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5 Players to Target in Best Ball Drafts (2024 Fantasy Football)

5 Players to Target in Best Ball Drafts (2024 Fantasy Football)

Whether banking on proven stars or emerging talents, the key to winning in best ball is to target specific players to build your portfolio. Below you will find five such players.

Best Ball Targets

Rashid Shaheed (WR – NO) — Current ADP: 124 Overall/WR56

The Saints can save $3.4 million by designating Michael Thomas as a post-June 1 cut, which seems like a good bet after his recent social media tirade. The Saints’ cap situation is murky, to say the least, so moving on from Thomas seems like a given but they’ll be limited in the free-agent market. No matter how that shakes out, Rashid Shaheed is a player to target in best ball.

Upon signing with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent, Shaheed showed he belongs in the NFL with a rookie season stat line of 488 yards and two touchdowns to go with his dynamic kick and punt returns. Building on that effort, the Weber State standout broke out to the tune of 719 yards and five touchdowns, playing 15 games in his second season. He also improved as a return man, earning himself a Pro Bowl invitation and first-team All-Pro honors. He’s proven to be invaluable as a return man but his presence as a receiver is nearly as significant. Shaheed finished second on the Saints in receiving behind Chris Olave, while his 15.6 yards per reception was 10th-best among wide receivers with at least 40 catches. He finished as a top-10 wide receiver in three different weeks and added two more top-24 weeks. His outcomes ranged from WR4 in Week 8 to WR117 in Week 3 but we want him for his upside in best ball. We will likely see fewer weeks of Shaheed bottoming out next season. His average draft position (ADP) of WR56 is a bargain for a player who finished the season as the WR42 in half-PPR last season, has major boom potential in any given week and is a good bet to see an increase in volume.

Christian Watson (WR – GB) — Current ADP: 80 Overall/WR42

There aren’t many wide receivers currently being drafted in this range that are the favorite to be the WR1 on their team, let alone receivers attached to a good young quarterback. You could make the case for Jayden Reed to emerge ahead of Watson. There are other talented pass-catchers on board in Green Bay but Reed is being drafted 50th overall (WR31), 30 spots higher than Watson.

The most likely scenario is the Packers don’t have a weekly WR1 and that Watson and Reed share the spotlight, among others in the pack. Although he’s been injured often, we’ve seen how dynamic Watson can be. In his nine games last season, he posted two top-10 finishes and five top-36 weeks. His 15.4 aDOT (average depth of target), sixth-best among wide receivers, yields itself to big plays while his 15.1 yards per reception were 22nd-best. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Watson as a fantasy WR2 in 2024, with WR1 upside, so he’s worth a shot here.

Najee Harris (RB – PIT) — Current ADP: 85 Overall/RB26

If you’ve read my work here before, you know I was all over Jaylen Warren last season and have long been down on Najee Harris. Don’t get it twisted, I still love Warren and am by no means leading the Harris fan club but, historically, he’s been drafted as an RB1. The Steelers have a decision to make on Harris’ fifth-year option, which will need to come by May 2nd, so he could be playing in a contract year. More importantly, the Steelers hired Arthur Smith as their offensive coordinator who helped guide Derrick Henry‘s best football and lead the Falcons’ exotic smashmouth offense into one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks over the last three seasons.

Although Harris had a tough season last year, he eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the third time in as many seasons, tallied eight touchdowns and finished as the RB20 in half-PPR. He carried the ball 18 times inside the 10-yard line and 10 times inside the 5-yard line, both of which were good for 72% of the team’s attempts in that range. Even with a breakout season from Warren last year, Harris will remain the preferred option at the goal line. The hiring of Arthur Smith signals the team will lean into the running game, allowing plenty of room for both backs to be successful.

Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS) — Current ADP: 192 Overall/RB58

Finally, we have reached Antonio Gibson’s free agency period. It feels to have come a bit too late, as the steam from his hype train has evaporated into the abyss. Nevertheless, Gibson remains a talented player who was often misused and underutilized in commandment of Washington’s coaching staff. After posting career lows across the board last season, the secret that nobody wants you to know is that Gibson was better than you probably realized. Much of his value will be determined in his landing spot but he could return significant value while going as the RB58 in best ball drafts.

On the surface, Gibson struggled last year to the tune of 265 rushing yards with just one rushing touchdown but he added 389 receiving yards and a couple more scores through the air. If you take a closer look, though, you’ll see Gibson finished sixth among running backs in fantasy points per opportunity with 1.03. He was fourth in yards per touch with 5.8 and second in yards created per touch with 5.11. Even on his limited usage, he finished 10th in receiving yards among running backs, posting the 10th-most yards per reception (8.1) and 12th-best catch rate (81.4%).

We might be past the point of Gibson becoming every-down back but getting him into an offense like the Kansas City Chiefs would highlight his skill set and put him on the RB2 radar. There are plenty of offenses, not just the Chiefs, that could benefit from Gibson’s skill set, whether that be as a starter or in a secondary role. Either way, I like his chances of outpacing his RB58 draft spot by a long shot.

Tee Higgins (WR – CIN) — Current ADP: 43 Overall/WR28

Tee Higgins’ career has been slowed by injuries over the past couple of seasons. Dating back to Week 1 of 2022, Higgins has been through a concussion, ankle sprain, hamstring strain, rib fracture and another hamstring strain. He managed to play in 14 games in 2022 and even suited up for two others but only played a few snaps. Despite playing through injuries, Higgins finished as fantasy football’s WR15 in half-PPR points per game. In 2021, Higgins missed three games but finished as the WR11 in points per game. More recently, he was limited to 12 games in 2023 and his production was sporadic throughout the year. This can be attributed not only to his injury situation but to Joe Burrow‘s as well.

The confidence around Tee Higgins being a surefire top-20 wide receiver has dissipated, and I get why. But, let’s not forget that Burrow was extremely hobbled to begin last season, which was followed by the slew of injuries Higgins dealt with himself. He reminded us of the force that he is late in the season, when health was on his side. In Weeks 13-16, the only stretch of four games in which he played and cleared 50% of the snaps, Higgins was the WR10 in half-PPR.

The Bengals placed the franchise tag on Higgins and the expectation is that he will sign it. They could still theoretically trade him but all signs point to the trio of Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Higgins running it back next season. Outside of injury risk, there’s no reason to think Higgins won’t climb back into the WR2/WR1 border, making his WR28 ADP a bargain.

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