DRAFT Best Ball Players to Target: WR
In DRAFT best ball leagues, volatility isn’t a dirty word for wideouts. In fact, while steady but unspectacular plays well in traditional formats, DRAFT best ball gamers should be hunting out high weekly ceiling options at receiver even if those high-ceiling weeks are accompanied by clunkers in other weeks. Only two of the receivers highlighted below have an ADP inside the top-40 picks, so all of the highlighted receivers will be available to all drafters regardless of the draft slot they randomly draw. A pair of top-flight No. 1 receivers kick things off. They’re accompanied by a grossly undervalued No. 1 receiver, a change-of-scenery speculative pick, a sophomore with untapped upside, and a pair of home-run hitters from the AFC East.
T.Y. Hilton (IND): ADP – 30.90, WR11
Hilton fell short of 1,000 yards receiving for just the second time in his career in 2017, but the return of Andrew Luck in 2018 resulted in a return to the game’s elite class of receiver. Among receivers last year, he ranked sixth in receiving yards per game (90.7) and tied for 19th in touchdown receptions (six), per Pro-Football-Reference, despite missing two games. The two missed games were a single-season high for Hilton, so he has a track record of year-to-year good health working in his favor along with his stellar numbers. Simply put, he’s a top-10 receiver who’s being selected just outside the top 10. He belongs inside the top-25 picks, and I’ll gladly start my DRAFT best ball teams with him as my No. 1 receiver.
Amari Cooper (DAL): ADP – 34.40, WR13
Cooper joins Hilton in my preferred sweet spot for popping a WR1. Double dipping on Hilton and Cooper is a strong move, too. The former Raider immediately gelled with Dak Prescott after an in-season trade to the Cowboys, and it’s not unfathomable to think they could develop further chemistry with an offseason of working together. Cooper played in his first game for the Cowboys in Week 9, and from Week 9 through the end of the regular season among wideouts, he ranked eighth in targets (76) and receptions (53), ninth in receiving yards (725), and tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns (six). I slightly prefer Hilton to Cooper based mostly on the combo of Luck and Frank Reich being better than Prescott and Clappy Smurf (i.e. Jason Garrett).
Robby Anderson (NYJ): ADP – 81.50, WR34
I previously sang the praises of Anderson here, and his ADP and rank among receivers have slipped a pinch since then. I remain a believer that Anderson’s a top-25 receiver this year and significantly undervalued.
Donte Moncrief (PIT): ADP – 141.80, WR53
The trade of Antonio Brown to the Raiders frees up a ton of targets in Pittsburgh’s offense after Brown accumulated 168 targets in 15 games last year. JuJu Smith-Schuster was already a stud, and he’s the unquestioned top target for the Steelers. Filling Brown’s vacancy will almost certainly be a multi-player effort, but second-year receiver James Washington (101.40 ADP and WR41) is the helium man in DRAFT best ball drafts. Tight end Vance McDonald (78.0 and TE9) is a good bet to soak up a bunch of targets, too, but Moncrief is a cheap option whose upside belies his cost of acquisition. He’s a veteran of five seasons in the NFL, but he’ll be turning only 26 years old in August.
Moncrief is a big body with drool-inducing measurables as you can see at Player Profiler. Perhaps the most interesting number on his Player Profiler page is his 100th percentile Breakout Age. Early in his career, he showcased a nose for the end zone with 16 touchdown receptions in 41 games played with Luck through his first three seasons. Parsing his early years a little more, in his second and third seasons combined, he reeled in 13 touchdowns in just 25 games. Ben Roethlisberger in the twilight of his career is the best quarterback Moncrief’s played with since starting his career with Luck, and he’s a post-hype breakout candidate after spending the last two years, having passes thrown his way by the motley crew of Jacoby Brissett, Scott Tolzien, Blake Bortles, and Cody Kessler.
Anthony Miller (CHI): ADP – 150.0, WR56
Moncrief isn’t the only value receiver in this piece with a nose for the end zone. As a rookie, Miller scored seven touchdowns in 15 games. Per Player Profiler, Miller’s eight targets in the end zone represented 22.9% of Chicago’s end zone target share. Furthermore, his five red zone touchdown receptions were tied for the 12th most among receivers, according to Lineups. Suffice it to say, he was an integral part of Chicago’s offense in the red zone.
Providing some relief that it isn’t a one-year blip on the radar is Miller’s touchdown-scoring prowess in his final two seasons of college football. In his last 26 games for Memphis, Miller totaled an eye-popping 32 touchdown receptions. Circling back to his touchdown total as a rookie, Ian Hartitz noted Miller was one of only 11 rookies in the last five years to catch seven or more touchdowns, and there are some heavy hitters among that group. Miller should take a step forward from his pedestrian receptions and receiving yardage totals in his second season, and coupling that with his skills in scoring territory should allow him to post top-50 receiver numbers. Additionally, the unpredictable nature of touchdown scoring isn’t a concern in DRAFT best ball leagues, making Miller a stronger target in this format than traditional leagues.
Kenny Stills (MIA): ADP – 152.7, WR59
Stills should be delighted by Miami’s addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick, as the duo has a chance to make sweet music together. According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Fitz’s 10.2 Average Intended Air Yards (IAY) was the third highest among qualified quarterbacks and Stills’ 16.4 Average Targeted Air Yards (TAY) was tied for the fourth-highest average among qualified pass catchers. Stills’ mark ranked a couple spots behind DeSean Jackson’s second-highest mark of 19.1 TAY.
You’ll probably recall D-Jax played with Fitz in 2018, and he played his best when the quarterback carousel in Tampa Bay landed on Fitzmagic. In eight games with Fitz last year, D-Jax had per-game averages of 6.12 targets, 3.88 receptions, 78.62 receiving yards, and 0.5 touchdown receptions, according to RotoViz’s Game Splits App. Stills is actually a couple of inches taller than D-Jax, and he offers similar sub-4.40 second 40-yard dash speed. I prefer Stills to the aforementioned Moncrief and Miller and wouldn’t hesitate to spend a pick in the 120s to secure Stills’ tantalizing weekly ceiling on my DRAFT best ball squads.
Robert Foster (BUF): ADP – 187.0, WR67
I’m not quite as bullish on Foster’s outlook this year as I was earlier in the offseason thanks to the addition of burner John Brown, but Foster was too locked in with Josh Allen to close out 2018 to bypass at such a low cost. He was Buffalo’s best receiver last year, and I’d rank him ahead of Zay Jones presently as the best bet to lineup outside opposite Brown, with Cole Beasley playing the slot role. At this cost, Foster needs to do little more than haul in a few long touchdowns to hit value, and there’s ample upside to do more than that.