The Zero RB draft strategy has become an increasingly popular approach for fantasy football managers looking to gain an edge in their leagues. While unconventional, this strategy, when executed properly, can provide teams with a major advantage at wide receiver and other positions.
Here is a comprehensive guide on how to leverage the Zero RB strategy to build a juggernaut team and dominate your 2023 fantasy football season.
What is the Zero RB Strategy?
The Zero RB strategy involves minimizing investment in the running back position during the early and middle rounds of your fantasy draft. Instead of following the standard approach of drafting running backs in the first two or three rounds, Zero RB drafters load up on elite wide receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks early.
Running backs are then drafted in the later middle to late rounds, focusing on high-upside backups, rookies, and players in ambiguous backfield roles. The goal is to find “lottery ticket” running backs with league-winning potential rather than paying high prices for players unlikely to return significant value compared to their average draft position (ADP).
Why Use the Zero RB Strategy in 2023?
There are several reasons why deploying the Zero RB approach in 2023 can pay major dividends:
- Increased Committee Backfields – The days of true “bellcow” running backs are dwindling. Committees have become more prevalent, capping the upside of individual running backs.
- Unpredictability – Running back production fluctuates more year-to-year compared to other positions. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
- Injury Risk – Running backs suffer injuries at a higher rate than other positions. Your early RB pick getting hurt can ruin your fantasy season.
- Rookie Depth – The 2023 RB draft class is loaded with talent, providing fallback options.
- League Winners on Waivers – Breakout RBs emerge on waivers every year. Being aggressive here is key.
- Positional Scarcity – The drop-off between elite WRs and average ones is steeper than at RB. Getting top-tier WRs early is crucial.
How to Implement the Zero RB Strategy
Here are some tips for effectively executing a Zero RB draft strategy:
- Pass on drafting any RBs until at least Round 6, preferably Round 7 or later.
- Strongly prioritize drafting elite WRs in Rounds 1-5. Targets include Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, and A.J Brown among others.
- Don’t reach for middling RBs in Rounds 3-5. This is where you leverage your WR advantage.
- Draft upside at QB and TE early. Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews are great Zero RB targets.
- Fill your bench with RB lottery tickets. Think handcuffs like Alexander Mattison and Breece Hall.
- Be aggressive mining the waiver wire for emerging backs. Don’t be afraid to move on quickly from draftees who don’t pan out.
- Make trades to strengthen your RB position as the season progresses. Your WR strength gives you trade capital.
Zero RB 2023 Draft Targets
Here are some of the best running backs to target in the middle and late rounds if executing a Zero RB approach in 2023:
- Kenneth Walker III – Should take over lead role in high-scoring Seattle offense.
- AJ Dillon – Potential workhorse if Aaron Jones gets injured or underperforms.
- Rachaad White – Expected to see significant passing down work and upside for more in Tampa.
- Khalil Herbert – Showed promise last year and could win Chicago’s RB1 job outright.
- Jerome Ford – Top backup behind injury-prone Nick Chubb in potent Cleveland rushing attack.
- James Cook – Talented pass-catcher who could carve out a sizable role in Buffalo.
- Isaiah Spiller / Joshua Kelley – Keep an eye out for who wins the back up job to Ekeler. Ekeler does not play every down in this Chargers’ offense.
- Zamir White – Gruden loves using multiple backs. White could emerge alongside Jacobs in Vegas.
- Tyler Allgeier – Should get lots of action along with Bijan Robinson
- Brian Robinson – Underrated talent who could take command of Washington’s rushing workload.
Zero RB Draft Strategy
The Zero RB draft strategy remains a viable approach to gaining an advantage in 2023 fantasy drafts. By avoiding the unpredictability and fragility of the early RB market and instead prioritizing elite WRs and scarcer positions, you set yourself up to have a dominant roster by the halfway point of the season after mining the waiver wire for RB breakouts. Take on the contrarian Zero RB philosophy this year and watch your team rise to the top of the standings.