Matt's Best-Ball Championship Draft Recap
How do you win $1 million in the Draft.com best-ball championship?
We don’t really know yet. This is the 1st year it’s been around.
If it’s by maxing out the 150-entry limit for an individual player, then I guess I don’t have a shot. Because I don’t have $3,750 lying around to throw into this (at least not in good conscience).
But I’ll shoot my shot with a small fraction of that entry limit, and that makes roster construction even more important.
I try to stay flexible in any draft, because surprise picks can throw a rigid plan into a tailspin. But I’m generally looking to start with at least a pair of workhorse runners among the 1st 3 rounds. I have no problem with drafting RBs at each of the 1st 3 turns to secure touch certainty and TD upside. Fortifying the position that early also frees up my mid-round strategy, where there are plenty of WRs available but also some intriguing options at TE and QB.
Stacking is important here for the same reason it plays so heavily into DFS tournament entries: If a QB hits, he’s likely to bring at least 1 primary pass-catcher with him. And any target of his is more likely to deliver points in any week where the QB does.
Here’s my latest best-ball championship draft, which took place July 20 (before most teams were in training camp) ...
1.03: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
Picking among the top 4 is a comfy place to start -- especially 3rd of 4th. I’m just taking whichever among the top 4 RBs gets to me. That McCaffrey is arguably the cleanest fantasy prospect of the group only made this comfier.
2.10: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
I like taking a shot on Gurley at this stage of a draft anyway. When I’m trying to win the Upside Bowl … I love it.
3.03: Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals
The only thing that made drafting Gurley at the previous turn a challenge was choosing between him and Mixon. Turns out I didn’t need to sweat that previous decision, because my fellow drafters weren’t valuing volume certainty. I believe I’ve opened this draft with 3 players who could see 300+ touches.
4.10: Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks
By waiting until 4.10 for a WR, I know I’m not going to get a value I love. This feels a little early for Lockett. But it also felt a little early for D.J. Moore and Chris Godwin, my other 2 WR considerations. It’s not, though. This is the range where the ~20th WR is going. Lockett edges the other 2 for me because he comes with the best QB and might be the clearest lead WR for his team among the trio.
5.03: Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers
I considered Henry and Evan Engram at the previous turn but expected to be able to get Henry here. (O.J. Howard went next.) For my money, Henry carries as much TD upside as any TE. The bonus with him in a best-ball tournament setting is that Philip Rivers sits just 19th among QBs in ADP, making him an easy target for stacking.
6.10: Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs
You’ll find plenty of drafters sworn off Watkins at this point. I think that just makes him a prime target in this range, where it’s fairly easy to build out a best-ball roster. In the 10 games he played last year, Watkins nearly matched Tyreek Hill’s target share (20.1% vs. 21.2%). And Watkins somehow delivered just a 7.5% TD rate while playing with Patrick Mahomes. Watkins’ career TD rate sits at 12.1%. Expect more scoring in 2019.
7.03: Rashad Penny, RB, Seahawks
This is a nice range for your 4th RB. Penny sits less than a round behind Tevin Coleman in ADP. Austin Ekeler follows him. Then come Lamar Miller and Latavius Murray. I like Penny’s upside even if Chris Carson maintains last year’s role. And if the knee Carson had repaired in the offseason gives him further trouble, Penny’s ceiling spikes further.
8.10: Keke Coutee, WR, Texans
I hit this spot with more uncertainty than any other. Should I try for a Carson Wentz-DeSean Jackson stack around this turn? Should I take proven weekly boom-bust producer Marvin Jones? Ultimately, I settled for a personal favorite with upside and a star QB.
9.03: Curtis Samuel, WR, Panthers
I might still have taken Wentz had he gotten here, but he went the pick before. That’s OK. Jackson went at 9.05 and wouldn’t have been stackable. I love Samuel’s upside as my 4th wideout. In hindsight, though, perhaps I should have grabbed Russell Wilson here to stack with Lockett (and, to a lesser degree, Penny).
Samuel’s ADP currently sits in the middle of Round 8, so don’t count on him reaching this point. But Corey Davis, Coutee, Sterling Shepard, Dede Westbrook, Larry Fitzgerald and D-Jax all sit in the same range. So you’ll have WR options.
10.10: Devin Funchess, WR, Colts
I hoped to find Wilson lasting to this spot. It wasn’t close. He went 9.11. So then I prayed to Reggie White (feel free to substitute your own departed football deity) that Cam Newton would get to me. He went at 10.06. (Thanks a lot, Rev.) Jared Goff to stack with Gurley? Gone at 10.07.
Now fully focused on Philip Rivers as my primary stack (with Henry), I didn’t feel the need to jump here -- 2 rounds ahead of his ADP. So it’s another upside wideout. And Funchess has only gotten more attractive with Parris Campbell losing time to a hamstring injury.
11.03: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
After my last turn, I watched Marcus Mariota leave the board at 10.11. Message received. I’ll take my QB here -- even with Dak Prescott also still on the board.
12.10: Trey Burton, TE, Bears
Burton dropped about a round and a half past ADP here, and I arrived to the spot with just 1 TE rostered. It’s a match.
13.03: Tyrell Williams, WR, Raiders
I hoped for Burton’s QB, Mitchell Trubisky, to get here after I selected the TE. Trubisky went at 12.12. I’m not panicking at QB, though, and reaching well beyond ADP for Andy Dalton (even before the A.J. Green injury). So I’ll take my 2019 boo, the grossly underrated Williams.
14.10: Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
See? I knew I didn’t need to reach for Dalton last turn. I took him over Sam Darnold and Matthew Stafford here, planning to grab a 3rd later since I pushed off drafting QBs even more than usual.
15.03: Duke Johnson, RB, Browns
This was a tough choice: Johnson or Giovani Bernard? Bernard would have given me the Joe Mixon handcuff plus some standalone potential -- plus stacked with the QB I just chose. Johnson, though, comes with a higher standalone ceiling -- i.e. not dependent on a teammate getting hurt. And if the Browns honor his trade demand, the ceiling might climb even higher.
All that said, Bernard might have been the smarter pick here. And I wouldn’t go the same direction every time.
16.10: Nick Foles, QB, Jaguars
I like Foles as a 3rd QB. I expect to see more Jaguars passing than we’re used to. However, I probably should have checked the rosters of the 2 opponents drafting behind me here. Each already had 3 QBs. Then I could have secured Tyler Eifert at this spot to stack with Dalton.
17.03: Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
Fortunately, it wound up not mattering. Eifert’s a strong TE3 even if you don’t have his QB rostered.
18.10: Paul Richardson, WR, Washington
One final WR to get me to 7 (along with 5 RBs, 3 QBs and 3 TEs). There are plenty of flier candidates. Richardson ranks among my favorites in that category, though, because he combines big-play upside with the possibility of leading his team in targets. I’m not betting on Richardson doing that -- but it’s possible.
So here’s my final roster:
I’ll usually draft 2 here, but I want a 3rd if plucking all my QBs from so far down the board.
I’ll usually stay at 5 RBs here, especially if I’ve opened with 3 workhorse types. I’m more likely to opt for a 6th if I went WR in 2 of the 1st 3 rounds.
A crew of boom-bust weekly wideouts might be maddening in a lineup-setting league. But it’s just fine for best ball.
Henry and Burton might be a strong enough duo that I could have opted for an 8th WR over Eifert. But the Bengals TE insures that position and provides at least as much flex upside as any wideout I’m finding in Round 17.