Shawn Siegele profiles a Zero RB squad’s run to the playoffs, breaks down the five biggest AFC backfield developments ahead of Week 12, and names the one deep player he’s stashing in every league with an eye to the fantasy playoffs.
Throughout the offseason, we write at length about Zero RB and all of the reasons it provides a competitive advantage in your leagues. Some in the community believe the strategy is more of a thought experiment and not a viable redraft approach, especially not in 2020, several years into the return of the uber-back.
We disagreed. Everything was in place for Zero RB to crush, especially if you were picking with a late draft slot. A couple of weeks ago, I detailed the way in which WR-WR starts were dominating these late slots, while the RB Dead Zone was once again a graveyard for drafters.
But can you actually turn a Zero RB team into a playoff squad and championship contender during a season where Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook are averaging over 25 points per game?
It’s incumbent upon Zero RB enthusiasts to demonstrate that our method can win in real leagues, and the FFPC’s high-stakes format certainly qualifies. In the Week 12 Zero RB Watch, Blair Andrews and I will each break down such a squad. Blair will take our co-owned Main Event, while I’ll look at an FPC league drafted with the scintillating trio of Peter Overzet, Patrick Kerrane, and Ben Gretch.
For readers who just want the AFC breakdown and my must-stash playoff hammer, hop down to the normal writeup.
We drafted out of the No. 12 slot and were ecstatic when George Kittle slid to us. In TE Premium formats, a star TE provides an advantage that’s impossible to locate later. We then took seven consecutive WRs, with the only exception being Deshaun Watson in Round 7. Readers often ask me why we select more WRs than we can start, and my answer is always that you have to protect against injuries and underperformance. We endured both. Courtland Sutton and Jalen Reagor were knocked out early, while JuJu Smith-Schuster is merely a solid starter instead of an impact performer.
Can an injury-ravaged squad make the playoffs in the RB-heavy FFPC with a roster that selected its first RB in Round 10?
Week 1: We bench Nyheim Hines and his 27 points but get 38 from Malcom Brown and Zack Moss. We score 151 in the loss. Points Rank: 5.
Week 2: A.J. Brown is out, and Sutton is iffy. We start three RBs and get a combined 10 points from the trio, not to mention a zero from Will Fuller. Sutton plays but is lost for the season. George Kittle tweaks his knee and will sit the following week. We slide to 0-2 and sit 11th in points. Things look very bleak.
Week 3: Jeffery Wilson scores 22 and is even in the lineup when he does it! We win but still rank No. 11 in points.
Week 4: Wilson falls back to earth and our RBs total less than 10 total points, but Kittle erupts with 48 points in his return. We win again and are suddenly fifth in points.
Week 5: Watson goes off for 30 but everything else goes wrong. The RBs again fail to break the 10-point threshold combined, and we leave Brown’s 21 points on the bench. A 110-point game facilitates a slide back to No. 11 in points.
Week 6: This time Hines and Moss barely break five points. What’s worse, Tyreek Hill and Smith-Schuster combine for only 8.1. Fortunately, 20-plus performances from Fuller, Brown, and Kittle buoyed by a 35-point game from Watson propel us to 142. We get back to even at 3-3 and rise back to sixth in points.
Week 7: Christian Kirk makes an appearance and puts up 20, helping the squad to 150 points and a 4-3 record. We’re still in sixth in points but only 34 back of a playoff spot.
Week 8: Our RBs put up 41 points, with two more double-digit scores on the bench! Hill scores 26 and things look good heading into the afternoon game … where our starting QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, exits with 3.6 points. But the real blow is the season-ending injury to our first-round pick. Kittle is done. All is lost.
Week 9: All is not lost! Our WRs combine for 95 points, Watson chips in 27 more, and we even get 22 from our K/DEF combo. With 171 points we’re suddenly only three points out of a playoff spot.
Week 10: We just can’t string two weeks together. Hines puts up 28 points, but six starters finish in single digits. With 110 points, we’re out of . . . wait, it’s a low-scoring week overall. We’re somehow only down nine points, although in any move to overtake fourth, we’d also have to fight off three teams immediately behind us.
Week 11: Watson scores 29 by halftime, Damien Harris rumbles for a touchdown, Hill can’t be contained by the Raiders, and our DEF and K streaming continues to pay off with 28 more points. With 154 points, we climb into fourth place by a comfortable margin (25).
Number of different kickers: 7
Number of different defenses: 7
Number of different RBs to score 20-plus in the starting lineup: 4
Hypothetical head-to-head record against the No. 1 seed: 5-6
Making the playoffs without our first-round pick feels like quite an accomplishment, and we’ve got an interesting opportunity in the playoffs as neither the Kamara nor the Cook owner qualified. One team’s journey doesn’t prove Zero RB works, but it is an illustration of the way we draft these teams in money leagues and have success.
Want another example? The last person to draft an RB in the Scott Fish Bowl currently resides in second place out of more than 1400 teams. We recently had Anthony Amico on RotoViz Overtime, and he provided a handful of cool insights for listeners.
For more on the successes of RotoViz writers in the FFPC, check out Monty’s Week 12 edition of High Staked!
Zero RB Watch – AFC Week 12
Expected to explode after the Week 7 bye, Jonathan Taylor slumped to season lows in points and snaps, playing only 30% of the snaps over the next three weeks. In this context, Taylor’s performance against the Packers constitutes a reawakening. He played 47 snaps and touched the ball on more than half of them, carrying 22 times and tying Nyheim Hines with four targets.
Taylor has the No. 2 RB schedule over the next two weeks and could make some noise in the FFPC playoffs.