Best Ball Players to Avoid (2021 Fantasy Football)
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, guys with high ceilings are ones to target in these types of leagues, but players with limited upside? They’re best left untouched in fantasy drafts. Today, I’ll name five such players who you should avoid when selecting your best ball roster.
FantasyPros Best Ball ECR can be found here
Be sure to check out: 8 Best Ball Targets
Josh Jacobs (RB – LV): ECR 30
As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a-changin’.” Who knew that years later, the title track from Dylan’s third album would apply to Las Vegas’ third-year running back? In 2020, Jacobs saw his carries increase but his efficiency decrease, as his rushing numbers fell. He buoyed that decline with 12 rushing touchdowns and career-best numbers in the receiving game. Now, in a move sure to be parodied by Frank Caliendo, Jon Gruden has added Kenyan Drake to the Raiders’ backfield. Drake is a guy I’m avoiding in best ball leagues too, but Jacobs will likely come with a heftier price tag, making him the biggest fade. This should be a great move for Las Vegas’ real-life run game, but these guys are sure to cannibalize one another’s touches and ceilings.
Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU): ECR 69
Watson is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, and the fact that he put up such gaudy numbers with a porous offensive line and revolving cast of receivers in and out of the lineup makes the 2020 campaign that much more special. While it would be tough to expect a worthy encore (particularly with Will Fuller out of the picture), last season may have been Watson’s curtain call with Houston, and he took his final bow with us none the wiser. Talks of a potential trade for Watson have cooled significantly since he publicly demanded to be moved back in late January, and now, he’s facing very serious allegations off the field. I wouldn’t be too high on Watson even if he hadn’t demanded a trade or been on the wrong side of the court of public opinion, but now, he’s firmly on my “Do Not Draft” list. Best ball leagues are great because you get maximum points for your players when they go off on a given week, and they remain on your bench when they stink. The problem with Watson is… he may not have any weeks of the season at all. His 2021 season is very much in flux, and there’s no guarantee he takes the field at all. He’s an easy pass in best ball formats, especially with a sixth-round ECR.
David Johnson (RB – HOU): ECR 80
“Are you ready for an indictment? A vote of no confidence?” – sung to the tune of “Are You Ready for Some Football” by Hank Williams Jr.
Yes, this will be DJ’s anthem heading into the 2021 season as the Texans’ coaching staff added not one, but two running backs to the backfield to take touches away from Johnson. Just a year after trading future Hall of Famer DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for Johnson, he’s being placed into an RBBC with Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay. These are dark times indeed for Johnson’s fantasy outlook. In addition to playing behind a ramshackle offensive line and Tyrod Taylor as his likely starting quarterback, Johnson will now have plenty of competition for touches, and his leash surely won’t be too long if he has a bad game or two. There are way better picks in best ball drafts, and you should only draft DJ if you hate winning.
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE): ECR 82
Landry finished last season with career lows in multiple categories, including targets (101), receptions (72), and targets per game (6.7). His 840 receiving yards were his fewest since his rookie season in 2014. Landry’s down season came even with Odell Beckham out nine games, and Beckham should be back fully healthy this season. Cleveland enjoyed its best season in years and even won a playoff game thanks to Kevin Stefanski’s run-first approach to the offense that saw Baker Mayfield attempt a career-low 30.4 passes per game. That recipe for success isn’t likely to change in 2021, and while OBJ is a guy to target in best ball leagues due to his game-breaking abilities, Landry’s ceiling is far lower. He’s a possession receiver whose fantasy success has come thanks to heavy volume in the short passing game, not explosive plays and huge games.
Austin Hooper (TE – CLE): ECR 132
After a monster 2019 season with Atlanta, Hooper joined Cleveland as another shiny new toy of an already-loaded offense, and he promptly fell flat on his fantasy face. He totaled fewer than 30 yards in six of 13 games, eclipsed 50 yards only twice, and topped out at 71 yards in Week 16 as one of the only healthy pass-catchers available. With Odell Beckham set to return, and Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins staying put, there’s very little to get excited about with Hooper. Guys like Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Higbee, Kyle Pitts, and Gerald Everett all have lower ECRs and offer much higher ceilings than the Cleveland TE.
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.