Three Core Zero RB Targets After Round 10 In All Fantasy Football Formats
This is mostly an addendum to the Ultimate Guide To Zero RB Draft but a worthwhile exercise for everyone who is making it a point to follow the Zero RB Drafting methodology. These Zero RB targets fit the dictum of what all teams should be drafting: high upside running backs who offer some chance of weekly contribution but sky-high ceilings with any injury ahead of them. Ideally, as outlined in the Ultimate Guide, you would like to have several types of running backs on your team in the later rounds. Pure handcuffs (like Malcolm Brown), uncertain backfield players (like Brieda) and high-upside pass catchers (like Pollard) should all intermingle on the bench (or in your flex).
These three players are now amongst my most drafted TOTAL players in the DRAFT Best Ball Championship and are priority targets for me in the FFPC Main Event and the rest of my important leagues over the course of draft season.
By this point, the hype train for Pollard might have already passed the point where you could consider him an easy acquistion. As the Ezekiel Elliot holdout saga continues, the probability that Pollard is Dallas’ starting running back in week one increases. Even before the Elliot holdout came to the forefront, sharp drafters realized that there was a hole in the Dallas Cowboy offense for someone with Pollard’s skillset. The team wanted to use Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin in a hybrid WR/RB role with screen passes and deep shots in 2018 and it never panned out.
Everyone around the Dallas Cowboys camp agrees: Pollard is ready to be one of this teams’ best offensive players. Kyle Brandt from Yahoo wrote “if Pollard continues to play this well, the economics of the Ezekiel Elliot deal are likely to shift.” Pollard has been schooling linebackers on passing routes and running as a traditional running back with the first-team offense in practice.
After running a 4.52 40 at 210 pounds and posting a college yards per carry of 7.1 yards (and 15.5% of Memphis’ targets), it became clear that while Pollard was not a good traditional running back prospect, he was a great fit for a team that already had an early-down workhorse. Pollard is the new type of NFL running back (James White, Kenyan Drake) who can handle carrying the ball to keep the defense off balance but is best suited catching the ball out of the backfield. When it gets to be the 10th round or later, I find myself clicking on Pollard’s name more and more often.
I am extremely certain that if Matt Brieda had just been shut down after his first injury last season, his ADP would already be in the top 100 players in fantasy football right now. With news that Jerick McKinnon’s return from his ACL surgery from a year ago is going poorly, Brieda’s Average Draft Position has started to creep back up and is now hovering in the 120’s on DRAFT. Before last season, Brieda played in all 16 of San Francisco’s game as a rookie and didn’t miss any time due to injury. To say that he is injury prone just wouldn’t really be a statement that would reflect reality.
What we do know is that Brieda is at least the 1B to Tevin Coleman who signed to the 49ers as a free agent. He has averaged five yards per carry in his short NFL career, and there is mounting evidence that Kyle Shanahan prefers a split backfield to a true workhorse. Jimmy Garapolo’s career yards per attempt is over eight yards per attempt and Brieda also averaged 8.4 yards per target in the passing game last year. Brieda is an explosive athlete, in an offense that we assume will be at least league-average and has already been upgraded in volume due to Jerick McKinnon’s injury. If I had Matt Brieda on every team I draft from this point forward, I would not consider it a disappointment. When looking at Zero RB targets, Brieda checks all the boxes: athletic, uncertain backfield, likely good offense, able to catch passes. Draft away!
With the realization that the Los Angeles Rams might not have immediate plans to use Darrell Henderson, the value of Malcolm Brown rose significantly. Henderson was playing with the fourth-team offense in the first Rams preseason game this year which seems odd because Sean McVay notoriously does not use starters in the preseason. In fact, Malcolm Brown from the University of Texas was not used in that game. Furthermore, the Detriot Lions attempted to sign Brown in restricted free agency but the Rams matched the contract because they didn’t want to lose him.
The evidence looks like this: the Rams have stated that Todd Gurley is likely to be on a pitch count and he might be “load managed” like an NBA player. They math the offer sheet for Brown and retain John Kelly while drafting (and trading up) for Darrell Henderson. They then proceed to play Henderson, Kelly and Justin Davis in the preseason but not Gurley or Brown. Given that the team has talked about using Henderson “like Chris Thompson” in the passing game, it is not unreasonable to think that it is actually Malcolm Brown who is the true handcuff to Todd Gurley and not in fact, Henderson. So in this way, Brown becomes another perfect of our Zero RB targets. He is a low cost handcuff in what will likely be one of the five best offenses in football.