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Draft Strategy

My QB Shares in Early Underdog Best-Ball Drafts

By Matt Schauf 6:50am EDT 4/11/22


Have you started drafting yet?

It’s OK if you haven’t. It wasn’t so long ago that we weren’t even thinking about drafting fantasy football teams at this point in the year.

But the boom of best-ball drafting has altered the way our “off”-season works. We ran through several 12-team drafts during our January Draft Sharks retreat to Florida. And shortly after that, Underdog launched its Big Board tournament.

I got 45 entries in before it filled at some point in early March, and the last of those slow drafts finally completed at the end of the month. So now seems like a good time to reflect.

I’m going to display my full list of player shares by position to show the guys I selected most, the guys I faded … and perhaps even some who didn’t land on a single team.

The format: half-PPR scoring; fairly standard numbers otherwise. The draft goes 20 rounds (which is 2 rounds longer than Underdog drafts ran last year). The lineup:

QB
2 RBs
3 WRs
TE
Flex

And the tournament structure goes:

Regular season: Weeks 1-14
Quarterfinals: Week 15
Semifinals: Week 16
Championship: Week 17

That format is important for the relevance of stacking and spike weeks. Each of those aspects obviously plays a big role in best-ball success. But the one-and-done setup of the playoff weeks amplifies the impact and increases variance. I’ll get more into that as I discuss and evaluate my player shares.

(Note: The shares below include the 45 entries I mentioned above plus 1 $3 12-team draft. You can also find my shares of RBs, WRs and TEs.)

Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars – 26.1%
Baker Mayfield, ??? – 23.9%
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins – 19.6%
Justin Fields, Bears – 19.6%
Russell Wilson, Broncos – 17.4%

There’s a break between Wilson and the next group of QBs, so let’s discuss.

Lawrence sits 16th among QBs in ADP for this particular format. He has actually dropped to QB18 since then, with Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins climbing. I’m an easy buyer in that range.

Lawrence proved wildly disappointing as a rookie, but his situation worked pretty strongly against him. Jacksonville’s HC choice looked like a disaster from the start to just about everyone other than Shad Khan.

New HC Doug Pederson helped usher Carson Wentz into the league and pilot those 2017 Eagles to the Super Bowl title. The Jaguars threw a bunch of money at WR Christian Kirk, WR, Zay Jones and TE Evan Engram on the open market, and they return RB Travis Etienne from his foot injury.

I love the upside on Lawrence (especially with his running ability), and he has presented easy (re: cheap) stacking options all along the way.

Mayfield, on the other hand, was an early target for me because I expected him to remain Cleveland’s starter. He has been going outside the top 24 throughout draft season and thus seemed like a solid late QB2 and terrific QB3 in early drafts.

Now? We’ll see where he lands. But he’s far less interesting at the moment.

Tua and Fields opened draft season as attractive values and remain in that range. Fields is currently going 16th among QBs on Underdog, and Tagovailoa has been QB19 all along. Yes, despite his team trading for Tyreek Freakin’ Hill, drafters have not altered their outlook for the QB.

I thought Tua looked solid-to-good in that range early. He’s a downright sleeper with Hill now in tow.

Wilson was a value early. He has climbed from QB12 then to QB7 in more recent drafting – despite a downgrade in WRs.

And yes, no matter how you feel about Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton or any other pass-catcher in Denver, the group marks a downgrade from Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.

I’m not saying I’m out on Wilson, but nothing about the move makes him 5 ADP spots more attractive. So I’m glad I got some early.

Carson Wentz, Commanders – 13.0%
Dak Prescott, Cowboys – 13.0%
Marcus Mariota, Falcons – 13.0%
Daniel Jones, Giants – 13.0%
Jalen Hurts, Eagles – 10.9%
Lamar Jackson, Ravens – 10.9%
Kyler Murray, Cardinals – 10.9%
Deshaun Watson, Browns – 8.7%
Mitchell Trubisky, Steelers – 8.7%
Davis Mills, Texans – 8.7%
Jared Goff, Lions – 8.7%
Matt Ryan, Colts – 6.5%
Trey Lance, 49ers – 6.5%
Justin Herbert, Chargers – 6.5%
Jimmy Garoppolo, ??? – 4.3%
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs – 4.3%
Matthew Stafford, Rams – 4.3%
Kirk Cousins, Vikings – 4.3%
Zach Wilson, Jets – 4.3%
Derek Carr, Raiders – 2.2%
Taysom Hill, Saints – 2.2%
Joe Burrow, Bengals – 2.2%
Drew Lock, Seahawks – 2.2%
Desmond Ridder, ??? – 2.2%
Matt Corral, ??? – 2.2%
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – 2.2%

There’s not much separation through the rest of the QBs. The percentage breaks here represent players who landed on 6-5-4-3-2-1 rosters.

Marcus Mariota was a guy I tried to grab some shares of early, in case he got a starting shot somewhere. He was not always getting selected in these drafts, which adds quite a bit of value when you’re playing in a tournament.

As I was drafting, it felt like I was coming away with a bit more Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. Looking back, I kinda wish I had. As I mentioned on a recent podcast, I think both have been going in value ranges. And that was even truer for Jackson early before he climbed the board some.

I went primarily with 3 QBs in my roster builds here, especially after reading Hayden Winks’ work on the subject. That’s why you see 4 shares apiece of players such as Mitchell Trubisky (who spent most of this drafting timeframe unsigned), Davis Mills and Jared Goff.

To me, the most significant names on the low end are Joe Burrow, Aaron Rodgers and then one biggie that’s missing altogether. Burrow has been going too early the whole time. Rodgers’ ADP sat inside the top 10 at his position throughout. No scenario for how his 2022 would play out made him especially attractive. Obviously, I feel even better about avoiding him now that all WRs have emigrated from Green Bay.

I did not realize until looking back that I drafted absolutely no Josh Allen here. I’m OK with it, though.

An ADP at the 2-3 turn starts him off as less likely to land on my squads, though I do think he’s appropriately valued in relation to the rest of the QBs. That said, when you combine Allen’s draft position with those of his teammates, it’s tough to see them delivering any tourney edge. Stefon Diggs’ ADP early in Round 2 makes it nearly impossible to stack the QB with his lead wideout. Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox have both been going earlier than they should be.

Throw in that I’ve loved the values on RB1 types that have been sliding to that 2-3 turn, and it has just been easy for me to look away from Allen where I’d have to take him.

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