Fantasy Football has come a long way from its early days of keeping score with paper and pencil by candlelight. What was an ingenious idea, enjoyed by few, is now a hobby consumed by scores of serious and casual NFL fans alike.
Along with Fantasy Football’s induction into more mainstream culture we have seen a plethora of new ways to play the game burst onto the scene. We now have Super Flex, Vampire, Guillotine, IDP, Terminator, Dynasty, etc… gaining popularity and being added to platforms available for public consumption.
Haven't Tried Best Ball?
Best Ball formats in particular have made their way from fringe format to common discussion in the fantasy community. With Draft.com having had its inaugural season in 2017 and sites like Yahoo adding Best Ball to their arsenal, the amount of avid fantasy enthusiasts that have not participated in Best Ball are becoming few and far between.
Why I Love Best Ball
The thing I love most about these new formats is being put in a position to find new ways to look at and evaluate talent. While boom or bust players are faded and used as bench stashes in standard formats, they are staples in Best Ball lineups. Because your lineup is set post game and dictated by your highest scoring assets, later draft pickups become integral cogs to your squad. Perhaps most liberating, is the deeper lineup that allows us to pick up players we deem as having big question marks with potentially season changing upside. We never have to guess what week they will hit. We will never face the dilemma of sitting or starting a game time decision player.
7 Best Ball Mid to Late Round Targets
If drafting with couth (something I know most of us fantasy guys have in spades), we should always have the depth to backup players we like that may have “Do Not Draft” red flags hanging over their heads in standard leagues. Here are 7 mid to late round players fitting this description for you to consider in your next Best ball Draft. (Note: ADP derived from Draft.com)
Sammy Watkins (WR, Kansas City Chiefs) – ADP 82.3
Since Tyreek Hill’s stunning clearance to resume football activities with no penalty, Watkins has experienced a sharp decline in ADP. While many see Hill’s reemergence into guaranteed fantasy relevance as a detriment to Watkin’s value, I see his slide in ADP as a golden opportunity. Sammy is brimming with upside at this price with logic to back it up.
- Has two top 25 WR seasons under his belt (2014 & 2015).
- Is in the #1 passing offense from 2018.
- Consumed a 17% Red Zone target share in that #1 offense.
- Is enjoying a healthy training camp for the first time since 2015.
- Had only 1 drop on 55 targets last season.
- Created a 120.2 passer rating for Mahomes when targeted.
- Produced, on average, 16.5 PPR points per game when targeted 5 or more times.
Jordan Howard (RB, Philadelphia Eagles) - ADP 91.5
Have you ever witnessed a child getting a shiny new toy? Their eyes go wide with excitement and they squeal with glee. But for all the joy and exhilaration the new object of their affection brings them, go into the room a couple hours later and you find them playing with a cardboard box. That is the Doug Pederson/Miles Sanders/Jordan Howard situation in a nutshell. I believe in Sanders upside and inevitable ascension to a command of snap share, as do the Eagles. Howard will provide tremendous value at his price tag and is a perfect 3rd or 4th running back to target in Best Ball formats.
- Will be running behind Pro Football Focus’ top rated offensive line.
- Will have PFF’s #1 ranked WR Corps to prevent stacked fronts.
- Is in a Doug Pederson system that always has a RBBC.
- Is a superb pass blocking RB by PFF (only Aaron Jones ranked higher) which will garner an increased snap share.
- Has averaged 4.3 YPC on his career, including a forgettable 2018 season.
- Has ranked 9th, 10th, and 18th at the RB position through his first 3 years in the NFL.
- Will be finding himself in a TON of positive game script.
- Will likely earn a lions share of goal line work early in the season.
Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers) – ADP 102
Without a doubt multi faceted QB’s with a gift for running the football have changed the fantasy landscape and the way we rank the position. In formats that award 4 points per passing touchdown, these hybrid players are like a cheat code for fantasy managers and are extremely useful when playing in Best Ball. The guess work is taken out of the equation. In Best ball we have the ability to pair players like Newton with later high floor options (Kirk Cousins, Ben Roethlisberger, Dak Prescott, and Tom Brady… just to name a few). Best Ball allows us to have the reliability of a seasoned veteran pocket passer as well as the high octane running QB’s that are dripping with weekly upside.
- Has averaged a 72.75 ADP over the last 4 years. He is going at nearly a 3 round discount.
- Has ranked top 6 at the QB position 5 times in his career.
- Threw for 1,646 yards, 13 passing TD’s, with only 4 INT’s through week 8 in 2018.
- Ran for 304 yards and scored 4 times on his feet through week 8 in 2018.
- Had a total season pace through 8 weeks that would have equaled 373.4 total fantasy points if he had been healthy and continued this caliber of play over the entire 16 game season.
- Would have finished 2nd overall on the season on the aforementioned pace. Patrick Mahomes was the leading fantasy QB with 417 total points, Matt Ryan was 2nd with 354 points.
- Is on an offense stacked with young talent. He will be playing with one of the most dynamic running backs (CMC) in the game and 2 blossoming young wide outs (DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel).
- Has a favorite safety valve. Greg Olsen is currently healthy, practicing with no limitations, and has been a top 10 TE 7 times throughout his career.
- Has a shoulder issue far less severe than the injury that prevented Andrew Luck from taking the field in 2017. In 2018 Luck’s ADP saw him ranked as the 12th overall QB. He finished 5th overall.
Tyrell Williams (WR, Oakland Raiders) – ADP 126.2
Tyrell Williams is exactly the type of player we are looking for at his range in ADP. Over the past 2 seasons Williams has been a consistent draft, drop, re-acquire in FA mold fantasy WR. Right when you get tired of the lack of targets and sub 7 point outputs per game, the guy goes nuclear with 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams has been the definition of a boom or bust player for 2/3 of his career. If only their was a fantasy format that allowed you to utilize a player’s most productive outings!
- Fell behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on the depth chart over the last two seasons.
- Only averaged 66 targets during his last 2 seasons.
- Received 119 looks in 2016.
- Put up a top 15 line of 69 Rec., 1,059 yards, and 7 TD’s in 2016.
- Has very little receiving depth behind him in Oakland, making him a prime candidate for a 100 plus target season.
- Is an ideal receiver physically, sporting 4.43 speed on a 6’3 frame.
- Boasts an 87.2% true catch rate.
- Has a hefty 16.3 yards per catch average.
- Is now playing with Derek Carr who threw for over 4,000 yards in 2018.
- New QB, Derek Carr, had a receiving corps in 2018 consisting of a 33 year old Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, Martavis Bryant, and Marcell Ateman.
- Will be lining up opposite of Antonio Brown in 2019.
- Is earning 11 million dollars per year, someone in Oakland believes in him.
Golden Tate (WR, New York Giants) – ADP 135.8
What was once the league’s model for a safe floor is now a man draped with questions and risk. His position in a tepid offense and a poorly aging Quarterback alone make him an instantly cringe worthy draft pick. On top of that, he has already been suspended for the first 4 games of the year for violating the leagues Substance Abuse Policy (PED’s). Why on earth would Tate make it on a list of desirable tools for fantasy managers?
- By all reports, has been the best receiver in Giants training camp.
- Was on pace for 100 receptions, 1,184 receiving yards, and 7 TD’s before being traded to Philadelphia after week 7 in 2018.
- Had 4 consecutive 90 plus catch seasons 2014 through 2017.
- In 3 of those years, topped 1,000 receiving yards.
- Is in an offense with terrible depth behind him, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram.
- Will be the heir to the #1 receiver spot if Sterling Shepard misses time during the season. Shepard is already dealing with a fractured thumb.
- Is in the same position now, as Julian Edelman was at the beginning of 2018. Edelman came off of his 4 came suspension to tally 74 catches, 850 receiving yards, and 6 TD’s in 12 contests.
- Is currently being drafted in the 11th round, Edelman went in the 6th/7th round in 2018.
- Has had a much more efficient career than Edelman with poorer QB play.
- Will most likely see his ADP decline even further before the start of the season.
Greg Olsen (TE, Carolina Panthers) – ADP 154.4
Obviously some of my Superman Cam propaganda will boil over into my analysis of his skill position players. Greg Olsen is no exception. Injury marred 2017 and 2018 seasons have driven down Olsen’s production and ADP alike. Are their reasonable concerns? Absolutely. Age and injury factor in as realistic variables that could negatively effect his fantasy output. Fortunately, those variables will also impact his stock in drafts, pushing him into the later rounds.
- Has had an ELITE career as a Tight End in the NFL.
- Has posted a minimum of 69 catches in 16 game seasons with Cam Newton at the helm.
- Went for over 77 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his last 3 healthy seasons.
- Still commanded an 80% snap share when able to take the field in 2018.
- In poor health managed a 90% true catch rate last season.
- Created the HIGHEST passer rating in the NFL between QB and TE with his chances in 2018.
- Is arguably surrounded by the deepest talent pool he has ever had the luxury of playing with.
- Should see weaker linebacker/nickel coverage with safeties needing to account for CMC, Moore, and Samuel.
- Is practicing with ZERO restrictions, he has a clean bill of health.
- Has played a full 16 game season 9 times in his career. He has been an NFL iron man barring the past 2 seasons.
Chris Herndon (TE, New York Jets) – ADP 162.5
Football fans have come to expect very little out of rookie Tight Ends. It is one of the most difficult offensive positions to transition to from college to pro level. On what was a subpar offense in 2018, Herndon made himself a bright spot in a dim situation. Unfortunately, Herndon’s outlook for the season on the horizon has been tarnished by a 4 game suspension handed down in response to an offseason DUI. Speculatively, Herndon will likely find himself in a situation much more conducive to fantasy production than a year ago. Herndon can still be a bargain late in Best Ball drafts for what is usually a desolate position past the top 5 TE prospects.
- Produced the 10th best fantasy season for a rookie TE since 2000.
- Created this production while seeing less than 50% of offensive snaps.
- Saw 17% of the red zone target share with limited playing time.
- Had a marginal 1.8% drop rate.
- Had the #1 true catch rate among all Tight Ends.
- Should enjoy an increased efficiency from second year QB Sam Darnold.
- Has the 5th friendliest strength of schedule for TE’s per Pro Football Focus.
Remember what makes these players so potentially valuable is the nature of a Best Ball format and their current price tag. These are players that you will not need to reach for and more importantly SHOULD NOT reach for! There are a lot of specifically nuanced do’s and don’ts when catering to different styles of fantasy football formats. One that is universally true, is to recognize player value and to seize it at the right moment.