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Fantasy Football Draft Targets: Brandon Aiyuk, Zay Flowers, DeVonta Smith, George Pickens (2024)

Fantasy Football Draft Targets: Brandon Aiyuk, Zay Flowers, DeVonta Smith, George Pickens (2024)

The nature of best ball rewards rosters seeking out high-ceiling outcomes, and the wide receiver position is home to as high a ceiling as any other position in fantasy football. The term ‘better in best ball’ gets thrown around quite a lot these days and, generally, it gets given to dart-throw wide receivers who show little floor. However, there are names across average draft position (ADP) who display better in best ball characteristics.

WR Best Ball Targets

Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF)

The way Brandon Aiyuk is talked about, you’d assume he was one of the best fantasy assets out there. With such a diverse and efficient offense in San Francisco, it rarely plays out that way for Aiyuk, though. In 2023, Aiyuk managed only four top-20 weekly finishes, was held below 80 receiving yards on eight occasions, didn’t score touchdowns in 60% of his games and finished as the WR30 or worse on six occasions. Where Aiyuk redeems himself, however, is that the four top-20 weekly finishes all saw him finish as the WR9 or better. With Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel all chasing production, it’ll always be difficult for everyone to eat. Also, Aiyuk loses out routinely in games where defenses deploy zone-coverage looks because Samuel excels against these. Make no mistake, Aiyuk is an excellent wide receiver but the fantasy production is a little easier to cope with in best ball.

George Pickens (WR – PIT)

Perhaps the current poster-boy for ‘better in best ball’ is George Pickens. His fantasy production is as volatile as they come. Through two seasons in the NFL, Pickens has seven top-12 weekly finishes in half-PPR formats but he also has a massive 17 finishes as WR40 or worse. Pickens has had to deal with woefully inadequate quarterback play under the unambitious leadership of Mike Tomlin in recent years. With changes being made and Kenny Pickett potentially out of the starting role, however, there may be a chance Pickens becomes more consistent going forward. It’s hard to fade Pickens regardless of change because we know his ceiling is so high — in Week 16, he posted 32.5 half-PPR points, the 17th-most of any wide receiver this season. Pickens is currently the WR31 on Underdog with an ADP of 58.5. It would be easier to accept his dud weeks if you take him in WR-heavy builds like Zero RB starts. If you’re starting RB-heavy, you’ll likely have Pickens as your WR3 and be relying on him for more production consistently.

Zay Flowers (WR – BAL)

It was an impressive rookie campaign for Zay Flowers, with him breaking franchise records for the most receptions (77) and yards (858) by a Ravens wide receiver. While he displayed a wide variety of abilities, it’s fair to question how often he’ll be an easy click in managed roster formats. Flowers had six finishes as a top-16 WR but also six finishes as the WR44 or worse. Flowers displayed his best results in the games Mark Andrews missed, averaging almost six half-PPR points more per game, mainly as a result of being Lamar Jackson‘s go-to option in the red zone. The Ravens’ offense is always a tricky one to project as in any given game a running back can have two goal-line touchdowns and all of a sudden no pass-catchers produce. Flowers’ upside is undeniable but it might be best to be more aggressive on him in best ball than redraft until we see a bit more.

DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI)

Another wide receiver with a high-ceiling but who occasionally suffers as a result of the running game is DeVonta Smith. The Eagles don’t have a running back hoovering up the touchdowns, instead, it’s Jalen Hurts, whose ‘Brotherly Shove’ goal-line success has hit a point where the NFL could outlaw it because nobody outside of Vita Vea can defend it. Smith’s production suffers because of this and it could stand to benefit if the Eagles are no longer able to deploy the league’s most effective move but Smith has also been a victim of the ball being spread around when everyone is healthy. AJ Brown is always going to see plenty of looks and Dallas Goedert sees a lot of usage in the screen game and on designed plays.

Smith fares better when Goedert misses time, averaging 79 yards per game, compared to 59 in those with Goedert. It’s also fair to wonder if the Eagles finally add a more powerful back to the mix. With D’Andre Swift a pending free agent, they perhaps look to re-establish the ground game once more. Smith was a top-12 WR five times in 2023 but finished as WR40 or worse on six occasions, including four times in the first seven games.

Best Ball Draft Strategy

Best Ball Draft Targets & Fades

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