*This series will cover the Zero QB strategy in depth by breaking down each individual piece of the ideal Zero QB draft to help you optimize your start ups this offseason.
When people hear Zero QB, they panic. Since Superflex became the de facto standard setting for dynasty leagues, and Campus 2 Canton leagues in particular, the thought of punting the most important position seems suboptimal, to put it kindly. But what if I told you that not only could you build a stronger team by completely skipping the quarterback position early in your Campus drafts, you would also be using the optimal team-building strategy as we approach the 2021 college football season?
You read that right. And it’s the truth.
In this series, I’ll give you a look deep into how I’m drafting this offseason. These articles will cover all aspects of the draft, including early non-QB targets, late round stashes, the NFL upside QBs I am targeting in the middle rounds, and how to marry together this QB-less college roster with an NFL team to create a bigger championship window for you.
To check out Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Vol. IV – please click on the links.
HOW WE CONNECT OUR TEAMS
A Zero QB approach on the college side is great, but we are doing it because there is so much uncertainty at the position in college this offseason. QB is still the most important position in a Superflex format, so managers will need to secure it on the NFL side of their Campus 2 Canton teams.
The concept of connecting, or “marrying” our teams as I’ll often refer to it, is a basic concept in which we can attempt to plan for the future of our NFL team by filling positional needs on the college side. For instance, if I have some aging receivers on my NFL roster, think a core of Adam Theilen, Julio Jones, and Mike Evans. I may focus on stacking up some young receivers on my college roster to create a pipeline to fill that inevitable void.
In our scenario, because we ignored QB for the immediate future but stacked up young running backs early (see how this all ties together?!), we don’t need to draft a bunch of RBs early. Instead, we’ll break our draft into pieces and focus on specific goals/positional groups through each phase of this draft. In a typical 12 team league, those phases are:
- Rounds 1-4 (Finding our Cornerstones)
- Rounds 5-8 (Window Extension)
- Rounds 9-15 (BPA Upside)
- Rounds 15-? (Filling out our Roster)
FINDING OUR CORNERSTONES
The picks in this section can go several different directions, but if we are looking to build that extended window then you should walk away from round four with two starting QBs and then your choice of best WR/TE/RB available. This can differ based on league settings, opponent team builds, or personal preference. The one constant should always be those two quarterbacks.
I should note that this offseason, more than any other I can remember, there is an over-emphasis on attacking the QB position in dynasty start-ups. I know DLF & Sleeper’s ADP shows there are still several RBs going in the first two rounds, along with WRs Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams, but that has not been my experience. In fact, in a recent C2C start-up I completed 11 of the first 12 picks were quarterbacks. Through three rounds, 18 quarterbacks were off the board. The best piece of advice I can give in this regard is to stick to your strategy and don’t panic. Talent WILL fall, and even waiting until the fourth round should net you a strong QB duo.
I actually tend to split my early rounds into rounds 1/2 & 3/4. I try to take a quarterback in each of those pairings and then BPA at another position. WRs extend your window to compete, but are easier to find late in your drafts. So if you want to compete in year one, I suggest taking at least one running back here. Regardless, the play here is upside and not reaching.
The logic behind this move is simple. As we discussed in Volume 1, we took our NCAA running backs early. There were two reasons for this. First, that’s where the value fell as we were drafting. Second, running backs have the shortest NFL shelf life. If you want an extended contention window, it’s imperative to have a stable of college running backs.
In the draft I recently detailed on an episode of the Campus2Canton podcast, I was able to snag two high upside running backs in D’Andre Swift and Antonio Gibson. I was fine with taking running backs in that scenario because I didn’t have to reach for players that I believe will receive touches in the rushing and passing game. This may vary depending on how the draft board shakes out.
After my first two round groups, rounds 5-8 can be a mixed bag and should be a direct reaction to what happened early. In my sample draft (pictured above), because my roster already had two potential RB1s, my attention immediately pivoted to filling out my receiving room. Players like DJ Moore, Chris Godwin, and Amari Cooper consistently fall to this area in drafts, and I am more than happy for any of those players to be my WR1. In some cases, you can get two or even three of those players in this scenario, which is an extremely strong receiver group that is young, proven, and all have upside to be a yearly WR1.
Managers can also target a third RB or QB in these rounds, but it should depend mostly on the value presented. For instance, I’ve seen Josh Jacobs fall to the late sixth or seventh in a couple drafts this offseason, and I think that’s worth some consideration, as are names like Kareem Hunt and Javonte Williams. Likewise, QBs with some upside can sometimes fall as well, although that seems less likely. The key is flexibility.
There’s also the issue of tight end. If you didn’t grab one of the top 3-4 guys early, you can consider taking one of the next tier here. I don’t have strong feelings on tight end strategy and I’ll often switch it up depending on the draft board falls. This offseason alone, I’ve taken Pitts, Waller, Kelce, and Hockenson in four different start-ups, along with one league where I punted the position until late. I think any of these strategies can work within Zero QB, so feel free to work with what you prefer.
BPA UPSIDE AND FILLING OUT OUR ROSTER
By this point, drafters should have the bones of their starting roster mostly in place but should still be thinking about filling out their remaining flex spots. This portion of the draft should be BPA. Load up on those receivers we skipped earlier, snag an upside RB or TE, or even an aging QB like Tom Brady should they fall to this point. Hopefully, you aren’t taking players here that are absolutely crucial to your success. If you’ve played dynasty before, you know how quickly the talent drops off, so trust your gut and play this by ear.
While it is not advisable in my opinion, some fantasy managers may not be comfortable moving forward with only two quarterbacks that are certain starters. If this is you, that’s fine. You can certainly snag a third QB somewhere in the first six rounds or so and still walk away with a solid team, you may just be lacking a quality flex option at points throughout the season.