In this third installment of the DFF Best Ball draft series, we again outline the analysis on the mindset of player selections and strategy. Note: There is likely to be some variance with certain players who we’ve selected, as is typically the case this type of year.
Please keep in mind that this draft occurred BEFORE DeMarco Murray’s retirement, LeSean McCoy’s legal issues, and Leveon Bell’s potential holdout.
Additionally, we will offer graphics that show the amount of change which occurred in each player’s draft position. Ultimately, this should help you take advantage of seeing trends in your upcoming Best Ball drafts.
Let’s get started.
The Draft Board
Team Owner: Kyle August (@KyleFFFellas)
Draft Slot: #1
Initial Strategy: Obviously with the first pick, I knew I was going RB and that I had my pick of the litter. Like most drafts I’ve done this year I’ve looked to grab a top end TE and was happy to take Kelce. Overall this team ended up following what appears to be my go-to strategy this year. RB early, grab a bunch of mid-round WRs and look for 3 solid QBs late.
Favorite Pick: Danny Amendola (17.1). I LOVE Kenny Stills this year. In my opinion, he’s the #1 guy in Miami so I’m looking forward to what he can do this year and I pretty much own him on almost every best ball league I’ve done this offseason. However, I do think Danny Amendola is a great value as well at the end of the draft. With Jarvis Landry’s 161 targets now in Cleveland, I think Amendola has a decent shot at some value in any type of PPR formats. Amendola tied for 4th in the league in 2017 with 54 receptions from the slot, where I think he’ll get plenty of opportunities this year. Of course, as long as he stays healthy.
Biggest Reach: Mark Ingram (4.12). I don’t hate this pick at all but some might look to avoid the suspended RB this year. However, the next few RBs off the board were Ajayi (my selection), Collins, Lamar Miller, and the Rookie RBs of Michel and Jones. I have all those RBs ranked behind Ingram so I felt like the upside was worth the pick.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): Mike Oliva (MikeCOliva) – Started off RB heavy so you have to love the Hunt/Fournette combo and like what he was able to do at WR with Fitz/Watkins/Funches and also getting Crowder in round 8. Solid squad all around.
Closing Comments: I ended up a bunch of “my guys” in the middle rounds of this draft (Kupp, Davis, Stills, Williams) so I really dig this team. I still think that waiting on QB is the right move this season, but at TE, I do like getting one early. I think it makes a big difference but give it a try for yourself sometime and see if you like how your team ends up.
Team Owner: Anthony Zaragoza (@zaragozaanthony)
Draft Slot: #2
Initial Strategy: With the #2 pick, I knew I was going to get one of the top four running backs available in this year’s draft. By drafting Ezekiel Elliott, it gave me the confidence that I could wait on running backs for the rest of the draft and not feel like I was neglecting the position. So, I went with a WR heavy draft with Adam Theilen, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin leading the group. A risky strategy (only two RB’s in the next 10 picks) and complete opposite from what I’ve done in the previous best ball drafts. But I have to say, I kind of like how it turned out.
Favorite Pick: Tyler Lockett (13.02). In 2017, Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson combined for 176 targets and 16 touchdowns. Graham (Green Bay) and Richardson (Washington) are no longer with the team, so now that production needs to be filled by the remaining guys on the roster. Insert Tyler Lockett. Lockett is the undisputed WR #2 heading into the season and could see 90-100 targets in 2018.
Biggest Reach: Greg Olsen (6.11). Not a reach in the sense of ADP (60.1), but when it comes to me drafting a tight end, I tend to wait till the tenth round or later for that position. Selecting Olsen continues my aggressive strategy for top-notch pass catchers. In 2016, Olsen finished the season with 80 receptions and over 1,000 yards as Cam Newton’s #1 target. The former Miami Hurricane was hurt last season but should be ready to roll this season. He will dominate the targets in Carolina.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): Stephen Halupka @halsteve. Balanced team throughout his lineup (Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas) with some big potential guys (Ronald Jones, Allen Robinson). You add in Russell Wilson in the fold and you have a solid roster. His TE’s are a question mark but the other guys on his team make up for it.
Closing Comments: I love my starting wide receivers. Thielen, Baldwin, and Tate are the exact trio of pass catchers I was looking for in this draft. Consistent guys who will eat up targets in 2018. My running backs are not as strong as the other teams in this draft, but I feel like I salvaged the position with Alex Collins and Isaiah Crowell.
Team Owner: John Di Bari (@dibari22)
Draft Slot: #3
Initial Strategy: In the previous drafts I went QB early and often, so my plan was to wait a bit this time around. My other main plan was to employ a DFS strategy and get some QB/WR stacks. As I picked my QBs, I had receivers in mind as targets to pair up with them.
Favorite Pick: As this off-season has progressed, I’m liking Austin Ekeler more and more. The loss of Hunter Henry was significant for the Chargers and a few short years ago they turned Danny Woodhead into the 3rd highest scoring running back. There may be a similar role in place for Ekeler as the red zone and receiving back. I loved getting John Brown late too. Can’t beat his upside if he’s healthy.
Biggest Reach: I took several players who I could imagine winning me a single week. I don’t love many of my players if this was another format, but in best ball, I’m happy with them. Martavis Bryant, Donte Moncrief, Mike Wallace, and Torrey Smith are all capable of the occasional huge game.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): @MattJonesTFR put together a balanced squad across all positions with a lot of upside. He might be a little thin at TE, but his depth everywhere else should make up for it.
Closing Comments: I employed a different strategy in this league compared to our earlier two drafts and I’m happy with the results. I’m thin at TE, but if Gronk can be Gronk and if Ebron can be some combo of his potential combined with what we saw out of the Philly TEs under
Frank Reich, he might be a steal. I’m also really happy with the upside of my DFS-style stacks: Goff/Gurley/Cooks, Wentz/Wallace, Newton/Smith have lots of “boom” potential.
Team Owner: Mitch Lawson (@DFF_MitchLawson)
Draft Slot: #4
Initial Strategy: I wanted to get a top flight player at every position, then look at high upside guys to fill out the rest of my lineup. I was also targeting a couple very specific QB tandems so I could roster just 2 QBs comfortably.
Favorite Pick: Marcus Mariota (11.4). Brady and Mariota were a tandem I really wanted. Their schedules align nicely and allow for a matchup against a Bottom 10 defense in 11 out of the 16 fantasy weeks. Plus they never face a Top 10 defense in the same week, and Mariota gets the Colts during New England’s bye week.
Biggest Reach: Dede Westbrook (12.9). I reached a couple rounds to get Westbrook. I did so because Edelman got suspended after I picked him, and I looked at the draft board at that moment and looked to see if there was anyone left who could be a WR1. I think Westbrook could definitely be that type of player if he can hold off the competition around him.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): John DiBari (dibari22). John absolutely plagued me at every turn as he snagged guys I was targeting at least 3 separate occasions in this draft. So naturally, I feel he has the strongest team. He easily has the best QB tandem. His weakest position (WR) is LOADED with high-ceiling players, so while I wouldn’t want this group in redraft, he should be able to survive the duds that they’ll each see this season due to the Best Ball Format.
Closing Comments: I’m neither high or low on myself in this draft. Taking Edelman just before his suspension news dropped and a thin RB bench could derail this best ball season for me. However, RBs like Montgomery, Carson, and Foreman could end up their team’s starters. If that happens my forecast is going to start looking really nice.
Team Owner: Nathan Coleman (@JHawkChalk89)
Draft Slot: #5
Initial Strategy: For this draft, I wanted to try a different strategy by utilizing stacking in order to reach a higher point ceiling. My goal was to grab a few players from the same team in offenses with a high output of points.
Favorite Pick: Don’t let the negative narrative surrounding the Patriots backfield stop you from drafting Rex. With the departure of Dion Lewis, Brandon Cooks, and the suspension of Julian Eldeman there should be plenty of extra red zone opportunities. Last season Burkhead was highly productive when healthy and more importantly, the coaching staff trusts him within his role.
Biggest Reach: Carlos Hyde might be considered a reach but it’s maddening to try and figure out the Browns backfield. Hyde has always been productive and I expect a mobile QB to amplify Hyde’s production. Look for Carlos Hyde to have a strong first half before Chubb supplants him.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): Mike Oliva put together the most balanced team and his stable of receivers should pay off with some high scoring weeks.
Closing Comments: overall I’m happy with my team outside of accidentally auto drafting Hunter Henry. Combining one of the best receiving corps with one of the most productive backfields in New England should result in some high scoring weeks. Stacking can be a dangerous practice that risks more volatility but the payoffs in an optimized lineup are well worth it.
Team Owner: Michael Stephenson (@DFF_Mste89)
Draft Slot: #6
Initial Strategy: My strategy in most drafts this year has been to have either RB/WR/TE or RB/RB/TE in the first three rounds, as there is unbelievable value late in drafts at WR, but with Jordan Howard falling to the 3.06 I felt I had to take him.
Favorite Pick: Geronimo Allison, 16.07. I always like to fill my late round with upside and there isn’t much more upside than a receiver catching passes from the GOAT. Allison had an 8 target, 121-yard game in 2017, a couple like that in 2018 will make this a valuable late pick.
Biggest Reach: I avoided reaching throughout this draft until the 17th round, taking Luke Willson, who is generally undrafted. Eric Ebron leaves behind plenty of TE usage in Detroit, Ebron was targeted 86 times last year. While Willson has never seen more than 40 targets in a season, he has been efficient in the red zone, catching 8 touchdowns in just 89 career receptions.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): Aaron Larson (aalarson) – Aaron Rodgers in the 4th allowed him to start strong and not have to worry about QB. He had solid options at every position complimented by high upside players, this line-up is everything you should look to have in best ball.
Closing Comments: Thanks to my RB heavy start I spent the rest of the draft picking up my favorite value WRs and TEs. Marvin Jones was a top 12 receiver in 2017 and resides in the 5th round, Chris Hogan has the Patriots passing game pretty much to himself for at least 4 weeks and Devante Parker is in a similar situation in Miami. I rounded out my RB corps in this draft with guys who have been forgotten behind other backs. We have never seen Spencer Ware or Latavius Murray share a field with Kareem Hunt/Dalvin Cook. Dalvin Cook is returning from an ACL, Murray will see work and is almost certainly value in the 10th round. Spencer Ware is more than capable of showing up for a week or two. Gio Bernard was the RB9 during the last 5 games of 2017 and if Mixon fails to ascend again this season Gio could be the one to shine. On the whole, I don’t feel like this team has a weak position, I’d gladly take this squad into any best ball contest.
Team Owner: Aaron Larson (@aalarson)
Draft Slot: #7
Initial Strategy: I’ve done dozens of best ball drafts over the past few weeks, and if I don’t go running back early I end up hating my backfield. I wanted to lock up some solid running backs early, then hit a bunch of high upside receivers in the middle and late rounds.
Favorite Pick: Keelan Cole seems like tremendous value in the 16th round. Cole average 17.8 yards per reception in 2017, which is exactly the kind of number you’re looking for in best ball. With Jacksonville’s receiver corps looking murky right now Cole has a wide range of possible outcomes in 2018, but I love his upside.
Biggest Reach: I took Taylor Gabriel with my second to last pick, even though he might have gone undrafted. Gabriel has blazing speed, and he could be a poor man’s Tyreek Hill under Matt Nagy in Chicago. I hope to get a few big weeks out of Gabriel.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): John Di Bari gets my vote. He has a top QB, RB, and TE, along with enough big-play potential receivers to carry him through the season.
Closing Comments: Once I went ahead and took Rodgers in the fourth round I knew I had to hit on all my other picks and find a decent late-round quarterback. I was thrilled to get Keenum with pick 14.6, allowing me to stack him with Demaryius Thomas. With my last pick I took a flyer on Jake Butte for another potential stack, another strategy I love to employ late in best ball drafts.
Team Owner: Matt Jones (@MattJonesTFR)
Draft Slot: #8
Initial Strategy: This part of the draft allows you to go a lot of ways, but I didn’t feel like I had a particular strategy going in. Once DJ, Bell, Gurley, and Zeke are gone that’s it for me on first round RBs so I went for target volume with my first couple of picks.
Favorite Pick: As far as early picks, I love getting AJ Green in the 2nd round. I believe that the trio of CJ Anderson, James White, and Theo Riddick will make a decent RB2 by committee for me in the 8-11 rounds.
Biggest Reach: While I typically stray away from early QBs, I thought that stacking Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins could be worth it.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): I’ll go with Zaragoza’s team (ZaragozaAnthony). Locked up a top RB at 1.02 and then ran it back with three solid WRs at the beginning of the draft. He added some potential spike games from the QB position and built up some depth through the rest of the rounds.
Closing Comments: Overall, I probably could have rolled out another RB a bit earlier than round 8 but I liked the spots for both Watson and Walker. I like my team because of the stack and because of the volume I believe my WRs will have. My only regret was not paying attention to the bye weeks and having to draft a 3rd QB.
Team Owner: Stephen Halupka (@halsteve)
Draft Slot: #9
Initial Strategy: I really wanted to load up at running back in the early rounds with some much value at wide receiver later in drafts. That all changed with Michael Thomas staring at me in round 2 after both Cook and Fournette were off the board. I was able to select four RBs in the first seven rounds which should be a big boost to my team.
Favorite Pick: Being able to select Russell Wilson in the 6th round, after Deshaun Watson I might add, was a huge win. He should have an even bigger season in 2018 with the erosion of the Seahawks defense in full effect.
Biggest Reach: George Kittle in the ninth round seems like a bit of a reach after seeing how the tight ends played out. Kittle went before both Doyle and Njoku, which could prove foolish later this season.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): Really like how Mike Oliva’s team turned out. He has three running backs that could be league winners to start his team and then was able to add 100 plus receptions with Larry Fitzgerald in the 4th. His pair of QBs, Stafford and Rivers, could be the best duo in the draft.
Closing Comments: I really like the youth at running back on my team. I’m slightly afraid of having two Saints as my first two selections, but each of those players has a great floor. Adding those running backs to Michael Thomas, ARob, and Russell Wilson should give me a solid core that could win the league.
Team Owner: Mike Oliva (@MikeCOliva)
Draft Slot: #10
Initial Strategy: My normal best ball strategy this year is to grab RBs early because there is a big drop-off in quality, dependable RBs. WRs on the other hand, present value well into the double-digit rounds. I also planned on taking two QB1s in the 9th/10th round and two upside TEs soon after.
Favorite Pick: Tarik Cohen at 7.10. I really think he has tremendous upside in the new Chicago offense and getting him as my RB4 lets me enjoy his big weeks while not stressing about weeks where he doesn’t get too much volume.
Biggest Reach: I don’t feel like it’s a reach because it’s a pick I make at the end of every best ball draft, but you could argue that Tavon Austin at 18.03 is a bit of a reach since he may have gone undrafted. My thinking is that Dallas needs playmakers and they have been talking Austin up all offseason. It won’t take more than 8-10 touches a game for him to return late round value – a risk I’m happy to take.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): Michael Stephenson’s team is my favorite. He started with three stud RBs and then added 5 very solid WRs. Throw in three TEs and three QBs who should combine to produce a solid week every week and this is a team that should really contend.
Closing Comments: Not too much to say for those who follow my drafting style. This is pretty much my typical best ball strategy and it went pretty much according to plan. I got the guys I wanted and was able to put together a team with a strong core and solid depth.
Team Owner: Shaun Crandall (@WhiskeyD0G)
Draft Slot: #11
Initial Strategy: I am starting to focus on a more balanced roster construction for my RB’s and WR’s. I think the risk with drafting only 4-5 skill position players in an 18-round draft is too much and leaves exposure if injury were to occur to one of those players. At the conclusion of the draft I ended with 6 running backs, and 7 wide receivers, so I feel comfortable with those numbers.
Favorite Pick: Odell Beckham should return a value greater than his current ADP and the selection of him at 11th overall. I am thrilled to get him in the late 1st round each time.
Biggest Reach: Keke Coutee. I took him at least a round over his current ADP, and most likely he would have gone undrafted. The WR3 is up for grabs in Houston as Bruce Ellington and Braxton Miller haven’t been able to lock down the role, so Coutee is an excellent late-round dart throw.
My vote for best draft (besides my own): @DFF_Mste89 has an enviable team with rock-solid RB’s and a group of under-the-radar WR’s. He may not have decided to go late round WR, but with three RB’s taken with his first three picks, he solidified a core of high volume players.
Closing Comments: I like the result of this draft due I am probably too invested in the MIN offense with Cook, Diggs, and Rudolph, so that will be worth monitoring, however, in a best ball draft it only takes the strength of the other players to lift the team if the production of others slip.
Team Owner: Lukas McLean (@Lukasm_90)
Draft Slot: #12
Initial Strategy: Drafting at the turn made early strategy simple: take all the falling value. I wanted to be flexible coming into my early picks in case a huge value fell. Adjustments from there can be easily made but grabbing Julio and Allen has been a staple of what I’ve been doing quite often in these situations.
Favorite Pick: Tevin Coleman at 5.12. On the surface, he’s a solid flex contributor with stand-alone value. The league winning upside is what draws me in and keeps me coming back over and over.
Biggest Reach: Kenyan Drake at 3.12. I do like Drake but the draft kind of left me in a no man’s land. The way the chips fell left me reaching for an RB to avoid missing one altogether. Might be just a bit too much risk for Drake here in round 3. With
My vote for best draft (besides my own): John DiBari probably has my favorite roster out of this draft. I felt he made the right choices and capitalized on value every time he made a selection.
Closing Comments: Hindsight says I probably should have gone with more of a zero RB approach with the way the draft went. I don’t mind this roster set up though. Landing both Bronco running backs makes me feel confident I’ll own at least 3 RB2s each week. My QB stack is ugly but I am a fan of Luck and his overall QB1 upside in round 10. Not a roster I’m doing backflips over but if things break right injury-wise there is a lot of upside to be had.
Draft Pick Variation
Before we go, we wanted to add in a little extra analysis. To better show why we draft as early as we do, we wanted to take a second to look at variation when it comes to a player’s draft position. By taking note of how early certain players are going at certain points of the offseason, you’re better positioned to recognize trends and capitalize on them. For example, Allen Hurns jumped 62 draft positions in a little more than a month. This means that if you want Hurns, you might have to expect to reach for him before he gets snagged.
On the left, we have the entire draft with each player’s change in position. On the right, we’ve sorted it in order of biggest positive change in draft position, to biggest negative change in draft position.
Thanks as always for reading.