There are various ways to attack a fantasy football draft. One approach that some savvy longtime players choose to employ is the Zero WR Draft Strategy, where the primary emphasis is on running backs with the earliest round selections.
Quarterbacks and tight ends are also frequently prioritized over wide receivers when using the Zero WR Draft Strategy. Value-based drafting becomes a key to pulling off the Zero WR plan. Zero WR is a slight pivot away and has similarities to the Robust RB Draft Strategy.
What is the Zero WR Draft Strategy?
Since running back is considered such an important and risky position, while wide receiver is seen as deeper, the Zero WR Strategy urges the drafter to load up on top RBs in the first three to four rounds or so. Such an approach guarantees exposure to more of the better players at the position and also offers RB insurance in terms of top-level depth in case of missed games.
You may wait until the fifth or sixth round to start addressing the WR position when utilizing a Zero Draft Strategy map. Expect the opportunity to draft one of the better quarterbacks and possibly a top tight end, which is worth much consideration at the thinnest position in fantasy football.
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Which Wide Receivers to Target Using Zero WR
Treylon Burks should see heavy volume as the No. 1 WR for Tennessee as he emerges as a top target in his second pro season. Kadarius Toney has significant upside as the No. 1 WR for Kansas City, and he could deliver a terrific value return if he plays close to a full schedule.
Some fantasy players are overrating the shorter-term impact of Seattle rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba and expecting him to overtake Tyler Lockett in 2023. The Seahawks veteran will be 31 years old this season, but as the late, great Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros used to point out in his annual studies, that is not the across-the-board sharp decline age for WRs, and Lockett will remain Seattle’s No. 2 WR on its depth chart.
Brandin Cooks will be working with his best QB in six seasons as he teams up with Dak Prescott in Dallas. Rashod Bateman might be headed for a breakout season in Baltimore as possibly the most reliable WR for Lamar Jackson.
Vikings rookie Jordan Addison can be an immediate impact performer as the needed complement to Justin Jefferson. Jahan Dotson might emerge as the top playmaking option opposite Terry McLaurin in the Washington passing game.
Zero WR Strategy Risks & Rewards
The biggest risk of accepting the Zero WR Strategy challenge is passing on many dependable performers at the position and taking significant gambles, especially when you get to the third WR spot if your league requires that many starters. In 2022, no WR who finished in the top 20 overall averaged less than 13 fantasy points per game, while only four WRs who finished from 30 to 50 overall, a range that is heavily focused on in the Zero WR realm, averaged 13-plus fantasy points per game.
The reward is being able to load up on at least three of the best running backs available, and having a more ideal option at the flex position. If you start the draft with four RBs, then depth for potential injuries or possible trades will be a big plus.
Zero WR Advice & Tips
Does Zero WR work in dynasty leagues?
According to statista.com, the average NFL career length of a WR is 2.81 years, as compared to 2.57 for running backs. There are two ways to view such a statistic, which reflects widespread dynasty fantasy football views that WRs are safer longer-term options.
With the generally accepted fall-off age for RBs is 30 years old, those looking to the longer term in dynasty leagues can conceivably get more quality seasons out of their WRs. But since RBs have shorter careers and are bigger durability risks throughout their careers, you need more quality top-level depth at the position.
Ultimately, though, I prefer to build my dynasty teams around a core of quality anchor players at RB and WR and not focus too heavily on one position over the other in a dynasty startup draft. You can always bolster the RB position every year in rookie and free agent drafts, and injuries will also lead to impact playing time for value plays, so I don’t lean to Zero WR Strategy approaches in initial dynasty drafts.
What is the difference between Zero RB and Zero WR?
The Zero RB Draft Strategy is the true opposite of the Zero WR Draft Strategy, obviously in name and execution. The Zero RB Draft Strategy recommends waiting on RBs until at least the fifth round or so and focusing on WRs early in the draft.
As with the more extreme WR plan, the aim is to stock up on some value types at RB later in the draft. The blueprint is to dominate the WR position, especially in leagues requiring three starters.
How do I construct my roster when drafting with Zero WR Strategy?
The first three picks should definitely be running backs. Then you have to decide if taking a fourth RB in the fourth round is the best way to go, and that should be dictated by the flow of the draft.
The fourth-round choice should be made at the time based on how many top tight ends are left and how many quarterbacks have been taken. If you believe that you can wait until the fifth round to get a top seven or so TE and are willing to wait on QB until later, then start your draft with four RBs.
I would recommend waiting on QB if possible when going with the Zero WR Strategy plan. It is possible to get one of the better TEs in the fourth or fifth round, and then start to address your top WR spots while still getting a top 10- to 12-QB type in the middle to later rounds if feasible.