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Erickson: 2021 Best Ball Tiered Rankings

There’s no debate that the best-ball format is the best thing to happen to fantasy football in recent years. Few things are better than scratching the fantasy draft itch — with skin in the game — during the summer months instead of waiting for August. What’s more enjoyable than sitting poolside, phone in hand, drafting A.J. Brown in the second round all day, every day? Nothing.

That said, drafting with other degenerates at this time of year means stiff competition. Opponents aren’t the casual drafters who show up to the draft with a fantasy football magazine from a local 7-Eleven. They know their stuff.

It then becomes critical to leverage tiered rankings in order to gain an edge. Using these rankings makes it simple to extract value from the players available in each round and gain an advantage over other drafters.

Below, you’ll find my tiered rankings for QB, RB, WR and TE, with some insight on select tiers. Pair these tiered rankings with my best-ball rankings and wreak havoc across best-ball formats all summer long.

Editor’s Note: Check out more 2021 best ball rankings broken down by either round or positional group by PFF analysts Ian Hartitz, Nathan Jahnke, Jarad EvansBen Brown and Kevin Cole.

Quarterbacks

QB scoring tends to be flat across the board, meaning there are few major jumps in output — the difference from one ranking to the next is negligible.

Selecting the final quarterback remaining in any given tier is the best way to extract value, and the best approach is to target QBs from Rounds 7-14 (the quarterback sweet spot) so that a third quarterback isn’t required. Drafting two QBs within the top four tiers should ensure that you don’t need to overinvest in the position. However early your QB1 gets selected should influence how long you wait to pick your QB2 — invest in a Tier 1 QB? Wait until Tier 4 to snag QB2.

TIER 1 – THE FANTASTIC FIVE

PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
JOSH ALLEN, BUFFALO BILLS
KYLER MURRAY, ARIZONA CARDINALS
DAK PRESCOTT, DALLAS COWBOYS
LAMAR JACKSON, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Prescott tends to be the last quarterback drafted from the elite tier in late Round 5 or early Round 6, which makes him worth aggressively pursuing out of the QB sweet spot. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback has elite upside — he finished first in passing yards per game last year (371) — and a super safe floor that few can beat. He’s the only quarterback to finish inside the top 10 every season from 2016-19.

Some might cite Prescott’s gaudy passing numbers as a small sample-size trap, but that’s hardly the case, as Dallas’ pass play percentage (70%) under neutral game-script conditions ranked second before Prescott’s injury. The Cowboys’ 27th-graded defensive coverage unit made sure that the team was required to throw the ball a ton, but Dallas remained an uber-aggressive passing team even before the score got out of hand.

Expect to see more of that style of play with Prescott in 2021, making him and his offensive weapons premium best-ball commodities.

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