Best Ball Journal: Deep ADP Targets

Best Ball Journal: Deep ADP Targets

This article is part of our Best Ball Strategy series.

If you're drafting multiple teams in a best ball tournament format then at a certain point of volume you'll need to consider digging a little deeper into the ADP than when you first started, both to diversify your late-round exposure and to account for the fact that each year there are out-of-nowhere producers who go at the end of drafts, if not undrafted entirely. Players like these are not who you should worry about if you're only drafting a few teams, but if you're going for the gold in a big field then it's a little easier to justify the aggression.

This article will look at Underdog best ball ADP to single out targets typically available in the 18th and final round, all of them long shots but some of them longer shots than others. I'll list them in descending order of ADP.

Devin Duvernay, WR, BAL (197.6 ADP)

Duvernay is one of the easiest picks this late, simply because he seems locked in to at least 800 snaps in a Lamar Jackson offense. Greg Roman is a horrific offensive coordinator and he threatens to tank this team, but Jackson will always transcend to an extent and if that's the case then whoever is on the field is a candidate to benefit. Duvernay is faster than Rashod Bateman even at a much denser build, so the big-play potential is there even if the consistency isn't.

Sony Michel, RB, MIA (207.4 ADP)

Michel's profile is littered with red flags – bad knee, bad career to date, flimsy one-year contract that's easily terminated if necessary – but not to any extent notable among the 18th-round alternatives. Indeed, I'd say there are a handful of running backs who go rounds earlier and still don't offer any greater security. If he makes the team – and he should if he doesn't get hurt – then Michel is a strong bet to chip in some useful games at this price.

The Dolphins backfield is split up into clear specialist roles, with Chase Edmonds/Myles Gaskin competing for passing down snaps while Michel and Raheem Mostert battle for the bulk of carries. This means that Michel's upside is limited (he's not a pass-catching candidate) but also means that as far as carries go, Mostert is the only real competition. Given Mostert's workload limitations and injury history, I think that sets up Michel for a surprisingly prominent share of however many carries the Dolphins have to give out. If Mostert misses time then Michel would project for something like 12 carries per game or more since Edmonds is probably capped around 10 himself. By contrast, if Michel misses time then Mostert's workload is not guaranteed to increase – he's maxed out regardless of Michel's status.

James Washington, WR, DAL (207.4 ADP)

The Cowboys may well be a threat to sign Julio Jones, and if they do it would suddenly make Washington much less interesting. But as things stand there is a widespread assumption that Washington can't compete with Michael Gallup (119.6 ADP) or even rookie third-round pick Jalen Tolbert (150.2 ADP). Perhaps that assumption is correct, but I'm not so sure.

Washington has been far from bad in the NFL, just ill-suited to the playing style of post-decline Ben Roethlisberger. Washington was a dominant college receiver at Oklahoma State and a third-round pick himself, and I think playing with an adept downfield passer like Dak Prescott will make Washington the most productive he's been since 2019, when he produced 735 yards at 9.2 yards per target on 650 snaps as a second-year player.

Marcus Mariota, QB, ATL (210.7 ADP)

Mariota doesn't belong in this round in my opinion, so he's the one player on this list who I think is a conventionally good value with a high floor and high ceiling. The error in his pricing is the idea that third-round pick Desmond Ridder (215.5 ADP) has a chance to start for the Falcons, which just isn't true. Remember that Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill before the Titans made A.J. Brown starter, and before then he was always productive with the exception of when his elbow died on him. The injury risk certainly remains for Mariota and there's no good news to offer on that front, especially since the right side of the Atlanta OL is utter trash, but that risk alone doesn't explain Mariota's basement-level price, especially if you're acknowledging the upside he brings as one of the league's most dangerous runners. If Mariota plays 12 games then he's crushing for his investors, in my opinion, and I can't imagine a better QB3 option in this format.

Zay Jones, WR, JAC (211.4 ADP)

Jones is the same deal as Duvernay. It's not obvious how he'll produce, especially in any voluminous sense, but the guy is about to play 800-plus snaps and a lot of the receivers going ahead of him won't. If Trevor Lawrence is the real deal (he is) then Jones is a zero-risk investment this late, limited as his upside might be otherwise.

Mo Alie-Cox, TE, IND (211.6 ADP)

Alie-Cox is one of my favorite players in the league and I'm convinced there's a beast waiting to be let loose, so I'm admittedly eager to see the best-case scenario here. Unfortunately for me, Alie-Cox is a great blocker and the Colts often used him to set up other route runners rather than utilizing him as one. This is a mistake by the Colts and they might well figure it out with Jack Doyle no longer around. Even with Carson Wentz killing the offense, Alie-Cox averaged 1.37 yards per route last year (65th percentile), and Matt Ryan is an enormous upgrade. I still believe.

Byron Pringle, WR, CHI (212.5 ADP)

See Duvernay and Jones. Pringle is a fast receiver who should play a three-down role for the Bears. Some backups and cut players are going ahead of him and as long as that's the case Pringle is worth exposure in the 18th.

Romeo Doubs, WR, GB (214.3 ADP)

Doubs is a little bit more aggressive of an entry than the others on this list. It's easier to imagine a dud 2022 from him than others, because Day 3 rookie receivers rarely do anything and rarer yet do they produce when their team selected another rookie receiver more than two rounds earlier. I don't think Christian Watson (116.1 ADP) is as good as Doubs, but if I'm wrong or the Packers disagree then he could be a zero this year. That's not to skip the threat posed by Sammy Watkins (168.7 ADP), who I also prefer over Watson, but Watkins is a weird guy with a long injury history and if he for whatever reason leaves the picture then Doubs might be the second-best outside receiver for the Packers behind Allen Lazard. With that said, players like Duvernay, Jones, Pringle and Deonte Harty (more on that later) are all much safer. I must advise extremely limited Doubs exposure rather than extended, but if he gets a chance to play I don't think Green Bay will be able to put him back on the bench from that point.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR, TEN (214.7 ADP)

Treylon Burks (89.6 ADP) might be a landmine and if he is the beneficiary would almost certainly be Westbrook-Ikhine. Westbrook-Ikhine basically should not be a starter in the NFL but if Burks isn't ready then Westbrook-Ikhine has already shown some ability to function in the Tennessee scheme, and he was a totally decent fringe prospect out of Indiana before that. While playing 634 snaps, NWI went over double-digit 0.5PPR points in three games as a 24-year-old player last year, and he might need to play something more like 800 snaps in 2022. Definitely take NWI over rookie fifth-round slot receiver Kyle Philips (216.0 ADP).

Damien Williams, RB, ATL (215.3 ADP)

Williams is pretty much the same category as Michel – injury prone retread vying for a part-time role in a dubious offense – and like Michel, Williams can be cut with no cap hassle if the Falcons choose. If Williams stays healthy through camp, though, it's difficult to see why they would cut him. Rookie fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier has no pass-catching background at all, so if Cordarrelle Patterson misses time and the Falcons don't have Williams then they might not have a hurryup back at all, which is a particularly pointed problem for a team that figures to play from behind often.

There is one crucial distinction between Williams and Michel, however: Williams is a standout pass catcher and therefore has superior upside. I'm hedging my bets between them, but Williams is a better target to me than Michel.

Dontrell Hilliard, RB, TEN (215.7 ADP)

Hilliard is a variation of the Williams theme – his ADP is in the tank because people are chasing an inferior rookie (Hassan Haskins, 211.3 ADP) earlier in the draft order. Haskins is much heavier than Hilliard and would likely be the short-yardage option between the two, but when Derrick Henry is healthy there is simply no role for Haskins in this offense. Hilliard has a stranglehold on the role previously held by Jeremy McNichols, handling whatever passing-down tasks there might be, and in the event of a Henry injury it's unlikely that Haskins takes up more than half of Henry's prior burden. Hilliard is a good player – he has always been productive in the NFL and he was always productive at Tulane before that. I already have decent exposure to Michel and Williams in the 18th, so I might need to take a couple Hilliard shares in upcoming drafts.

Deonte Harty (Harris), WR, NO (216.0 ADP)

Harty is one of my favorite end-round sleepers in best ball, particularly on teams where I have Jameis Winston or/and Chris Olave. Harty's unique big-play ability makes him the perfect value in a setting that overlooks him for a lack of targets, because that lack of targets is due to a limited snap count rather than a difficulty drawing targets. The distinction is important because Harty was actually extremely consistent in 2021, just never for an extended period at a time. When he was on the field he raked, point blank.

People grasp the dynamic easily enough with Marquez Valdes-Scantling – his spike weeks overrule the significance of his limited volume and consistency otherwise – but for some reason it hasn't caught up with Harty yet. Even with Jameis Winston hurt and the remaining Saints quarterbacks playing at a sub-CFL level, Harty went over double-digit 0.5PPR points in four of his 13 games last year. His 2.58 yards per route ranked 97th percentile in 2021.

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Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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