Best ball: The one-night stand which pays off in nine months. Using Underdog Sports, the possibilities and team constructs are endless. Like building a cocktail, the combinations and variations will allow multiple correct ways of going about it. However, there are ways to mess it up. Best ball can come at you fast, only having 30-second time slots to pick your player, which could win you millions.
One of the worst things happening to people in drafts is the freak-out moment. Not knowing who you have at your positions while watching the three queued players disappear one after another. Suddenly, there are 14 receivers on a roster with two running backs, a quarterback, and a tight end. Not the recipe for success.
I will lay out a quick and easy list of rules to follow while drafting to keep this from happening. The twist is I will explain it the same way I do while building cocktails. I will then draft using this list and explain why I went with specific picks along the way.
Know your inventory
Know who you have and what you need. Simple Enough.
Know how certain spirits play with each other
We aren’t always trying to build the cocktail with the most heat. That’s why we have Rumplemintz. You don’t always need the player with the highest ceiling if you already have them on your roster. Add something which keeps the person sipping, or in fantasy, constantly keeps points on the board.
Be responsible while pouring and measure your cocktails
Like pour counts, tiers are essential. Projecting players to have an exact outcome is asinine. Giving a player a 10 to 15-percent variance towards projected fantasy points should help you assign certain players into said tiers. Know your needs and keep an eye on who is still on the board. Check how many spots between the players you want and if one can make it back to you. If you have a player in the same tier who could make it you, your choice gets much easier to select a different position even if you don’t like the second option as much. Even if they both have similar outcomes.
Sample projection for Miles Sanders: 800 to 1,100 rushing yards, 30 to 50 receptions, 200 to 500 receiving yards, and five to seven total touchdowns. His variance is widely dependent on the coaching staff and the success of Kenny Gainwell and Kerryon Johnson. Fantasy Points: 160-252.
Sample projection for Chris Carson: 1,000 to 1,100 rushing yards, 30-40 receptions, 200-300 receiving yards, with eight to ten total touchdowns. He doesn’t have near as much variance as we should see in a similar offense. Fantasy Points: 198-240.
Although their projections are vastly different, with Sanders seeing the upside while Carson provides a better floor, I would be comfortable drafting them in the same tier. If both were on the board, but tight end was still the need, the strategic move would be to select the tight end if one of the backs could be available with the next pick.
Give the people what they want.
I see bartenders far too often recommend a drink without asking people what they like. The majority of the time, it will sit in front of the person as the ice melts and the cocktail dies. In the same amount of time, the patron could have had three cocktails and the bartender would be looking at a fat tip. With this rule, it applies more to the patron than it does the bartender. Take who you want. If you don’t, you’re going to spend the rest of the time trying to overcorrect your draft, all the while wishing you had selected the player you wanted over the player you should have taken. At the end of the day, it’s just fantasy and fortune favors the bold. Just ask the people who took Alvin Kamara over Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey last year.
1.08) Jonathan Taylor
This was a smash pick for me. I was shocked he made it to the 1.08. Even if he doesn’t see as many checkdowns as he saw with Philip Rivers, the opportunity for big plays should still be there since he averaged a 6.0-percent (No. 9 among qualified running backs) Breakaway Run Rate and logged 64 (No. 10) Evaded Tackles in 2020.
Jonathan Taylor had 107 of his 268 touches from Week 13-17 ?♂️ pic.twitter.com/1IF1goVU7U
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) May 13, 2021
2.05) A.J. Brown
With how the Titans defense struggled last year, then lost half their starters, we can be looking at a similar situation to the Vikings in 2020. I wanted to go Swift here, but having the potential WR1 in 2020 was too great to pass up. Brown averaged 0.62 (No. 2) Fantasy Points Per Route Run. My hope is J.K. Dobbins will make it back to solidify my two starting running backs.
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) May 27, 2021
3.08) J.K. Dobbins
Wasn’t even a thought. Smash the draft button. This likely gives me guaranteed points from my top two runners and my late selections can be purely based on upside. It’s not only his profile and metrics, but also his ability to score inside the five, where he scored on 88.9-percent of his rookie season carries, that gives him a massive ceiling.
Why J.K. Dobbins is the Next Nick Chubb ?
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) May 13, 2021
4.05) Myles Gaskin
D.J. Moore, who would have been the ideal pick here, was taken two picks before mine. I decided to keep building my running back room and went Gaskin, who finished out as RB10 in points per game for backs who played at least 10 games. If anything happens to a starter, I’m still in good shape; meanwhile, he offers stability in the Flex. The most appealing aspect is that he led all qualified running backs with a 9.5 yards per reception average.
5.08) T.J. Hockenson
6.05) D.J. Chark
It would have been a dream scenario to walk in with A.J. Brown, D.J. Moore, and Chark, but two of three will work just fine. Courtland Sutton and Tee Higgins were tempting, but I’m a massive Chark supporter this year being that he had an incredible start to 2019 when Gardner Minshew was efficient. With a 8.3 (No. 26) Weekly Volatility rating in 2019, he makes for a great best ball receiver. Can he repeat his success if Trevor Lawrence shows the same level of efficiency? I need to be cognizant of where Ryan Tannehill and Lawrence sit for stacks.
Still available: Tee Higgins, Courtland Sutton, Brandon Aiyuk.
DJ Chark had 5+ Targets in 10 of 13 games in 2020 ? pic.twitter.com/6K88AW0TOI
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) March 24, 2021
7.08) DeVonta Smith
I might end up regretting this pick. It is my first share of Smith in best ball because I don’t trust Jalen Hurts to deliver an accurate ball. However, if Hurts improves, Smith and Dallas Goedert are the two most viable pass-catchers. Plus, the leaguemate picking after me drafted Hurts. I can’t let them stack those two; the upside is too significant.
8.05) Laviska Shenault
This is risky. Not only did I take two receivers on the same offense, which can hinder the upside, but I also believe there’s about to be a run at quarterback. Trevor Lawrence is six quarterbacks down the ADP list, and Ryan Tannehill is eight. I’m hoping I’m wrong, but both Joe Burrow and Matt Ryan went off the board as I type this.
Still available: Joe Burrow, Raheem Mostert, Marquise Brown.
9.08) Trevor Lawrence
Wow. Five of the six quarterbacks went off the board, but the gamble paid off. Although I don’t trust rookie quarterbacks, there should be enough volume for Lawrence to break a few records in 2021.
10.05) Ryan Tannehill
I have my quarterbacks, but I paid the price. Marquise Brown will be a smash for best ball this year, and Irv Smith will finally get his chance. I hated passing on Smith, but this was a strategic move to multiply my points whenever A.J. Brown gets an opportunity.
Ryan Tannehill finished Top 10 in Fantasy Points in 8 of 16 weeks in 2020 ? pic.twitter.com/E5DvDmrXEa
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) March 31, 2021
11.08) Irv Smith
Again! I can’t believe Smith made it back, but I also didn’t factor in his surroundings. Mike Gesicki, Robert Tonyan, and Evan Engram all went before him. Names will play a role for opponents in best ball because they resonate with previous success.
Irv Smith finished 2nd among TEs’s in 2020 with 2.24 Fantasy Points per Target ? pic.twitter.com/HUWl4DGpcE
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) May 10, 2021
12.05) Alexander Mattison
It was tough not to take Marvin Jones and lock up the entire Jacksonville wide receiver room, but that’s playing scared. There’s a better chance only one produces at a top-end level than all three. I’m rolling the dice on someone else’s handcuff in Mattison. His 7.3-percent (No. 4) Breakaway Run Rate is too sexy to pass up.
13.08) Denzel Mims
This pick is interesting as this could be the closest thing Mike LaFleur has seen to Marquise Goodwin. In 2017, Goodwin had over 1,000 yards on 60 touches. Will he be used to stretch the field or moreso on slants and quick passes like the offense is designed? If Mims sees a combination of the volume and big-play opportunity, this pick can be a home run.
Is Denzel Mims the next Sophomore Wide Receiver Breakout? ? pic.twitter.com/vnVXNzPtym
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) February 13, 2021
14.05 Carson Wentz
I close out my quarterback room with Wentz, who is only two seasons removed from making a run at MVP before getting hurt. It would have been a better decision to go T.Y. Hilton over Mims with the last pick to get the stack, but overall, I’m happy with my selections.
Fantasy Football Transaction Implications: Carson Wentz to Indianapolis ?
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) February 26, 2021
15.08) Tre’Quan Smith
I had Kenny Gainwell in my sights, but he went two full rounds earlier than ADP. I decided to take a shot on Smith, who may be catching passes from Jameis Winston. We have seen Winston support two top receivers before in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, and Smith should be the perfect fit. Coming out of college, he was a dominant deep threat. He had a 68.6-percent Catch Rate on 19.8 yards per reception in his senior season. With Winston attempting the league’s most Deep Ball passes in 2019, we should see Smith get plenty of opportunities, which he didn’t get while Drew Brees was at quarterback.
Dynasty Buy NOW ? The 4th-year Breakout
— Cody Carpentier (@CarpentierNFL) June 3, 2021
16.05) Zach Ertz
This will close out my tight end room with a player who still has a chance at a top 12 finish. Ertz falling this far in best ball is a little baffling, especially with trade rumors surrounding him. If a team trades for him, he will be starting. His career-low in touchdowns and games played shouldn’t be duplicated making him a value at this point. I now have my sights set on Javian Hawkins and K.J. Hamler.
Still available: Tevin Coleman, Javian Hawkins, K.J. Hamler.
17.08 Javian Hawkins
I was disappointed K.J. Hamler didn’t make it back because I would have been fine going with either running back with my last pick. I now have to decide if I’d like to go with Tevin Coleman or take a wide receiver.
18.05 Tyrell Willaims
I rode the clock down to the wire for the first time while tearing into myself about the 18th pick. Tevin Coleman is in a similar situation to Alexander Mattison where if the starter gets injured, he can be a league winner. Coleman came from the 49ers and knows Mike LaFleur’s system. They didn’t take Michael Carter until the fourth round, so I think there’s a chance Coleman starts out of the gates. The issue is I only had six receivers and didn’t feel comfortable about getting three starters from the position week in and week out.
Williams should see plenty of opportunities as he reunites with offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. In two seasons with Lynn, while being the fourth pass-catching option, he had ten double-digit fantasy point games, and four with over 20 fantasy points. Now he will be the second or third option for the Lions, and with the last pick in a best ball draft, what more could you want?
My draft went well overall, but the success of my team hinges on a lot of ifs:
If the Titans get into more shootouts. If Trevor Lawrence can immediately produce. If Jalen Hurts can connect with DeVonta Smith. If Alexander Mattison can start a few games.
Not all of those have to happen, however. One or two of these scenarios coming to fruition can catapult the projected score and make this team a league-winner.
At first glance, the running backs really pop off the page. Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins will smash their projections. My favorite part is Dobbins scoring on eight of his nine carries inside the five. All but two of those carries came in his last six games. The opportunities will only increase in 2021, and a running back’s touchdowns can swing weeks. With that being said, tight ends are the strength of this roster.
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) April 18, 2021
T.J. Hockenson should see more than a handful of opportunities, potentially leading the tight end position in targets. Irv Smith is a player who projects to receive a sizeable boost. The Vikings targeted the tight end 107 times in 2020 with Kyle Rudolph accounting for 37 (No. 39) of those. If Smith can command those targets and approach last year’s 2.24 (No. 2) Fantasy Points Per Target average, it would add 82.88 points to his total. The additional points would boost him from TE22 to TE3. Zach Ertz could be the dark horse if a team like the Colts, who already have a great relationship with the Eagles, decides to trade for him.
We started strong only to sputter with the receivers. This could all change if Zach Wilson finds a deep connection with Denzel Mims, but consistency will always be an issue with this receiving corps. My hope is DeVonta Smith becomes a steady producer who sees at least six targets per game to keep the floor high while my other positions win me weeks. However, there will be weeks where the receiver production is through the roof.
I go back to Trevor Lawrence being the X-Factor. I was going to mention A.J. Brown, but Lawrence can not only help me win himself, he also helps lift D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault. If he can support two receivers who finish in the top 24 on a week-to-week basis, my team will be fine. If he can push Chark or Shenault to be top 12, this team will be great.