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Raybon: How to use the Zero-RB strategy in the 2024 Best Ball Drafts

Raybon: How to use the Zero-RB strategy in the 2024 Best Ball Drafts
Raybon: How to use the Zero-RB strategy in the 2024 Best Ball Drafts

Best ball drafters have gotten smarter and are drafting fewer running backs this year than ever before. At the time of this writing, only 11 RBs at Underdog and 12 RBs at DraftKings have an ADP in the first four rounds.

When the zero-RB strategy first came into vogue over a decade ago, those numbers were typically double that, giving the zero-RB strategy contrarian and antifragile qualities that it lacks today. But that doesn’t mean it’s no longer a viable best-ball strategy.

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At Best Ball, I try to maximize my chances of winning a major competition by creating a diverse portfolio of roster compositions with different player and stack combinations. Each strategy has merit and allows me to optimize for different types of compositions. In the case of Zero RB, for example, an obvious benefit is that it offers the opportunity to maximize potential at wide receiver. I’ll explain this in detail on Best Ball sites, along with some other benefits and ways to get the most out of the strategy.

Best Ball Zero RB Strategy 2024

I want to allow for maximum flexibility depending on how the draft goes, so I have only two general guidelines for using a zero RB strategy:

  1. Draft at least 4 WRs by the 6th round. I want to fill at least all of my starting WR spots and FLEX spots with a top-36 WR. Typically that means starting with four consecutive WRs, but I also want to give myself the flexibility to fill one or both of my onesie spots (TE and QB) before drafting my first RB.
  2. Draft 3-4 RBs in rounds 5-10. I typically opt for four more often than three to offset early loss of position, but as RB ADPs continue to fall, this has allowed for more flexibility.

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The opportunity cost of Zero RB is lower than everR

It is difficult to worry about weakening RBs in the first four rounds when you have borderline RB1 value in the form of Josh Jacobs, James Cook, Joe Mixon, Rachaad WhiteAnd Alvin Kamara. Pick your RB1 in round 5, and there’s even a chance you can walk away with two borderline RB1s despite losing position early.

The RB position is undervalued overall in rounds 5-10, so I have no problem letting availability dictate how I allocate my presence to them, although my preferred targets are Cook, Mixon, Kamara. Zamir WhiteAnd Zack Moss. The only player I want to actively avoid is Javonte Williams.

Zero RB is the best way to avoid a potential WR bubble in rounds 6-7

For those who don’t know, a bubble occurs when the price of an asset rises significantly above its intrinsic value due to excessive speculation and investor enthusiasm. This perfectly describes many of the players in the WR4 tier, such as Xavier Worthy, Ladd McConkeyAnd Keon Colemanwhose ADP has increased 3-5 rounds since the NFL Draft. But more importantly, it describes the WR4 ADP as a whole, especially at underdog, with Worthy (WR37) going off the board at the end of Round 5 and starting a streak of 10 WRs in a 15-pick range. That’s way too calcareous for a collection of mostly overvalued WRs at a spot in the draft where the alternatives include RBs in the 14-17 range, QBs in the 5-7 range, and TEs in the 6-8 range.

I want to have specific builds that blank WRs in that range, and the only way to do that without falling behind in the WR arms race is to go zero RB and draft 4-5 WRs in the first five rounds.

Zero RB maximizes the number of games played on premium draft slots

Extensive historical data shows that the risk of missing a game due to injury is 2-3x higher at the RB position than at the other fantasy positions. Among players currently going off the board in rounds 1-4 as DK, underdog, or both, the average RB has missed 3.4 games per season, while the average WR/QB/TE has missed 1.4 games per season.

Zero RB is the optimal build for QB-TE stacks in the early rounds

Spend two premium picks on onesie positions to stack Josh AllenDalton Kincaid, Patrick MahomesTravis Kelceor Lamar JacksonMark Andrews is much more worthwhile if you surround them with a strong WR corps and exploit the value on the board at RB later. Pairing Mahomes-Kelce with Worthy or Allen-Kincaid with Coleman is the best way to justify their acquisition with their bloated ADPs.

Zero RB minimizes the risk of human error in rapid designs

Zero RB minimizes the number of times you have to compare the value of players at different positions in real time, which is more cognitively demanding than comparing players at the same position, especially when off weeks are a factor. And even if you use rankings, they’re more likely to be more accurate within a position than between positions. It’s a small advantage, but an advantage nonetheless.

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