2021 Fantasy Football: Zero Wide Receiver Theory
Everyone talks about Zero Running Back. We always see people posting about not taking a running back till after rounds five or six. Not me. Why? Quality wide receivers can be found late. For this article, I took Fantasy Calculator’s ADP 2020, and ESPN's final positional rankings. Let's take a look at the top wideouts.
1. Michael Thomas (8)
2. Devante Adams (10)
3. Tyreek Hill (14)
4. Julio Jones (17)
5. DeAndre Hopkins (20)
6. Chris Godwin (23)
7. Kenny Golladay (27)
8. Mike Evans (28)
9. Adam Thielen (31)
10. Allen Robinson (34)
11. Odell Beckham Jr (36)
12. Amari Cooper (37)
13. DJ Moore (38)
14. Cooper Kupp (40)
15. Juju Smith-Schuster (41)
Now let us take a look at the final rankings based on ESPN scoring:
In this ranking, we see some new faces and some players that really took a leap. Justin Jefferson and Stefon Diggs were probably the two biggest leaps. Diggs ADP was 66 and Jefferson was 142!!! Converting that to a 12 team ADP and we have Diggs going in the middle of the fifth round and Jefferson going at the end of the eleventh round. DK Metcalf’s ADP was 48, which puts him in the fourth round range, with Robert Woods sitting at 47th.
Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Kenny Golladay, Odell Beckham, and Cooper Kupp all fell off the top 15 (granted there were injuries). But considering you can grab yourself two solid running backs in the first two rounds, and then look to fill a wide receiver come rounds 4-5, you can really find a solid starter later on. Some values that were to be had were:
Terry McLaurin (ADP-52/Final Ranking-20)
Tyler Lockett (ADP-53/Final Ranking-8)
Brandin Cooks (ADP-80/Final Ranking-17)
Marvin Jones (ADP-93/Final Ranking-18)
Diontae Johnson (ADP-97/Final Ranking-21)
Ceedee Lamb (ADP-109/Final Ranking-22)
Chase Claypool (ADP-195/Final Ranking-23)
Curtis Samuel (ADP-184/Final Ranking-24)
Cole Beasley (ADP-Over 200/Final Ranking-26)
Tee Higgins (ADP-Over 200/Final Ranking-28)
Tyler Boyd (ADP-79/Final Ranking-29)
Robby Anderson (ADP-179/Final Ranking-19)
These are big examples of ADP steals for last season. Last season in Scott Fish Bowl 10 I drafted Terry McLaurin and Tyler Lockett in my Zero Wide Receiver strategy, which turned out great. These may have been the big value picks, as we turn into the round 4/5 range we begin to look at Running Backs who’s jobs aren’t as secure, or are in timeshares.
The big issue comes into the running back pool. It thins out extremely fast. Once you hit round five or six it becomes all committee players. So far in this draft season, we see Melvin Gordon, Ronald Jones, Javonte Williams, Chase Edmonds, Damien Harris, Leonard Fournette, and others in the 5/6 round range. While they are all good running backs, they aren’t the bell cows we want in fantasy football.
In this range, you could be drafting a low-end WR1/high-end WR2. Starting the first three rounds off with 2 Running Backs is the way to go. Even a Running Back such as JK Dobbins has some question marks with full-time carries.
The running back talent pool drops off massively, emphasizing the importance of stacking Running Backs early. Excluding Kamara who’s massive championship week put him up top, the difference from RB2 to RB 11 is over 40 points, and then takes more of a dip after that. Walking out of the first two to three rounds with 2 of the top 15 RBs will assure you (barring injuries) of a big hole in the position. Taking away WR1-3, the difference from WR4-23 is 80 points or so, with most of the Wide Receivers pretty tightly packed together, but the RB pool remains thin. You begin to see a lot of committee backfields.
In closing, the importance of stacking RB early is extremely important in Fantasy Football. Zero Running Back is very risky, and not worth it in my opinion. Go Zero Wide Receiver. The odds of you finding stud Wide Receivers in the middle rounds versus Running Backs is less likely and riskier.