It’s only February and I am already about 30 NFL best ball drafts deep. Judge me if you must, but the grind never stops here at DFS Army. Underdog currently has two large field tournaments running. The Big Board has a $10 buy in and $200k up top. The Little Dog, is only $3 to play and awards $10k to first. My best finish last year was in the Big Board tournament. I had a team that, despite losing Cooper Kupp, took 13th in a field of 28,224.
The rookies are included in these drafts, but the contests will close before the actual NFL draft takes place. If you like Zay Flowers, you are drafting him not knowing his ultimate destination. This obviously creates variance. I don’t mind blindly throwing some rookie darts. We are all drafting with the same lack of information. Unlike that shitty Super Bowl turf, the playing field is level. Here are some early observations at each position.
I’ll be curious to see if this carries over into the regular best ball season, but if you want the studs, you are going to have to pay the iron price. Last year Mahomes could regularly be had in the 4th and occasionally the 5th round. He now has an ADP of 14.0. Josh Allen (15.7) and Jalen Hurts (16.6) also have 2nd round ADPs. Burrow (25.0) is pushing his way into the second as well.
DFS Army usually does not advocate taking QBs this early, and generally I have not been. If you are completing a Kelce, Diggs, Chase or AJ Brown stack, go for it. Otherwise, I am content to wait. Fields (35.5) and Lamar (37.0) with their similar rushing upside go around the 3/4 turn. Big armed passers Herbert (45.1) and Lawrence (51.3) can be had in the late 4th/early 5th. After that top 8, there is a significant 25-30 spot drop before Dak and Deshaun Watson go.
The main reason I draft this early (other than pure degeneracy) is to take advantage of uncertainty. People understandably hesitate to draft a QB whose team is not known. I am willing to speculate on quarterbacks that I am fairly certain will have a starting job, even if we don’t know exactly where. I believe that the Aaron Rodgers (118.3) situation has created a discount on both he and Jordan Love (169.2). I’m buying the talk that the Packers are done with Rodgers. Once the trade happens, I expect Rodgers and Love to see immediate ADP jumps. I am getting discount exposure now. I similarly expect Derek Carr (134.0) to get a bump once he ultimately signs. Carr isn’t a league winner, but he’s a durable every week starter who will provide value as your QB2 in best ball, especially relative to where he is currently being drafted.
I was very surprised to see the nearly 70 spots of ADP difference between Trey Lance (109.2) and Brock Purdy (178.5). We all know that Lance has higher fantasy ceiling due to his rushing ability. We all know the disparity in draft capital the Niners have invested in Lance and Purdy. That said, do you think Kyle Shanahan gives a shit about draft capital? It is a commonly held belief that Shanny Jr. didn’t even want to draft Lance, that he preferred the Purdy-like pocket passer, Mac Jones.
George Kittle recently gave this quote on Von Miller’s podcast, “Our offense operated at its highest it’s probably been since 2019 (with Brock Purdy). I think it’s his job to lose.” Deebo also publicly declared, “Purdy is legit.” Given their injury timelines, it is fair to view Lance as the favorite to start week 1, but he won’t have a long leash. Every time Lance throws a interception or misses an open receiver, his coach, teammates, and fans will all be looking to the QB who lead them to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. It is tough to spend a 9th round pick on a quarterback who feels like a 50/50 coin flip to be the starter late in the season.
I guessed that Bijan Robinson would open as a 3rd round pick in these pre-draft contests and I’d be able to stock up with early shares. No chance at that. The University of Texas stud already has an ADP of 14.4. He even sneaks into the late 1st round in many my drafts. Breece Hall had an early 5th round ADP in last year’s Best Ball Mania III tournament. If my memory serves me correct, Jonathon Taylor went mostly in the 3rd round as a rookie. There is no such rookie discount on Bijan. He is the 4th running back off the board, behind only CMC, Ekeler, and Taylor. Without taking an NFL snap or even having a team, he is being drafted ahead of Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry. That is a lot of respect for the youngster. I’ve gotten a couple shares, but at this price, I doubt I’ll be able to take a big overweight stance like I did last year on Hall.
My favorite pocket for drafting running backs right now is the 7th and 8th rounds. I think Isiah Pacheco (72.0), Tyler Allgeier (82.6), and Cam Akers (83.5) are all underpriced. We just watched Pacheco take over the lead roll for the Chiefs in playoffs. He is a violent, powerful runner who gained Andy Reid’s trust as the year went on. Allgeier had the most quiet 1000 yard rookie rushing season that I can remember. The Falcon RB actually had the highest PFF Grade (86.7) of any offensive rookie, ahead of his teammate Drake London (83.2) and Garrett Wilson (82.7).
Cam Akers closed the season with 3 straight rushing performances over 100 yards. As we probably should have expected, it took him a good 18 months or so to regain his pre Achilles tear form. He is still only 23-years-old. A fully recovered Cam Akers is no worse than a 2nd or 3rd round fantasy talent. Getting him in the 8th round here could prove to be a steal.
The rookie RBs that I am getting the most exposure to at ADP are Zach Charbonnet (101.5), Devon Achane (153.9), and Roschon Johnson (207.0). I admittedly don’t get to watch much college football, so I put my trust in the analysts I follow that do the film work. It seems that all 3 of these RBs have a chance to be second day picks with strong combines. If they do secure significant draft capital, these ADPs could look like serious values in the coming months.
I feel confident that the Jets are going bring in an established veteran quarterback. Best case scenario is Aaron Rodgers, but even a Derek Carr or Jimmy G would represent a major positional upgrade. As a result, I am buying Jets receivers now, because I believe the prices will only go up after the inevitable QB transaction. Garrett Wilson looked absolutely electric, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year despite catching passing from a terrible Zach Wilson, an injured Mike White, washed Joe Flacco, and some dude named Chris Streveler that was basically tattooed Tebow. Curtis Patrick tweeted an excellent stat showing that WRs drafted in the top 10 averaged an increase of 2.8 PPR points per game in year two. This number should be even greater for Garrett Wilson if he gets to play with a competent NFL quarterback.
For much of the same reason I am buying the dip on Elijah Moore. The former Ole Miss standout flashed as a rookie before finding his way into the coaching staff’s doghouse last year. Late in the season he began to earn back his full snap share, but the production never really recovered amidst all the shuffling at QB. With an 11th round ADP of 125.1, there is plenty of room for profit.
Another one of my favorite values is employed by the other team in MetLife Stadium, New York Giants receiver Isaiah Hodgins. The 24-year-old quickly became a favorite target of Daniel Jones after being plucked from the Bills’ practice squads mid-season. Big Blue may have discovered a diamond in the rough. The 6’3″ Hodgins has good size, runs clean routes, and catches everything thrown his way. In the 7 games he played starter’s snaps (including playoffs), he scored 5 touchdowns. New York will certainly look to bring in another receiver, but I would think Hodgins did enough to secure one of the starting slot. His 13th round ADP (147.1) is more than fair. I can’t see a reason why he is going more than a round later than teammate Wan’Dale Robinson (132.8) who is recovering from an ACL tear.
You could make an argument that Travis Kelce was the only tight end that mattered last season. His PPR 316.3 points were more than 100 clear of 2nd place T.J. Hockenson (215.4). He more than doubled the points of 6th place finisher Tyler Higbee (152.0), a player that you at no point felt good about starting. Kelce, who will be 34-years-old next season and has an ADP of 4.7. Where he is being drafted you can’t really get overweight unless you want to fade Jefferson, Chase, and CMC. This is not a strategy I would in any way recommend.
I have mainly been waiting on tight end, preferring to throw 3 upside darts late. My clear favorite is Chigoziem Okonkwo whose ADP is 142.5. Many DFS players will remember plugging the explosive young Titan as DraftKings often seemed to price him too cheap. If you can’t draft Kelce, you might as well take the only tight to better him in Yards Per Route Run. It was obviously done in a much smaller sample size, but Chig’s 2.88 topped the future Hall of Famer Kelce’s 2.42. If Okonkwo’s snaps and target share improve in year two, as one would expect, he could easily become an every week fantasy starter at a weak position.
There is no best ball offseason. If you want to join me in these great pre-draft contests on Underdog, sign up now with our promo code DFSARMY and get a first time deposit match up $100. That is 10 free entries into The Big Board. I’ll see you in the draft lobby!