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Underdog Fantasy: Way Too Early Best Ball Targets

Way Too Early Best Ball

If you’re drafting best ball teams in February, you’re going in with a lot of unknowns with free agency and the draft still on the horizon. Not only are NFL rosters months away from being complete, but we won’t be able to target advantageous fantasy playoff matchups until the schedule order release in mid-May, either.

That’s why my primary goal at this very early juncture is to get as many shares as I can of players that I’m higher than current consensus on. I’ll be more concerned about managing exposures once Best Ball Mania IV goes live.

With all that in mind, I want to discuss five players I’m targeting and another five that I’m currently avoiding at cost.

Early Targets

I’m a big advocate of building your process around things that you do well. One of my edges in fantasy and betting is my grasp of league wide talent. That means that I have strong stances on certain players and I’m willing to be aggressive in those instances. Especially on players going in the 10th round or later in February drafts.

Elijah Moore, (ADP 124.7)

Elijah Moore was among my biggest fades last season, because the combination of increased target competition and volatile quarterback play concerned me. This year I’m very interested in buying the current dip, as Moore is still a dynamic playmaker that could realistically benefit from a major upgrade at quarterback. If the Jets end up with Derek Carr or Aaron Rodgers, I could see Moore’s ADP jumping multiple rounds.

Kenneth Gainwell (ADP 138.7)

From a pure talent perspective, Kenneth Gainwell does very little for me. However, both Miles Sanders and Boston Scott could conceivably leave in free agency and the Eagles have an elite offense with a top-five offensive line. Given all the relevant players that Philadelphia could lose in free agency, there is a good chance they only bring in a bargain type of veteran to compete with Gainwell. Additionally, I’d be absolutely stunned if the Eagles spent a first round pick on a running back. Just like last year I want to bet on the Eagles running back group. I’ll take my chances on the only guy that we know will be on the roster, who we can get in the 12th round.

Skyy Moore (ADP 163.8)

I was below consensus on Skyy Moore as a game-breaking talent entering his rookie campaign, but he has second-round draft capital with a clear path to a significant role in Patrick Mahomes’ offense. Additionally, when Moore saw significant playing time this year, Mahomes was willing to target him in tight windows and in big spots. That’s something I specifically look for when rookie wide receivers are paired with superstar quarterbacks; because those types of targets show the quarterback has some level of confidence in them. I’m buying those conditions in the 13th to 14th round all day.

Van Jefferson (ADP 218.9)

Van Jefferson is in a contract year. He had 80 yards receiving or more in four games with Matthew Stafford in 2021. Jefferson also saw 8 targets in the Super Bowl that year. I’m interested in buying low on a highly motivated, 26-year-old receiver with second-round draft capital that has shown spike game potential with his borderline Hall of Fame quarterback.

Anthony Richardson (ADP 216.6)

Quarterbacks are going very early in Big Board drafts. Since we have 20 roster spots in these pre-draft formats, I’ve been stashing Anthony Richardson due to his dual-threat ability. To look at this in an unconventional way, I expect Richardson to sit early in the year. But he’s the type of quarterback archetype that will become a priority waiver wire add once he starts, because his skill set gives him borderline QB1 potential in fantasy. I’ll take that kind of upside at the end of drafts all day. If Richardson ends up starting in September, he could end up being a 500-foot home run at his current ADP.

Early Fades

Note: I will outright fade certain players before the NFL draft. But I will draft hundreds of best ball teams this year, so I will end up with some exposure to just about everyone.

Patrick Mahomes (ADP 13.9)

If Mahomes retires tomorrow he’s already a Hall of Famer, but I don’t have a whole lot of interest in taking him with the 13th pick in best ball. That said, if his ADP doesn’t fall over the next few months, I will force some exposure.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba (ADP 55.6)

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is currently going before Christian Kirk while going a full round before players like Mike Evans and Tyler Lockett. That’s too rich for my blood, even though I have a pretty aggressive ceiling case on Smith-Njigba.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (ADP 102.3)

I’ve never been a JuJu Smith-Schuster guy from a talent perspective. He didn’t have a bad first year in Kansas City, but failing to reach 1,000 yards receiving in 16 games with Patrick Mahomes isn’t exactly encouraging, either. Smith-Schuster is a free agent this offseason, so we can’t confidently bet on his continued association with Mahomes. If Smith-Schuster re-signs with the Chiefs, I’ll get some exposure then. But as things stand now, I’d rather draft Jakobi Meyers, Brandin Cooks, Jalin Hyatt, or a number of the quarterbacks in this range.

Allen Lazard, (ADP 136.5)

I was a buyer on Allen Lazard in early Best Ball Mania III drafts last year, as he was the veteran receiver with the most realistic path to becoming Aaron Rodgers’ top option. Lazard never took full advantage of that opportunity. We’ve now seen his production ceiling and it’s underwhelming. I’d much rather draft a player like D.J. Chark three full rounds later.

Tom Brady (ADP 237.9)

I was taking Tom Brady in the last round of every way too early draft I did last year. I’m going to completely fade him in early drafts this year unless San Francisco rumors begin to surface.

Ryan’s 2022 Best Ball Advance Rates

Underdog’s Best Ball Mania III: 48/150 (32%)

DraftKings Best Ball Millionaire Maker: 34/101 (33%)

WATCH MORE: Garrett Wilson's Early 2023 Fantasy Outlook