he’s the best option on the board to lead my running back committee. While I love Jonathan Taylor’s upside, the fact that he’s a rookie in a coronavirus-altered season makes him too risky to be my RB1…

Players also considered: Jonathan Taylor.

6.03 Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND)
…but not too risky to be my RB2. The Colts have a stacked offensive line with guys like Quenton Nelson and Anthony Castonzo, and Taylor has the collegiate production and athleticism to break out in year one. Yes, he’ll have to beat in Marlon Mack, but he should see enough reps to have a solid RB2 floor from the get-go.

Players also considered: None.

7.10 Cam Akers (RB – LAR)
I went with another rookie runner in the seventh. I like Akers’ situation a lot, as his only real competition (for now — Los Angeles could add another guy before September) is Darrell Henderson. Akers excelled behind a terrible offensive line in college, and he’ll have to do the same to be fantasy-relevant for the Rams. Todd Gurley’s RB14 finish in 2019 proved it can be done, and I am not worried about rotating Akers into my lineups some weeks. I almost went with Kyler Murray instead, but I didn’t feel comfortable committing to a quarterback before I had at least four running backs.

Players also considered: Kyler Murray, D’Andre Swift.

8.03 D’Andre Swift (RB – DET)
Fourth running back, third rookie. I’m not a huge fan of Swift, as he could’ve done more in college, but the Lions demonstrated their commitment to him by selecting him in the second round. The Lions’ offensive line isn’t great, and Detroit has struggled to produce fantasy running backs, but Swift is purely a rotational piece in this lineup. Since he’s my RB4, I can monitor his battle with Kerryon Johnson before inserting him into my lineup.

Players also considered: None.

9.10 Matt Ryan (QB – ATL)
I committed to my Falcons stack with this pick. I expect Atlanta to score a lot in 2020, and the data proves that the best fantasy quarterbacks come from the highest-scoring offenses

Players also considered: Jordan Howard.

10.03 Jordan Howard (RB – MIA)
To be blunt, rookies scare me in 2020. We don’t know what the preseason is going to look like (if it happens at all), so it could take some time for newbies to get up to speed. With that in mind, I wanted a veteran whom I could trust to start if need be, and Howard fits the bill. He joins a team with a revamped offensive line headed by Chan Gailey, whose time with the New York Jets produced an RB1 season for Chris Ivory (RB12, 14 games) and an RB2 season for Matt Forte (RB22, 13 games). Yes, he’ll have to compete with Matt Breida, but Howard fits Gailey’s offense better.

Players also considered: None.

11.10 Alexander Mattison (RB – MIN)
Mattison enters the RB2 conversation if Dalvin Cook holds out. He’ll only carry starting value for a few weeks, but that could be just the time my rookies need to become fantasy-relevant. Even if Cook doesn’t hold out, Mattison is a high-value handcuff in Minnesota’s run-heavy offense. I also liked Zack Moss here, but I just couldn’t let myself get another rookie runner.

Players also considered: Zack Moss.

12.03 Tony Pollard (RB – DAL)
I wanted another high-upside handcuff to finish off my running back committee, and Pollard fits the bill perfectly. He had two games with 100-plus rushing yards last year, so we know he can run behind Dallas’ star-studded offensive line. Yes, there’s a chance he never gets to start, but his RB2 upside is too much to pass up. I also like Chase Edmonds and Ito Smith as high-upside handcuffs, but Pollard is more proven and has better blocking.

Players also considered: Chase Edmonds, Ito Smith.

13.10 N’Keal Harry (WR – NE)
I haven’t taken a receiver since Round 4. This late, I want guys with upside, and Harry is a fantastic late-round upside pick. Tom Brady didn’t have the arm strength to capitalize on Harry’s speed last season, and Jarrett Stidham or Cam Newton could better utilize the first-round pick. There’s not much risk in taking him as a bye-week replacement WR4, and I could easily drop him for a higher-volume option if things fall apart.

Players also considered: Mecole Hardman.

14.03 Mecole Hardman (WR – KC)
Hardman makes my fourth wide receiver with a Week 10 bye. I’ll either need to trade or drop two players to adjust accordingly, but until then, he’ll act insurance for Tyreek Hill while providing his own upside. Hardman has freakish speed, and he showcased that by scoring six times on just 26 targets in 2019. I considered taking a higher-volume option here, but most of the guys that I like will be available off waivers anyway.

Players also considered: Cole Beasley, Danny Amendola, Larry Fitzgerald, Russell Gage.

15.10 Joe Burrow (QB – CIN)
Week 10 will be a challenge, as I must replace almost my entire receiving corps and my quarterback. I think that Burrow will make an excellent QB1 that week, as he takes on the Texans, and he has enough upside that I could rotate him into my lineup when the Falcons face a tough defense.

Players also considered: None.

The Results

I earned an 88/100. That’s about as good as you can get with a Zero RB strategy, and I don’t recommend the approach.

The client ranks me first at receiver, third at tight end, fifth at flex, eighth at quarterback, and last at running back. While Johnson is the league’s worst RB1, Taylor ranks as just the third-worst RB2 — not bad for a sixth-round pick!

Despite my B+ grade, I am not comfortable with this roster. Even with my careful stacking, one injury could torpedo my paper-thin receiving corps, and there’s no guarantee that any of my running backs are better than RB3s. The fact that I had to take seven of them just to feel comfortable at the position kept me from taking other players that would’ve made sense for this roster, like Dallas Goedert and a WR6.

Fantasy football is a game of risk, and Zero RB increases it too much for me even in the best-case scenario.

Full Draft Board

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

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