There are many strategies that can work when it comes to winning your Fantasy Football leagues in 2014, but one fantasy football draft strategy seems to be really taking hold when people are drafting from the back end of a PPR (point per reception league) draft. The zero running back strategy is taking over expert and amateur fantasy football drafts alike. The importance of the wide receiver position and the ability to avoid potential draft busts with early round picks has taken hold. The question marks at the running back position start right after the top five running backs, while the top six wide receivers are virtually guaranteed to approach their projected statistics.
The FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association) Fantasy Football Leagues recently kicked off their drafts and mine is filled some of my friends from the industry. One of of my friends in the league is Mark Kaplan, @DaTrueGuru, and he is picking from the 10 spot in out twelve team PPR FSWA draft. I noticed his team was avoiding the running back position early in the draft and asked if he would mind sharing his draft strategy and thoughts and he, by some miracle, obliged. I was particularly interested in his thoughts because I have been drafting very similarly from that same spot in leagues and because Mark has done extremely well in the FSWA leagues lately. He even has a 2013 FSWA Fantasy Basketball Championship already under his belt and is currently among the leaders in the Fantasy Baseball Leagues as well.
Here’s Mark’s FSWA Draft Early Draft Strategy from the 10 spot:
The FSWA Insiders draft is a PPR league where we have to start three wide receivers and a flex. That means wide receivers rule the draft, but most people want to take running backs early and often, despite their injury risk and the fact that wideouts easily out produce running backs in PPR leagues. I had the 10th overall pick and knew right away I was going WR/WR because every running back after the first four main guys are all over valued and come with question marks.
Luckily Demaryius Thomas was there for me at 10 and I instantly took the highest scoring WR in PPR leagues last season. Then my boy, Brandon Marshall, was there for my next pick and again, instantly took him. B-Marsh is so reliable and is basically a guarantee to get 100 receptions (has done that in two straight seasons). Just like that, I have two players that should each get me 300 points.
Now the tough decisions start. With my third pick, I was staring at some very questionable running backs like Reggie Bush (J. Bell was already gone and just not a fan of Bush), Rashad Jennings (has never been the #1 guy before), Frank Gore (means I would have to reach on Carlos Hyde in a few rounds,so would basically be spending 2 picks on one RB), Ben Tate(injury concerns). That is a road I wanted to avoid. Julius Thomas was there as well, but not only is he overrated (had only 65 catches last season), there are also a lot of other TE’s I like rounds 8-10 that I’d rather draft at their value, than draft Thomas in the third round. Therefore, I was going to target a wide receiver, but which one? I was choosing between Andre Johnson (who was ranked 96th for some unknown reason), Victor Cruz, Keenan Allen, and Pierre Garcon. I ended up going with Andre Johnson because he’s an elite wide receiver (finished 10th overall among WRs last season and has played in 16 games in each of the past two season). When it gets back to me, J. Thomas, Cruz, Jennings, and Bush are gone and I’m faced with the decision again: reach on a questionable running back, like T. Gerhart or B.Tate, or take another elite WR. Decided to go WR for the fourth time, this time was deciding between Keenan Allen and Garcon. It was basically coin flip and decided I like the upside of Allen so went with him.
Now my starting roster is set with four wideouts that should all produce 270 plus fantasy points this season (there were only five running backs last season that reached 270 fantasy points and one of those guys was Knowshon Moreno). Instead of taking running backs that might produce in the third or fourth round, I loaded up on great wideouts. What about running backs? Well there are going to be plenty of guys in the fifth and sixth round that have just as much upside and question marks as the guys in the third or fourth rounds like Fred Jackson, Pierre Thomas, Baltimore RBs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, Chris Johnson, to name a few. Now, I will be taking running backs the rest of the draft (besides getting a QB and a TE). But here’s the thing, all I need is one of my late round running backs to emerge as a #1, out of all of the ones I will end up taking, to be almost unstoppable. If I can get 10-13 points from each of my running backs (which isn’t hard to get in a PPR league) I end up taking, then my team will be extremely successful.
I want players that are consistent and will put up points, despite what position they play. Instead of reaching on a running back that might get me 200-220 points, I’d gladly take the wide receiver that is going to score 270 points. The objective is to score the most points each week, not build a pretty looking roster, and by going with four wide receivers to start the draft, I’m on my way to scoring a plethora of points of every week.
**I want to thank Mark for taking the time to do a guest post for me and implore anyone who enjoys fantasy sports to give him a follow on twitter, @DaTrueGuru
Editor’s Note- Check out this interview for the Fantasy Sports Network featuring Michael Salfino talking about Zero Running Back