If you haven’t been reading him this season, Jack Miller has been on fire. As I get ready to release the 2020 Zero RB Candidates Countdown, I’m often drawn to one of his signature pieces, Recency Bias and Why Zero RB Is Poised to Crush in 2020. It’s a vintage Jack piece, so it’ll challenge your preconceptions, deliver research insights you weren’t expecting, and, in this case, even explain the psychology behind some of the bizarre decisions owners are making this season.
Readers and listeners often ask me, “Is this a good season for Zero RB?” Jack’s answer is yes, and mine is as well. In fact, there are four perfect storm conditions that make Zero RB a better play this year than in any season in recent memory.
1. Running Backs are Wildly Overdrafted
In Jack’s article he pointed out that RBs are more expensive than they’ve been at any point in the last five years. This is true across all tiers and by margins that are difficult to grasp. For example, the average RB13-18 is going 21 picks earlier than in 2016.
Why does this continue to happen after the top RBs annually underperform? Check out the 10 earliest-drafted backs of the last five years.
Yes, we all want the 2019 Christian McCaffrey, but to get him, we need the 1.01. Even with that pick, there are no guarantees. Three of the four backs with an average ADP below 2.0 returned a win rate of 5.0% or less.
By contrast, consider how our Zero RB lists have performed over the last five years.
- Our 2015 Zero RB list included the No. 1 overall RB (Devonta Freeman).
- Our 2016 list featured a breakout star and RB5 in PPG (Melvin Gordon).
- Our 2017 list included RB3 Kareem Hunt and RB4 Alvin Kamara.
- Our 2018 list featured five of the top-10 backs in Win Rate.
- Our 2019 list featured 313-point scoring Austin Ekeler and Miles Sanders.
Then think about this.
Last season DeAndre Hopkins was selected No. 5 overall and scored 17.9 PPG. He’s now dropped to No. 21 overall.
Joe Mixon was drafted No. 16 overall, scored 14.1 PPG and has risen to No. 11. It would be one thing if Hopkins’ was a flash-in-the-pan, but as the only player with two WR1 overall finishes in the last five years, he’s a top candidate to finish No. 1 overall again in 2020.