An Extreme Zero-RB Proof of Concept In Action, and the Surprisingly Efficient Sleeper You Might Want to Add for a Playoff Run
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Image Credit: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Carlos Hyde.

Blair Andrews looks back at the season for an extreme Zero-RB FFPC Main Event team, and also details the important developments in NFC backfields ahead of Week 12. Check out Shawn Siegele’s companion piece on the AFC.

Zero running back teams don’t always make the playoffs. But when they do, it’s usually because they’ve hit on some breakout RBs in the later rounds. However, you can’t always count on that. Sometimes you miss on James Robinson by just a few FAAB dollars. Sometimes your breakout RB candidates spend nearly the entire season on IR.1 Sometimes you draft Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Nobody’s perfect.

But the fact that nobody’s perfect is precisely what gives Zero-RB teams their edge even when things don’t go their way. Consider the team Shawn and I drafted in the FFPC Main Event this year. As a refresher, here’s the draft board:

We drafted from the 12 slot. And no, your eyes are not tricking you. The distinct lack of green in the top half of our draft is not an optical illusion. We we went 10 rounds without picking a single RB. This enabled us to stockpile maximum firepower at the WR position, while also adding a top QB and two breakout TE candidates — so important in the FFPC’s TE-Premium format. Here’s how the season went.

*If you only came to read the Zero RB Watch List, feel free to skip past this part.

Week 1: Out of necessity, or maybe it was foresight, we started Nyheim Hines and his 27 points. With DeAndre Hopkins and Calvin Ridley each adding around 30, the fact that our RB2 Darrel Williams only scored five points didn’t even matter. Going into the Monday Night Football game, we were sitting No. 10 in the entire contest of 2,520 teams. We finished with 194 points and a 23-point lead over the second-ranked team in our league.

Week 2: Hines came back down to earth, and so did the rest of our team … mostly. Ridley and Stefon Diggs provided just enough for us to eke out the win. But we fell to No. 3 in points, trailing the second-ranked team by 0.65.

Week 3: The what-could-have-been week saw us staring at Rex Burkhead’s 35 points on our bench. Luckily Jeffery Wilson’s 22 gave us enough for another close win. We’re 3-0, and still No. 3 in points.

Week 4: Most good things must come to an end, but must it be so crushing? Ridley was active, and he played, but he scored no points. We barely crested 100, suffered our first loss, and fell to No. 7 in points. Ultimately getting Burkhead’s six points instead of Wilson’s three would have made no difference, even if we had managed to start Mecole Hardman over Ridley and add his 13 points.

Week 5: Sometimes even when your guys perform, you run into the team that starts the Ravens defense the very week they hold Cincinnati to three points while sacking Joe Burrow seven times, forcing three turnovers, and scoring a defensive touchdown. We fall to 3-2 but remain at No. 7 in scoring.

Week 6: Finally a win, of sorts. We do win our matchup on the back of Deshaun Watson’s 35-point outing. But we leave Julio Jones and Will Fuller on our bench as they combine for nearly 60 points. We’re at 4-2 now but still just No. 6 in points.

Week 7: As we move Julio into our lineup, we forget about A.J. Brown and miss out on his 27 points. We still got the win — our opponent put up only 78 — but stay at No. 6 in the points race.

Week 8: With our quarterback and star RB — I’m talking about J.D. McKissic, a.k.a., Alvin Kamara Goes to Washington — on a bye in Week 8, we pick up and start Kirk Cousins. Cousins has not been as bad as you might think. Since Week 3, he’s only had one game that really hurt your team.

Hardman has another breakout performance on our bench. Luckily his 23 points weren’t needed for us to get the W, but with only 122 points on the week, we can’t make any progress up the points leaderboard.

Week 9: With JaMycal Hasty looking like he’s going to take over for the injured Raheem Mostert, we leave Kamara, D.C. Edition, on the bench. McKissic ends up drawing 14 targets and scoring 17 points (only half living up to his namesake), while Hasty manages only three points. The loss drops us to 6-3 and we remain sixth in scoring.

Week 10: Finally able to figure out our RB spot after nine weeks, we rightly start both McKissic and Hines on weeks they go for season highs. They combine for nearly 50 points and carry us to another victory. At 7-3, we enter Week 11 with a win-and-in situation.

Week 11: Julio Jones scores six points. Hines and McKissic manage 18 between them. Hopkins turns in only 10 in what was supposed to be the shootout of the season between Arizona and Seattle. Fuller and Ridley each score 14 as neither finds the end zone. But there’s a reason we grabbed Deshaun Watson in the seventh, as his 35 points reminded us.

With the win we clinch a playoff spot despite our best RB (Hines) being only the RB28 in per-game PPR scoring. To put that in perspective, our fifth-best WR (Jones) is the WR13 in per-game scoring. We have six WRs in the top 20.2

Sometimes your Zero-RB teams hit on a Kamara, Austin Ekeler, Phillip Lindsay, or James Robinson. But even when they don’t, with enough firepower at WR and other positions, it often does not matter.

Notes for the Ultimate Zero RB Watch List: NFC Week 12

  • Mike Davis tied his lowest target total of the season with P.J. Walker under center.

There’s no question he was benefitting from Teddy Bridgewater’s reluctance to push the ball downfield. The good news for Davis is it looks like Bridgewater will get the start in Week 12.

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Blair Andrews

Managing Editor, Author of The Wrong Read, Occasional Fantasy Football League Winner. All opinions are someone else's.

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