Pre-NFL Draft Rookie Best Ball Targets (2021 Fantasy Football)
As the NFL Draft rapidly approaches, Best Ball season is about to ramp up. I’ve already taken an early look at Best Ball drafts and examined them heading into free agency. Now it’s time to study the Best Ball landscape before the NFL Draft.
Since Best Ball popularity tends to peak mid-summer, now is the time to take advantage of rookie value. Once landing spots are known, their ADP will change drastically. While some are bound to lose value, most will only rise up draft boards as the hype builds. Competing in Best Ball drafts in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft is a great way to extract value from rookies. Here are some targets to consider.
*Each player’s Average Draft Position (ADP) is from Underdog Best Ball drafts as of 4/13/21.
Trevor Lawrence (QB14, 113.2 Overall ADP)
Trevor Lawrence is almost certainly going to be the top selection on April 29. While he’s still the first rookie quarterback off the board in Best Ball drafts, his ceiling is higher than QB14. He’s a proficient passer but has also shown the ability to put up big games on the ground, as evidenced by his 107 rushing yards and score in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.
Taking Lawrence as your first quarterback in the eighth or ninth round lets you attack other positions early in the draft. It also opens up great stacking options with D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr., and/or Marvin Jones later in the draft.
Zach Wilson (QB26, 176.8 Overall ADP)
Wilson is almost as much of a sure thing to go second in the NFL Draft as Lawrence is at the top spot. Yet he’s still going after Justin Fields (QB22), who could end up sitting for part or all of his first NFL season. Whatever you think of Wilson as a prospect, he’s going to get the chance to start this year in offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s system.
His ceiling is as good as it gets for a quarterback in the later rounds. Much like Lawrence, drafting him also offers sneaky stacking options with Denzel Mims, Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, or even Keelan Cole.
Javonte Williams (RB24, 52.5 Overall ADP)
Najee Harris (RB19) and Travis Etienne (RB21) could be great Best Ball picks. Bu until the landing spots are known, I’ll take my chances with the last of the big three rookie running backs, according to ADP. Williams is coming off an ultra-productive season at North Carolina that saw him break the plane 22 times, including three times through the air. He has the size and has shown the skill set to be a three-down workhorse. Williams could potentially land in the best situation of any running back in the 2021 NFL Draft. If he does, his current ADP will be a steal compared to where it ends up this summer.
Chuba Hubbard (RB41, 121.4 Overall ADP)
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a back in this draft with more top-end speed than Hubbard. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy was a high school track star in Canada before turning his focus to football. In the 2019 season, he parlayed that breakaway speed into seven touchdown runs of 50 yards or more. He didn’t do himself any favors with a disappointing 2020 season, but he still has the big-play upside worth targeting in Best Ball drafts if he finds his way onto the field in 2021.
Trey Sermon (RB43, 126.8 Overall ADP)
Had his college career gone slightly different, Sermon may be considered one of this draft class’s top backs. Much like Williams, Sermon profiles as a potential three-down back in the NFL given his pass-catching and pass-blocking proficiency. He isn’t likely to lead an NFL backfield in Week 1, but his overall skill set could make him one of the most valuable backups in fantasy football. Adding him to the back end of your Best Ball depth chart will pay off in spades if Sermon receives a primary role in the second half of the season.
Jaylen Waddle (WR48, 108.9 Overall ADP)
Waddle is widely considered to be the third-best wide receiver in the 2021 class behind Ja’Marr Chase (WR28) and Devonta Smith (WR44), but he may have the highest ceiling of them all. While he didn’t record an official 40 time in the pre-draft process, he clocked at 4.33 seconds in high school and famously ran neck-and-neck with former teammate Henry Ruggs, who ran a 4.27-second 40.
Jaylen Waddle vs Henry Ruggs was a photo finish in 2019
Ruggs went on to run a 4.27 at the NFL Combine????
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 2, 2021
Waddle even housed two punt returns and one kick return in college. He’s a big play waiting to happen who can score from anywhere on the field, making him an ideal Best Ball target.
Kadarius Toney (WR76, 185.5 Overall ADP)
Toney profiles as one of the best athletes in the entire 2021 draft class. The former quarterback was only a part-time player during his first three seasons as a Gator, but he burst onto the scene as a wide receiver during his final season in Gainesville. He’s been flying up real NFL draft boards over the past two months. Meanwhile, another highly athletic wideout, Rondale Moore (WR60), is tumbling down real NFL mock drafts. Draft capital matters. While mocks aren’t scripture, sometimes it pays to follow the larger trends in Best Ball drafts, especially when there’s a noticeable discrepancy between them and fantasy movement.
Anthony Schwartz (WR110, 215.4 Overall ADP)
There’s NFL speed, and then there’s Olympic speed. Schwartz has genuine Olympic speed. In fact, he set records in sprinting at Florida while in high school and seriously considered training for the Olympics before deciding to focus on football. All this to say, Schwartz can outrun anybody on an NFL field. He’s easily capable of cracking your Best Ball starting lineup a few times over the season and is likely to be available with the last pick in your draft.
Brevin Jordan (TE35, 215 Overall ADP)
Rounding out the position groups, Jordan offers the best potential value among rookie tight ends. There’s no doubt Kyle Pitts (TE6) is the best tight end prospect of this class, if not ever, but he’s already being drafted at his ceiling. Jordan, on the other hand, is the next most athletic tight end in the 2021 draft class. He’s definitely a long shot, but if you’re looking for a late-round option, he’s worth a shot as the last pick in your Best Ball draft. He could crack your starting lineup a few times this season if all the pieces fall into place.
Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to more advanced strategy – like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? – to learn more.