2022 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: When and How to Use Zero-RB to Win Your League

I’ve been a bigger proponent of zero-RB than most over the past few years, but even I put that into perspective by saying that if you had a top 4 pick, you probably shouldn’t be using the strategy. That has changed for 2022. I agree to putting both Justin Jefferson and Cooper Kupp in the top four picks, which opens up a broader range of zero-RB paths than in years past, when it was mostly only drafting teams available back half of the first round.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that catches need to count. I would prefer them to count for a full point, but this strategy can work in a 0.5 PPR league as well, just not for teams with a top 5 pick. If you’re able to start two quarterbacks, all the better. If it’s also tight-end premium then we’ve gotten to the point where I actually prefer Zero-RB.

As a proponent of an unintentional position strategy, I must stress here that you should not commit to a zero-RB approach. If you’re in a league with a group of guys who avoid running back, you might want to stock them up. You should never get stuck on a specific draft strategy without considering what your league peers are doing. This article is about using Zero-RB when the strategy presents itself as the best option, not about deciding it beforehand.

Now that we’ve cleaned up if to go zero-rb, let’s talk about it how. In my Running back preview I’ve given you my favorite Zero RB goals, and I’ll update those as ADP tightens. But first I want to tackle the Zero RB dream build, then three paths based on the current ADP.

My dream scenario begins with me landing Jefferson on turn 1, Mark Andrews on turn 2, DJ Moore on turn 3, Brandin Cooks on turn 4, and Mike Williams on turn 5. That gives me four of my top 14 wide receivers and my #2 tight end.

The only spot this team lacks besides running back is quarterback. If you’re feeling really left out, you might find Jalen Hurts in Round 6. If you miss him, Tom Brady could be in Round 7. If you play in a league that goes crazy for quarterbacks early on, then your first five picks might even be better than my dream scenario. In this case, I could target one of Trey Lance or Justin Fields and pair them with one of Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr.

Now it’s possible that you’ll miss Kupp, Jefferson, and Ja’Marr Chase in Round 1 if you’re on the tail end of the draft. In the scenario, I switch to Travis Kelce and replace Andrews with Stefan Diggs in turn 2. Let’s look at three possible starts based on different draft positions that you could build from. I’ll go through round 6 with the Hurts build and round 5 with the others. Note that all three of these builds are possible according to the Fantasy Pros Consensus PPR ADP:

  • Pick 4 Justin Jefferson, Mark Andrews, DJ Moore, Brandin Cooks, Mike Williams
  • Pick 8 Ja’Marr Chase, Mark Andrews, Michael Pittman, DJ Moore, Courtland Sutton, Jalen Hurts
  • Select 11 Travis Kelce, Stefon Diggs, Michael Pittman, DJ Moore, Courtland Sutton

All three of these teams have four of my top 20 wide receivers and either my #1 or #2 tight end. Pick 8’s team also has my #5 quarterback. Now it’s time to attack the running back position like a college freshman and a day-old pizza. Eat until you are full and then eat some more. Here’s that list from the preview for your reference:

round 6 – Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt, Tony Pollard
round 7 – Chase Edmonds, Kenneth Walker
round 8 -Michael Carter, Rhamondre Stevenson
round 9 – James Cook, Nyheim Hines
round 10 – Dameon Pierce, Tyler Allgeier, Alexander Mattison
round 11 – Raheem Mostert, Isaiah Spiller
Round 12 – Marlon Mack, Mark Ingram
Round 13 –
Kenneth Gainwell, Rachaad White
Round 14 or later
– Khalil Herbert, foreman of D’Onta,

Now here is a wide range of backs. There are high-upside handcuffs that don’t pay without injury, 1B backs that can bow early or be a league winner with an injury, and less exciting higher-bottomed backs. I want a mix of all three. First, I want two backs that I can consider flex or better for week 1. Then I want as much head and as many shots as possible from rounds 6-14. With these builds, I would expect at least six of my last nine picks to be running backs, with at least one other upside wide receiver and one quarterback.

Zero RB build from choice 4

1.4 Justin Jefferson
2.9 Mark Andrews
3.4 DJ Moore
4.9 Brandin Cooks
5.4 Mike Williams
6.9 Kareem Hunt
7.4 Tom Brady
8.9 Hunt for Edmonds
9.4 James Cook
10.9 Alexander Mattison
11.4 Dameon Pierce
12.9 Isaiah Spiller
13.4 Khalil Herbert
14.9 Jahan Dotson

You’ll notice a lot of rookie runningbacks in these builds because they’re not yet pushed up in ADP like they normally do. Pierce and Allgeier in particular seem to have pretty clear paths to starter reps, but I prefer Pierce because Cordarrelle Patterson is likely to keep Allgeier off the field this year for passing downs.

Zero RB build from Pick 8

1.8 Ja’Marr Pursuit
2.5 Mark Andrews
3.8 Michael Pittman
4.5 DJ Moore
5.8 Courtland Sutton
6.5 Jalen hurts
7.8 Hunt for Edmonds
8.5 Michael Carter
9.8 Treylon Burks
10.5 Nyheim Hines
11.8 Dameon Pierce
12.5 Isaiah Spiller
13.8 Mark Ingram
14.5 Tyler Allgeier

Mark Ingram doesn’t look nearly as attractive now that Alvin Kamara’s trial has been postponed yet again, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be called again. For one, a video leak or settlement could result in a mid-season hiatus, and for another, Kamara could miss time. Ingram’s age makes this surprising, but he’s a pretty high handcuff at worst and could be more of a 1B like Hunt or Pollard.

Zero RB build from Pick 11

1.11 Travis Kelce
2.2 Stefan Diggs
3.11 Michael Pittman
4.2 DJ Moore
5.11 Courtland Sutton
6.2 miles Sanders
7.11 Tony Pollard
8.2 Hunt for Edmonds
9.11 Kirk Cousins
10.2 Justin Fields
11.11 Dameon Pierce
12.2 Isaiah Spiller
13.11 Tyler Allgeier
14.2 Jahan Dotson

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these running backs, especially those in the double-digit rounds, saw their ADP increase in the coming weeks. But it’s difficult to come up with a plan based on what ADP might be, so I’ll use the current consensus. The original Zero RB target list shows how early I am ready to attack these backs, while the three draft plans show the best-case scenario according to the current ADP. Stay informed of changes and adapt accordingly.

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