The Zero RB and Zero WR Approaches in Fantasy Football

October 27, 2023
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Fantasy football, a game that has gripped the hearts and minds of millions, is no stranger to evolution. Since its inception, strategies have shifted and morphed, echoing the dynamic nature of the NFL itself. Once a straightforward endeavor, fantasy managers now debate, analyze, and seek out innovative tactics to get an edge over their league-mates.

Enter the Zero RB and Zero WR approaches. These are not merely strategies; they are rebellions against convention. Born out of meticulous observation of player injury rates, league trends, and positional depth, these strategies challenge long-held notions about the “right” way to draft.

We’ll explore the intricate mechanics and the boldness behind the Zero RB and Zero WR approaches. More than just draft tactics, they represent the willingness of the fantasy community to innovate, adapt, and challenge the status quo. Whether you’re a seasoned manager or a newcomer eager to make a mark, understanding these strategies will equip you with fresh perspectives as you head into your next draft.

Understanding the Zero RB Strategy

The Zero RB strategy emerged as an innovative approach in fantasy football, challenging long-established drafting norms. Its roots trace back to seasons where top-tier running backs were plagued by injuries or underperformance, causing mayhem in many fantasy teams. Observant managers noticed a trend: while the volatility at the running back position grew, wide receivers became increasingly consistent, especially those in PPR (points per reception) leagues.

The rationale behind Zero RB is grounded in playing the numbers game. It’s about mitigating risk and capitalizing on value. By forgoing early-round running backs — who, despite their potential high reward, come with significant risk due to injuries and competition — managers can instead stockpile elite wide receivers, tight ends, and even quarterbacks. These positions, historically, have shown less injury susceptibility and more predictable week-to-week scoring.

Furthermore, by the mid-to-late rounds, when other managers are desperately searching for wide receiver talent, the Zero RB drafter is often able to capitalize on the plethora of overlooked and undervalued running backs. These players often emerge as weekly starters due to injuries or depth chart changes.

Benefits of the Zero RB Strategy 

The Zero RB strategy, while initially counterintuitive to many fantasy football enthusiasts, offers a plethora of advantages that cater to the ever-changing dynamics of the NFL. Let’s delve deep into its many benefits:

  • One of the most salient benefits lies in its inherent ability to mitigate risk. Running backs, while pivotal to any fantasy lineup, are notoriously prone to injuries given the physical nature of their role. By bypassing the early rush for these players, you inherently avoid the potential pitfalls associated with their high injury rates.
  • Moreover, the strategy allows for greater flexibility during the draft. As many managers clamor to secure their desired running backs, it opens up a treasure trove of elite wide receivers, tight ends, and sometimes even quarterbacks. This approach ensures a stronger and more consistent performance from these positions week in and week out.
  • Additionally, this method often provides an upper hand during the waiver wire scramble. As the season progresses and inevitable injuries occur, many managers will be vying for the next breakout running back. Those employing the Zero RB strategy typically have the bench depth and roster flexibility to capitalize on these emergent talents more effectively than their counterparts.
  • Lastly, it’s a strategy that keeps opponents guessing. The unpredictable nature of the Zero RB approach can disrupt traditional draft strategies, causing other managers to second-guess their own methodologies. This psychological advantage, subtle as it may be, can be a game-changer in the early stages of the fantasy season.

Potential Drawbacks and Challenges 

While the Zero RB strategy comes with its merits, like any approach, it’s not without its potential pitfalls. Drafting with this methodology requires a manager to be well-versed in its nuances and be ready to adapt when confronted with challenges. 

  • Inherent Risk: By abstaining from selecting running backs early, one might miss out on the elite backs who often serve as the backbone of many championship-winning teams. These workhorse players can consistently rack up points, and not having one in your lineup can feel like a missed opportunity.
  • Roster Imbalance: This strategy can sometimes lead to an imbalance in your roster. If not executed correctly, a team might end up with a surplus of wide receivers but a noticeable deficiency in quality running backs. This might leave the manager scrambling during bye weeks or in case of injuries.
  • Waiver Wire Dependency: One of the tenets of the Zero RB approach is to capitalize on breakout running backs that emerge during the season. However, this is easier said than done. If you’re not first on the waiver wire or if you’ve misjudged a player’s potential, you could find yourself in a precarious position.
  • Another significant challenge is the ever-evolving landscape of the NFL. With teams increasingly employing running back by committee approaches, the definition of a ‘workhorse’ back is changing. While this could be seen as an argument for the strategy, it also means that predicting which running back will break out becomes even more challenging.
  • Lastly, like any strategy that goes against the grain, there’s a psychological challenge involved. It’s natural to second-guess oneself, especially when watching top-tier running backs being snapped up during the draft. Sticking to the Zero RB approach requires conviction, foresight, and a willingness to adapt on the fly. If one falters or loses confidence, the strategy can quickly unravel.
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The Zero RB strategy is a calculated gamble. It’s about leveraging positional depth, understanding league trends, and most importantly, zigging when everyone else zags. It challenges managers to resist the allure of big names and instead trust in a method that capitalizes on market inefficiencies and the unpredictable nature of the NFL.

Delving into the Zero WR Approach

The Zero WR strategy, a contrarian approach like its counterpart the Zero RB, emerged in the world of fantasy football as managers continuously searched for ways to get an edge over their competitors. It’s essentially a reaction to the standard draft orthodoxy but focused on the wide receiver position.

In the earlier days of fantasy football, the default approach was to stockpile running backs. However, with the rise of PPR leagues and an evident shift in the NFL towards passing-heavy offenses, the value of wide receivers skyrocketed. Top-tier WRs were not only putting up big numbers consistently but also proving to be less injury-prone compared to running backs. This caused a pendulum swing, with many fantasy managers prioritizing elite wide receivers in the early rounds of the draft.

Enter the Zero WR strategy.

The essence of this approach was not to disregard the value of elite wide receivers but to exploit a perceived market inefficiency. Advocates of the Zero WR strategy believed that the depth at the WR position was much greater than at the running back position. The idea was that while the top-tier wide receivers were certainly valuable, the drop-off in points between the elite and the mid-tier WRs wasn’t as steep as that between elite and mid-tier RBs. Hence, by focusing on other positions early in drafts, managers could still cobble together a competitive group of wide receivers in the middle and later rounds.

The reasoning was clear: By loading up on top-tier talents at other positions, including running back, quarterback, and even tight end, a fantasy manager could create a roster that was both balanced and potent. Meanwhile, they would bank on their skills to identify breakout wide receiver talents in the later rounds or on the waiver wire, where the position’s depth would often lead to unexpected gems.

Benefits of the Zero WR Strategy

The Zero WR strategy, while unconventional to some, offers several compelling advantages that have drawn many fantasy football managers to its fold:

  • Positional Depth: One of the primary benefits is the deep pool of wide receivers available in later rounds. With the NFL transitioning to a more pass-heavy league, many teams now have multiple viable receiving options, offering fantasy managers ample opportunities to find value later in the draft.
  • Flexibility: Starting the draft by focusing on other positions, especially running backs, can create a robust foundation. This solid start can give managers the flexibility to adjust their strategy based on how the draft is unfolding.

By prioritizing running backs or other positions early, managers are not pigeonholed into chasing specific positions in later rounds and can adapt more fluidly to the draft’s ebb and flow.

  • Injury Protection: Historically, running backs have had a higher injury rate than wide receivers. By investing heavily in running backs or other positions early on, managers can often secure high-quality backups, thereby insulating their team against the potential pitfalls of injuries.
  • Waiver Wire Potential: Given the depth at the wide receiver position, there’s often a higher likelihood of unearthing a breakout star off the waiver wire or in free agency during the season. This can be a game-changer, especially if a manager has already built a strong core through the draft.

While the Zero WR strategy is certainly not without its risks, its benefits can be enticing. It underscores the importance of being adaptable in fantasy football and challenges the conventional wisdom, offering managers a different lens through which to approach their drafts.

Potential Drawbacks and Challenges

The Zero WR strategy, while holding several benefits, is not without its potential pitfalls. Any strategy has its challenges, and fully understanding them is essential for fantasy football managers aiming to execute this approach successfully.

  • Unpredictable Outcomes: While wide receivers available in later rounds may have upside, there’s also increased unpredictability associated with them. They might not see consistent targets or might be more matchup-dependent, leading to boom-or-bust weekly performances.
  • Pass-Heavy League Trends: The NFL’s transition to a more pass-dominant league means that having elite wide receivers can provide a significant weekly advantage. By bypassing top-tier wide receivers in early rounds, managers might miss out on consistent, high-scoring players.

This trend emphasizes the importance of elite wideouts, as they often see a more significant target share and play critical roles in their respective offenses.

  • Roster Imbalance: While focusing on other positions can provide depth, it might also lead to a potential roster imbalance. Managers may find themselves stacked at running back but lacking viable starting wide receivers, especially during bye weeks or when facing tough matchups.
  • Waiver Wire Competition: Banking on the waiver wire to bolster the wide receiver position can be a double-edged sword. While there are breakout candidates every season, there’s no guarantee of landing them. Other managers might also be eyeing the same breakout candidates, leading to intense competition and potentially leaving one’s roster in a lurch.
  • Game Script Dependence: Late-round wide receivers often belong to teams with varying game scripts. If their team is leading, they might run the ball more, reducing opportunities for wide receivers. Conversely, playing from behind might mean more passing, but it’s not always predictable.
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The Zero WR strategy is a calculated gamble, challenging the prevailing draft trends and relying on the depth of the wide receiver position to compensate for any perceived early-round neglect.

How Zero RB and Zero WR Play Out

Strategies are as diverse as the players on the field in fantasy football. Among these strategies, the Zero RB and Zero WR approaches have gained notoriety, turning traditional drafting upside down. But how do these daring strategies play out in actual leagues? Let’s delve deep.

The Zero RB Scenario

  • Late Round RB Gems: Managers adopting this strategy often uncover value in later rounds, focusing on running backs in committee situations or those primed for breakout seasons. As the season progresses, some of these later-round picks can emerge as fantasy football darlings, offering valuable returns on a small draft investment. However, success isn’t guaranteed. The late-round pool is filled with unpredictable potential, and managers might sometimes find their bench warmer than they’d like.
  • Loaded on Pass-Catchers: With a focus away from early-round running backs, managers typically load up on elite wide receivers, tight ends, or even quarterbacks. This approach can offer a significant advantage in PPR leagues, where pass-catchers reign supreme.
  • Flexibility: By not investing heavily in a position often plagued by injuries, managers can remain flexible, adjusting to emerging trends, and pouncing on waiver wire opportunities. This adaptability can be a game-changer as the season unfolds.

The Zero WR Reality

  • Run-First Advantage: By sidelining early-round wide receivers, managers often find themselves stacked at the running back position. Given that quality running backs are a scarce commodity, having multiple studs can provide a weekly advantage. The NFL, known for its pass-happy trend, sometimes circles back to the run. In such instances, managers with a strong running back core are poised to benefit.
  • Targeting Volume in Late Rounds: The wide receiver pool is deep. Managers can still find pass-catchers with significant target shares in the mid-to-late rounds, providing good value. Whether it’s a slot receiver or a second wideout on a prolific offense, there’s potential to be tapped.
  • Trade Leverage: With a surplus of quality running backs, managers have the upper hand in trade negotiations. They can leverage this strength to fill any perceived gaps in their roster as the season progresses.

The Zero RB and Zero WR strategies are bold, contrarian approaches that play against the grain. When executed well, they can provide managers with a competitive edge. However, like any strategy, success hinges on astute player analysis, timely decisions, and a sprinkle of luck. So, for fantasy football enthusiasts ready to switch things up, these approaches offer an intriguing path to potential glory.

Strategizing with Maincard

In the sea of fantasy sports, a new wave is rising – introducing Maincard, the avant-garde fantasy management platform that’s changing the game. As the digital age has evolved, so too have the ways we interact with sports, and Maincard is at the forefront of this revolution.

Maincard is not just a platform; it’s an experience. Leveraging the potential of blockchain technology, it breaks the mold by integrating smart contracts, NFTs, and cryptocurrency, delivering a unique blend of entertainment and education. For the uninitiated, Maincard offers a captivating journey into the realm of digital assets, painting a vivid picture of what smart contracts and NFTs truly represent in today’s digital age.

The beauty of Maincard lies in its individuality. Each Maincard, composed of nine distinct layers or attributes, is minted in a way that ensures its uniqueness. This randomness guarantees that no two Maincards are the same, making each card a treasured possession. Imagine holding a card that represents a one-of-a-kind combination, a sentiment no other user can claim!

With its roots spread across a myriad of sports – from the NFL and NBA to MMA and soccer – Maincard is not merely a game but an ecosystem. Beyond the thrill of the competition, it provides an alternate income avenue for sports enthusiasts. With each event and every play, users have the chance to earn while they play, making the sports experience more immersive and rewarding.

Optimizing Draft Strategies with Maincard

When it comes to the Zero RB and Zero WR strategies, or any other draft approach, Maincard offers tools that can enhance decision-making. By using the platform’s unique features:

  • Users can tap into a vast repository of player data and performance metrics, allowing for more informed draft decisions.
  • The integration of blockchain ensures transparency, enabling users to verify transactions and trades, making the draft process smoother and more trustworthy.
  • The platform’s engaging UX/UI provides an intuitive experience, making strategy implementation seamless and efficient.

In the realm of fantasy football, where strategies can make or break a season, Maincard emerges as a beacon, lighting the path for managers to chart their course to victory. With its fusion of technology and sports, Maincard promises not just a game, but a future where fantasy sports and reality converge.


As the leaves of time turn, the game of fantasy football continues its metamorphosis. From its humble beginnings on pen and paper to today’s intricate algorithms and simulations, the game has persistently reinvented itself.

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At the heart of this evolution lie strategies like Zero RB and Zero WR, audacious approaches that reflect a deeper understanding of the sport and a willingness to question the norms. These strategies are not just about challenging the status quo but about adapting, evolving, and thriving in a game where static approaches wither away.

Yet, as we embrace these avant-garde strategies, it’s pivotal to equip ourselves with modern tools that not only complement but elevate our game. This is where platforms like Maincard step into the limelight. By merging the precision of blockchain with the unpredictability of sports, Maincard offers a fresh, tech-infused perspective on fantasy football. It’s a space where strategies are not just theorized but optimized, tweaked, and perfected.

For enthusiasts willing to dive into the deep end and experiment with Zero RB and Zero WR, Maincard serves as the perfect launchpad. Its intuitive design, coupled with a treasure trove of data, provides managers with all they need to execute these strategies to perfection.

The marriage of modern technology with traditional sports heralds a new era in fantasy football. It’s an era where the lines between reality and fantasy blur, where every decision, every pick, and every play is enhanced by the magic of technology. So, as we stand at this fascinating crossroads, it’s time to look ahead, to explore, and to redefine the boundaries of what’s possible in the enthralling world of fantasy sports.


What is the Zero RB strategy in fantasy football?

The Zero RB strategy is a contrarian drafting method in fantasy football where managers intentionally avoid selecting running backs in the early rounds of their draft. Instead, they prioritize other positions, notably wide receivers, and quarterbacks, and tight ends, waiting until the middle to late rounds to address the running back position.

How does the Zero WR approach differ from the Zero RB method?

The Zero WR approach is the opposite of the Zero RB strategy. Managers utilizing Zero WR prioritize running backs, and possibly other positions, in the early rounds and intentionally bypass wide receivers until the middle or later rounds.

Why did the Zero RB strategy emerge in fantasy football drafts?

The Zero RB strategy emerged in response to the high injury and bust rates among early-round running backs. By avoiding these players, managers hoped to mitigate the risk of their top picks underperforming or missing time due to injury. Additionally, the NFL’s shift to committee backfields, where multiple RBs share carries, reduced the number of true “workhorse” backs, making the position more unpredictable.

What are the main benefits of adopting the Zero RB draft approach?

  • Risk mitigation: By avoiding early-round RBs, managers sidestep potential busts or injury-prone players.
  • Positional strength: Managers can secure elite talents at other positions, such as wide receiver or tight end.
  • Flexibility: Managers can capitalize on the value that falls to them in drafts without being tied to a particular position.
  • Late-round RB value: There’s potential to discover breakout RBs in the later rounds or on the waiver wire.

What potential challenges do managers face when using the Zero RB strategy?

  • Lack of RB depth: Managers might end up with a weak RB corps if late-round picks don’t pan out.
  • Missed elite talent: By skipping early-round RBs, managers might miss out on potential top performers.
  • Over-reliance on late-round/waiver RBs: Managers need to be savvy in identifying and acquiring emerging talents during the season.

How has the rise of PPR (Points Per Reception) leagues influenced the Zero WR approach?

In PPR leagues, wide receivers, particularly those who catch a large number of passes, see an increase in value. This has bolstered the Zero WR strategy, as managers can prioritize high-volume pass-catching running backs early, knowing they can find valuable WRs later due to the depth at the position and the added value from receptions.

What are the advantages of using the Zero WR strategy in fantasy drafts?

  • RB Strength: Managers can solidify their RB positions with top talents.
  • Depth at WR: The wide receiver position typically has more depth, allowing managers to find value in the middle to late rounds.
  • Adaptability: Managers can take advantage of positional runs, accumulating value elsewhere while others chase wide receivers.

What potential pitfalls should managers be aware of when using the Zero WR approach?

  • Potential WR weakness: If not executed well, managers might end up with a subpar WR group.
  • Dependence on top RBs: If an early-round RB busts or gets injured, it can be detrimental.
  • Lack of flexibility: Managers might feel compelled to draft RBs early even if better value exists elsewhere.

How do the Zero RB and Zero WR strategies impact trade negotiations during the fantasy season?

Managers using these strategies might have surpluses at specific positions, making them potential trade partners for teams lacking depth in those areas. Conversely, they might need to aggressively pursue trades to address positional weaknesses, potentially at a disadvantage in negotiations.

Are the Zero RB and Zero WR strategies suitable for beginners in fantasy football?

While both strategies offer unique advantages, they require a deep understanding of player value, positional depth, and in-season management. Beginners might find it challenging to navigate the season without a balanced roster. However, if they’re keen to learn and experiment, these strategies can offer valuable lessons in draft dynamics and roster construction.

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