The Zero RB Report: A Look at All 32 Teams

Shawn Siegele uses PFF's advanced stats to analyze all 32 RB depth charts and how they fit various fantasy strategies.

| 3 years ago
Tre Mason

The Zero RB Report: A Look at All 32 Teams

Tre MasonMy idea for this piece is to look at each backfield to see which ones lent themselves to a traditional VBD approach, which to a Zero RB approach, and which had no value whatsoever. The analysis will be merely descriptive, but may be useful in conducting a variety of thought experiments that help develop the theory more in the future.

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Shawn Siegele is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and creator of Money in the Banana Stand. He also contributes to RotoViz. You can follow him on twitter @FF_Contrarian.


  • Robin Strick

    Hey Shawn, good luck in your playoffs. While reading thru the article the way you ranked each team I sort of felt you were mixing the ZeroRB concept with competitive in-season waiver management. From my understanding of it ZeroRB is really more focused on how you approach your draft in August, i.e. RBs you would have taken after round 5. I see competitive in-season waiver management as picking up RBs off waivers when the initial starters go down or have legal
    issues (ADP, Rice) or your draft selections dont perform. Unless of course you have an unlimited bench size but with only 5-6 bench slots I cant see anyone drafting Forsett (behind Rice, Pierce) or CJ(Ball, Hillman) in August.
    A preseason RB ranking here would have been nice to see. Since I drafted 10 teams following this strategy I do feel I was very active in my leagues looking for RBs off waivers. What was never mentioned but probably is extremely important is managing your waiver priority thru out the season when going ZeroRB. In Jax the ZeroRB candidate was Gerhart, when it was obvious he wasnt going to work out Denard was a waiver choice for 4-5 games. Lamar in Miami. Car’s DeAngelo/Stewart, Tenn’s Sankey/White, TBs Martin/Simms, SanDiego’s Matthews, NYG Jennings, Jets Ivory while they didnt all work out if drafted in August, they were all imo ZeroRB candidates in August. Also of note is when going ZeroRB means you invested heavily in WRs early in the draft and it should be noted how 1st or 2nd round WRs Megatron, D.Thomas, B. Marshall, J.Jones, Green did over the 1st 4-10 weeks of the season, it was a very tuff start. Of my 8 teams that are in the playoffs taking a QB(Luck, Peyton) and Gronk early in the draft is the most consistent thing they have in common. Perhaps of interest would have been the # of ZeroRBs drafted in August that are still on your team in week 14 vs. those RBs you had to have a high waiver priority to get. None of the teams where I was streaming QBs weekly made the playoffs though a few of the teams with late round QBs Cutler, Rivers came close to making the playoffs.

    • Shawn Siegele

      Hey Robin, really appreciate the thoughts on this. I think a lot of folks have different ideas in terms of what Zero RB means to them. My personal approach is to mix high upside picks with a very aggressive waiver technique. I’ve received complaints on twitter that it wasn’t possible to get many of the RBs I label as Zero RB because the competition in FA was so fierce. This is certainly an issue. I wasn’t able to get Tre Mason or C.J. Anderson for my specific teams, and I know others have their own stories about who they were able to get and who they missed. On my specific teams, I tended to start Ahmad Bradshaw and Justin Forsett – one a late round pick and one a FA – and that worked out extremely well. I think in most cases the biggest issue for Zero RB practitioners was the failure of the big name receivers you mentioned, not a lack of RB quality, but each participant will have a slightly different personal history.
      I think how you approach free agency definitely depends on bench size. In deeper leagues, you can be proactive in stashing your favorite backups or breakout candidates. In shallower leagues, the free agent pool usually has players of some caliber to stream every week. I think the tools available at PFF often help identify these types of players early, often a week earlier than the crowd, and that’s always a big help to me in my personal leagues.
      Almost all of the 30-40 leagues I play in use free agent bidding, which is possibly more favorable to Zero RB, but even there you have to identify who you want and go after them aggressively.
      Good luck in your finals this week.