Players Who Are Better/Worse in Best-Ball Leagues (MFL10 and DRAFT)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Jun 1, 2018

Based on his career results, T.Y. Hilton deserves a bump in your best-ball rankings

There are plenty of newcomers to best-ball leagues this offseason, and while there’s plenty of advice out there on how many positions to draft to your squad, there’s not much out there on the type of players you should be drafting. Guys, there was good reason that Frank Gore was falling into the 8th-10th round in best-ball drafts last year. Don’t just think you stumbled upon a steal of a pick that nobody has caught onto.

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In this article, we’ll be looking at the players who are most affected by the best-ball format, whether it be good or bad. With most best-ball payout structures being top-heavy, getting mediocre results out of your fantasy team isn’t enough. It may be good enough to get to the playoffs in your season-long league, but it’s not enough here.

I’ll list players at each position, giving you their current ADP (as of the time I’m writing the article), as well as reasoning as to why they should/should not end up on some of your best-ball rosters. Don’t forget, we have a promo going on with DRAFT right now where if you sign up through our link (click here), you’ll receive a free entry into a best-ball contest, and you’ll also automatically follow me so that when I start a contest, you’ll be notified to join!

Quarterbacks

GOOD

Russell Wilson (SEA) Current ADP: 39.3 (QB3)
The debate among those who take quarterbacks early in best-ball drafts always comes down to “how high should I take Aaron Rodgers?” Well, you could take the full-round discount and select Wilson. Why would you do that? Because Wilson is actually better than Rodgers in this format. Over the last three years, Wilson has given a top-five performance in 17-of-48 games (35.4 percent) while Rodgers has delivered that in 13-of-39 games (33.3 percent) of his games. Wilson delivered a career-high five games over 26 fantasy points in 2017, and his defense just took a step back which should allow for more pass attempts.

Cam Newton (CAR) Current ADP: 56.0 (QB5)
His ADP has crept up as of late, but Newton is still one of the best-ball quarterbacks to target. Because of his deficiencies as a passer, he’s more boom-or-bust than you’d like in redraft leagues, but in best-ball, you only get his best. The only quarterback to turn in more 26-plus point fantasy games (what we consider a “boom”) in 2017 was Russell Wilson. In fact, Newton has more “boom” performances over the last three years than Tom Brady, who is going 14 spots higher than Newton in best-ball leagues. Pair him with a “safe” QB2 who gives you a high-floor like Philip Rivers and you’ll be happy.

BAD

Derek Carr (OAK) Current ADP: 116.1 (QB18)
It’s tough to say that Carr is being overvalued right now, because as the QB18, you aren’t taking much risk. But maybe it’s because best-ball players have caught on to him, as Carr doesn’t give you the upside you want at the position in relation to his downside. Despite playing with both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, Carr finished with less than 14.0 fantasy points in 60 percent of his games, a worse rate than Andy Dalton. Even if you want to use injuries as an excuse, that number was 40 percent in 2016. After having three games with 25-plus points eight games into in his rookie season, Carr has topped that number just twice over his last 38 games. The addition of run-happy coach Jon Gruden will not help matters.

Drew Brees (NO) Current ADP: 65.8 (QB7)
This wasn’t always the case with Brees, but we’re talking about a different time and a different team he’s playing for. The defense taking strides to be elite, combined with the run-game behind Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram forced Brees to take a huge step backwards in production. The average amount of points it took to finish as a top-five quarterback in 2017 was 22.9 points. Brees didn’t hit that number, not even once. Why? That defense cut Brees’ attempts down from 627-plus in seven straight years from 2010-2016 to just 536 attempts in 2017. It’s hard to see a young defense that just added more players in free agency take a large step backwards. While Brees should bounce back to a certain extent, the days of him being an elite fantasy quarterback are over. Take Matthew Stafford or Ben Roethlisberger over 20 picks later and get better production in best-ball formats.

Running Backs

GOOD

Chris Thompson (WAS) Current ADP: 71.2 (RB28)
It seemed that Thompson was locked into his role last year prior to breaking his leg late in the season. Provided he’s able to get back to 100 percent, he is one of the better best-ball targets in the middle rounds. He turned in an RB1 performance in 40 percent of his starts last year (in PPR formats), including two 25-plus point performances, something that’s hard to find in his range of running backs. Even if you go back to his performances in 2016 before he became a household name, he finished as an RB3 or better in 75 percent of his games, which ranked 21st among running backs. With Alex Smith coming to town, there’s likely to be more checkdowns than normal. As long as the Redskins don’t add a pass-catching running back in the draft, I’d expect Thompson to be a best-ball bargain.

Jamaal Williams/Aaron Jones (GB) Current ADP: 78.4 and 105.3 (RB29, RB38)
I’m listing both of them here because they’re fighting for the same role in the Packers offense. Between the two of them, they combined for nine games of 15 touches or more touches. Of those nine games, they netted five RB1 performances with all five of them netting at least 20 PPR points. The Packers starting running back is going to post these types of performances, so you’ll be okay even if they have a few lackluster games where Aaron Rodgers throws four touchdowns. At their current ADP’s, I’d be okay drafting both of them, guaranteeing you’ll get the production out of one of them. Once we find out who is “the guy,” I’d expect his price to move into the 30’s or 40’s.

BAD

Alex Collins (BAL) Current ADP: 54.0 (RB23)
The price for Collins in best-ball is somewhat surprising, given the fact that they gave him just a one-year deal this offseason despite him being just 23 years old. Yes, he was a ERFA (exclusive rights free agent), but they could’ve locked him up long-term if they wanted. Despite earning the workhorse role by Week 5, Collins failed to record one game with more than 24.6 PPR points, and in fact, had just two games with more than 17.6 PPR points. There were 33 running backs who had at least one 25-point performance last year, so to see Collins have none is disappointing, especially with both Kenneth Dixon out for the year and Danny Woodhead missing a majority of the season. If you do want to draft him, I’d pair him with Dixon later in the draft to ensure you get the starting running back, no matter what happens. There’s no reason he should be going before Sony Michel and Jerick McKinnon in best-ball leagues, but he is right now.

Derrick Henry (TEN) Current ADP: 27.9 (RB16)
This is one I don’t quite understand, as Henry is going to be in somewhat of the same role he was in last year. His lack of touches don’t give you the upside you want in best-ball and it shows in the results. He was an RB2 just 31.3 percent of the time last year, and an RB3 just 43.8 percent of the time. When drafting a player like that, you’d hope the big weeks are really big. With Henry’s lack of work in the passing-game, they aren’t. Over Henry’s first 30 games of his career, he’s topped 19 PPR points just once. Yes, DeMarco Murray is gone, but Dion Lewis is there, meaning Henry won’t get that workhorse role everyone had hoped he would.

Wide Receivers

GOOD

T.Y. Hilton (IND) Current ADP: 37.4 (WR14)
You probably don’t need me to tell you that Hilton is the ideal best-ball target, as he’s extremely boom or bust, and yes, it was the same way with Andrew Luck under center. He’s now played 94 games in his career, and he’s “gone off” for 25-plus PPR points 15 times (16.0 percent), but has also “busted” for fewer than 8.0 PPR points on 29 occasions (30.9 percent), including a career-high nine times in 2017. To give you an idea as to how good his upside is over his career, just eight wide receivers posted a better percentage in 2017 alone. He’s going to hurt those of you who take him in redraft, but in best-ball, he’s an ideal WR2.

Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) Current ADP: 55.0 (WR22)
Who would’ve thought Fitzgerald would be better for best-ball at this stage in his career? Well, it’s what happens when a great wide receiver gets paired with inconsistent quarterback play. He only posted WR2 numbers 37.5 percent of the time in 2017, but four of those six games netted you 25-plus PPR points. The only player who finished with more 25-point games at wide receiver was Antonio Brown, who costs you a mid-first-round pick. Even if you go back to 2016, he posted three of those massive 25-point games. At his cost, he makes for a great best-ball pick in 2018.

BAD

Jarvis Landry (CLE) Current ADP: 47.6 (WR20)
Despite Landry averaging 142.5 targets per season with the Dolphins, how many “boom” performances do you think he gave you? He hit the 25-point PPR mark in just 3-of-64 games. Seriously. I was told PPR leagues are where he’s supposed to shine, right? He gave you crazy consistency, performing as a WR3 70.3 percent of the time, but that’s going to win you third- or fourth-place in best-ball leagues. Going to the Browns did not help his situation, as they’re going to pass less and they have more options in the passing game than the Dolphins did. In fact, Landry wouldn’t even be a great pick where he’s going now (WR20) even if he was still on the Dolphins.

Nelson Agholor (PHI) Current ADP: 92.0 (WR37)
This is an easy one, as Agholor ranked just 50th in targets per game last year, and that was with Torrey Smith instead of Mike Wallace (who’s better), as well as without Darren Sproles on the field. Despite that, he cracked 20 PPR points just once on the season. While he did play much better last year, he still would’ve been outside of your best-ball starting lineup for at least 7-of-16 games, as he failed to reach 8.0 PPR points in them, which is considered a bust. You need really high efficiency out of him to get what he did last year, and even that was hardly worth a top-36 wide receiver pick.

Tight Ends

GOOD

Rob Gronkowski (NE)/ Travis Kelce (KC) Current ADP: 19.8 and 24.1 (TE1, TE2)
You want to pay for high-end tight ends in best-ball leagues. Why? Well, Gronkowski and Kelce accounted for 11 of the 32 games in which a tight end cracked 20.0 PPR points in 2017. Think about that for a second. A massive 34.4 percent of the best performances for tight ends last year came from two players, who also missed a combined three games. On top of that, they also posted the lowest “bust” rate among tight ends, as just five of their combined 29 games netted you less than 7.0 PPR points. They’re worth the cost of admission in best-ball leagues.

Trey Burton (CHI) Current ADP: 139.6 (TE17)
We’ve seen Burton’s upside while in a part-time role, as he averaged 14.8 PPR points in the three games he saw at least four targets in 2017. Going to the Bears, he’ll be in a featured role, but also has some competition for targets with the acquisitions they’ve made. Because of that, he’ll be a better best-ball target you can currently get for pennies on the dollar, though his price continues to rise. Zach Ertz, who plays the same role Burton is going to with the Bears, totaled TE1 performances in 78.6 percent of his games in 2017, which led the NFL.

BAD

Charles Clay (BUF) Current ADP: 140.5 (TE18)
When playing best-ball and drafting tight ends later on (where Clay is going), you’re looking to puzzle together three tight ends who can hopefully combine to give you TE1 performances more than half the time, with a few big performances mixed in. Clay can help fill the role of a tight end who’ll give you 10-15 PPR points about 40 percent of the time, but really misses on the big performance part of the equation. Despite seeing at least at least five targets in seven different games, Clay failed to produce more than 16.2 PPR points in any one game in 2017. Sure, the lack of wide receiving talent helps promote more targets, but looking at where those targets are coming from, it’s unlikely to result in a big change. Take a higher upside tight end in his range, like the aforementioned Burton.

Austin Hooper (ATL) Current ADP: 164.3 (TE22)
Outside of the fact that he’s just not that good, Hooper failed to take advantage of his opportunities in 2017. There were nine games in which he saw at least four targets, including five games with six or more, yet Hooper had just one game with more than 16 PPR points, and it was due to a long 88-yard touchdown reception in Week 1. After struggling with more targets in the middle of the season, the Falcons started to turn away from Hooper later in the season, totaling just 17 targets over the final five games. On top of that, they went out and snagged Calvin Ridley, another pass-catcher, in the first-round. Despite ranking 17th among tight ends in targets, Hooper finished as a TE1 just 25 percent of the time, which ranked 23rd in the league.


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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