Underdog Fantasy Best Ball Game Theory

by Joshua Larky · Featured

If you’re reading this article, you already knew this. However, best ball drafters on Underdog Fantasy are *certain* about many unpredictable or unknown player performances and outcomes ahead of the 2024 season. This article dives into how we can exploit these instances using game theory concepts.

“Every NFL season is unpredictable.” – Anyone who has played fantasy football before

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Garrett Wilson and Marvin Harrison Jr. Will Definitely Score More Fantasy Points than Nico Collins and Jaylen Waddle.

Right now, Garrett Wilson and Marvin Harrison Jr. are a common pairing if you have a late first round pick, with ADPs between 11 and 14. I’ve done hundreds of drafts and never seen anyone begin with Nico Collins and Jaylen Waddle. This is because both have ADPs in the back half of Round 2.

Because of the ADP difference, Wilson and Harrison Jr. are *probably* better picks. However, I believe there’s a non-zero chance Collins and Waddle out-score them. In fact, I’d guesstimate there’s at least a 30-40-percent chance Collins and Waddle score more fantasy points in Weeks 15-17, when all the money is won in best ball tournaments.

There are 10,000s of best ball teams that start Wilson-Harrison Jr. in the Rounds 1 and 2 on Underdog Fantasy. However, there may be only four or five teams – if any – that begin Collins-Waddle. Unless you think there’s a ~100-percent chance Wilson-Harrison Jr. is the better pairing, it’s worth shaking up your player combos in tournaments like the $5 Puppy, where 150,000+ entries fill in a span of 3-5 days. If Collins and Waddle both end the season as top-five fantasy options, that unique best ball team can make serious noise down the stretch.

I’m not suggesting to blatantly disregard ADP. But if you’re volume drafting, it’s good to aim for the occasional unique player combination early on.

The Bengals RBs Are Not Allowed to Score Fantasy Points.

Last season, Joe Burrow entered the year with a calf injury. Then, he went down midseason with a wrist injury in Week 11 and never returned. The Bengals finished the season as the No. 16 highest scoring offense – perfectly average.

However, in 2021 and 2022, Burrow was healthy, and the Bengals were No. 7 in the NFL in scoring each season. This is a high-powered offense. During the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Bengals RBs combined for 21 performances of 15 or more PPR fantasy points. This was good for No. 8 most in the league. Now, Zack Moss and Chase Brown are not premier talents, but neither were Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.

To his credit, Moss was the No. 5-best RB according to Next Gen Stats’ player tracking data on a per carry basis in 2024. Additionally, he totaled 183 rush attempts, a decent sample size. Chase Brown was a big play threat as a receiver, and his 11.1 yards per reception were most among RBs last season.

Currently, Moss is being drafted in Round 8, while Brown goes at the start of Round 11. It’s highly likely at least one of these two RBs vastly out-performs ADP, should Burrow stay healthy. The only other RBs on the roster are Trayveon Williams (77 total touches in five seasons) and Chris Evans (38 total touches across four seasons). 

The Vikings Starting QB is Not on the Roster Yet.

The Vikings have a strong group of skill position players, with ADPs on Underdog Fantasy that slightly surpass the Dallas Cowboys skill group in terms of cost.

Vikings Player Vikings ADP Cowboys Player Cowboys ADP
WR Justin Jefferson Round 1 WR CeeDee Lamb Round 1
WR Jordan Addison Round 6 TE Jake Ferguson Round 8
RB Aaron Jones Round 7 WR Brandin Cooks Round 11
TE T.J. Hockenson Round 13 RB Ezekiel Elliott Round 11

However, QB J.J. McCarthy goes in Round 16 or 17, while Dak Prescott is a Round 8 selection. If anything, McCarthy will probably be more of a rushing threat than Prescott in 2024.

With the Vikings, either the skill position players are vastly overpriced or McCarthy himself is extremely underpriced. 

The Chargers Won’t Actually Run the Ball or Target the RB Position.

New head coach Jim Harbaugh and new offensive coordinator Greg Roman are both known to run the ball. You can look at their past NFL teams and see a clear propensity toward the run game. 

Greg Roman is actually reunited with his Ravens RB room of Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. There’s also rookie RB Kimani Vidal, a capable runner, who is a strong pass blocker and pass catcher. The Chargers have arguably the best offensive tackle duo in the league, and Justin Herbert is a top-eight – at least – passer in the NFL. 

The run game should be relatively efficient due to Harbaugh, Roman, and the offensive line. And, because there aren’t many strong receiving options on the Chargers currently, RB target share should be high. Generally, when wide receivers fail to get open, RBs are targeted at a higher rate.

It’s likely that at least one, if not two, of Gus Edwards (Round 12), Kimani Vidal (Round 15) and Dobbins (Round 16) drastically out-perform ADP.

For more from Josh Larky, check out this article – Los Angeles Chargers Football – Fantasy Football Values vs ADP (playerprofiler.com)