Fantasy Football Zero RB Strategy: Players to Target in 2019

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 12:  Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs with the football in the second half of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 12, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars | Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Fantasy football draft strategies are constantly evolving, and one that has taken the game by storm over the last few seasons has been the "Zero RB" approach — forgoing the usual method of targeting running backs at the top of drafts, and instead ignoring the position entirely until at least the middle rounds.

The key for this bold strategy to be successful is making sure the backs you do draft carry enough upside. You want to find players that have the ability to turn into every-week starters that finish near the top of the position in scoring. With that in mind, here are running backs with an average draft position (ADP) in round seven or later in 12-team leagues that can lead your Zero RB backfield.

3. Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - AUGUST 09: Latavius Murray #28 of the New Orleans Saints during a preseason  game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on August 09, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Latavius Murray is going on average as the 34th RB off the board, with an ADP of 83.7. The New Orleans Saints have a long track record of producing multiple fantasy-relevant players in the same backfield, so replacing Mark Ingram as the complement to Alvin Kamara puts Murray in a terrific situation. Ingram finished 32nd among RBs in fantasy scoring, despite playing only 12 games in 2018, and he finished sixth in his last full 16-game season in 2017. Even if Murray doesn't prove to be an upgrade over Ingram, there could easily prove to be enough volume available to elevate him to Ingram's recent levels of fantasy success.

2. Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins

CLEVELAND, OHIO - AUGUST 08: Running back Derrius Guice #29 of the Washington Redskins talks with wide receiver Odell Beckham #13 of the Cleveland Browns after a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Redskins 30-10. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Probably the riskiest pick in this article, Derrius Guice is going as the 80th player and 33rd running back off the board, despite the fact that he has yet to return to action after an injury cost him his entire 2018 rookie season. The Washington Redskins ranked 11th in run-play percentage last year, and they gave their lead back (Adrian Peterson) 251 carries — the fifth-most in the NFL. Peterson re-signing in Washington adds to the concern around Guice's injury, but AP's durability is a real concern as a 34-year-old with over 2,500 career carries. Younger and likely more athletic at this stage of their respective careers, a healthy Guice has a good shot to earn the starting RB job in Washington, which could elevate him into the top-12 RB conversation.

1. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

Austin Ekeler has an ADP of RB32 (77th overall), and his value at that cost is twofold. The obvious is his value if Melvin Gordon either continues his holdout or is traded. In the three games he played without Gordon last year, Ekeler averaged 13.3 rush attempts and 6.7 targets per game. In 2018, there were only eight RBs to average at least 20 combined rushes and targets per game. Even if Melvin Gordon does play for the Chargers this season, though, Ekeler could still prove to be a solid value pick from a player currently being drafted in the seventh round.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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