I was recently reviewing my very first ever fantasy football draft. I often get nostalgic and find myself looking back. The first team I could find stored in a draft history option from a site was from 2009. A great squad of since retired players like Maurice Jones-Drew, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Thomas, and Tom Brady… Never mind on that last one. Congrats Mr. Brady on reaching the midpoint of your career in Tampa Bay. Looking forward to your next sixteen seasons and your Canton induction in 2041, I mean if you can get the resumé together.
While the last average draft position (ADP) and rankings value article, The Draft Room Where It Happens, focused on Underdog Best Ball. We are now shifting to one of the most popular sites for fantasy sports, Yahoo, and their Best Ball format. You can still find best ball drafts with Yahoo for as little as one dollar. If you value your preparation heading into the redraft season, using the best ball format in lieu of their mock drafts is highly suggested. Here you’ll find fewer auto-drafters, more true-to-form draft strategy, and minimal chaos picking. Their best ball format also pays out weekly high score as well, not just a season-end winnings.
One thing Yahoo utilizes in their draft rooms are three separate sortable rankings sources: ADP, Rank, and their Yahoo X Rank. The ADP is the average of where players are going in Yahoo drafts. The Yahoo Rank is their rankings of based upon your league settings. The most interesting of these three separate rankings is the X Rank, which is where Yahoo’s experts rank the players regardless of format. Most importantly, this is how Yahoo sorts the draft room order. Auto-drafters, people not doing their homework, and your league resident “Taco” tend to really lean heavily on the X Rank.
Here are five players I am taking on Yahoo Best Ball before their ADP and X Rank suggests. I am not alone in taking them early either. Our resident rankings king at Razzball, Rudy Gamble, is projecting these players to outperform their current draft positions as well. Here are Rudy’s 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings. Also for reference the below abbreviation ‘TJW” is for… you guessed it, The Joey Wright. TM. Patent pending.
Yahoo Rankings: Positional: QB18 | ADP: 132 | X Ranking: 135
Razzball Rankings: Rudy Gamble: QB12 | TJW Overall: 114 | TJW Positional: QB13
The Fitzmagic show arrived in D.C. this summer and it looks to be staying in town for a full set of dates. With a top five rated defense and no true threat pushing him out of the job, Fitzpatrick should not be coming off the field too much in 2021. There is a lot for Fitzpatrick to be excited about as well with his two leading targets in Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. I’ve been flying my flag for Samuel this entire offseason. He gives Fitzpatrick the most versatile player he’s ever played with at the position he loves targeting the most. No other quarterback has targeted the slot receiver more than Fitzpatrick over the last eight seasons. Fitzpatrick threw for either 300 yards or two touchdowns in every game he started for the Dolphins in 2020. Yahoo has Fitzpatrick going as the 18th quarterback off the board well past the 11th round. If you are waiting on quarterback or stacking mid-round talents, Fitzpatrick should absolutely be targeted.
Yahoo Rankings: Positional: RB41 | ADP: 112 | X Ranking: 99
Razzball Rankings: Rudy Gamble: RB30 | TJW Overall: 75 | TJW Positional: RB32
James Conner is exiting Pittsburgh after four seasons and is heading west to a team without a dependable option at running back. I say that with a full understanding of Chase Edmonds’ presence in the backfield for the Cardinals. Edmonds has never had over 100 carries in a season and is more of a change of pace back. Even as the receiving back though, Conner has better with more yards per reception and catch percentage over his career. This bodes well for Conner since the Cardinals ran the fifth most plays in the NFL last year. As the more powerful of the two, Conner looks to also be the goal-line back for a team. The only hang-up with Conner is his health and durability. As the lead back in Pittsburgh, Conner missed an average of four games a season. If healthy though, you have the opportunity to land the lead running back for one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL two rounds later than where he should be drafted.
Yahoo Rankings: Positional: WR85 | ADP: 225+ | X Ranking: 242
Razzball Rankings: Rudy Gamble: WR60 | TJW Overall: 118 | TJW Positional: WR51
So Russell Gage has already shown us what he can do as a WR3 and fill-in WR2 when needed with Atlanta. Last season he had 72 receptions for 786 yards with 4 touchdowns. Julio Jones is no longer with the Falcons which should free up more targets for Gage even with the addition of Kyle Pitts to the, let’s be honest here, receiving corps. What excites me most about Gage is the time when Matt Ryan and Pitts will be building their rapport. During this time I can see Ryan leaning on Gage as the team’s second choice for targets. In this scenario last season, the last eight games essentially, Gage was averaging seven targets a game. There’s no fear of there being a lack of targets either as Matt Ryan lead the league the last two seasons in both attempts and completions. Gage is now going undrafted according to Yahoo ADP, but is a great choice as your first or even second bench receiver. His ceiling will prove to be much higher.
Yahoo Rankings: Positional: WR20 | ADP: 53 | X Ranking: 50
Razzball Rankings: Rudy Gamble: WR12 | TJW Overall: 30 | TJW Positional: WR12
CeeDee Lamb is the highest-ranked player in this article, but his ADP and X Rank are still far too late. It only took him a half a game to click with the quarterback who led the NFL in fantasy points per game last season. Sadly, Dak Prescott had an early exit from the 2020 season, but will be back in 2021. Even without Prescott, Lamb still managed to show why Dallas was keen to use a first round pick on him in 2020. Lamb averaged a little over six targets per game without Prescott last year and was averaging a full 8 targets a game with him at quarterback. He was second among rookie wide receivers in receptions, yards, and targets. With Prescott however, he was poised to lead in all three categories even over Justin Jefferson. Rudy and I both have CeeDee Lamb ranked 12th at the position ahead of wideouts like Adam Thielen, DJ Moore, and Robert Woods who are all going before him on Yahoo.
Yahoo Rankings: Positional: TE13 | ADP: 122 | X Ranking: 116
Razzball Rankings: Rudy Gamble: TE8 | TJW Overall: 107| TJW Positional: TE9
Kyle Rudolph left Minnesota after ten seasons to join the New York Giants. Showing the ultimate respect to the Vikings franchise, he left the final four games of the regular season for the man in waiting Irv Smith. In those four games, Irv averaged four receptions a game with three touchdowns. The touchdowns are really encouraging and track better than anyone outside the top three consensus tight ends in this year’s drafts. Smith is still going to be third in targets on the team behind Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, but with Rudolph out of the way, we should see an uptick in those targets. Although, in the red zone Irv Smith only trailed Justin Jefferson by two targets on the season. I have Smith ranked as the TE9 ahead of Logan Thomas and Robert Tonyan who are currently ahead of him on Yahoo.
In addition to these five players is pretty much the entire 2021 draft class. In a complete inverse of most other fantasy sites, Yahoo seems hesitant to give any respect to this year’s rookies. You can find Najee Harris going in the middle of the third round, Kyle Pitts going as the 8th tight end off the board, and Ja’Marr Chase going past pick 100. Many rookies don’t even have an ADP at the current time. Players like Javian Hawkins, Chuba Hubbard, and D’Wayne Eskridge are going past the 250th pick. So if you are high on this year’s rookie class, you won’t find a better time to draft them than now.
I’ll be checking in once a month with site ADP reviews for both Underdog and Yahoo! Going forth, I’ll be consolidating those pieces into one convenient article though. My rankings are always available on FantasyPros as well. Draft season is heating up with Scott Fish Bowl starting up this week, which means home leagues are just on the horizon. Also starting next week is Razzball’s Third Annual Razzbowl, an industry versus fan super league where you can win awesome t-shirts from Rotowear, a Razzball premium subscription, and a gigantic (or so I am told) trophy! Sign-ups are up on the site now!