While I’ve largely resisted the Zero RB approach to fantasy drafts—I’m more a proponent of Matt Kelley’s “Robust Running Back” school of thought—given recent events, you can see why the movement is gaining traction. The guiding principle of Zero RB is that running backs, at least relative to other fantasy positions, are eminently replaceable.
And while the discussion allows nuance, the replicability of running backs has certainly been evident early in 2020 with workhorses like Christian McCaffrey (done in by a high-ankle sprain), Dalvin Cook (groin), Saquon Barkley (ACL), Nick Chubb (knee), Miles Sanders (knee) and Joe Mixon (foot) all compromised by injuries. Even Ezekiel Elliott, a consensus top-three pick in summer drafts, has disappointed, playing mistake-riddled football while seeing his scoring opportunities vanish behind a seventh-round quarterback and a disintegrating O line.
Meanwhile, unheralded handcuffs like Panthers fill-in Mike Davis and Jamaal Williams, who went berserk in place of hobbled bell-cow Aaron Jones (calf) in Week 7, have each proven more than capable when opportunities for RB1 usage have presented themselves. Jaguars unknown James Robinson, a player ignored in the vast majority of drafts this summer, reigns as the overall RB2 in PPR formats, lending further credence to the notion that league-winning running backs come in all varieties.
Between durability concerns—Chris Carson (foot) and Kenyan Drake (ankle) were the latest kingpins flummoxed by the injury bug—game-script issues and the increased prevalence of committees (good luck trying to decipher Sean McVay or Bruce Arians’ backfield preferences), the fluidity of running back has never been more apparent than in 2020. Those who went the Zero RB route, eschewing early-round volume hogs in favor of bolstering other positions like wide receiver, are taking a well-deserved victory lap, proving that stacking handcuffs with upside waiver pickups can be just as effective as the Robust Running Back method preferred by Kelley and others in the fantasy realm.
On this week’s edition of the RADIO.COM Fantasy Football Show, Stephen Andress and Jordan Cohn join me to talk priority waiver adds (Seahawks bull-dozer Carlos Hyde should be at the top of everyone’s Week 8 wish list), streaming possibilities (make sure you’re starting all the Eagles Sunday night against what’s left of the Hindenburg Dallas Cowboys) and stealth starts no one else will see coming. Enjoy!