I started playing fantasy football in 2009, but it was not until 2011 where I started taking it seriously. One of the tools I leaned into during the preseason over the years was the time-honored tradition of mock drafting. There was no one on this earth who loved mock drafting with a full room than Lil’ The Joey Wright (pending trademark). No matter the site or service there always seemed to be some common issues: multiple auto-drafters, limited buy-in for the duration of the draft, and people throwing proverbial monkey wrenches with outlandish picks like Tim Tebow as the first tight end off the board. A few years back, I discovered I could get the intel I was looking for from mock drafting while minimizing the hang-ups by utilizing a different format.
Enter Best Ball Drafts. A format growing closer to my heart by the year. No lineups to set. No waivers to run. You draft your team and the best possible lineup of your starters is automatically entered each week. A true paradise for those who love the draft room experience and are looking for buy-in. I have also found the auto-drafters, early exiting participants, and obscure first-round picks aren’t as prevalent. Since making the switch, the largest difference I have seen is the percentage of my teams making the playoffs. More teams in the playoffs equates to more championships. A winner is you!
The only downside is it does require a financial investment. I have found the relatively small cost, especially in the first few weeks leading up to your big drafts, pays off in the confidence you find in draft rooms. So, skip the drive-thru two times next month and put that $20 into the future of your fantasy teams. You can find drafts as low as one dollar on Yahoo! Best Ball. Prior to 2021, I was doing all my best ball drafts there and if you play on their site in your fantasy leagues, I cannot emphasize enough doing the best ball drafts there. However, if you, like me, play on multiple sites you will not find a better experience than Underdog. The trends there seem much more relevant to the fantasy landscape and (shameless plug) you can get some free money to play with by using Razzball’s Referral Link.
The first experience for anyone in a draft room with a new draft client can have its learning curves. I do find Underdog’s system to be quite simple to navigate and they even allow you to upload your own rankings. Still, let me give you somewhat of a head start. Here are some players I would recommend targeting right now if you are playing on Underdog that will make you feel like a thief. These players all have an average draft position (ADP) on Underdog much higher than where they should be going either compared to consensus ADP or My Rankings.
ADP: 164th & QB23
Underdog Ranking: 183rd & QB27
My Ranking: 145th & QB17
I do understand the fears people have with Ben Roethlisberger. Last year was one of his worst seasons in the NFL, he will start the season less than two years removed from having three tendons repaired in his elbow, and is closing in on the end of his career. He also had a career-low in completion percentage in 2020. I get it. Somehow Big Ben still managed to finish 14th at the position in total fantasy points. He actually led the league in passing attempts and completions per game. Currently, he is being taken as the 27th quarterback off the board with an average draft position of 183rd overall, which has him falling to the turn of the 15th and 16th rounds. This is just absurd. I have Roethlisberger ranked 17th at the position in 2021, which if he is going to support the current draft positions of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Juju Smith-Schuster, and arguably the most dependable backfield he’s had since Le’Veon Bell’s last full season in 2017, 17th might be much closer to his floor than his ceiling. If your plan is to take one of the consensus top six quarterbacks, which I explain you don’t need to do in my Quarterback Tandems Article, Roethlisberger pairs nicely with those drafting Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Russell Wilson.
ADP: 72nd Overall & RB30
Underdog Ranking: 126th Overall & RB43
My Ranking: 71st Overall & RB30
The entire Texans organization has been a hot topic this offseason including them bringing in both Philip Lindsay and Mark Ingram to make their backfield more robust. There is also the elephant in the room in the Texans possibly being without Deshaun Watson in 2021. That might be some of the reason Johnson is going later than FantasyPros ADP and my rankings indicate. Last year Johnson finished as RB21 in total PPR fantasy points, but was the RB16 in fantasy points per game, averaging 14.9 points per game. I do see his workload taking a bit of a hit with Lindsay and Ingram joining the team, but not in the passing game. Neither Lindsay nor Ingram are known for their passing abilities to the degree of Johnson, who averages over three yards more per reception than both of them. Taylor being the one throwing the ball to Johnson does not concern me either. He was able to support a system where LeSean McCoy saw an average of forty-seven receptions a season while they played together in Buffalo. Johnson is a great target for the zero RB approach, and you are currently able to get him in the tenth round and later.
ADP: 108th Overall & WR43
Underdog Ranking: 85th Overall & WR39
My Ranking: 64th Overall & WR29
Up until now, the comparison between ADP and my rankings has been close, but Curtis Samuel seems to be a different story. Neither consensus ADP nor Underdog’s rankings seem to be showing the new Capitol resident any respect. Samuel will be playing mostly in the slot for the Washington Football Team (let’s get a mascot already please!), which is exciting to hear since he will have the quarterback who utilizes his slot receivers more than any other player in the league. Ryan Fitzpatrick over his career has thrown over 26% of his passes into the slot. Looking at last year’s totals, the Football Team had 601 pass attempts, which is why one hundred targets for Samuel is not out of the question. It almost feels like a certainty. Samuel did stumble out of the gate last season, but he finished with double-digit PPR fantasy points in nine out of his last eleven games, averaging 16.6 PPR fantasy points per game. Samuel is currently being drafted as a flex or bench receiver in the three-receiver Underdog Best Ball format, but I am taking him before current third receivers like Jerry Jeudy, Odell Beckham Jr, and Deebo Samuel.
ADP: 116th Overall & WR46
Underdog Ranking: 96th Overall & WR46
My Ranking: 87th Overall & WR36
Antonio Brown had a late arrival to Tampa Bay last year, but he arrived with a proverbial firing of the cannons. In the eleven total games he played with the Buccaneers he had fifty-three receptions for 564 yards and 6 touchdowns. He put these numbers up with both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans on the field as well. He finished the season as the WR66, but if you project his eleven-game sample size, which was due to a suspension and not an injury, over sixteen games he would have finished the season as WR25 with just over 210 PPR Fantasy points. Ranking him as high as WR25 is a tad risky, but it’s not out of the question for someone who has finished as the fifth-best wide receiver or better six different seasons in his NFL career. I have him as my WR36 just behind Tyler Boyd, but ahead of receivers like Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller.
ADP: 201st Overall & TE23
My Ranking: 142nd Overall & TE14
Underdog Ranking: 170th Overall & TE23
Cole Kmet is my Alexander Hamilton play of the year. I do not need him throwing away his shot… Just like his country, he’s young, scrappy, and hungry and he’s not throwing away his SHOT! Sorry. I’ll stop. Jimmy Graham is technically still in Chicago, but he looks to be taking a secondary role to the emerging Kmet. In the final five games of the season, Kmet was averaging six targets per game to Graham’s lowly three. Kmet has also already been working with both Graham and new Bear’s rookie quarterback Justin Fields this offseason. It is the hope of every Bears fan across the earth that Chicago rolls out with Fields as early as possible this season. One only needs to look at 2021’s Sugar Bowl to see how much Fields loves throwing to his tight ends in the red zone. He converted three out of five trips inside the 20-yard line with touchdowns to his tight ends. If the Bears do decide to roll with Dalton early, Kmet may need to be as efficient as possible as he only averaged five targets a week to his tight ends last season in Dallas. With Kmet going so late in drafts, and it being best ball, he is the perfect pair for those taking one of the consensus top three tight ends off draft boards in Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle. He also has the luxury of covering all their bye weeks. Those three tight ends have shown they have value much higher than the position average, if Kmet breaks out, you could find yourself flexing the rare double tight end lineup at a bargain price.
So, what have we learned here today folks? Hamilton is still relevant and particularly useful for fantasy football articles, the Washington Football Team is dragging their feet on choosing a nickname (it is just too close to “WTF” for me currently), but most importantly you should be playing best ball this time of year to sharpen your drafting process. It such a fun and useful way to utilize the downtime during the offseason while watching trends happen in real-time. This set it and forget it format is not going away and really only seems to be growing in stature in the industry. So head on over to Underdog and start drafting today before I start utilizing In the Heights lyrics.