Wed Aug 7 11:43am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Cooper capable of huge game
If you haven’t heard, best ball fantasy leagues are all the rage these days. These are the fastest growing leagues on our site. Drafts are going off every night (click here). We are here to help you win your best ball league. This column will focus on the strategy of a best ball format, giving you some tips to help you win big.
If you aren’t familiar, here is a quick rundown of the best ball format. The best ball format means you don’t have to set a weekly lineup. Your best possible roster will be automatically selected after the games are completed for the week. There are no free agent moves during the season. All you do is draft. After the draft is complete, you can sit back and watch the rest of the season. It is all the fun of drafting but without the daily management.
The best ball leagues normally start nine players: a quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, flex, defense and kicker. Drafts are anywhere between 20 and 25 rounds long, making rosters deeper because of the inability to make free agent moves during the season.
So now that you know the rules, here is a look at some tips for having a successful best ball draft. First off, you are going to take more quarterbacks and tight ends than in a normal draft. Taking three quarterbacks and three tight ends is a smart move in best ball leagues. You just need one player to hit each week, so having more to choose from will help you optimize your chances for that big week. Grabbing three players at each position is the way to go in best ball formats.
In a best ball league, going with boom or best players is a good idea. Getting players with a high weekly ceiling is a smart move. You need those big weekly games to advance in best ball formats. Guys like Amari Cooper and DeSean Jackson are ranked a little higher for me in this format. These are guys that can drive you a little crazy in standard leagues because of their erratic play, but you can live with that in best ball leagues. There are options on your bench that can makeup for the bad games from Cooper and Jackson. You start just two receivers on a weekly basis and likely have three or four options on your bench. There is a good chance one of your bench options hits any given week, which can makeup for the erratic play of a guy like Cooper if he busts.
So taking three quarterbacks is a good idea, but grabbing one in the early rounds isn’t. If you think about it, you just need one quarterback to hit each week with a big number. If you take three in the middle to later rounds of your draft, can one of those guys post an elite fantasy number each week? Your answer is likely a big yes. You are better served in a best ball format loading up on running backs and receivers early in your draft. These positions are a little more uncertain, so getting quality running backs and receivers early in your draft is a good plan come draft day. Don’t waste early picks on the quarterback spot. The quarterback position also is crazy deep this year.
The tight end spot is a little different this year. Normally, approaching the tight end position is similar to the quarterback position. Get three in the middle to later rounds of your draft and hope one hits each week. We still suggest getting three tight ends but going early on one of the three elite options this year might give you an advantage. There are three players that stick out head and shoulders above the rest: Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and George Kittle. Taking one of those three players in the second or third round of a best ball draft might give you an advantage over the rest of your league-mates. The lesser tight end options aren’t as likely to score big when they have their good games. This is something to keep in mind come draft day. Going early on one of the three elite tight ends could set you apart this year. They are worth an early-round pick.
There is some debate with this next suggestion, but we think getting two kickers and two defenses is the way to go in best ball. The big reason is that if you take just one at each position, you are going to be giving up six or seven points in one game because of bye weeks. Can you afford to lose those points when every game matters so much in fantasy? We just aren’t sure it is worth risking, especially since rosters are so deep anyway. Every game matters so much in fantasy that giving away just one game could be the difference between making or missing the playoffs. So go ahead and grab two kickers and defenses in the last few rounds of your draft to make sure you are maximizing your points each week of the season.
In closing, use your early picks wisely, getting a lot of talent at running back and receiver. These positions are a little more uncertain, so getting plenty of options at those spots is a good move in this format. And don’t be afraid to go deep at any position, especially if you have some questions marks for your projected top point getter at the position. You also have to take some chances late in the draft, trying to find a player that might emerge later in the season or something along those lines. This is the format to take more risks. You have the roster space, so don’t be afraid to take some chances along the way. There are going to be players selected in this format that you would never consider taking in a standard league.
Good luck and happy drafting!
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Waiver Wire Adds: Week 4
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said that he expects wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. (back, chest) to be a limited participant in practice on Wednesday after he missed the team's Week 3 game last Thursday. Barring any setbacks this week, it looks like he'll return to action this Sunday against the Bengals. The Jags passing attack looked lost against Miami last week without Chark in the fold, so he should see a decent amount of targets from quarterback Gardner Minshew II this week. Rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. and Keelan Cole have had their moments in the first three weeks, but Chark remains the team's No. 1 passing option when he's healthy. Consider him on the WR3/flex radar for Week 4.
The Philadelphia Eagles placed rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor (thumb) on Injured Reserve on Wednesday, and the first-round pick is expected to be out for more than three weeks. The Eagles are hoping that Reagor can return after their Week 9 bye, so the speed demon can likely be dropped in shallow leagues if you don't have room to stash him. Philly's offense is really beat up with injuries to Alshon Jeffery (foot) and Dallas Goedert (ankle), while DeSean Jackson is also dealing with a nagging injury. Greg Ward Jr. is worth a waiver-wire pickup heading into Week 4 against the 49ers, but both he and D-Jax will be boom/bust WR4/flex options in deeper leagues. Zach Ertz has high-end TE1 potential.
Las Vegas Raiders rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (hamstring) is considered a long shot to play in Week 4 against the Bills due to a lingering hamstring injury, according to a source. The first-rounder shouldn't be out for an extended amount of time, but it's a concern for a player that relies heavily on his speed. Ruggs is also dealing with a knee ailment, and both injuries are a concern to the team. The rookie also sat out last week, so you'll need to temper expectations for the speedster when he gets back on the field. With fellow rookie Bryan Edwards also out this Sunday, it should be Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor in three-wide sets against a tough Bills Defense. The only pass-catcher for Las Vegas that you should be starting is tight end Darren Waller.
Las Vegas Raiders rookie wide receiver Bryan Edwards (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 4 against the Bills as he battles an ankle sprain, according to a source. Edwards is considered week-to-week moving forward. There's a chance that the No. 81 overall pick in this year's draft misses additional games. Fellow rookie Henry Ruggs III missed last week with an injury, so the Raiders could be short-handed at the position in a tough matchup this Sunday. If both rookies are inactive, it would be Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor in three-wide sets. Tight end Darren Waller figures to dominate the passing-game targets yet again, and he's really the only pass-catcher of this group worth using in starting lineups for Las Vegas.
Washington Football Team rookie pass-rusher Chase Young (groin) suffered a moderate groin strain in the Week 3 loss to the Browns and is expected to be out in Week 4 against the Ravens, according to sources. The No. 2 overall pick already has 2.5 sacks in his first three games, but he's considered week-to-week at this point. The former Ohio State star has asserted himself at the next level right away and has become relevant in IDP leagues right off the bat, but you'll have to look elsewhere this week and possibly next. Against a high-powered Baltimore offense that is looking to bounce back after losing to the Chiefs on Monday night, Washington's defense shouldn't be in anyone's starting lineup this weekend, especially with Young on the sidelines.
An MRI exam on Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (hamstring) on Tuesday confirmed a mild hamstring pull, according to a source. Godwin will be out for Week 4 against the Chargers and could also miss next Thursday's game against the Bears, but he shouldn't be out much more after that. You'll obviously need to sit Godwin on your bench if you roster him. In two games in 2020, the 24-year-old has been productive with 11 catches on 13 targets for 143 yards and a touchdown. His absence will mean more looks for both Mike Evans and Scotty Miller. Evans is a must-start each and every week, while Miller will become a flex sleeper in deeper PPR leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) has a mild hamstring pull that will keep him out for Week 4.
Fantasy Spin: He could also miss Week 5 since it's on Thursday night. Justin Watson, who had two catches for 48 yards last week, figures to be a hot pickup on waivers. He'll be a flex option if Scotty Miller (hip, groin) continues to be ailed.
Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson had more snaps, carries and yards than the rest of the team's backfield in the Week 3 win over the Cardinals. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell made it sound as though Peterson could wind up being the lead back for the team in the immediate future. Detroit went with a committee approach the first two weeks, but AD played 40 snaps last Sunday and carried the ball 22 times for 75 yards while also catching a pass for 10 yards. Bevell was the future Hall of Famer's coach back when he was with the Vikings, so they have some history. Peterson has outperformed rookie D'Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson, so the younger backs will continue to spell him in certain situations. Peterson doesn't have a ton of upside left towards the end of his career, but he'll be in the RB3/flex consideration because of his secure role as the leader (for now) of this backfield.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen has 20 receptions on 29 targets for 228 yards and a touchdown in the two games QB Justin Herbert has started.
Fantasy Spin: Allen's production was expected to dip a bit this season with the departure of Philip Rivers, but with Herbert looking his way early and often, Allen seems poised to stay in the low-end WR1, high-end WR2 mix.
Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson caught five passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3, but Todd Archer of ESPN.com believes Wilson won't be 'anything more than a bit piece' of the offense going forward.
Fantasy Spin: Wilson didn't have a target coming into Week 3, and he is still the No. 4 or No. 5 option in the passing game, at best. Don't overreact and waste a waiver claim on Wilson after one big performance against a terrible Seattle secondary.
Detroit Lions RB Adrian Peterson will continue to see a heavy workload, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Tuesday, Sept. 29. 'He wants the ball, we want him to have it, and we'll just keep continuing to go there,' Bevell said.
Fantasy Spin: Peterson has 43 carries for 209 yards through three games, rushing 22 times in Week 3. Peterson is a volume-based flex play in his current role, but it would be a surprise if rookie D'Andre Swift doesn't see more touches as the year goes on.
Free-agent DT Myles Adams (Panthers, DB Damarious Randall (Raiders), DT Kobe Smith (Titans) and LB Tim Williams (Packers) tried out for the Seattle Seahawks Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Free-agent WR Ryan Switzer (Steelers) visited the Cleveland Browns Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense was going to enter Week 4 as a premier unit no matter the circumstances. But after a COVID-19 outbreak within the Tennessee organization where multiple players and personnel tested positive (but were asymptomatic), Pittsburgh will face an offense that likely wont be able to practice for the entire week. Derrick Henry will be difficult to tackle no matter the prevailing circumstances, but the boost of facing off against a team that may be out of sync should make the Steelers a highly valuable defensive fantasy asset. The league may opt to push the contest to Monday, which would take Pittsburghs defense out of DFS consideration come Sunday, so fantasy managers will want to check back for the latest updates.
Free-agent WR Gary Jennings (Dolphins), QB Kyle Lauletta (Falcons) and WR Damion Willis (Browns) tried out for the Detroit Lions Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Free-agent DB Nate Brooks (Dolphins), WR Trevor Davis (Bears) and QB Shea Patterson (Chiefs) worked out for the Houston Texans Tuesday, Sept. 29. Undrafted free-agent Kelly Bryant (Missouri) also tried out.
Free-agent DB Nevelle Clarke (Vikings), DB Tino Ellis (Saints) and DB Teez Tabor (49ers) tried out for the Miami Dolphins Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook has hauled in just one reception for four yards this season, with the time that he has seen due primarily to DJ Chark Jr.s absence last Thursday versus Miami. After back-to-back seasons with 66 receptions, Westbrook will have an uphill battle to that level of production in 2020 due to the breakout nature of rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. Despite working his way back from an undisclosed off-season injury, there likely arent many fantasy managers still hanging on for production at this stage; Westbrook is a massive risk due to his slipping role among an offense that has a plethora of options when Chark is healthy.
Free-agent LB Kendall Donnerson (Raiders, OT John Leglue (Saints) and OT Timon Parris (Falcons) tried out for the Cincinnati Bengals Tuesday, Sept. 29.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense may have sustained significant blows by losing Nick Bosa (knee) and Solomon Thomas (knee) for the remainder of the season in Week 2, but that didnt stop them from looking strong against the Giants in Week 3. Looking ahead, theyll face a rocky Eagles offense that has had to answer questions about Carson Wentzs starting quarterback status since Sunday, with a Dolphins squad two weeks away that is quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has tossed three interceptions this season. While their status as the preeminent defensive unit may have taken a step back, San Francisco still unquestionably has a defense worth rostering and deploying on a weekly basis until the group proves otherwise.