How Zero RB Acts as Rocket Fuel in Superflex and TE Premium Formats
Image Credit: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Deshaun Watson.

Shawn Siegele shows how Zero RB can supercharge your fantasy football results in Superflex and TE Premium formats.

Last week we looked at the Perfect Draft, how it fit with our preseason recommendations, and the way it will influence our 2021 draft strategy. Today we’re going to look at how the RotoViz tools predicted a Zero RB title in an emerging format.

The Perfect Draft became even more perfect on Friday night when Alvin Kamara scored six touchdowns and pushed Kamara squads to the top of the FFPC Main Event leaderboard. Curtis Patrick and I are now in 10th place with Stefon Diggs still to play and a chance to move up slightly if we can hold off the Josh Allen-Diggs teams behind us.

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Zero RB is Winning in Novel Formats

A few weeks ago, Anthony Amico joined Colm Kelly and me on RotoViz Overtime to discuss the way extreme Zero RB builds had posted such great results in the Scott Fish Bowl regular season. Due to the wild success of SFB and FFPC, game elements like Superflex, TE Premium, and multiple flex positions will only become more popular. These format tweaks improve fantasy football by offering more strategic flexibility, a development that not only offers variety but also improves fairness across draft slots. It also brings forgotten positions like quarterback and tight end back to the forefront.

One of my favorite examples is the Going Deep league from Mike Clay. Going Deep features a 13-player starting lineup with SF and a two TE starters. The format is unique, but the RotoViz tools and workshops still provide plenty of insight into how such a league might play out.

Draft Elite TEs to Win Your League

It’s easy to look back at the historic season from Travis Kelce and assume his owners thrived in 2020, but grabbing elite TEs was a strategy heavily recommended by our tools. Early-TE has been a focal point of the Best Ball Workshop. Nothing juices win rates like taking an early TE. The effect becomes even more pronounced when you move into TE Premium and SF formats.

The Best Ball Win Rate Explorer demonstrates how utterly dominant TE was in SF first rounds, and this was before Kelce’s 2020 campaign.


Of course, you may be thinking this is best ball – different dynamics could be in play in redraft. This is where it’s helpful to work through the logic of the various Explorers and consider the ramifications for different formats. In best ball, a stud TE is still going to almost always be the chosen starter, while late-TE drafters will benefit from the best score among their scrubs. If anything, we should see an even more exaggerated impact in redraft, where Kelce owners will get his points, and committee owners will often pick the wrong starter.

In discussing early-TE for SFB, Blair Andrews articulated another potential advantage. As with the RB position, star TEs have historically suffered from a high injury rate. This increases both risk and reward, fueling win rates even higher for the survivors. It happened again in 2020 as Kelce and Darren Waller owners benefited from the extended absences of George Kittle and Zach Ertz.

What About QB in Superflex?

Late Round QB changed the way fantasy is played, and one of the more fun developments of the last couple of years is the way top QBs are pushing back.

The emergence of the hybrid QB is forcing fantasy owners to take note. We can break down QB performance in a wide variety of ways in the Weekly Explorer, including a deeper look into total opportunity. In 2020, QBs who played in 10 or more games have averaged 2.7 expected fantasy points on the ground. The top six QBs in total EP are all at or above that level.

Player EP ruEP PaEP
Josh Allen 24.2 5 18.6
Kyler Murray 23.3 6.1 17.3
Joe Burrow 22.6 3.2 19.4
Patrick Mahomes 22.3 2.7 19.5
Justin Herbert 21.9 3.3 18.6
Deshaun Watson 21 4 17

With the exception of Joe Burrow, all of these QBs were in the top eight of fantasy scoring, and two of the interlopers were Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson, both of whom scored at least 4.0 PPG on the ground when you consider EP and FPOE together.

As much as it may help to have a dominant QB in regular redraft formats, it pales in comparison to the need to stay away from the bottom 10 QBs in SF. For that reason, it comes as no surprise that loading up on QBs early is the preferred method in SF.

Why Understanding the Lessons of Zero RB Helps You Attack Novel Formats

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Shawn Siegele

Author of the original Zero RB article and 2013 NFFC Primetime Grand Champion. 11-time main event league winner. 2015, 2017, 2018 titles in MFL10 of Death.

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