Fantasy Football Zero RB Backfield Report: NFC West
Zero RB has been one of the more popular contrarian strategies of the past half-decade in fantasy football. However, something that Davis Mattek has mentioned on the SportsGrid podcast is a potential lack of viable Zero RB candidates in today’s NFL. Essentially, the number of backfields that would produce a full-time starter or high-upside player with an injury may be more limited than they once were.
The Zero RB Backfield Report will look to dive into that hypothesis. I’ll take a look at each division in the NFL, breaking down the backfield of each team, and how viable it is for them to contain a Zero RB candidate.
Today the series continues with the NFC West.
Depth Chart: Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds, Eno Benjamin
Drake excelled once landing in Arizona last season, totaling 818 yards with 22 receptions and eight touchdowns in his eight games as a Cardinal. Arizona will be paying Drake over $8 million this year on the transition tag, and he should dominate the backfield volume when healthy. Playing for a different regime than the one that drafted him, Edmonds was a clear third-fiddle to Drake and whatever was left of David Johnson in 2019. The team then added Eno Benjamin in the seventh round, but his prospect profile is of a player we would have expected to be drafted earlier. Should Drake sustain an injury, the work would likely be split in some form or fashion. Both players are adequate pass-catchers, and weigh in the range of 210 pounds.
Verdict: No Zero RB candidates
Los Angeles Rams
Depth Chart: Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown
Henderson was a fantasy fave last off-season when it was assume that Todd Gurley may be complete dust entering 2019. As it turns out, he had trouble seperating from Brown, only seeing a considerable workload with him unable to play. There is probably still some talent there, but the Rams drafted Akers in the second round of the 2020 draft anyway. This is one of the messiest backfields in fantasy, and could go any number of ways. One would assume Akers to be the lead back given that the team already had information on its other players prior to selecting him, but to what degree is still up in the air. He is also already a fifth round pick. After last season, it is difficult to believe either Henderson or Brown takes full control of the backfield should Akers go down. I would rather avoid this situation entirely than burn roster spots.
Verdict: No Zero RB candidates
San Francisco 49ers
Depth Chart: Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon
Jeffery Wilson is still a member of this team, and San Fran brought in a couple of intriguing undrafted free agents in JaMycal Hasty and Salvon Ahmed. In other words, expect some Shanihanigans again this season. Mostert was the lead back down the stretch for the 49ers last year, and obliterated the Packers in the NFC Championship game. That has led his ADP to jump all the way into the top 50. But don’t forget about Coleman, who had a 100 yard, two touchdown playoff game of his own. McKinnon still has not resumed cutting after a second knee surgery, and has yet to play a regular season snap for the Niners. If he is completely out of the picture, it increases the expected return of the other backs on the roster. As a ninth round pick, Coleman should likely receive at least a couple of high-value starts in 2020.
Verdict: Tevin Coleman (FFPC ADP RB41) is a Zero RB candidate
Depth Chart: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas
Travis Homer should also make the club after being a part of the offense in the 2019 playoffs. After suffering a late-season ACL tear, it is likely that Penny will begin the year on the PUP list, which would take him completely out of the re-draft mix in 2020. The former first round pick may be all but finished in Seattle. Expect Carson to be the lead ball-carrier and a sneaky workhorse RB. Especially with Penny’s availability in question, the rookie Dallas becomes one of my favorite 2020 plays. He is a converted WR and weighs 217 pounds. There is some workhorse potential here in the event of a Carson injury, and Dallas could end up with a passing game role without one. Bringing in Marshawn Lynch to close the 2020 season and selecting Dallas tells us that Seattle does not trust Homer to shoulder much of a load.
Verdict: DeeJay Dallas (FFPC ADP RB61) is a Zero RB candidate