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Campfire Chat: Best-ball Players

Footballguys staff members discuss players to target in best-ball leagues

We covered general best-ball strategy here. Now let's get specific. Name some players you specifically target in this type of league. What makes them more attractive in a best-ball format?

Jeff Haseley: This begins with the Patriots in my opinion, but you can also insert players from any team with a good, consistent offense. New England has several players who are capable of scoring in any given week but may be difficult to predict which week. In a best ball league, it doesn't matter. Receivers who are red zone targets are also key, because a score in any given week could be enough to give you that extra needed point total. Some players (mostly later round) in leagues with deep rosters, that I tend to target include...

Some fullbacks, who could score include...

Quarterbacks to target

Sigmund Bloom: Quarterbacks with rushing ability who have more fluctuation and a higher weekly ceiling: Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, Tyrod Taylor, Russell Wilson.

Quarterback with brutal road/home split and injury history that can be balanced by a solid #2 - Ben Roethlisberger.

Receiving running backs who don't the high weekly ceiling for redraft appeal, but their higher weekly PPR floor helps as a firewall for best ball running back scoring: James White, Duke Johnson Jr, Giovani Bernard, Darren Sproles, Theo Riddick, Chris Thompson, Alvin Kamara.

Chad Parsons: One of the reasons I love best ball (beyond generally drafting deeper teams and low in-season maintenance) is the format brings more players into relevancy. Quarterbacks are generally unaffected in my approach to best ball versus head-to-head leagues, but here are some elevated players in best ball at the other skill positions:

Running Backs

C.J. Prosise - Popped for a few big games as a rookie but likely committee in Seattle muddies his stock in traditional formats.
James White - Will have a handful of big games, but projecting them is difficult.
Shane Vereen - Same as White, can pop off high-reception totals when the game script is right.
Robert Turbin - Gets red zone usage but is minimized in head-to-head without a Frank Gore injury.

Wide Receivers

The wide receiver theme will be big-play threats with athleticism or touchdown upside any given week.

Brandin Cooks
Corey Coleman
John Ross
Tavon Austin
Tyreek Hill
DeSean Jackson
J.J. Nelson
Ted Ginn Jr
Chris Hogan
Kenny Stills
Travis Benjamin
Marquise Goodwin

At tight end, the targets are secondary options with upside potential or murky depth charts to open the season which could break right for a more consistent role. I am more likely to take a shot in deeper best ball formats with the options below than in traditional head-to-head leagues.

Alex Miglio: Context matters, of course. We are talking about players in a vacuum here, but a lot of these choices will depend on roster construction and ADP. That said, here are some of my favorite best-ball targets:

  • Mike Evans - 173 targets last season, best option after the Big 6 if you draw a later draft pick.
  • Martavis Bryant - Huge risk, huge reward.
  • James White - Far cheaper than Mike Gillislee. Also likely to outscore Gillislee in PPR formats.
  • DeSean Jackson - Weekly boom-or-bust guy with a better quarterback now.
  • Martellus Bennett - Discounted top-5 potential.
  • Ben Roethlisberger - Could helm the best passing offense in the league.
  • Philip Rivers - If his team can stop getting injured, that offense could be fire this year.
  • C.J. Prosise - Great PPR option in the teen rounds who could have some big fantasy games.
  • Giovani Bernard - Getting more expensive by the day, but still worth it.
  • Tyrod Taylor - Good for a few supernovas this year if he can stay healthy.

Jason Wood: As others have said, best ball invites you to embrace high variance players in lieu of consistent, lower-ceiling options. Here are some players I value more in best ball than I do in traditional leagues:

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Andy Hicks: You should start your draft with the best players available and then complement them with players that maximize your rosters scoring. Avoid bye week issues.

My favorite groupings are:

Taking three quarterbacks from this group, making sure no two players have the same bye week, allows you to draft other positions first and get maximum production:

At Running Back there is plenty of group potential out of the first five rounds from half the teams in the NFL: Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England, the Giants, Philadelphia, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington. Maybe even Cincinnati, Kansas City, Minnesota and New Orleans as well.

Getting West and Woodhead in Baltimore negates the weekly usage issues. Taking Samaje Perine and Robert Kelley might be worth a shot. My favorite though would be Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls. You may even be able to sneak in C.J. Prosise as well if the cards fall well.

At wide receiver there are many options where the WR2 or WR3 slots are up in the air for now, or even in the case of the Rams and Washington the WR1 slots. In best ball getting Crowder, Pryor and Doctson could be very productive. On a lesser scale, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are deeper options.

Tight end is a tougher proposition. Either get 2 studs or 1 stud and a bunch of guys. Otherwise, you may have to take four or five mid tier guys. My personal late round selections here would be Coby Fleener, Julius Thomas, Jared Cook and Seth DeValve.

Stephen Holloway: Agree with all the comments on the less consistent performers, really love Roethlisberger in best ball as Sig indicated his home and away splits work out much better when the highs that he always has several weeks all count for you.

It seems especially important to have multiple wide receivers that excel with speed and getting deep. Most have already been mentioned:

Dan Hindery: At quarterback, I agree with Sigmund that I'm more likely to take a shot on the rushing quarterbacks.

Cam Newton is the quarterback I am targeting most often in best ball leagues. He is going to have some big weeks and I don't have to sweat the weeks where he struggles because I pair him either with another top 15 quarterback or two quarterbacks later in the draft.

Brian Hoyer and Sam Bradford are guys I have no interest in for season long. But I like adding one of them late as a third Quarterback in best ball. Each has proven capable of having a big week if their team falls behind early and they're usually available very late.

Running Back

I'm more likely to load up on RBs early in best-ball. I feel like I can take advantage of the depth at WR later to piece together that position, so I'm targeting RBs heavily in the first four rounds. In rounds 3-5, I'm getting at least one (and usually two) of these backs:

Each has a lot of upside and it's the tier that I'm most interested in. When others are taking backs in rounds 6-10, I'm focused primarily on the wide receivers.

If Derrick Henry falls, he is one of the few backs I will look at in the mid-rounds. His upside is massive should something happen with DeMarco Murray and you have to really shoot for upside in this format.

Wide Receiver

While I'm trying to add one legitimate WR1 early, most of my WRs are coming round 6 or later. I love the value that can be had in the mid-rounds. My favorites have been:

Due to going RB-heavy in the early rounds, I like to really load up in overall numbers at wide receiver. Later in the draft, my primary targets include:

Tight End

I try to get one of the top six tight ends on every one of my best ball teams. The three I end up with the most often are:

I love the weekly upside each of these guys provides.

My main late-round target is Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He is a steal and someone I'm taking a round or two above his ADP to make sure I lock him up. He's the Jets best pass catcher and Josh McCown likes to target the tight end.

Chris Feery: The guys have offered up plenty of excellent selections. In the early rounds, studs and top tier players are who they are for a reason. Stick to your guns on how you value the players for the year ahead, don’t overpay, and don’t let fear force you to reach to fill a hole at a certain position. Barring a positional run, you’ll be just fine if you sit tight.

The later rounds are when things get really interesting in best ball in my book. Assuming you don’t have holes left over from the early rounds, you can focus on boom/bust options that can pay immense dividends when they hit. Here are some players I’m targeting with that in mind:

QB: Brian Hoyer and Jared Goff. I generally go with three quarterbacks in best ball, and they’re both still usually on the board in the later rounds. While I wouldn’t sniff either one of them in a traditional league, they’re both worthy of a spot in best ball. New coaches in town mean new offensive systems, and the stars are aligned for both players to be slinging the rock quite a bit. Add in the fact that not much is expected from the 49ers and Rams this year, and that points to both squads coming from behind more often than not. That translates into passing yardage, and both Hoyer and Goff could be in for some big weeks here and there.

RB: Jonathan Williams and Jamaal Charles. If LeSean McCoy misses an extended period of time, Williams is in line to be a monster. The running back cupboard is barren in Buffalo, and Williams stands to see some work each week as it is. If the unthinkable happens to McCoy, he could be one of those late round league winners that we all love to brag about. As for Charles, he’s currently in line to see about 10 touches per game for the Broncos. While that’s not terribly exciting, that’s still enough for him to make some noise and rip off some long gains here and there. Either one of thesdoesplayers do me just fine at RB5, as they can easily exceed expectations in 2017.

WR: Tyrell Williams, Ted Ginn Jr, and Marquise Goodwin. I love deep ball threats that fly under the radar in best ball formats. All three of these players fit the bill. Beyond the obvious upside of that, they will each see a decent amount of targets on a weekly basis. I’m typically looking for at least six WRs in a best ball draft, and each member of this trio makes for an excellent target for a WR5/WR6. On weeks that they don’t produce, you have four receivers ahead of them and won’t lose any sleep over it. On weeks when they hit, they can hit really big and help push you over the top.

TE: Jesse James and Dwayne Allen. I’ve been leaning towards taking three tight ends in best ball this season, and both of these players make for a fantastic TE3. In James, we have a player that theoretically slides into the safety blanket role in the Steelers offense, while also bringing red-zone target upside to the table. For Allen, word on the street is that Tom Brady has been looking his way often in Patriots camp. Perhaps we’ll see Allen’s offensive capabilities awaken in his new stomping grounds.