Tales From the Underworld 6: Pre-Draft Underdog Best Ball Fun

by Ray Marzarella · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

The date was April 20th, 2021. And you know what that means. A night of indulging… in Underdog Best Ball drafts. This after a night indulging in the brilliant food at David Burke’s new restaurant, Red Horse, in Rumson, NJ. If you don’t know his food, do yourself a favor and go binge watch Top Chef Masters Season 5. You’ll thank me.

To say I was in a food coma was an understatement. But I was determined to have a little late night, April 20th fun, stress testing our new Underdog Best Ball rankings. After trying for what seemed like hours to locate the draft room I had been invited to via Twitter by Underworld friend Zach Krueger, entering and leaving many random draft rooms in the process, I finally settled in to begin my first draft of the season. I drew the fifth pick and began assembling a killer squad, drafting via phone while unwinding from the day’s activities.

About halfway through the draft, I received a notification stating that my draft was about to begin. Confused, I left the draft room and entered one that I had apparently not ended up leaving before this first draft began. Terrific. Sneaking away to the bathroom to collect what was left of my thoughts, I begun the unenviable task of multi-tasking my way through my first two Underdog Best Ball drafts of the year.

Tales From the Underworld – Part VI – Pre-Draft Underdog Best Ball Drafts

April 20th Draft No. 1

Using the tips and tricks outlined by Josh Larky in our recent strategy guide, and having participated in a number of these drafts last year, I had a general idea of the approach I wanted to take. This was especially handy once the second draft began and I had to almost completely abandon the rankings. Inevitably, I ended up on the clock in both drafts at the same time near the end of the first. The results were not pretty. I frantically switched into a room where I had only two seconds left to pick and selected Kylin Hill as my RB6 over a K.J. Hamler or DeSean Jackson-type. Other than that, my haul looked like:

All in all, I’m happy with this debut squad. It’s become a running joke in my house, perpetrated by my wife, that bad things happen to me every time I draft David Johnson. And of course, the Kylin Hill snafu happened in the draft I picked Johnson in. Splendid.

April 20th Draft No. 2

The second draft started off swimmingly, but was quickly plagued by errors. First, the final squad:

Once the fourth round hit, I abandoned my RB-heavy strategy and decided to shoot for the Dallas stack, nabbing four Cowboys with my first five picks. That’s where the positive momentum ended. Frantic double duty drafting led to Logan Thomas being picked with Will Fuller still on the board and Michael Carter being selected without my noticing Denzel Mims still being there. Noah Fant over Robert Tonyan is a pick that can flat out be blamed on the night’s activities. But I did also get Hamler, so yay for the Denver double dip I guess.

Hamler almost joined a short list of players I had 100-percent exposure to by the end of both drafts. When generally relying on instinct in the heat of pulling double drafting duty, I’m paying extra attention to who I end up favoring in these situations. And since this is my article and I make the rules, I say he qualifies. He is the quintessential best ball receiver, after all.

My Guys, I Guess

The players I have 100-percent exposure to after a whopping two drafts are Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Anthony Schwartz and Logan Thomas. And that all makes sense on the surface. We’re higher than consensus on NFC East players, and Thomas is right around the TE firewall in our rankings. I thought that my hoarding of Toney and Schwartz would be limited to Underworld rookie mocks (or rookie mocks with the Destination Devy folks in Schwartz’s case), but it’s bled over into these first two best ball outings. Both have received, at one point or another, first round NFL Draft buzz. And both currently boast top-20 Breakout Ratings among this class, with the kind of on-field dynamism that makes you sit up and take notice, evidenced by their upper-tier Dynamic Scores.

April 26th Re-do

In anticipation of the debuting Early Risers program, and because JLark is also continuing to put out Underdog content with his Coffee Break streaming series, I was determined not fall behind when it came to Underworld-inspired best ball coverage.


I hit up my man Big C’s and we popped into a lobby. I then attempted to “live blog” the draft in writing form as it happened.

Because I did so well with multi-tasking the last time, right?

Here’s how I did from the 1.02:

A Dalvin CookMiles SandersClyde Edwards-Helaire start seems ideal. Pairing them with D.J. Moore and Kenny Golladay also made me smile. Passing on TE at the 6-7 turn was risky, but worth it to nab the Russell WilsonJalen Hurts QB duo. But by the time it was my turn to pick in the eighth round, all of Dallas Goedert, Logan Thomas and Robert Tonyan were gone. I then realized I could have/should have passed on one of the QBs for a TE and honed in on Daniel Jones later to pair with Golladay.

The tilt. It was, in fact, real.

I took a chance taking Michael Gallup in the eighth and hoping the team drafting at the No. 1 spot didn’t take one or even two TEs. That ended up paying off. In the same situation at the 10-11 turn, I panicked and went with Tyler Higbee. It was then that I realized Jalen Reagor was still on the board and that had I potentially missed a great stacking opportunity. Luckily, Reagor was there for me to pair with Jalen Hurts two picks later.


Another Underdog Best Ball draft, another Sterling Shepard selection. You can’t blame my Giants homerism since I almost never end up with any of them in redraft. But it’s a different story when you don’t have to worry about setting the lineup. I then zeroed in on Gerald Everett and Rashaad Penny with the next picks and shot for a mini Seattle stack. Naturally, Everett didn’t make it to me, so I took Penny and ended up with Russell Gage when trying to select Eric Ebron and somehow not clicking the button on time. Great value for Gage, especially with persisting rumors of Julio Jones‘ departure via trade. But still a tilt-worthy moment. It all worked out since I ended up drafting Adam Trautman, who I had thought about taking in Ebron’s spot anyway.

I’m going to need one of you to talk me out of picking Anthony Schwartz in every draft I’m in. Or don’t, and let me hope he’s super good and that I end up with him everywhere. I’m fine either way, leaning towards the latter.

And now for something completely different

Not Really, Actually It’s Rookies and Sophomores

After concluding the latest draft, I realized that the Rookies and Sophomores contest was filling up quickly. In this four-person, 12-round format, only first and second year players are available to be selected. Super intriguing. After the previous draft completed, I jumped into a Rookies and Sophomores draft where I proceeded to draw the 1.01.

If only my luck were this good when drawing draft order for actual leagues.

The squad:

Getting your QBs early in this format is basically an unwritten rule. Relying solely on this year’s rookie QB crop is a huge gamble, making a Jalen Hurts/Joe Burrow/Justin Herbert/Tua Tagovailoa selection a vital key to success.

In a half PPR format where you only have to start one RB, I’m thinking a 2-3-7 build is ideal. Using a luxury pick on Kenny Gainwell kept me from selecting my man Bryan Edwards, but I got Anthony Schwartz yet again, so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

Add in going two for two on Hurts/Jalen Reagor stacks and, all in all, I’d say I can now put my April 20th misadventures behind me.