The Zero-RB strategy isn’t for the faint of heart when it comes to a startup dynasty draft. Zero-RB for our purposes will mean we don’t draft a running back until the 6th round.
Let’s walk through a 10 team PPR mock draft to show how it plays out. FantasyPros has a great mock draft simulator for dynasty, allowing you to customize the amount of teams, where you draft, and how many roster spots you will use. We’re drafting out of the 6th position.
ROUND 1: Pick 6 – Antonio Brown
First 5 off the board: Julio Jones, Mike Evans, O’Dell Beckham Jr., David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliot. Top 3 options at WR are AJ Green, Antonio Brown, and Amari Cooper. The choice is simple: Antonio Brown. He’s been the best receiver in the league for years, and he doesn’t come with the injury concerns of an AJ Green.
ROUND 2: Pick 15 – Allen Robinson
Top options at the WR position are Allen Robinson, Dez Bryant, Brandin Cooks, and Corey Davis. Rob Gronkowski, Andrew Luck, and Aaron Rodgers are also available. At 28 years old, and constantly injured, Gronkowski is a reach at 15. While Cooks has the potential to have a season like Randy Moss did when he played with Tom Brady, taking Cooks in the 2nd round is buying him at his ceiling, and that’s too much risk for the 15th pick. Allen Robinson has already had a 1,400 yard season, look for him to bounce back this year.
ROUND 3: Pick 26 – Andrew Luck
9 running backs and 16 wide receivers are off the board. No quarterbacks or tight ends have been taken yet. There is no wrong pick between Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. Rodgers has been as consistent as any fantasy (or real) quarterback over the last 5 years. Luck is 27, and with quarterbacks playing late into their 30’s, it’s not unreasonable to expect 10 great years with Luck.
ROUND 4: Pick 35 – Jordan Reed
The top 13 running backs are off the board, and you’re starting to feel the pressure. Demarco Murray, Carlos Hyde, Isaiah Crowell, and Lamar Miller are all still on the board. Doug Baldwin, Davante Adams, and Jordy Nelson are all available. But, Jordan Reed is available, he’s healthy, and with Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon on different teams this year expect Kirk Cousins to target Reed heavily. When healthy, he might be the best tight end in fantasy football.
ROUND 5: Pick 46 – Stefon Diggs
Demaryius Thomas, Terrelle Pryor, and Donte Moncrief are also available. Diggs wasn’t able to get in the end zone last year, but no one on the Vikings seemed to. Expect some positive regression in Minnesota, and Diggs is an elite talent who has wide receiver 1 potential. Expect a breakout campaign this year.
ROUND 6: Pick 55 – C.J. Anderson
21 running backs are off the board already, and even though you haven’t drafted the position in the first 5 rounds, quality players are still available. Mark Ingram and Eddie Lacy are also on the board, but for whatever reason (fumbling), Ingram is in Sean Payton’s doghouse. Lacy might be a RB2 this season, but the Seahawks offensive line is terrible, and he hasn’t shown an ability to stay healthy. That’s a scary combination. The same could be said for Anderson, but he played 15 games each in 2014 and 2015, and looked like he was finally having his breakout season last year before injuries derailed his season.
ROUND 7: Pick 66 – Mark Ingram
The value is simply too great to pass on Ingram in the 7th round. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last year, and he’s still clearly the best rusher on the Saints this year. Don’t overthink it, take him.
ROUND 8: Pick 75 – Paul Perkins
He ended the year strong, and at 23 years old the Giants appear to be handing the backfield job to Perkins. An RB2, with low-end RB1 upside in the 8th round? Done.
ROUND 9: Pick 86 – Michael Crabtree
Also available at 86 are Theo Riddick, Doug Martin, and Golden Tate. Doug Martin is a high risk, high reward selection, but he’s missing 3 games to start the year, and he hasn’t had a full season in a long time. He’s too risky to take with quality players available still. Crabtree is part of an elite offense, and led the Raiders in receptions last year. In PPR formats he’s a WR2.
ROUND 10: Pick 95 – Giovanni Bernard
The consensus is that Joe Mixon will take over the lead back role in Cincinnati, but Marvin Lewis has been hesitant to hand the running back role to a rookie, and with Mixon’s off field issues, don’t be surprised if he ends up being the 2nd running back on the depth chart. Of course this pick depends on Bernard being healthy to start the year, and at this point it’s too soon to tell.
If just 2 of your late round running backs hit, you have an elite team with a chance to dominate for years to come. Not taking a running back early allows you to lock up a top-level quarterback and tight end. With the turnover in the running back position in the NFL, locking up elite receivers allows you to dominate your league for 5-7 years.