Fantasy Football Best-Ball Late Round Targets (MFL10 and DRAFT)
Everyone will argue until they’re blue in the face about who you should draft between Melvin Gordon and Mike Evans, but in the end, we pretty much know what we’re getting out of those guys. I’ve said this before about redraft leagues, and I’ll say it again about best-ball leagues: You can’t win a league in the first few rounds.
The area you win best-ball leagues is finding the players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marvin Jones, Deshaun Watson, or Carson Wentz in the late rounds. Notice how I didn’t mention any running backs in that sentence? Well, it’s because they often require an injury to get into the difference-making area, something we cannot predict. It’s important to add depth at the position in case injury does happen, but don’t draft a running back in the 15th round thinking you got a steal, because you probably didn’t. There are exceptions to every rule, but this is a position you shouldn’t wait for in best-ball leagues.
We’ll be talking about some of the players I believe can be difference-makers in best-ball leagues this year without injury, and they’re all going to be players being taken outside the top-100 of early best-ball drafts. While they may move up as the season nears, these are the types of players who can help you wind up with a profit at the end of the year.
Jameis Winston (TB)
Did you know that if you combined Winston’s and Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s passing yardage last year, it would’ve led the NFL? Their combined 4,607 yards were more than Tom Brady‘s 4,577, though their touchdowns (26) were somewhat lacking. Touchdowns are the hardest thing to predict, but seeing Winston’s yardage with the weapons around him, big things are going to happen from time-to-time. He’s one of my favorite QB2’s in best-ball and you’re able to get him around the QB20 range in most drafts.
Mitch Trubisky (CHI)
You’ve all heard the whole “Bears are the new Rams” comparison, right? Well, I’m not going to be making that comparison, but rather welcome you to a new age of football. Matt Nagy is a creative offensive mind that works around his players’ strengths and one thing most have underestimated is Trubisky’s mobility, as he rushed for 32 or more yards in 4-of-12 starts last year including two rushing touchdowns in John Fox’s vanilla offense. With the weapons around him now, it’s going to be hard for Trubisky to not succeed. While Patrick Mahomes is a good target as well, he’s going over 30 picks before Trubisky, which makes this an easy decision for me.
Aaron Jones (GB)
This is a rare case of potentially getting the starting running back in a top-six scoring offense outside of the top-100. Most are torn on which running back to take out of Green Bay, but there’ve been rumors that Jones earned the job last year. Whatever the case, he’s going to score some touchdowns, even if he’s involved in a timeshare. I’d rather take the upside of Jones than someone who may have more guaranteed touches, like Bilal Powell.
Spencer Ware (KC)
In the intro I let you know that you aren’t going to get a game-changer in the late rounds at the running back position without injury. The aforementioned Jones may be an exception to the rule, but Ware is one of the running backs you should stick at the end of your roster. He’s free in best-ball drafts right now and if Kareem Hunt should miss some time, we’ve seen Ware perform as an RB1 on plenty of occasions. When taking a running back this late, take someone like Ware who would be a must-start if the starter went down. Not someone like Isaiah Crowell, who is absurdly going 80 picks higher than Ware.
Jamison Crowder (WAS)
Take note on this one, as Crowder will be someone I’ll be acquiring in every format this year, and not just best-ball. His role on the team had been prominent even with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson on the roster, and it only grows now that the Redskins have two other wide receivers who cannot separate and a quarterback in Alex Smith who is unwilling to throw into tight coverage. Crowder averaged 3.2 yards of separation at target last year, the eight-best number among wide receivers in the NFL last year. He’s going to provide consistency of a top-50 pick in best-ball leagues at a fraction of the cost.
DeVante Parker (MIA)
While I typically want wide receivers attached to a high-powered offense in best-ball, it’s hard to pass up a wide receiver who has the potential to see 120-plus targets. I understand that Parker has never lived up to the hype, but when he’s been healthy, he’s produced. With Jarvis Landry‘s 161 targets vacated, as well as Julius Thomas‘ 62 targets, there’s a lot to go around with the Dolphins. Any time you can get a former first-round pick who is 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, and 100-plus targets guaranteed outside the top-100 picks in best ball, do it.
Randall Cobb (GB)
I get it, Cobb’s career has gone downhill the past few years, but that shouldn’t force you to run from him completely. The last I checked, his quarterback is still Aaron Rodgers, which means 10 touchdowns is well within reach. Even with Jordy Nelson in town last year, Cobb saw 92 targets in 15 games, showing how much he still means to the offense. While there were rumors of him being cut due to his large salary cap number, they decided to hold on for another season, and you should, too. I will also note that Geronimo Allison is an excellent late-round pick, provided the Packers don’t add Dez Bryant.
DeSean Jackson (TB)
When you watch as much football as I do, you see some things that some people may have missed. When it comes to Jackson, he and Jameis Winston were just a touch off on connecting for multiple 40-plus yard touchdowns, which would have dramatically changed how fantasy players valued him this offseason. There were four passes that I can recall right now that were within a yard or two of his hands that might turn into long touchdowns this year. Even in what was a “down year” for him, he produced WR3 numbers 50 percent of the time, which ranked 33rd among wide receivers. While Jackson has always been a tough player to predict when he’s going to blow-up, you don’t have to worry about that in best-ball. I got him as the 72nd wide receiver off the board in a recent best-ball draft.
Chris Godwin (TB)
Even though DeSean Jackson is in this article, it doesn’t mean that Godwin can’t give you value himself. Just yesterday, offensive coordinator Todd Monken said that Godwin has earned the opportunity to be a starting wide receiver. This will kick Adam Humphries off the field and create quite the nasty threesome of Godwin, Jackson, and Mike Evans. Over the final four games of 2017, Godwin was able to haul in at least 68 yards in three of them, including 111 yards and a touchdown in Week 17.
Michael Gallup (DAL)
This one should be pretty self-explanatory, as I just don’t believe that Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, and Cole Beasley are going to be the Cowboys starting wide receivers for long. Gallup is the one wide receiver on that team with the ability to potentially be a top-30 wide receiver in this league and it’s not going to happen sitting on the bench behind the B-squad. Even if he doesn’t start Week 1, it’s only a matter of time before they start giving him reps, and he’ll quickly become Dak Prescott‘s go-to receiver, giving you multiple usable fantasy weeks in the process.
James Washington (PIT)
It’s almost as if everyone forgot that Martavis Bryant was traded and that Washington is going to start immediately, unless the Steelers drafted him to sit behind Darrius Heyward-Bey (they didn’t). Yeah, he’s a rookie, as was his teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster last year. Did we also forget about Bryant’s 549 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie, too? Washington’s best attribute is adjusting, separating, and hauling in the deep ball, something Ben Roethlisberger is known for. He may not be an every-week fantasy starter, but he’s going to have some big weeks.
Jordan Reed (WAS)
I’m likely never going to advise you to draft Reed in a redraft format, but in best-ball, outside the top-100, absolutely. When he’s being selected in the range of guys like O.J. Howard and Eric Ebron, it makes the decision too easy. Did you know that even though Reed played just six games in 2017, he had a 20-plus point PPR game, something that just 21 tight ends were able to do all season? He hit that mark in three games in 2016, something only Travis Kelce did more of. The year before that, he hit that mark four times, something only Rob Gronkowski topped. Alex Smith has always loved his tight end and Reed should be no different. Even though we can’t rely on him for more than maybe 12 games, it’s worth it when he’s on the field.
George Kittle (SF)
We saw the chemistry starting to develop between Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo towards the end of the season, where Kittle hauled in 11 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown over the final three games. Knowing that the starting wide receivers are Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, and Trent Taylor, who are all 6-foot or shorter, Garoppolo is going to need a big red zone threat. When it comes to tight ends, you’re going to need those touchdowns, and Kittle just might deliver.
Trey Burton (CHI)
Easily my favorite tight end value in best-ball right now, it seems that fantasy players are behind the curve on this one. Burton is joining an offense that he already knows, as he said that he already knows 90 percent of the playbook upon signing with Matt Nagy and the Bears, due to Doug Pederson and Nagy coming from the Andy Reid coaching tree. It’s one of the reasons he chose to sign with the Bears. They are going to use him all over the field, similar to the way the Chiefs use Travis Kelce and the Eagles use Zach Ertz, which is extremely valuable. He’s going to be a top-10 tight end in 2018.
Vance McDonald (PIT)
Let’s say you miss out on your top tight end targets and start to panic. McDonald can be someone you pair with Austin Seferian-Jenkins (or someone in that range) to produce competent numbers at the tight end position. Getting traded to the Steelers on short notice last year, McDonald had just one full week to try and catch up on the offense, something he apparently struggled with. He did close out the year with two 52-yard performances in the last four games, and the Steelers have said he’s going to be much more involved this season. He’s an extremely athletic tight end who averaged 16.3 yards per reception when he was given a bigger role with the 49ers in 2016. If Ben Roethlisberger can make Heath Miller and Jesse James fantasy relevant a few weeks a year, he can do the same for McDonald.