SPECULATION DRAFTING FOR THE 2021 BEST BALL SEASON – 6/11/21
2021 Best Ball SZN is well underway with several large tournaments including 2 with million dollar prizes offered by both Underdog and DraftKings. Those of us who focus our DFS playing only on the NFL welcome the return of these contests. I’ve personally done about 100 drafts up to this point and will share some values and strategies I’ve been using at this early point in the NFL cycle. I’ll write a few strategy and ADP articles leading into the debut of our Best Ball video content, but we’ll kick things off by examining current situations which offer high risk/high reward opportunities due to uncertainty.
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It is only June 8th, so lots of things can happen between now and the beginning of the season. Players’ ADPs will be all over the place based on the latest reports out of training camp, trade and release rumors, and the dreaded injuries. There is a ton of uncertainty to navigate right now, but the uncertainty can also provide us with opportunities to snag some huge value on players if our predictions work out. One example of this came a couple years ago when there was speculation that Tyreke Hill would be suspended for the entire season. Tyreke was being drafted after the 10th round while people waited to find out more details about his situation. As reports came out indicating his suspension would be smaller than originally anticipated, his ADP climbed higher and higher throughout the summer. When it was finally announced that he would have no suspension at all, he landed with a 1st round ADP. That is an extreme example of the type of value you can hit this early in the process. Another example was the same year when Josh Gordon went from an 18th round ADP to about a single-digit round ADP when it was announced that he was going to be reinstated into the league. These values don’t always lead to successful outcomes, but they present us with unique opportunities to gain edges with early drafting.
THE JULIO TRADE
There have been a couple uncertain situations which provide us with opportunity so far this year. One was uncertainty over where Julio Jones would end up. There was some early speculation that he might be headed to the Titans providing early drafters opportunity draft Ryan Tannehill in cheap stacks with AJ Brown and Julio. It was small value, but still rewarding for people who had been drafting Tannehill up to that point. Tannehill remains a pretty good value if you can secure him in double-digit rounds. I don’t think the ADP values should change much after this trade for the receivers (other than a small bump down for AJB) but there is still some value drafting Tannehill after the 10th round.
THE AARON RODGERS SITUATION
Another current uncertainty is where Aaron Rogers will end up. Will he remain a Packer or will he join another team? Rumors seem to indicate there is a strong possibility he ends up in Denver. Denver is loaded with weapons right now but are all cheap due to their weak QB situation. Courtland Sutton, for example, has a 6th round ADP currently on Underdog. Jerry Jeudy’s value is even better as he’s going in the 7th round. Noah Fant, Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, and KJ Hamler are all also going for cheap values currently. They would all sky-rocket if news came out that Aaron Rogers would be joining the team. Stacking Rodgers with Broncos players now provides an opportunity to gain a huge edge on the field with cheap stacks of a potential juggernaut offense. Conversely, if you believe Rodgers will stay put, you can currently get Davante Adams and Aaron Jones at small discounts in the 2nd round. Both players could be 1st round ADP picks if their QB remains in Green Bay. Rodgers himself is going in the 8th round or so even with the uncertainty so could bump up a round or two when there is more clarity. The downside risk to drafting Rodgers in general would be him deciding to retire rather than be stuck in Green Bay for another season. Drafting the Broncos skill position players naked without Rodgers at current ADP is not a bad way to go if you don’t want to risk his uncertainty. That way if Rodgers does end up with the Broncos you still lock in the upside of the skill position players at great value. If Rodgers does not end up in Denver you get them at market value and just hope their talent can generate some upside despite weak QB play.
THE DESHAUN WATSON SITUATION
One other uncertainty with huge implications this off-season is the DeShaun Watson situation. After the 2020 season, Watson made it known that he no longer wanted to play for the Houston Texans. The Texans made it clear that they did not want to let Watson go. Speculation flew on where Watson might end up as both sides dug in on their positions. But then some accusations of sexual misconduct started to fly against Watson and ended up snowballing to about 22 active civil lawsuits. The accusations are serious and will be investigated thoroughly and Watson will have to deal with the consequences if they are found credible. Watson is innocent until proven guilty of such accusations, and it remains to be seen how things will play out. As far as Best Ball, Watson is currently being drafted in the 16th round. He would be a top-5 drafted QB if it wasn’t for his legal jeopardy. It is a complicated situation not only due to the lawsuits surrounding Watson, but also the uncertainty of where he will play next. It’s hard to envision him playing with Houston ever again. There have been so many teams believed to have interest in Watson that it would be tough to try to stack him with anyone specific so any drafting on this uncertainty might be best played by just adding Watson as a QB3 after the 16th round. Denver has been suggested as Watson’s preferred landing spot so adding Watson late to teams with multiple Broncos could make sense. There’s a good chance you are throwing away a pick by drafting Watson this year, but in general the chances of getting a hit in the 16th round are pretty low regardless so it’s a case where the potential upside could outweigh the downside. I would look to add Watson on teams where I had to draft a QB1 late, and would make sure I went with 3 QBs total on the team. Chances are those teams will have plenty of depth at WR and RB and you can afford to take the risk of a burned roster spot.