Fantasy Football: Flexible Drafting, Zero RB, and General Strategy

Daily Fantasy football, draftkings, Gronkowski

Lately one style of selecting players has become supremely popular in fantasy football drafts across America, and that is the Zero RB strategy. While it is a viable approach, one should not have any specific concrete rules to drafting their fantasy football teams. Drafting a quality season long team is all about value and drafting the best possible player available, and being flexible whether you go running back or wide receiver at each early pick. This is why I draft my teams with a style I call ‘flexible drafting’.

I have always been an early running back drafter, it is what I have had success with. If I can get a projected top 12 RB in the first two rounds, I will always do that with both picks. On the other hand, if I don’t think I will get a great return on my running back investment, I will grab a quality wide receiver or two that I think has potential to provide one of the top fantasy outputs at the position. One must be able to take what is given to them and not try to force their issue, although they should approach the draft with their personal philosophies in mind. I understand that the populace wants a guaranteed path to success, commonly latching on to one strategy and being resistant to flexible drafting, which is what I think is the best way to attack drafts.


When flexibly drafting, one will still go late round quarterback and tight end(would give credit, but not sure who coined these and they are common knowledge strategy now), waiting until the 9th round or later to draft the one slot fantasy positions. This is due to an idea called positional scarcity(again I did not invent this, but I don’t know who did originally). There are two slots for wide receiver and running back in a typical league and there is one quarterback and one tight end slot to be filled on any given week. Due to needing half the amount of players per league started every week, there will be plenty of high upside plays at quarterback and tight end to grab in the later rounds and on the waiver wire on a week to week basis.

Now, let’s take this one step further and apply it to running backs and wide receivers to explain why I will still always go running back early if I can. Think about this. On every single offensive snap there are at least two wide receivers on the field and one running back. In most leagues you start 2 wide receivers and 2 running backs. So logically which position would be more scarce?

Running back is the answer. Zero RB is predicated on the fact you will be able to pick up a running back in the late rounds or on the waiver wire that will rise to the top of the depth chart or replace an injured running back with a substantial role. This is not always the case. After the top 12-15 running backs off the board, you are pretty much taking a flyer due to the prevalence of running back committees in today’s NFL and the rarity of a true workhorse back.

Another reason to go zero RB is the safety. Wide receivers get injured less than running backs, which is true, but when I am drafting a team, I want upside to win the league with my picks. Drafting for safety does not equal drafting to win your league. In all reality, any player could get injured on any play, and because of this you should be drafting for upside, not safety. The upside player could be a running back or wide receiver, just use your own rationale and projections to find out who that is.

I am not discounting zero running back, but I am saying that one should think logically, and not head into each draft attached to one theory or strategy. Pick the best player you can get at the time it is your pick. It doesn’t matter if you have 4 running backs and 2 wide receivers, if the best player available is a running back, that is who you should choose. Remember, trades are everything in fantasy football, and having high value players, regardless of being a running back or wide receiver, will boost the overall value of your roster and enable you throughout the season to acquire the players you want/need to win your league. Now get out there, join as many leagues as you can, and win some championships with flexible drafting.

Featured Image Credit: By Andrew Campbell (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Matt Dulcan