I wasted no time jumping into Underdog Fantasy best ball tournaments after the NFL Draft. As a result, I’ve picked 47 post-NFL Draft best ball teams (i.e., this piece doesn’t include roster percentage data for my pre-NFL Draft rosters). The breakdown of the drafts I’ve entered is critical for context. So, the following data is for four Best Ball Mania IV leagues ($25 buy-in), eight Poodle leagues ($7 buy-in), 25 Puppy leagues ($5 buy-in), eight Chihuahua leagues ($4 buy-in) and two Pomerian leagues ($3 buy-in).
Most drafts I’ve completed were cheap buy-in tournaments that filled quickly. So, while I have irresponsibly-high exposure to some players, it’s more acceptable in quick-filling contests. And since the Best Ball Mania IV started drafting shortly after the NFL Draft and won’t fill until closer to the season, it’s imperative to vary player exposure and take advantage of buy-low opportunities to maximize closing average draft position (ADP) value in that contest. In quicker-filling contests, gamers should prioritize drafting the players they’re most bullish on while keeping ADP, correlation and roster structure in mind.
This piece will provide readers with a look into the players I have the highest expectations for relative to their ADP. But it will also illustrate when I’m most frequently investing in positions in the draft and which stacks I’m the most excited to create.
- More Best Ball Draft Advice
- Best Ball Draft Primers: QB | RB | WR | TE
- 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit
Most-Rostered Best Ball Players in July 2023 (Post-NFL Draft)
Josh Allen has the lowest ADP of the elite tier of quarterbacks, which features Allen, Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes. When any of them fall beyond their ADP, it's reasonable to snap them up. However, Hurts is also on a lower percentage of my teams than Allen and Mahomes because A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith have first-round and second-round ADPs. So, I prefer to limit my exposure to Hurts to when I already chose Brown, Smith or the dual-threat quarterback falls significantly beyond his ADP. Conversely, while Allen and Mahomes have first-round pass-catching teammates, they also have intriguing weapons throughout all points in the draft, allowing gamers to double or triple up on stacking options with Buffalo's and Kansas City's stud quarterbacks.
When I don't have one of the top three signal-callers, I usually prefer to pick Justin Herbert or Trevor Lawrence in two-QB lineup constructions. Which pass-catchers I draft from the Chargers or Jaguars often dictates which young quarterback I choose, and there's more to come in the section for wide receivers.
Since I regularly invest in a top-shelf or potentially elite fantasy quarterback, I usually wait for cheap options such as Brock Purdy, Jordan Love, Sam Howell or Derek Carr as the QB2. Carr is the least exciting of the quartet. Howell has the lowest floor of the group. Yet his rushing ability gives him a tantalizing ceiling. And Purdy and Love are the quarterbacks for some of my most frequently targeted pass-catchers, influencing the percentage of rosters they're on. Daniel Jones and Geno Smith broke out last year and are a fun pairing. They're also stellar headliners on three-QB lineups.
Many of the running backs on the table are attached to elite offenses. For instance, James Cook, Rashaad Penny, Chase Brown, Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Tank Bigsby and Isiah Pacheco fit the bill. Being attached to high-scoring offenses gives them touchdown potential. And since all of their clubs are projected to have winning records this year, they should also have positive game scripts.
Many of the running backs on the table also have pass-catching chops. Specifically, per Pro-Football-Reference, Josh Jacobs, Aaron Jones, Saquon Barkley, Rhamondre Stevenson, CMC and Ekeler earned 64, 72, 76, 88, 108 and 127 targets. Their ability to earn targets enhances their value in Underdog Fantasy's half PPR format and gives them a three-down usage path. Cook had only 32 targets. Still, per Pro Football Focus (PFF), Cook was targeted on a stellar 22.3% of his 148 routes, including the postseason. So, he also fits the bill as a running back with pass-catching skills.
D'Onta Foreman doesn't fall under either umbrella discussed in this section. However, he's the most undervalued running back in Chicago's uncertain backfield. Khalil Herbert should be favored to lead the backfield in rushing attempts this year. But Foreman could give him a run for his money, and the gap between their ADP is too steep.
Javonte Williams is a risky pick. And while the reports seem optimistic about his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery, he had damage beyond the torn ACL. Nevertheless, the depth chart is thin beyond Samaje Perine. Perhaps, Denver is tipping their hand about their confidence in his early-season availability. Most important, Williams could be a difference-maker during the best ball playoffs, making him a worthwhile target at his ADP. Finally, grabbing him now in Best Ball Mania IV could yield substantial closing-ADP value if the reports of his recovery remain positive leading up to the regular season.
The Bills are searching for reliable options behind Stefon Diggs in their uptempo, pass-happy attack. Gabe Davis should have the most secure role in the offense as a boom-or-bust field-stretching wideout. But Khalil Shakir and Deonte Harty could claim the slot gig or siphon some of Davis's playing time on the perimeter. And even in ancillary roles, they have weekly blow-up potential and correlate with Allen.
Jayden Reed was a rookie I suggested targeting after the NFL Draft, and he's a sweet add-on to stacks with Love after picking Christian Watson or Jones. Reed is also easy to stack with an unstacked Love.
Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney and Rashee Rice are vying for snaps, routes and targets in an Andy Reid-coached and Mahomes-quarterbacked offense. Moore is my favorite option from the trio. I gushed about him as a must-have wide receiver in managed leagues. But the reasons for my enthusiasm also apply to best ball leagues. Even if Toney doesn't progress from an explosive gadget player to a well-rounded wide receiver, he can erupt for spike weeks.
Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk warrant a shoutout from the table. They might be maddening to have in managed leagues since the target competition is fierce between San Francisco's pass-catching studs in their efficient but run-heavy offense. That's not a problem in best ball leagues. Samuel and Aiyuk will be in lineups during their spike weeks and likely benched in their duds for an alternative option on the roster. So, they fit the profile of better-in-best-ball picks, which Michael Leone recently articulated on the Establish The Edge podcast.
Herbert is one of my most-rostered quarterbacks, and I love the Chargers' offense and the switch to new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. So, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are excellent options as standalone picks or when setting the stage to stack them with Herbert.
Lawrence was also on the table for most-rostered quarterbacks. None of his wideouts made the table. Still, I've snatched up Calvin Ridley (8.5% drafted), Christian Kirk (12.8%) and Zay Jones (12.8%) fairly regularly. The ADPs for Ridley (32.4), Allen (35.4), Williams (45.3), Kirk (49.2), Herbert (54.1) and Lawrence (66.2) are convenient since I adore both offenses and want exposure to them. Since their ADPs are tightly clustered, I've occasionally picked Ridley with Williams or Allen with Kirk in an attempt to stack the receiver from the Chargers with Herbert while leaving myself an emergency lever to pull for Lawrence if I get sniped on Herbert. But, of course, three-person stacks of Herbert/Allen/Williams and Lawrence/Ridley/Kirk are also alluring.
Terry McLaurin is a high-floor, high-ceiling wideout. And Curtis Samuel is an excellent sleeper. I'm optimistic Eric Bieniemy will inject life into Washington's offense and passing attack in his first crack at calling plays as the team's offensive coordinator following a successful tenure as Kansas City's offensive coordinator, albeit in a non-play-calling role.
The percentage of rosters Jonathan Mingo is on might raise eyebrows. He checks some intriguing boxes, though. Mingo is in a relatively weak wide receiving corps on the Panthers. He's a rookie with early second-round draft capital. And the Panthers play the Jaguars in Week 17. Since I'm heavily invested in the Jaguars, Mingo has contingency value as a game-stack bring-back in Week 17 for Jacksonville stacks.
The table reveals a few golden rules when drafting tight ends in best ball. First, it's usually wise to stack tight ends with their quarterback. Dalton Kincaid, Darren Waller, Evan Engram, Luke Musgrave, George Kittle and Juwan Johnson are stacking partners with six of my nine highest-rostered quarterbacks.
Second, picking tight ends attached to potentially high-scoring offenses is sharp since good touchdown variance can be enough to propel a tight end to a TE1 season. Obviously, Travis Kelce is in a tier of his own as a tight end who posts elite wide receiver-like numbers. But he's attached to an elite offense. Kincaid, Engram, Irv Smith and Kittle are in the camp of tight ends linked to potentially high-scoring offenses.
Greg Dulcich teased his potential as a rookie last year in Denver's dysfunctional offense. He can kick it up a notch in his sophomore campaign with Sean Payton, especially if offseason buzz about Dulcich being a "Joker" player in Payton's offense comes to fruition.
As a bonus, Dulcich correlates well with some of my most-rostered players in a unique way. The straightforward correlation is with the Chargers in Week 17. However, there's crossover game-stacking appeal between the Bills, Broncos, Chargers and Patriots. The Bills play the Chargers in Week 16 and the Patriots in Week 17, and the Broncos play the Patriots in Week 16 and the Chargers in Week 17.