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Zero RB Strategy: Not for 2020

As the locomotive that is fantasy football continues to build steam leading up to the September 10th NFL kickoff, many players are looking for that perfect last minute draft strategy that may bring home the gold during the Christmas season.

If playing in half or full point-per-reception (PPR) leagues, I am here to tell you that 2020 is NOT the year for the zero running back strategy in your draft. Current average draft positions (ADP) rankings from the good folks at FantasyPros have 14 of the top 25 players as running backs and on top of the “elephant in the room” that is COVID-19; the following elements also have to be taken into account.

Alvin Kamara – potential contract dispute

Dalvin Cook – potential contract dispute

Nick Chubb – already went through concussion protocol

Kenyan Drake – lower leg issue

The 2020 wide receiver crop is such a deep talent pool that I am consistently deploying an RB heavy strategy in all leagues and want as many playable assets as possible going into the season.

Even with drafting three running backs and a top-five tight end in the first four rounds of a draft the following wide receivers, by ADP, could confidently be rostered dependent on draft position (with brief take on each player.)

Round 5: Keenan Allen (ADP 51) or Robert Woods (ADP 55)

Allen is hands down the WR1 for the Los Angeles Chargers going into the season and with the news that Mike Williams is expected to potentially miss weeks in September; KA is in for a massive target share despite the downgraded LAC passing game this year.

Also take into account the recent statement from Anthony Lynn (Hard Knocks, Ep. 3), “I go into the Coordinator’s office every week. I say “Feed Keenan Allen, Keenan blocks.” With no definite WR3 for this team, fire up Allen with confidence.

Woods is a quintessential producer at the wide receiver position for fantasy purposes. For PPR leagues, here are Woods’ average points-per-game over the last three years: 13.6 in 2017, 16.6 in 2018 and 15.5 in 2019.

The Rams are projected to build off the success of deploying 12 personnel at the end of the 2019 season and I look for Woods and Kupp to dominate the target distribution on a team that no longer rosters Brandin Cooks.

Round 6: TY Hilton (ADP 60) or Michael Gallup (ADP 75)

Yes, I understand the injury component with Hilton, but the value of taking a “Keenan Allen-like” WR in a Philip Rivers-led offense cannot be overlooked. Since 2014, Hilton has averaged 15 PPR pts/game in seasons where he started at least 14 games.

I like Hilton as a mid-to-high WR2 in this offense, if he is able to fight the injury bug and stay on the field. You can also back him up with a Parris Campbell in the late rounds or off waivers for insurance.

Round 6 may be a bit early, but I love Michael Gallup to outperform this draft slot during the 2020 season.

The Cowboys' offense is coming off a season in which Prescott attempted 596 passes and is entering the year hoping for a massive payday in a Mike McCarthy-led offense.

With 166 targets up for grabs (Cobb and Witten,) Gallup could produce handsomely for fantasy teams coming off his 15.2 PPR pts/game average of 2019.

I know some expect Ceedee Lamb to soak up some of this volume, but let’s not forget that rookies will be behind a learning curve with no preseason games to start their career.

Round 7/8: Tyler Boyd (ADP 78) or Will Fuller V (ADP 88)

Analysts and beat writers around the league expect this Bengals' offense to take a step forward in year two under Zac Taylor after drafting Joe Burrow with the number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Coming off a season where he averaged 13.9 PPR pts/game, Boyd will see more beneficial match-ups with the return of A.J. Green to the lineup (he averaged 15.5 per game with Green in 2018.)

Burrow has recently raved about a “big year” for Boyd as the slot WR in this offense. Great value for a strong WR3 in your lineup.

I chose to go with a round seven or eight pick at WR with this section because Will Fuller V may potentially fall to the eighth based on current ADP.

While very much a “boom or bust” producer in fantasy for much of his career, Fuller is the only returning wide receiver holding strong rapport with Deshaun Watson in an offense with 150 targets up for grabs.

I am grabbing Fuller wherever possible and hoping this will be the healthy year that has eluded him throughout his young NFL career.

Rejoice fantasy lovers, football is right around the corner!

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