With the commencing of some of the largest best ball tournaments this offseason, fantasy managers are looking to navigate the settled dust from what was one of the most topsy-turvy offseasons. It is also time to start identifying players who, for 2022, are riskier bets to win in these best ball formats rather than traditional redraft leagues.
While scoring settings may vary from site to site, the concept of selecting players who have shown that they may struggle to access tournament-winning ceilings should be weighed more heavily remains the same. Below are players worth strongly considering whose values are negatively impacted in best ball formats.
Dalvin Cook’s risk cannot be ignored. He’s a second-contract, post-apex running back who will be 27 at the start of the 2022 season. Additionally, Cook is facing a domestic violence situation that needs clarity and resolution. If that profile isn’t enough, both his efficiency and volume stats took a major hit in 2021. After posting two straight seasons with a 47% or higher percentile adjusted rate (PAR) of scoring 23.6 PPR fantasy points, Cook cratered in 2021 with a PAR of 7.6%. With the addition of new coach Kevin O’Connell, former offensive coordinator for the L.A. Rams, the Minnesota Vikings project to increase their pass rate, as the Rams’ offense ranked in the top two among all NFL teams in neutral-game pass rate. This scheme shift should be good news for Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, but Dalvin Cook isn’t the elite RB1 fantasy managers have counted on over the past few seasons.
Action Item: Dalvin Cook is a major avoid in all formats, especially Best Ball formats where he won’t access the ceiling of other players like Joe Mixon.
Last season, 36 running backs scored at least 23.6 fantasy points at a higher PAR than Josh Jacobs. Some of the names are not inspiring: Rex Burkhead, Myles Gaskin, Darrel Williams, Justin Jackson, and Darrell Henderson. With Jacobs’ fifth-year option declined, the Las Vegas Raiders don’t have a strong investment in using him, especially in the back half of the 2022 season. While drafting Zamir White in the fourth round shouldn’t lead to an immediate usurping of the role, Kenyan Drake also projects to return to the Raiders’ backfield. A career-high 12.4% target share for Jacobs might have seemed like a reason for optimism; and yet, he struggled to achieve week-winning ceilings even with the significant absences of Waller, Drake, and Henry Ruggs from the 2021 Raiders offense.
Action Item: Jacobs’ ADP needs to drop outside the top 24 for serious roster consideration. Even then, the opportunity cost is too much for a lack of ceiling.
Antonio Gibson has never been an RB1. With a PAR of 3.3% over his career scoring 23.6 fantasy points, Gibson has had trouble accessing a winner’s ceiling. In fact, 47 running backs have a higher PAR of 23.6 points. For perspective, Christian McCaffrey has scored 23.6 fantasy points at about a PAR of 74%. With J.D. McKissic returning to Washington along with newly drafted Brian Robinson out of Alabama, Gibson’s ceiling and floor are now even more fragile. In fact, McKissic and Brian Robinson are the better-valued RBs for Best Ball with an ADP of RB50 and RB47, respectively, compared to Gibson’s RB15.
Action Item: Antonio Gibson is still the lead RB in the Washington backfield and a back-end RB2 redraft consideration, but compared to his running mates, McKissic is a better value in PPR Best Ball tournaments; Robinson, half-PPR and standard leagues.
The Panthers have all but bungled the start of D.J. Moore’s career as an elite receiver. In 2021, 32 WRs had a higher PAR than D.J. Moore’s 4.5% of weeks scoring 24.7 fantasy points, and 35 WRs had a higher PAR than Moore’s 14.6% of weeks scoring 19.3 fantasy points. D.J. Moore was a league loser last season — despite increasing his target share from 24% to 28% — and being drafted around WR17. In 2022, not much has changed, as Moore’s ADP has remained around WR18. Without an elite quarterback, Moore is stuck in WR3 purgatory.
Action Item: As long as Sam Darnold (or another unproven signal-caller) is starting in Carolina, D.J. Moore’s value returns better as a WR3 than the mid-WR2 price tag for Best Ball.
Diggs is a classic floor play entering 2022. For the opportunity cost of WR5, Diggs needs to access ceiling more like earlier in his career than consistently producing low-end WR1 numbers as he did in 2021. 15 WRs had a higher PAR than Diggs’ (46.9%) scoring 15.5 fantasy points. In fact, Diggs ranked as WR28 in PAR (4.9%) for weekly scoring of 24.7 fantasy points. Instead, fantasy managers saw Gabriel Davis score 24.7 points at a PAR of 6.3% last season. Even Dawson Knox scored 16.4 fantasy points at a PAR of 28.4%, good enough for TE4 last season. While Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley aren’t expected to return to the Bills, the additions of Khalil Shakir and Jamison Crowder also offer later-round spike week potential.
Action Item: Dawson Knox (ADP TE9), Jamison Crowder (WR65), Isaiah McKenzie (WR90), and Khalil Shakir (WR109+) offer intriguing alternatives to a Stefon Diggs-Josh Allen stack if drafters aren’t willing to pay WR5 cost for Diggs.
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