Best Ball leagues incorporate two of my favorite things: fantasy football drafts and getting rewarded for doing nothing. Seriously, once you’ve drafted your best ball team, there’s no set-and-forget. There’s just an optimal lineup each and every week based on the best available scores from the players on your team. Pretty sweet, right? Obviously, top-tier studs should be given priority in these leagues just like a regular season-long format. How about some guys a little further outside your main line of vision? Are there players on the periphery who might not be on your season-long league but are dripping with best-ball appeal? Dang skippy, there are! You’re in luck, as I’ll name eight of them for the 2021 season.
FantasyPros Best Ball ECR can be found here
Odell Beckham Jr (WR – CLE): ECR 52
How the mighty have fallen. OBJ has fallen from the good graces of the fantasy community, but surely that doesn’t make him a bum, right? That’s right… and don’t call me Shirley. Despite recent struggles to stay healthy and produce on a consistent basis, Beckham remains a generational talent with game-breaking abilities. He only scored in two of the six full games he played in last season, but in one of those (Week 4 at Dallas), he totaled 154 total yards and three total touchdowns – a performance which likely won fantasy managers their week. Beckham is being slept on heading into the new season, so I’m targeting him wherever I can and enjoying the big games without stressing over whether or not to put him into my lineup.
Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA): ECR 93
Gesicki had a career year in 2021, posting a 53/703/6 receiving line that saw him rack up career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He had games of 9/88/1, 5/65/2, and 8/130/1 sprinkled throughout the season. Those are some big performances that combined to equal more than one third of his total-season yardage and two thirds of his total-season scores. Gesicki was frustrating for fantasy managers in 2021, as he also ended the year with three games of 15 yards or fewer. Gesicki was a boom-or-bust player in 2021 if ever there was one, but when he boomed, he boomed in a big way. He’s certainly worth a look in best ball leagues.
Robert Tonyan (TE – GB): ECR 95
In 2021, “Big Bob” Tonyan broke out in a big way, finishing as a top-5 tight end and easily setting new career highs in all receiving categories. Despite the enormous season, he experienced the same issues as any other tight end not named Travis Kelce experienced: ups and downs. Tonyan had nine games with a touchdown scored and six games with no touchdowns scored. In those six non-scoring games, he eclipsed 32 receiving yards only once. Green Bay failed to address its need for help in the receiving corps in the offseason, meaning Tonyan should play a significant role once again.
Marvin Jones (WR – JAX): ECR 112
The small contract was confusing, but the signing certainly wasn’t. Jones should be an elite field-stretcher for first overall pick Trevor Lawrence, and the ECR here is sure to rise closer to the start of football season. Jones’ nose for the end zone is evident, as he’s scored at least nine touchdowns four times in his career, including three over the past four seasons. Snag him for your best ball team, and forget about the 5/51 games. Instead, reap the benefit of those sweet, sweet, multi-score efforts that have become a common occurrence.
Jeff Wilson (RB – SF): ECR 121
Wilson spent 2020 locked into a headache of a timeshare in San Francisco, but he put his enormous upside on display with a 17/112/2 rushing line in Week 7 and 292 total yards and three total touchdowns across Weeks 16 and 17. Wilson may be trapped in another 49ers’ timeshare in 2021, but the beauty of best ball is that you don’t have to try and guess which games will feature Wilson and which games he’ll ride the pine. I expect Wilson to take on an expanded role in 2021, and he makes an excellent best ball target thanks to the high upside and unpredictable backfield usage.
Mecole Hardman (WR – KC): ECR 146
Hardman was a hard man to have on your fantasy team last season, as he failed to live up to fairly lofty breakout expectations placed upon him in the preseason. He still had some big games, despite the crummy totality of his season, and he makes a very interesting end-of-bench selection in best ball drafts. Last season, Hardman had two games in which he went for at least 80 yards and a touchdown but eight games with 40 yards or fewer and no score. Can he finally take the next step forward in his third season (the entirety of which will be spent without Sammy Watkins)? I’ll take that chance in best ball leagues.
Cam Newton (QB – NE): ECR 198
This is more disrespectful than Cam being called out in his camp by a mouthy teenager. This dude was a hero in Weeks 1 and 2 of the 2020 fantasy season, but after contracting COVID, he was never the same… and he said as much. Now a year healthier, Cam should be ready to wreak havoc on the league once again. Despite a putrid 8/10 TD/INT ratio, Newton buoyed his fantasy value with 592 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns – the second-most rushing scores of his career and most since his rookie season. He’s got a year of recovery and Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne as opposed to last year’s JV squad of wideouts to help him far exceed his ECR.
Mike Davis (RB – ATL): ECR 206
Davis stepped up for the injured Christian McCaffrey last season and finished the year as an RB1 thanks to 1,015 total yards, 59 receptions, and eight total touchdowns. It’s unclear if he’ll be Atlanta’s lead back in 2021, but he’s got a good shot having just signed a two-year contract and competing with only Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison for touches. Davis can be had for a song in best ball drafts, and he’s a guy with clear RB2 upside. That’s highway robbery.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.