2014 Fantasy Football: Week 1 Zero Running Back Review

With Week 1 of the NFL season now in the books, fantasy football players can review hard data on the effectiveness of the Zero Running Back Strategy.

Using ESPN ADP and standard scoring data, the table below lists the top-10 running backs drafted in 2014, as well as the Week 1 top-10 scoring running backs.


ESPN Top-10 RBs Drafted Week 1 Scoring Leaders
Adrian Peterson Marshawn Lynch
LeSean McCoy Le’Veon Bell
Marshawn Lynch Knowshon Moreno
Jamaal Charles Mark Ingram
Matt Forte DeMarco Murray
Eddie Lacy Matt Forte
Arian Foster Chris Ivory
Doug Martin Rashad Jennings
DeMarco Murray Isaiah Crowell
Le’Veon Bell Darren Sproles

As you can see, four running backs(Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray and Le’Veon Bell) drafted as a top-10 running back were able to finish Week 1 as a top-10 back in scoring.  That means 40% of those early drafted running backs gave you a return on your investment.

Those were the results for the running backs, but what about the wide receivers?

ESPN Top-10 RBs Drafted Week 1 Scoring Leaders
Calvin Johnson Calvin Johnson
Demaryius Thomas Allen Hurns
A.J. Green A.J. Green
Dez Bryant Cordarrelle Patterson
Brandon Marshal Steve Smith
Julio Jones Antonio Brown
Jordy Nelson Jeremy Maclin
Alshon Jeffery Kelvin Benjamin
Antonio Brown DeAndre Hopkins
Andre Johnson Brandin Cooks

The Week 1 results show that Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Antonio Brown were among the first-10 wide receivers off the board who were also some of the highest-scoring receivers in Week 1. Those results, however, translate into only 30% of the top-10 wide receivers drafted finishing as top-10 receivers in Week 1.

At least for the wide receivers, the results seem to indicate that even if a wide receiver is young or unproven such as Kelvin Benjamin, DeAndre HopkinsBrandin Cooks and Cordarrelle Patterson, they are still some of the best players on their team, so they are going to produce when given opportunities. Other receivers like Steve Smith and Jeremy Maclin have been dominant fantasy options in the past, but when their respective teams needed to move the ball, they were targeted. You will also have rookies like Allen Hurns, who can capitalize when given a starting role.

As a whole, however, the wide receivers who earned a top-10 spot are not surprising. I would have picked a few other players who I thought would have made the list, but their isn’t a name that seriously surprises or shocks me, other than Hurns.

The running backs provided a little less consistency, as Knowshon Moreno, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Rashad Jennings, Isaiah Crowell and Darren Sproles all finished as as top-10 backs.

Even if a top drafted receiver didn’t hit the top 10, you might have owned one who did if you drafted wide receivers into the sixth round with the Zero Running Back Strategy. If you drafted Eddie Lacy and Doug Martin, you probably didn’t have any other back on your team pick up the slack, or you didn’t start one who did.

I still believe you can use value based drafting and land a stud running back early, but you absolutely have to land that stud. There is no room for mediocre production for a running back who is a first-round pick.

Are we able to make any solid conclusions for the Zero Running Back fantasy football strategy off of one week of games? Absolutely not. As any fantasy football strategy goes, this will be something that requires data from the entire season to prove its effectiveness.

Don’t freak out over just one week, but start crunching a few numbers and give yourself a little review. Week 2 will give us a little more insight.



Categories: Fantasy Football

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