Best ball drafts, for lack of a better word, are fun. You pick a team, and that’s it. Months later every roster will be optimized weekly until a champion is crowned. No trades, no waiver wire: Best-ball fantasy football was made for the annual extended spring and summer stretch of sadness known as the offseason.
My general advice for someone entering their first regular ho-hum best ball draft is to: 1) target at least one of the top-three tight ends in the first two rounds, 2) spend the bulk of the middle rounds taking the best value running back or wide receiver, 3) in most cases get your first quarterback drafted before round 10 at the absolute latest, and 4) stack with reckless abandon, particularly in the later rounds with boom-or-bust WRs, or a tight end if applicable.
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Still, it’s this last round of best-ball drafts that really fascinates me considering ADPs are still so new and haven’t fully adjusted to free agency. The draft will inevitably throw another wrench into things, but before then we can potentially create a nice edge by determining which players going outside of the top-200 hold some serious upside and should be prioritized at the end of your draft.
The following five players are (in order) my preferred targets in the final round of Underdog Fantasy drafts. I’ve been playing the bulk of my best ball with Underdog Fantasy and will be using their average draft position to choose players that have typically been available in the final round. Note that you can go to Underdog Fantasy and deposit $10 using promo code “PFF” to get a free PFF Edge annual subscription.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Scotty Miller (ADP: 215, WR115)
Last season, Miller caught 33 balls for 501 yards and a trio of scores despite functioning as the clear-cut No. 4 WR behind Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. The best-case scenario is that AB takes his talents elsewhere, elevating Miller into full-time three-WR sets. The worst-case scenario is more games with between one and three fantasy-friendly downfield targets.
Every fantasy analyst’s favorite thing to say about a boom-or-bust WR is that they’re *drum roll* better in best ball. Not having to deal with the uncertainty of starting a player in his good or bad weeks does benefit these sort of receivers, but literally every player in the league is “better in best ball” using this rationale.
Miller really is better in best ball because he’s not likely to have a consistent role worthy of even a bench stash on a re-draft team. Still, he was one of just 11 players at his position to average at least 25 air yards per reception last season. The PPR WR74 turned in 5-73-0, 3-83-0, 5-83-1, 6-109-1 and 1-48-1 receiving lines in the 2020 regular season; there’s still immense upside here even if nothing changes due to this absurdly low ADP, particularly when considering the nature of Miller’s boom-or-bust game. He’s the No. 1 “handcuff” WR in fantasy football ahead of 2021.
2. Miami Dolphins RB Lynn Bowden (ADP: 209.3, RB67)
The Dolphins had a number of injuries to deal with across their skill-position rooms during the second half of the 2020 season, leading to their rookie RB/WR hybrid getting more work down the stretch. Bowden didn’t disappoint, racking up a number of broken tackles and solid plays in just five weeks of extended run. The rookie played at least 90% of the offense’s snaps during the final three weeks of the year as their starting slot WR, but this didn’t stop him from also getting snaps on the outside, in the backfield and even under center.
Wherever Bowden lined up, he broke tackles. Overall, he was one of just five players to force at least 0.3 missed tackles per touch among 232 players with at least 35 touches. This low threshold was made to squeeze in Bowden, but the film backs up the idea that this man is truly difficult to tackle.
Best of Lynn Bowden as a rookie pic.twitter.com/miVZlMqf9f
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 22, 2021
It’s unclear why Bowden has been considered a RB this whole time; this is truly a weird world we live in. Either way, he was the PPR RB26 over the final five weeks of 2020 in this fantasy-friendly hybrid role. RBs that catch passes are a cheat code in full-point per reception scoring; Bowden as a starting slot receiver is a far superior fantasy option than an early-down grinder looking at 12-15 rush attempts per game.
The presence of Will Fuller shouldn’t take much of anything away from Bowden; I’d expect the ex-Texans field-stretching talent to instead open up the offense for everyone involved. There’s an outside chance the Dolphins spend an early-round pick at the position and Bowden finds himself outside of starting three-WR sets. Still, his projection is far superior than the other backs with an ADP above 200. Don’t take someone we know will be either a locked-in backup or committee option when there’s potentially a dynamic starting slot receiver that is called a RB for whatever reason available. I’d move Bowden ahead of Miller on this list if AB winds up staying in Tampa Bay.
3. New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill (ADP: 208.1, QB32)
I love the idea of drafting Jameis Winston (QB28) and Hill in the final few rounds for those choosing to draft three signal-callers, particularly on rosters that came away with one of Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas early. This is because 1) both QBs are so cheap only because of the uncertainty behind the situation; one is going to be a screaming value in this range come September (which is what matters), and 2) you can easily complete a solid Saints’ stack by taking Tre’Quan Smith and/or Adam Trautman in the last couple rounds as well.
Hill in particular is intriguing this late thanks to the reality that Sean Payton absolutely loves this man. His three most-likely outcomes for next season in no particular order are:
- Win the QB competition
- Get a chance under center if Winston struggles and/or gets injured
- Serve as a clear backup while continuing to get fantasy-friendly red-zone opportunities as both a rusher and receiver
Some have pointed out that handcuffing is a bad idea in fantasy football because there isn’t a scenario in which both players will reach their ceilings. This is true, but in this case we’re looking at two dirt cheap players with one expected to eventually return something close to top-10 production.
Alvin Kamara fantasy managers obviously didn’t like it, but Hill was truly a fantasy-football super hero during his four starts last season:
- Week 11: fantasy QB3
- Week 12: QB11
- Week 13: QB7
- Week 14: QB9
I’d bet on Winston winning the job; just realize Payton is going to give Hill a fair chance, and it’s tough to find someone this late in drafts with a demonstrated top-10 ceiling in their reasonable range of potential outcomes.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard (ADP: 210.3, TE33)
Howard played in four games last season before suffering a torn ACL. The Buccaneers utilized the following usage at tight end:
- Howard: 18 targets, 11 receptions-146 yards-2 TD
- Rob Gronkowski: 14 targets, 9-88-0
- Cameron Brate: 2 targets, 1-3-1
It’s not like Gronk was eased back into action coming back from retirement; he played at least 69% of the offense’s snaps in each of Weeks 1-4 and 92 snaps more than Howard. Still, it was clear Tom Brady enjoyed targeting his speedy big-bodied TE down the field. The 2017 first-round pick worked as the PPR TE17 during the first four games of last season and relegated Brate to a bench role for the first time in his career.
I’m as big of a Chris Herndon apologist as you’ll find and truly think he should also be considered in this range, but for now Howard operates in the far better offense and put together a 72-target pace last season. It wasn’t long ago that Howard was considered a potential top-five player at the position; consider giving the 26-year-old talent a chance at the end of drafts if you’ve already scooped up Brady and need another tight end.
5. Baltimore Ravens WR Devin Duvernay (ADP: 215.5, WR112)
Duvernay is seemingly set to start in the slot next season with the Ravens declining to bring back Willie Snead and basically striking out on every other receiver. This offense didn’t go out of its way to feed its third-round pick in 2020, but Duvernay did wind up with more receptions (20) than starting WR Miles Boykin (19).
The Ravens also fed Duvernay four rush attempts and he returned a kickoff all the way to the house. At 5-foot-11 and 200-pounds with a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, Duvernay is capable of causing problems for defenders in the open field and seemingly set up for a solid volume increase. Make all the jokes about Lamar Jackson’s passing ability that you want; Jackson’s 62 scores through the air trail only Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady over the past two seasons.
Duvernay played more as the 2020 season progressed and is now seemingly looking at a starting spot in three-WR sets. This isn’t the most-exciting offense for the world in terms of fantasy-friendly receivers, but the potential for this dynamic second-year talent to see 50-plus targets and double-digit carries inside of the league’s reigning seventh-ranked scoring offense is certainly enough to warrant a ranking far higher than his presently depressed ADP.