Best Ball Journal: Underdog Do and Don't List

Best Ball Journal: Underdog Do and Don't List

This article is part of our Best Ball Strategy series.

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For this weekly update I'm going to try a novel format with a DO and DON'T list based on the current ADP trends of the Underdog NFL best ball tournaments. There will be one DO and DON'T pair for each of QB/RB/WR/TE.


DO try to conclude your quarterback selections before the 16th round

No matter whether you're going with two quarterbacks or three, you'll generally want to be done making your quarterback selections by the 15th round. In that round you can sometimes still get presumed starters like Jordan Love (166.7 ADP), Mac Jones (171.2 ADP) and Sam Howell (186.8 ADP), and at that price it's hard to criticize the picks much. After that, though, you're down to Jimmy Garoppolo, Will Levis, Ryan Tannehill, Anthony Richardson and Desmond Ridder – quarterbacks you can't assume to be starters at all. At least Richardson has some upside to justify the risk he carries, but the others are likely to post low point totals even if they secure playing time. There's no point in taking on risk if there's no upside potential to offset it.


DON'T draft Kyler Murray (105.0 ADP)

It's a frustrating shame that Murray suffered an ACL tear in Week 14 – not only did it end his 2022 season and jeopardize his 2023 one, it was also a perversely unfair reward for tolerating four years of Kliff Kingsbury malpractice. It's unpleasant to think that someone already as unlucky as Murray might face another year of disappointment, but a torn ACL and meniscus in mid-December would make it tough for any quarterback to be ready to play the following September.

Indeed, Murray is not expected to be ready for Week 1, and when a declaration of that sort is made in January (as Ian Rapoport reported at the time) it does not bode well for the player's chances of beating their prognosis. Teams normally downplay injuries and exaggerate the chances of a quick return, so it's possible Murray's doubtful availability could extend some unpleasant amount of time past Week 1. That might or might not have anything to do with the fact that Murray is a quarterback who needs to move around at high speeds, but Murray needs a durable knee to play his style of quarterback. Plus, the Cardinals might trade DeAndre Hopkins, in which case Murray's top two receivers would be Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore. That's bad. Trey Lance (108.6 ADP) and Sam Howell (186.8 ADP) are better high-risk, high-reward candidates even without considering price.


DO draft the right rookies (Zach Charbonnet - 101.5 ADP, Devon Achane - 153.9 ADP, Israel Abanikanda - 233.2 ADP, Keaton Mitchell – 239.8 ADP)

There are profiting opportunities among the rookies. It is often times true that drafters make wildly reckless picks on players for which they have little or no information, but there's no rule that you have to pick the wrong players. These four backs can only hurt you so much at their prices, and in each case there is substantial upside to consider for the price, too.

At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds Charbonnet is a rugged runner between the tackles and a natural pass catcher in space. Think post bulk-up DeMarco Murray. Barring disastrous medicals there's no reason for Charbonnet to fall out of the third round. It's difficult to quantify the ways Charbonnet is better than 2022 third-round picks like Tyrion Davis-Price and Brian Robinson.

Achane is a candidate to run a 40-yard dash in the 4.2-second range at the combine. It's comical to imagine what Achane is worth as a draft pick if James Cook is worth a second-round selection. Even as a small back, Achane should make a consistently explosive impact as a rotational player in the NFL. There's no reason to avoid him in the 13th round.

Abanikanda is arguably the best value of the group. Unlike Achane, Abanikanda projects as a potential workhorse at 215 pounds. Abanikanda could ultimately grade as well as Charbonnet with a strong combine, yet the Pittsburgh star is going in the final round, if that.

Mitchell often goes undrafted but might be similarly fast to Achane. The East Carolina product was a terror from scrimmage in college, and if he confirms his suspected 4.3 speed you can bet he won't be available in the 20th round anymore from that point.


DON'T draft the wrong rookies (Tyjae Spears - 155.0 ADP, Tank Bigsby - 172.1 ADP, Roschon Johnson – 207.0 ADP)

Spears is an interesting player and one who could crash Day 2 of the draft, but in the meantime he has nothing on the likes of Achane, Abanikanda and Mitchell. Spears is a sub-200 pound back who should project as a solid rotational big-play back in the NFL if he confirms the necessary speed in athletic testing. If Spears weighs in at 195 and runs a 4.50, that's not good enough and his stock will slip. If he runs a 4.40 then his stock says the same and the people buying him now get no profit out of it. If his price drops substantially then Spears is a different question – he's a good prospect, just too expensive for this fantasy format at this particular time.

Bigsby should be able to hang around the NFL for a while but has no calling card to dictate this valuation. He's at a lighter listed weight than Abanikanda, for instance, but at a listed inch taller. Abanikanda is almost certainly faster and more skilled than Bigsby as a runner. Bigsby might be good enough to invest in for best ball purposes, but not when he's five rounds more expensive than Abanikanda.

Johnson was an unremarkable backup at Texas, which is also what he'll be in the NFL. There is a lot of well-meaning but ultimately horrible analysis circulating through the mainstream of dynasty media that hypes Johnson as a top-three back in this class, but he's not even a top-15 running back in this class. He might not be top-25. He's... a backup.


DO regularly select wide receivers in the last two rounds

Quarterbacks are usually picked clean by the end of the 15th round. You can't make a consistent practice of selecting any beyond that point. Wide receiver is very different. You can get likely starters in the last two rounds at receiver, which isn't the case at running back and generally isn't the case at tight end. There are occasional running back and tight end values in this range, too, but it's simply more common at wide receiver. Someone like Van Jefferson (216.8 ADP), Corey Davis (223.7 ADP) or Devin Duvernay (228.7 ADP) has already proven their usefulness, while undervalued rookies like Tyler Scott (236.8 ADP), Marvin Mims (233.6 ADP) and Xavier Hutchinson (238.2 ADP) are excellent picks in this range.

DON'T Select Ty Scott... (do select Tyler Scott)

Be careful. Tyler Scott is a likely Day 2 pick and a burner from Cincinnati. Ty Scott is a non-prospect from the FCS ranks. Make sure to double check – both players are in the player pool, and you only want one of them.


DO consider the top rookies

Michael Mayer (163.4 ADP) and Dalton Kincaid (211.5 ADP) often go later than veterans who are clearly inferior. The vast majority of people should not consider Gerald Everett (159.3 ADP) or Zach Ertz (162.9 ADP) ahead of Mayer. Only a Chargers stack roster has any use for Everett. Kincaid is not nearly the prospect Mayer is, but he's definitely better than Isaiah Likely (193.2 ADP) and Jelani Woods (209.5 ADP).

DON'T fade Chigoziem Okonkwo

Okonkwo (142.5 ADP) is going later than Tyler Higbee (137.8 ADP), Greg Dulcich (130.6 ADP), Cole Kmet (126.0 ADP) and Dawson Knox (121.0 ADP). Okonwko will outproduce all of them. The hyper-athletic Okonkwo drew 46 targets on just 361 snaps, including 31 targets on his last 187 snaps of the year. With Robert Woods likely to be cut and Treylon Burks' development a question, Okonkwo is clearly an indispensable piece for the Titans offense.

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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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