Three Late Round RBs to Own When Going Zero RB

If you’ve been reading RotoViz for any significant amount of time, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Shawn Siegele’s Zero RB article. And while some may disagree after the 2016 “RB revival,” zero RB is a viable strategy in MFL10s, but it requires you to find consistent production in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. Using the RotoViz RB Sim Scores App, I’ve identified three running backs that can fill in two starting spots and help you avoid the dreaded zero in your starting lineup.

Here are three late round RBs to draft if you’ve started off your drafts using the ZeroRB method:

Darren Sproles (ADP 161, RB54)

Darren Sproles’ ADP went on the rise immediately following the NFL Draft, initially rising one full round after day three. However, the upswing has plateaued. Sproles was listed in my boom/bust candidates article in March, but his receiving role within the Eagles’ offense also provides a consistent floor. He finished the 2016 season with 52 total receptions on 71 targets with only three weeks with less than two receptions. 1

Sproles Receiving

Using the RB Sim Scores App, Sproles’ 2017 projection is:


Using the median score for Sproles of 8.8 PPR points per game, he would finish with 140 points over 16 games. In 2016, this would have represented the RB33 season. If he were to reach his higher projection, he’d finish with 172 points resulting in the RB23 season. Currently at RB51, he’s being drafted at his low projection and has a strong opportunity to exceed his draft value.

Chris Thompson (ADP 187, RB59)

Chris Thompson’s 2016 season was the epitome of a high floor, low ceiling pick. Thompson finished with more than ten fantasy points only five times but within the top 36 nine times. While his week seven peak of 18.3 points is unlikely to indicate a week winner, he failed to score at least five points only twice. It’s Thompson’s role in the passing game that has cemented his expected weekly floor. He had 3.1 receptions per week on 3.9 targets according to the RotoViz Screener App.

Thompson Receiving


Thompson’s Sim Score projects a median weekly score of 9.3 points per game. Over a 16 game season, his 148.8 points would represent a 2016 finish of RB28. Washington added only one RB during the off-season, Samaje Perine, who doesn’t project as pass catcher at the NFL level. Barring the late addition of an additional RB, Thompson is likely to retain his role in the passing game and will continue to be a value in drafts.

T.J. Yeldon (ADP 197, RB64)

This is the ultimate unsexy selection in a draft. Yeldon isn’t going to average more than ten points per week and he’s unlikely to be a week winner during the season, but his role in the passing game makes him a viable option during the late rounds. In 2016, Yeldon averaged 3.1 receptions per game over 16 games and 4.25 target per game which was an increase from 2.25 and 2.875 in 2015.


The biggest concern with Yeldon is the addition of Leonard Fournette in the NFL draft. While it’s likely that Fournette will operate as the lead back, there’s historical evidence he may see closer to 50 percent of rushing attempts than 100. Since 2000, only 14 of the 43 first round RB selections have seen 50 percent or more of their team’s rushing attempts. Even if Fournette succeeds in eclipsing 50 percent of the team rush attempts, Yeldon retains his value in the passing game which is where his floor value comes from.


Using the RB Sim Scores app, Yeldon’s expected floor is approximately 4.0 PPR points per game (64 points for the season) which represented an RB63 finish in 2016. His median projection of 6.7 points per game (107.2 season points), would have finished 45th among RBs. At his current 17th round ADP, Yeldon is a low-risk pick with the potential to outperform his positional ADP.


None of these RB selections are likely to have flashy seasons that seal your league win, but they have an ancillary role for a team drafting WRs in the premium rounds. Since the draft-only format doesn’t allow for the waiver wire scouring associated with the true ZeroRB method, finding consistent production is a must for teams hoping to compete.

  1. Including one missed week.  (back)