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Round-By-Round non-expert Best Ball draft analysis: Part I

·10 min read
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By Adam Levitan, Establish the Run

Special to Yahoo Sports

On July 1, I participated in a low-stakes ($5 buy-in) Best Ball draft on Yahoo. Since most of the draft recaps and results you find online are from “expert” leagues, I thought it would be a useful exercise to examine something else — something that may actually resemble what your home draft will look like.

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Yahoo’s format is half-PPR scoring with QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, D starting lineups. I used our Yahoo Best Ball Position Allocation article in conjunction with our rankings and Evan Silva’s Tiers to draft.

I had the No. 7 pick.

(Part I below, Part II coming soon)

ROUND 1

1.1 — Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers

1.2 — Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants

1.3 — Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Cowboys

1.4 — Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

1.5 — Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings

1.6 — Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints

1.7 — Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals

1.8 — Derrick Henry, RB, Titans

1.9 — Kenyan Drake, RB, Cardinals

1.10 — Aaron Jones, RB, Packers

Notes: As expected, Round 1 was extremely RB-heavy. The chalk construction in season-long this year will be two RBs in the first three rounds and then capitalizing on the WR depth through the middle rounds. … Dalvin Cook has very little leverage in his holdout threats, but his injury history plus the talent of Alexander Mattison plus the small holdout risk would make me lean toward Alvin Kamara over Dalvin. … I debated between Joe Mixon and Derrick Henry. Ultimately I want to be high on Cincy’s quietly loaded offense which adds QB Joe Burrow, WR Tee Higgins, OT Jonah Williams (off injury) to AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross. Still, the Titans’ relentless commitment to The Big Dog was tempting as Mixon (who has some mild holdout concern of his own) will lose a bit of work to Gio Bernard.

ROUND 2

2.1 — Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles

2.2 — Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs

2.3 — Nick Chubb, RB, Browns

2.4 — Davante Adams, WR, Packers

2.5 — Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs

2.6 — Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders

2.7 — DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals

2.8 — Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

2.9 — Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs

2.10 — Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers

Notes: I would not have taken Aaron Jones over Davante Adams, Miles Sanders, or Tyreek Hill. In fact, I prefer to be low on Jones this year given his unsustainable TD rate from 2019 plus the presence of Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon. … I was thrilled to have Adams slip to me as he has arguably the highest projected target share in the NFL this season. While starting RB-RB is appealing, I was confident I would be fine at the position in a 10-team league. Note that Evan Silva has Davante sixth overall in his Top 150 and I got him at 14. … Clyde Edwards-Helaire will need to leave Damien Williams in the dust to pay off this 2.5 draft position. It’s in the range of outcomes, but certainly leans aggressive.

ROUND 3

3.1 — George Kittle, TE, 49ers

3.2 — Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

3.3 — Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers

3.4 — Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens

3.5 — Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions

3.6 — Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos

3.7 — James Conner, RB, Steelers

3.8 — Allen Robinson, WR, Bears

3.9 — Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Browns

3.10 — Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers

Notes: In a 10-team league that starts a single QB, the impact of the quarterback position is mitigated. I wouldn’t have considered Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson, even if they got to me. … At some point in the draft, we’re going to have to take a RB over a WR even though we prefer the WR. In other words, I like the available WRs more than RBs available in almost every round. But of course, we need RBs. So even though in a vacuum I prefer Adam Thielen, Juju Smith-Schuster, Calvin Ridley, Allen Robinson and other WRs to James Conner, I thought it was correct to reach a bit here. Conner has a true path to a bell cow role in a very good offense, something not available if I waited at RB.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30)
James Conner was the right move for Adam in Round 3. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ROUND 4

4.1 — Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings

4.2 — Todd Gurley, RB, Falcons

4.3 — Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams

4.4 — Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys

4.5 — Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens

4.6 — Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks

4.7 — Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars

4.8 — JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers

4.9 — Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts

4.10 — Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons

Notes: The wideouts typically available in Rounds 4, 5, and 6 are part of the reason the first couple rounds are so RB-heavy. Adam Thielen, Amari Cooper, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Calvin Ridley all have top-five WR seasons well within their range of outcomes. In hindsight, I should have taken JuJu over Amari to pair with James Conner and then prioritized Ben Roethlisberger. Stacking — even in 10-team leagues — is +EV as Mike Leone showed here.

ROUND 5

5.1 — DJ Moore, WR, Panthers

5.2 — A.J. Brown, WR, Titans

5.3 — David Montgomery, RB, Bears

5.4 — Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers

5.5 — Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles

5.6 — Robert Woods, WR, Rams

5.7 — Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks

5.8 — David Johnson, RB, Texans

5.9 — DK Metcalf, WR, Seahawks

5.10 — T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

Notes: The assault on WR continues. Whereas we can punch a ton of holes in guys like Leonard Fournette, David Montgomery, Raheem Mostert, and David Johnson, the WR plays in this range are far more solid. … I am a bit concerned the Seahawks will sign Antonio Brown, who (post-suspension) would eat up a lot of precious target share from Tyler Lockett. Still, Lockett’s rapport with Russell Wilson and explosive talent was worth it here. … Mostert sticks out as an especially risky bet given his eruption late last season came with Tevin Coleman banged up. Mostert also has major downside due to lack of pass-game role and last year’s wild TD rate.

ROUND 6

6.1 — Le’Veon Bell, RB, Jets

6.2 — Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns

6.3 — Cam Akers, RB, Rams

6.4 — Terry McLaurin, WR, Redskins

6.5 — Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

6.6 — Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos

6.7 — Devin Singletary, RB, Bills

6.8 — DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins

6.9 — Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

6.10 — DJ Chark Jr., WR, Jaguars

Notes: Kareem Hunt is behind Nick Chubb, but still projects for some standalone value through the receiving game and is one injury away from league-winner status. But he isn’t fooling anyone, going at 6.2. … Since I used two of my first three picks on RBs, I continued to hammer WRs through the middle rounds. Terry McLaurin had a standout rookie year, he projects for massive target share from his college QB, and Dwayne Haskins at least has a chance to take a sizable step forward in Year 2. All that said, I would have been fine with Courtland Sutton, DeVante Parker, or Will Fuller. I hoped one of them would slip back to me in Round 7.

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ROUND 7

7.1 — DeAndre Swift, RB, Lions

7.2 — Mark Ingram II, RB, Ravens

7.3 — Darren Waller, TE, Raiders

7.4 — A.J. Green, WR, Bengals

7.5 — Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns

7.6 — Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens

7.7 — Will Fuller, WR, Texans

7.8 — Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans

7.9 — Stefon Diggs, WR, Bills

7.10 — Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals

Notes: Based on our position allocation study, I knew I wanted 7-8 WRs. Through six rounds I already had four. Still, I simply could not pass on the value of Will Fuller at 7.7 with DeAndre Hopkins’ 30% target share gone. … Fuller’s slide in this draft is a reminder of how important default rankings in the draft applet are. He is buried in Yahoo’s, so he was not on my opponents’ radar. I’ll have more on leveraging the draft applet rankings when draft season gets closer. Here’s last year’s example.

ROUND 8

8.1 — Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs

8.2 — Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals

8.3 — Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers

8.4 — Evan Engram, TE, Giants

8.5 — Dionte Johnson, WR, Steelers

8.6 — Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys

8.7 — Sony Michel, RB, Patriots

8.8 — Josh Allen, QB, Bills

8.9 — John Brown, WR, Bills

8.10 – J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ravens

Notes: It’s optimal to have 2-3 TEs in this format. And given the 10-team league, I like the idea of taking three of the high-upside late-round options such as Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant, TJ Hockenson, Ian Thomas, Chris Herndon, Blake Jarwin, etc. Still, given I already had five WRs and two RBs at this point, I thought going for the truly elite ceiling of Evan Engram made sense. Recent reports suggest Engram’s Lisfranc injury is healed. … We know 8.8 is great value for Josh Allen in a vacuum, but again be aware of 10-team, single-QB leagues. … Deebo Samuel’s foot injury has me concerned he’ll open the year on PUP.

ROUND 9

9.1 — Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans

9.2 — Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Buccaneers

9.3 — Jordan Howard, RB, Dolphins

9.4 — Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Lions

9.5 — Matt Breida, RB, Dolphins

9.6 — Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

9.7 — Duke Johnson, RB, Texans

9.8 — Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots

9.9 — Tyler Higbee, TE, Rams

9.10 — Jalen Reagor, WR, Eagles

Notes: Jordan Howard goes just two picks before Matt Breida. While I think Breida is the far better talent, the touch projection on Howard is significantly better. … Ke’Shawn Vaughn goes a full round before Ronald Jones. … With only two RBs on my roster through eight rounds, I expected to eventually need five. Given David Johnson’s injury history and Duke’s pass-game role in an offense that lost DeAndre Hopkins, Duke has both standalone and injury-induced upside. Of course, I preferred other positions to RB in this spot but again — we have to take RBs somewhere.

ROUND 10

10.1 — DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles

10.2 — Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers

10.3 — Jared Cook, TE, Saints

10.4 — Zack Moss, RB, Bills

10.5 — Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears

10.6 — Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions

10.7 — Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers

10.8 — Derrius Guice, RB, Redskins

10.9 — Ronald Jones II, RB, Buccaneers

10.10 — Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys

Notes: I was thrilled that one of my favorite late-round RB targets, Zack Moss, was still available here at 10.4. Moss will very easily take the Frank Gore role, which yielded 11 touches per game and 11 carries from inside the 5-yard line last year. It’s also in the range for Moss to steal some of Devin Singletary’s share as the talent gap is not overly wide. … This later-round range of RBs is easier to swallow than some of the reaches in the middle rounds due to opportunity cost. We’re not missing as much by passing on Brandon Aiyuk or Jared Cook or Darius Slayton. Pat Kerrane discussed Zero RB strategy in this article and on our podcast here.

Stay tuned for Part II ...

Adam Levitan has been writing about Fantasy Football professionally since 2008 and is a two-time FSWA award winner. A podcast host since 2015, his podcasts have been downloaded over 5 million times.

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