Explaining how Zero WR strategy works for fantasy football drafts

What is a Zero WR strategy in fantasy football leagues, and how can fantasy managers use it to draft a winning roster in dynasty startups?

PFN’s dynasty 101 series continues by diving into the specifics of dynasty startup draft strategies. Today, let’s discuss the best way to implement a Zero WR strategy in your dynasty fantasy football startup draft.

How to thrive in a draft using Zero WR

Zero WR is a risky and unconventional dynasty startup draft strategy. What are the benefits (and risks) associated with ignoring wide receivers early in your draft?

What is Zero WR?

Hopefully, you recently read my primer on Zero RB in dynasty startup drafts. Zero WR is the same strategy, except flip the running back and wide receiver roles.

Zero WR is one of the many derivative strategies from Shawn Siegle’s original 2013 Zero RB strategy. The goal of Zero WR is to dominate fantasy football’s most important position and backfill wide receivers later in your draft.

How to implement Zero WR in a dynasty startup draft

Let me preface this by saying Zero WR is not a recommended strategy. Wide receivers are the lifeblood of dynasty rosters. You should only implement a Zero WR strategy if your draft is playing out in such a way that makes it too beneficial not to.

In my Zero RB article, I discussed how Zero RB and punting Year 1 work well together. As you may have surmised, Zero WR works better if you’re trying to win right away in your dynasty league.

How Zero WR and a win-now approach in a dynasty startup draft mesh well together

The shelf life of a running back is far shorter than a wide receiver. If you’re loading up 3-4 running backs in the first 6-7 rounds of your dynasty startup draft, you need them to produce right away. You’re likely drafting running backs that are proven and in their prime. These players may be 24, 25, or 26 years old. Perhaps even older. You know some of them likely won’t be on your team in 3-4 years.

If you draft wide receivers, you can be more confident in them sticking around for more than half a decade. The point of this is to illustrate how a Zero WR strategy is not going to set you up to succeed long-term. If your plan is to build a roster that ascends to the top in 2-3 years and stays there, this is not the way.

The thing with dynasty startup drafts is most managers are looking to win later. They don’t care about that first year. Established veterans? Not for them. They’re taking first and second-year players. Building for the future. The opportunity will be there for you to load up on early-round running backs and hope they stay healthy and pan out.

In dynasty startup drafts, veteran wide receivers (think guys that are 29-31 years old but not done yet) often fall way further than they do in redraft leagues. These guys are still productive. Grab two RB1s and an RB2 within the first five rounds. Supplement them with an elite tight end and quarterback. Then backfill your roster with older wide receivers no one wants. All of a sudden, you have a lineup that’s looking way better in Year 1 than everyone else’s.

What are the risks of using a Zero WR strategy in a dynasty startup?

The main risk is if you don’t succeed in Year 1. Your entire strategy is centered around winning early. If that fails, now you’re left without long-term answers at wide receiver.

Plus, in all likelihood, your running backs didn’t work out as well as you expected. They’re going to be a year older, and one year in a running back’s life is equivalent to two and a half in a wide receiver’s.

Using a historical example, take the 2017 season. Entering that year, imagine how stacked your roster would be if you went all-in on David Johnson, Todd Gurley, and Le’Veon Bell. If you didn’t win that year, by 2019, those three combined lost about 90% of their value.

The NFL changes quickly, especially at running back. Going with a Zero WR strategy can give you a substantial edge early in your dynasty tenure. Make sure you are fully prepared and know the pros and cons heading into your dynasty startup draft.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.