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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Zero-RB Won't Work in 2020

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Zero-RB Won't Work in 2020

Senior expert Dr. Roto shows why the Zero-RB strategy will not fare well for you in 2020

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2020 FFWC WR1 & WR2 Scoring Targets

Senior fantasy football expert Shawn Childs provides a WR1 & WR2 scoring breakdown and projects what point targets to hit to gain an edge!

FFWC Target Points Series
QB | RB1 & RB2 | RB3 & RB4 | WR1 & WR2 | WR3 & WR4 | TE | Flex | K & DST

I have to admit I have a weakness for the WR position. I like strength at wide receivers, which allows me to make fewer decisions when setting my starting lineup. Here's look at the top 12 wide receivers over the last four seasons:

Top 12 WR point totals (2016 – 2019)

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WR1: Last year the average top 12 WRs averaged 94 catches for 1,250 yards, and 9.4 TDs (2018 – 104 catches for 1,381 yards and 9.4 TDs, 2017 – 92 catches for 1,231 yards and seven TDs, 2016 – 92 catches for 1,212 yards and 9.2 TDs, 2015 – 103 catches for 1,396 yards and ten TDs, 2014 – 97 catches for 1,406 yards and 10 TDs, and 2013 – 95 catches for 1,401 yards and 10 TDs), which translated to 268.43 fantasy points in full-point PPR leagues or 16.78 points per week. The WR1 position had its weakest output (16.19 FPPG) in 2017 over the past seven seasons.

2018 ended up being the return of the elite WR1 after showing similar stats in 2015. The average RB1 outscored the average WR1 by 1.44 fantasy points in 2019, which is the big reason running backs have been flying off the boards in the 2020 draft season. 

The top 12 wide receivers lost value in 2017 (259.11 Fantasy points) while being outscored by the top 12 running backs (274.77) by 15-plus fantasy points per week. 

FFWC Point Totals WR1 Observations

Overall, an elite three-down running back has an edge in almost every season. There will be an exception when a top receiver catches plus receptions or scores a high volume of TDs (Randy Moss 2007 - 98/1523/23, Calvin Johnson 2011 - 96/1681/16, Marvin Harrison 2004 -143/1722/11, and Wes Welker 2011 - 122/1569/9). 

We added Antonio Brown into this category after his elite 2014 season (129/1698/13) to see him raise the bar even further in 2015 (136/1834/10). Julio Jones had his career year in 2015 (136/1,871/8), but he hasn’t put together that impact season in touchdowns so far in his career. The whole fantasy world also knows the high upside of Odell Beckham (91/1305/12 in 12 games in 2014). His next step could be a special season if he matches or beats the best receivers in the game in NFL history. 

In 2018, three wide receivers (DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, and Mike Evans) had over 1,500 yards receiving plus Tyreek Hill had over 1,500 combined yards. 

Keenan Allen finished with over 1,500 receiving yards in 2017, and no one wide receiver broke the 1,500 yards mark in 2016. 

In 2015, four WRs had over 1,500 yards receiving (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Brandon Marshall) while Brown and Jones both posted 136 receptions (2nd highest total in NFL history). They finished with 1,871 (Jones) and 1,834 (Brown) receiving yards, which placed second and fourth all-time.

Last year Michael Thomas set the NFL record with 149 catches for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns.

At any position, scoring plus touchdowns will separate the top players from the field. 

Over the last 20 years, we have seen some fantastic running back that posted some crazy touchdown totals, which was highlighted by the great success of Christian McCaffrey in 2019 (471.20 fantasy points).

On occasion, we have seen a wide receiver be an edge player in fantasy football (Michael Thomas outscored the second high scoring wide receiver by 99.40 fantasy points in 2019).

In most years, a handful of receivers will score between 280-300 fantasy points each year in PPR leagues. Over the last six seasons, 32 combined wide receivers scored more than 280 fantasy points in PPR leagues due to the recent changes in the NFL rules (only one in 2019 – Michael Thomas).

One of my goals on draft day is to eliminate as many weekly lineup decisions as possible. The more decisions a fantasy owner has to make from week-to-week, the higher the chance of being wrong. The WR position is very volatile. If a fantasy owner has too many players that look the same, it is nearly impossible to maximize your success over a long football season.

A fantasy owner that decides to draft a WR strong team in a PPR league will eliminate much of the decision-making process for two possibly three WR positions. This owner MUST draft one strong running back as the core of his roster.

Here’s a look at the second 12 wide receivers over the last four seasons:

WR 13 to 24 point totals (2016 – 2019)

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WR2: It is interesting to see the gaps tighten up at the WR2 position. Last year the second 12 wide receivers averaged 75 catches for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns. The top four WRs at the WR2 position in 2019 averaged 233.43 fantasy points. 

In 2018, the top 12 wide receivers had 73 catches 993 yards and 6.3 TDs, which works out to be 217.19 fantasy points. The top four WRs at the WR2 position in 2018 averaged 234.25 fantasy points. 

The gap from the 13th wide receiver to the 24th in 2019 was only 23.6 fantasy points. In 2018, the 13th ranked wide receiver (243.20 fantasy points) had about a 55-point gap over the 24th wide receiver. 

As I mentioned earlier, the easiest mistakes to make in fantasy football will happen at the wide receiver position. There's nothing worse than having five wide receivers that have similar value. It makes it extremely tough to predict who to start every week. The FFWC has two flex spots in the starting lineup, so the wide receiver decisions don’t get magnified as much as traditional leagues.

A WR2 averaged 13.99 fantasy points per week in 2018, which fell into the mid-range of the WR2 success over the last seven seasons (2013 – 14.17, 2014 – 13.87, 2015 – 14.25, 2016 – 13.72, 2017 – 12.75, and 2018 – 13.57). 

The RB2s averaged 12.65 Fantasy points last year.

FFWC Point Totals WR2 Observations

The second wide receiver for most fantasy teams is just a steady piece to the puzzle. When you're making this selection, you are looking for a solid 200-plus point receiver in PPR leagues. The closer we get to the live draft season, the inventory will tighten up. In most seasons, there are about 17 wide receivers that will score 225-plus fantasy points in PPR leagues (19 in 2015, 15 in 2016, 12 in 2017, 17 in 2018, and 17 in 2019). As much as some fantasy owners want to finesse the position, they can be short at wide receiver if other fantasy owners decide to triple up at the WR position with their first three or four draft picks.

By the end of round five, most of the secure wide receivers will be drafted. The first five rounds of FFWC drafts in 2020 should consist of two quarterbacks, about 24 running backs, about 30 wide receivers, and four TEs in PPR leagues. 

A fantasy owner will need to identify the opportunities at each position to determine which direction they want to go when building their team. A fantasy owner from an early draft position will have a much different thought process than a player from a late position. A team selecting two wide receivers early in drafts will be shopping in a different aisle than a player choosing two running backs with their first two picks. Every draft will be different, but the opportunities after round five will somewhat be consistent.

Expected Gains/Losses for the Top 12 2020 WRs

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In 2020, the wide receiver pool has a step back in talent, at least in the perception of the early draft flow. The backup end top 12 Fantasy wide receivers may lack explosive upside in touchdowns, which is why they project about 60 Fantasy points fewer in PPR league behind Michael Thomas and some of the top wide receivers in the game.

A fantasy owner will need to jockey his decision making between running back and wide receiver over the first few rounds of the draft to come up with the best draft plan for success. A team drafting in the top four positions will have a different plan and opportunity from the back eight draft slots.

It’s essential to get in tune with the incoming talent at all positions.


FFWC Target Points Series
QB | RB1 & RB2 | RB3 & RB4 | WR1 & WR2 | WR3 & WR4 | TE | Flex | K & DST

I have to admit I have a weakness for the WR position. I like strength at wide receivers, which allows me to make fewer decisions when setting my starting lineup. Here's look at the top 12 wide receivers over the last four seasons:

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