If you plan on implementing a Zero Running Back Strategy for your 2014 fantasy football draft, then there are certain players who you will want to target.
If you are unfamiliar with this theory, you can learn more about it from my previous article and see examples of what a team may look like using this strategy.
When you decide to draft your first running back is up to you, but for my own comfortably, I have normally drafted running backs in the fifth or sixth round. I target running backs who are serviceable options and are still relevant in the offense as my starters, and I focus on building depth with backup backs and rushers who have a large amount of upside.
Using the ADP from Fantasy Football Calculator, these are the players who fit my criteria listed above:
Ray Rice: Whether it was a hip injury or a poor offensive line, Ray Rice did not look like himself last season. Rice not only lost a reported 20 pounds this offseason, but he also has received rave reviews from training camp stating the old Ray Rice is back. He will face a two-game suspension to start the season, but he is a candidate for a bounce-back season, and his fifth-round ADP makes him an extremely attractive pick.
Stevan Ridley: Ridley was a disappointment for all of his fantasy owners last season, but he is still one of the main weapons in the rushing attack for the New England Patriots. Other than Shane Vereen and rookie James White, Ridley can gain back the trust of Bill Belichick if he can hold onto the ball and earn a bigger role. His 2012 season of 1,263 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns wasn’t that long ago, and he is another candidate who could produce a solid season for his owners.
Lamar Miller. He doesn’t have a big body of work to analyze, but with the Miami Dolphins trying to turn into a less star-filled version of the Philadelphia Eagles, Miller should have more opportunities to become fantasy relevant than he did last season. If Miller can show that he is a better blocker than Knowshon Moreno, he should earn the majority of carries for the Dolphins in an offense that is more uptempo than last season.
Terrance West: With Ben Tate’s durability a huge question mark on the 2014 season, West could have an opportunity to lead the rushing attack at some point during the year. If Josh Gordon is suspended, running the ball will be the main priority of the Cleveland Browns.
DeAngelo Williams: Someone has to rush the ball other than Cam Newton. He wasn’t an exciting option because of his lack of touchdowns, but Williams quietly put together a nice year in 2013 in rushing and receiving yards. He had 201 rushing attempts, totaled 843 rushing yards, had 333 receiving yards and scored four-total touchdowns. Williams actually finished 2013 with the 19th-most receiving yards for a running back, and he was the 21st-highest scoring running back in standard scoring leagues. Without Steve Smith involved in the passing attack, the Carolina Panthers will rely on the rushing attack to move the ball.
Jeremy Hill: Even though he is a rookie, Hill is apparently edging out BenJarvus Green-Ellis from a job. Hill is taking reps with the first-team offense, and if Giovani Bernard is more involved in the passing attack this year, Hill should be able to steal a good amount of the 220 rushing attempts Green-Ellis saw last season.
Carlos Hyde: This could be the year Frank Gore finally breaks down, or he could go on to finish as a top-10 back. You aren’t going to draft Hyde as a starter, but you do want to own him for his upside if Gore is sidelined for any reason. As a 10th-round pick, Hyde is a great investment.
Chris Ivory: The New York Jets want to use multiple backs, and the 222-pound Ivory should see the carries near the endzone. He could turn into the 2014 version of LenDale White and his 15-touchdown season from 2008, with Chris Johnson being the workhorse.
Ahmad Bradshaw: If Trent Richardson falters at all, Bradshaw should start to see carries early and often. In standard scoring leagues, Bradshaw scored 13 points and 16 points in weeks 2 and 3 respectively last season. He is currently right behind Richardson on the depth chart.
Other Backs To Consider: Bryce Brown, Charles Sims and James White
Drafting backs with upside is key in this strategy, and this list should help you find those players.
Have you used the Zero-RB Theory in any mock drafts or your live drafts? Share the results with me on Twitter.
Categories: Fantasy Football Strategy