My goal is to teach you how to employ the best draft strategy. We want to not only help you get sweet championship bling this season but also have a blast doing it. The two we are covering today is #RobustRB and #ZeroRB.
Welcome to part two of my series, Beginner’s Guide to Types of Fantasy Football Draft Strategies! The title is a mouthful, but the information I’m about to give you is not. My goal is to teach you how to employ the best draft strategy. We want to not only help you get some sweet championship bling this season but also have a blast doing it. The two we are covering today is #RobustRB and #ZeroRB.
When fantasy football was invented in 1962 by Bill Wikenbach, part-owner of the Oakland Raiders, I don’t think he had any clue what he was creating. The game has evolved in the 60 years since good ‘ole Bill created that first league. What started as “Fantasy Gridiron Football” has morphed into variations of superflex, TE premium, and IDP madness—some all in one.
Fantasy football is no longer a hobby but a way of life.
It’s bragging rights and wearing your Ultimate Title Belt to your best friend's wedding to remind him you’re still the king. It’s keeping your office league Championship Trophy perched proudly in your cubicle—tall enough to remind the entire office you reign supreme.
There are many ways to reach Mount Olympus. Meanwhile, every Tom, Dick, and Sally has an opinion on the best, sneakiest, or most “in-style” strategy of the moment.
Let’s cover two strategies that have become a hot topic over the last few seasons; the polar opposite #RobustRB versus #ZeroRB.
ZeroRB Draft Strategy
The ZeroRB draft strategy is somewhat misleading. You still draft running backs, just much later in the draft. The concept behind ZeroRB is to take elite-level talents at wide receiver, tight end, and quarterback to get consistent production. Afterward, you select running backs who can still produce decent numbers above replacement or handcuffs to other positions.
Think of it like this: You go to a buffet. You assume the carved meat will last forever, so you load up on everything else. You’ve got your first choice of salmon, mashed potatoes, a veggie medley, some cheese, Italian meats, and probably a salad – look at me being healthy! So you’re loaded up, and it’s time for some sweet prime rib! Except the prime rib is gone, folks. You waited too long, and now you get carved… chicken. But, of course, no one wants chicken when you could have had prime rib.
There are positives to this strategy. I wouldn’t dare knock mashed potatoes or a good side salad. And sometimes, by the time you get to the carved meats, you’re already full, and it doesn’t matter. Maybe you don’t even like carved meats. If you can hit on an early quarterback-wide receiver stack in your drafts, you’ll be full, and running backs won’t matter nearly as much.
RobustRB Draft Strategy
The RobustRB strategy is precisely what you think. You load up on top-tier running backs in the draft's early rounds, ignoring other positions completely.
You run recklessly past the buffet to the carving station in this scenario. You’ll get a salad and some chicken with gravy, but you max out your plate with red meat. You know they’ll refill the pans and restock the rolls and salad, but there’s only one prime rib at this party, and you want the best cuts.
This strategy can work well, depending on your league format and scoring. For example, in points per reception (PPR) leagues, getting a swiss army-type running back - Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara - to pair with a touchdown hog – Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb – is a recipe for bowling over your opponents every week on your way to a championship chain.
However, if you deploy this strategy in a superflex or 2QB league, you’ve already secured the Toilet Bowl Trophy, my friend.
Depending on my league and the season, I have unintentionally drafted RobustRB way for a long time. Like anything, fantasy football is a mix of skill and luck, but drafting running backs in the early rounds has typically set me up for success more than it’s been a detriment to my chances at taking home some sick TrophySmack hardware. So there is mitigated risk with almost as much upside.
I’ve tried drafting ZeroRB for research. My teams weren’t awful, but they weren’t contenders. They were also more stressful to manage because I never knew what I would do with my running backs. It wasn’t fun, and it certainly isn’t a strategy that will get you anywhere near a Bling Ring without a serious amount of luck on your side.
If you’re looking for me, start at the carving station, my friends. I’m going all in on the prime rib.
Whatever strategy you decide to use, remember that playing fantasy football should be fun! So, walk into your draft with a six-pack of your favorite cold beverage, eat some pizza, have some laughs, and enjoy your time with friends. Don’t stress so much about your roster. It’s a long season, and anything can happen. At the end of the day, whether or not you take home the Ultimate Custom Title Belt or the Toilet Bowl Trophy of Dishonor, the goal is to have fun.
Thanks for reading part two of my draft strategy series here in the SmackZone. Next week I’m going to guide you through superflex draft strategies and then some of my favorite ways to mess with your leaguemates and have an epic time at your live draft.
You can find more of me on Twitter @NatePolvogt