There are plenty of edges in Underdog's best ball leagues that can be gained through roster structure. That structure can be macro, as previously discussed, or in the exact draft strategy used to build your teams. The latter will be the focus of today's piece, with three strategies locked and loaded for you to dominate on Underdog.
This strategy is written about and popularized by Footballguys' very own Matt Waldman and Shawn Siegele of RotoViz. It is founded on the concept of anti-fragility, which means team-building to take advantage of the chaos that typically occurs during the NFL season. It is easy to see why this would be desirable. Injuries and other unforeseen circumstances have a way of tanking fantasy seasons -- and this is perhaps exacerbated in a format where there are no waivers available.
Due to the number and nature of running back injuries every year, this strategy typically materializes in waiting at the position. Not only does this help to avoid catastrophic injuries to your own roster, but by creating a stable of backs in ambiguous backfields or high-value handcuff spots, those injuries will make Zero RB teams even better. Zero RB teams are almost always loaded at receiver.
From a construction standpoint, the preferred Zero RB build is:
- QB - 2
- RB - 6
- WR - 8
- TE - 2
Zero RB teams should desire to be strong at quarterback and tight end for two reasons:
- Being strong everywhere but running back limits the number of things we need to get right for our teams to pop.
- Strength at those positions allows drafters to stick to two, allowing for more capital to be spent at running back.
As was mentioned in the original Underdog edges piece, you will want to mix up the archetypes of the running backs you select. Specifically, do not take too many handcuffs. It is critical to avoid zero's in best ball since Week 1 (when Zero RB teams are weakest) counts the same as Week 13 (when Zero RB teams should be stronger due to in-season chaos).
Modified Zero RB
Even if Zero RB is your preferred strategy, there are times where deviating slightly will make sense while still maintaining a hyper-fragile structure. Specifically, there are a few workhorse running backs that it may not be wise to skip in favor of receivers. For example, even the most ardent supporter of Zero RB would not recommend taking Tyreek Hill over Christian McCaffrey at the 1.01. These running backs are so special that it is worth taking on some fragility in Round 1.
To underline that point more clearly: Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, and Dalvin Cook all scored at least 315 points in half-PPR formats in 2020. No other running back had more than 240. Having one of these unicorn backs is a tremendous edge in fantasy. Here is the preferred construction:
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