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Best Ball Strategy & Advice: How To Approach Late Rounds (2023 Fantasy Football)

Best Ball Strategy & Advice: How To Approach Late Rounds (2023 Fantasy Football)

If you lay the foundations for your team in the early rounds and then refine your team in the middle rounds, the final rounds are where we can really add the final sprinkles to our rosters.

This is the final article of a three-part series on how to approach third of the draft. Each article will provide strategy advice, positional allocation nuggets, and player types to keep in mind.

2023 Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Advice

Best Ball Draft Strategy & Advice: How To Approach Late Rounds (2023 Fantasy Football)

By the final third of a draft, you should have a clear idea of what players you need and if you’re adhering to one of the many micro-strategies common within best ball. In this installment of the series we’ll look at the following;

  • Late-round stacking opportunities
  • Late-round best ball gems

Whenever we get to the later third of drafts, it’s imperative to be aware of our player exposures across drafts. If you’re always drafting Tyquan Thornton in the 19th round, it might feel like it’s a low-cost move, but you’re giving yourself far fewer opportunities to hit on a late-round league winner. For more on managing your late-round exposure, check out this article.

Late-Round Stacking Opportunities

In the second installment of this series, we looked at the stacking opportunities in the middle rounds and talked about the importance of being comfortable with our rosters so that we don’t reach on players. In the late rounds, there are fewer stacks still available, but if you’re looking at your roster and feel that you’d like to leave the draft with at least one, the table below shows ten teams that offer late-round stacking opportunities.

Player Name Underdog ADP Team Player Name ADP Team
Kyler Murray 146 ARI Matthew Stafford 157 LAR
Rondale Moore 177 ARI Van Jefferson 161 LAR
Trey McBride 206 ARI Tutu Atwell 215 LAR
Bryce Young 170 CAR Tyler Higbee 148 LAR
DJ Chark 147 CAR Jimmy Garoppolo 189 LV
Hayden Hurst 199 CAR Hunter Renfrow 176 LV
Russell Wilson 132 DEN Michael Mayer 184 LV
Marvin Mims 164 DEN Mac Jones 209 NE
Tim Patrick 203 DEN DeVante Parker 214 NE
Greg Dulcich 148 DEN Tyquan Thornton 184 NE
Jordan Love 147 GB Mike Gesicki 193 NE
Romeo Doubs 137 GB Derek Carr 145 NO
Luke Musgrave 213 GB Rashid Shaheed 162 NO
C.J. Stroud 191 HOU Juwan Johnson 159 NO
Nico Collins 138 HOU Ryan Tannehill 220 TEN
John Metchie 184 HOU Kyle Phillips 215 TEN
Dalton Schultz 130 HOU Nick Westbrook-Ikhine 216 TEN
Robert Woods 202 HOU
Nathaniel Dell 207 HOU

If you find yourself with only one quarterback through twelve rounds, targeting one of these stacks is a great way to improve the look and feel of your roster. While some of these can build upon players you might already have drafted from these teams, the Panthers, Texans, and Patriots all offer large percentages of an offense. These players belong in this section of the draft for good reasons, but as a secondary stack, they’re interesting.

Whilst stacking isn’t worth passing up good players for, it’s been proven to increase win rates. As Mike Leone wrote two years ago, teams with stacks featured in the top percentile of all teams 1.01% of the time, compared to 0.92% for teams who avoided stacking. It’s not that stacking always gives us an advantage; it’s more that choosing not to stack causes our rosters to be at a disadvantage.

The late rounds also provide opportunities for adding upside to the quarterbacks we’ve already selected. While wide receivers and tight ends tend to not have the intrinsic value of running back handcuffs, they can still get a chance to outplay their ADP if a player ahead of them gets injured. For instance, Van Jefferson is currently the WR71 on Underdog with an ADP of 161.5. The Rams are depleted of depth behind Cooper Kupp and will need someone to step up as a secondary option. Occasionally with fantasy sports and best ball in particular, we have to take an approach of “what would things look like if this happens?” With Van Jefferson, the question would be, “What happens if Matthew Stafford’s elbow is healed and the Rams offensive line is an improvement on last year?” In the late rounds, asking yourself that question can often lead to upside. If you find yourself stuck between two players, allowing the stack to become the tie-breaker is a good habit to get into.

Late-Round Best Ball Gems

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “I prefer him in best ball.” Normally it’s coming from somebody who has trouble ranking or valuing a player with a high upside and a low floor. In redraft or dynasty formats, where you’re making start and sit decisions week in and week out, these are the types of players who will scorn you when left on your bench, and quite possibly burn you when they are in your starting lineups. While many fantasy managers play the game thinking about a safe floor in best ball, we should be thinking about the ceiling outcomes, particularly in these late rounds.

When thinking about late-round players who can maximize their ceiling, it’s important consider the story that leads that player towards outscoring their normal output. With running backs, it’s nearly always down to a player ahead of them suddenly being out of the picture. For instance, if Alvin Kamara is to be suspended for ongoing off-the-field issues, Jamaal Williams or Kendre Miller could stand to benefit greatly. At wide receiver, however, it tends to be a little less clear, as typically when a WR1 is out of the picture, the work doesn’t always go to the next man up. For receivers, we should consider the different factors that can help them find a way into our starting lineups.


In 2022, D’Onta Foreman was largely undrafted. But for those who did draft him, they landed a running back who delivered three performances over 20 points, including one in Week 16 during the best ball playoffs. While Foreman hasn’t been a reliable fantasy producer over the years, he has shown the ability to be a difference-maker in the right scheme and flashed brilliance.

Another type of player who falls into this category is the deep shot specialist, like Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He epitomizes “better in best ball” to many people, due to the nature of how he scores his points. One week he might have 20+ points, then for the next five weeks, he’ll see two targets and zero catches. The table below shows the top ten players in air yards per target in 2021 (minimum 25 targets). Not all were regular contributors to your teams and the top two weren’t even drafted often enough to have had an ADP, but seven of the ten had positive advance rates above the average of 16.7%. Taking a chance on deep-shot players, particularly as a part of a stack, is a solid strategy in this area of the draft.

Player 2022 Air Yards/Target 2022 ADP Advance Rate
Justin Watson 17.6 #N/A 23.20%
Tutu Atwell 17.5 #N/A 11.80%
DJ Chark 16.0 138.4 18.20%
DeVante Parker 15.6 132.1 15.40%
Gabe Davis 15.3 40.5 18.70%
Van Jefferson 15.1 172.5 13.80%
Tyquan Thornton 14.7 215.5 16.30%
George Pickens 14.4 107.2 18.80%
Chris Olave 14.3 86.6 17.60%
Corey Davis 14.2 182.7 18.60%


Typically as the season goes on, rookies become more integrated into the offense and can offer league-winning upside down the stretch. Taking multiple starters earlier on in the draft gives you the freedom to target rookies in the later rounds. Rashid Shaheed was drafted only one time in BBMIII and the one team with him advanced to the playoffs; if Shaheed had exploded in the playoff rounds, he could have been a true league winner for the one manager with him on their team. In 2021, Amon-Ra St. Brown was drafted in 99% of drafts, but he wasn’t someone the best ball community was overly high on until he made a lot of managers regret not having some exposure to him down the stretch. Try not to get too attached to one player, and spread your exposure across a range of rookies.

Players on a Good Team or a Team with a Bad Defense

Players who are part of a good team often find their way into useful weeks for best ball, but we also see similar from players who are part of a team with a poor defense. As these poor defenses give up points, the offense is forced into a pass-heavy approach as they try to reclaim a winning position. The table below shows the twelve highest weekly PPR scores from players drafted in the later portions of Underdog drafts.

Player Team PPR Score (wk) PPR Rank that week ADP
Evan Engram JAX 39.2 (14) 1 179.4
KJ Osborn MIN 36.7 (15) 1 145.6
Zay Jones JAX 34.9 (15) 2 182.4
Jerick McKinnon KC 34.2 (15) 1 196.3
Taysom Hill NO 34.1 (5) 1 191.7
Christian Watson GB 32.7 (10) 3 154.3
Jerick McKinnon KC 32.4 (14) 1 196.3
D’Onta Foreman CAR 31.8 (8) 5 212.6
Khalil Herbert CHI 30.9 (3) 1 152.5
Josh Palmer LAC 30.6 (11) 3 123.8
Tyler Higbee LA 30.4 (16) 2 169.5
Samaje Perine CIN 30.2 (11) 2 214.6

While we really crave consistent high scoring in best ball, having spike weeks like this can still help open up gaps over our competition. In particular, 2022 was a year where these late-round players shone when it counted the most, with many of the performances above coming in the latter stages of the season.

As we close out this series, the key takeaways are:

  • Be mindful of how we start drafts and how bad starts can force us into corners.
  • Stacking opportunities are available throughout the draft and we shouldn’t be reaching for them.
  • Forgoing common strategies can be a fine approach as long as we balance our roster.
  • Spread out late-round exposure and aim for certain styles of players late in drafts.

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