We ended up using a calculation to display the total including zeros.
So the course total calculates the grade of graded work only, and the calculation shows the grade with empty grades calculated as zero.
Even though we were trying to avoid using a calculation, it has worked out okay because we only had to calculate each category, where as before we calculated each grade item. Below is a screenshot of the calculation.
This course has two categories. coursework (cw) and Final Exam (fe) The cw category has 3080 possible points and is weighted as 80% of the grade and the fe category has 767 possible points and is weighted as 20% of the grade. Using this calculation the grade book displays the current grade with 0's calculated.
I'm not sure if this helps you or not. It's what we will use rhis year in all of our courses.