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Draft Strategy

My WR Shares in Early Underdog Best-Ball Drafts

By Matt Schauf 11:45am EDT 4/12/22


Ask someone to name a WR they’re making sure to grab in every draft, and they’ll probably name an early-round guy.

That’s wrong. And if you draft that way, you decrease your chances of landing this year’s Stefon Diggs or Cooper Kupp.

You should certainly just get your guy if you’re only drafting a team or 2. But overconfidence in your preferences across more drafts can leave you missing out on the player who just has everything break right for him – or holding too much of the guy who gets hurt in August.

So among the 108 different wideouts I drafted at least once in the early Underdog Big Board tournament, you’ll find very late picks the most common. You’ll also find shares of 17 different rookies at this position. Which of them did I land on most?

Quick format recap:

– Half-PPR scoring
– 20-round drafts
– Large-field tournament with 14-week regular season then 3 one-week playoff rounds
– Lineup:

QB
RB
RB
WR
WR
WR
TE
FLEX

These shares are based on 46 drafts (45 tourney entries + 1 $3 12-team draft). My primary roster build included 9 WRs, with a few that stopped at 8 or went to 10.

(You can also find my QB shares, RB shares and TE shares from the same drafts.)

Now for the wideouts …

Terrace Marshall, Panthers – 26.1% (12 of 46 teams)
Zay Jones, Jaguars – 23.9%
Allen Robinson, Rams – 21.7%
James Washington, Cowboys – 19.6%
Parris Campbell, Colts – 19.6%
Skyy Moore, ??? – 19.6%
Curtis Samuel, Commanders – 19.6%
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – 19.6%
DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals – 19.6%
Kenny Golladay, Giants – 19.6%
Brandin Cooks, Texans – 19.6%

You love Terrace Marshall, huh? No. Most likely, he’ll turn in another lackluster season. But what if he delivers on the talent that made him a 2nd-round NFL Draft pick and buzzy dynasty rookie? What if Robby Anderson or D.J. Moore goes down, supplying extra opportunity? Marshall opened draft season well into the 80s at WR, and he has only dropped from there. (The current Underdog tournament finds him at 108 in WR ADP.)

If he just turns out to be J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, I’m certainly not dooming my chances by spending 18th-, 19th- or 20th-round selections on him.

Zay Jones opened draft season in the same range (and might have actually been behind Marshall early). For some reason, his ADP has gone later since he signed a 3-year deal with the Jags that includes $14 million guaranteed.

Last season found Jones averaging 5.4 catches and 53.8 yards per game from Week 12 through the playoffs. So he began as a “let’s see what happens pick” for me. Regardless of the landing spot, I think he’s more attractive after the financial commitment in free agency.

Jacksonville – to me – looks like an offense that will spread targets around rather than 1 with a dominant lead guy. And it certainly didn’t hurt Jones to land with a QB that has been my most drafted so far. So I’ll go right on collecting Jones shares.

Allen Robinson was easier to mix in before he signed in free agency. (Keep in mind that most of these picks took place before the free-agent market sorted out landing spots.) He remains fine value wise at WR27 right now on Underdog, though.

James Washington was a common last-round pick for me ahead of free agency. Having him land in Dallas feels like a win, as Michael Gallup’s ACL recovery and the departures of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson increase the potential opportunity.

Parris Campbell was similarly a Round-19 or -20 option, whom HC Frank Reich has talked up in previous offseasons. Kenny Golladay, Brandin Cooks and Curtis Samuel have all been going at low-risk, high-reward levels throughout early best-ball season.

DeAndre Hopkins’ ADP has sat much earlier, but Jared and I talked on last week’s podcast about how we each find him undervalued so far. Especially when I started drafts with 2 RBs, Hopkins made for an attractive Round 3 selection. (And he still does.)

The QB uncertainty surrounding Tyler Lockett has pushed him into a value range, though most of my Lockett picks came before Russell Wilson left town. I have no special affinity for him as a best-ball selection.

Skyy Moore, on the other hand, has pretty easily been my favorite rookie to this point. He presents an enticing package of strong college market shares, speed, impressive tape and late-round fantasy draft capital – and he’s projected to go in the 1st half of Round 2 in the NFL Draft.

Robby Anderson, Panthers – 17.4%
Calvin Ridley, Falcons – 17.4%
DeVante Parker, Patriots – 17.4%
Cole Beasley, ??? – 17.4%
Laviska Shenault, Jaguars – 17.4%
Julio Jones, ??? – 17.4%

Calvin Ridley is clearly the mistake in this group. He certainly would have been a solid-to-good bet as a Round 4 (occasionally Round 5) pick had he made it back for this season. And I obviously had no way of knowing he’d get a gambling suspension. But I didn’t factor in enough general risk given his 2021 situation.

Robby Anderson – like teammate Marshall – has spent all of early draft season going very late. This is a modest bet that he’s at least a little better than last year. And we still have much more good fantasy performance than bad in his past.

DeVante Parker was an attractive late stack with Tua Tagovailoa before Miami added Tyreek Hill and then sent Parker to the Pats. Laviska Shenault similarly looked more intriguing before Jacksonville reloaded in free agency.

Michael Thomas, Saints – 15.2%
Adam Thielen, Vikings – 15.2%
D.J. Chark, Lions – 15.2%
Corey Davis, Jets – 15.2%
Cooper Kupp, Rams – 13.0%
Chris Olave, ??? – 13.0%
Michael Pittman, Colts – 13.0%
Jerry Jeudy, Broncos – 13.0%
Marquise Brown, Ravens – 13.0%
William Fuller, ??? – 13.0%
Marquez Callaway, Saints – 13.0%
Keenan Allen, Chargers – 13.0%

I like this pack of players overall. I’ve cooled a bit on Corey Davis given the Jets’ pursuit of Tyreek Hill and links to Round 1 WRs. But he’s still going plenty late to be worth some shots. D.J. Chark could have landed in a better spot, but he got enough money to be interesting from a target-share standpoint. Jerry Jeudy has climbed questionably high (WR17 in current Underdog drafting) but opened draft season much lower – in the 30s among WRs.

William Fuller – unless he just doesn’t get signed – is a terrific player to take shots on right now. He’s going in the 19th round (WR69) of FFPC best-ball drafting and has showed us his spike-week upside.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chiefs – 10.9%
Marvin Jones, Jaguars – 10.9%
Tyreek Hill, Dolphins – 10.9%
A.J. Brown, Titans – 10.9%
Anthony Schwartz, Browns – 10.9%
Cedrick Wilson, Dolphins – 10.9%
Mike Williams, Chargers – 10.9%
Christian Watson, ??? – 10.9%
Stefon Diggs, Bills – 10.9%
Bryan Edwards, Raiders – 10.9%
Drake London, ??? – 10.9%
Jalen Tolbert, ??? – 10.9%
Wan’Dale Robinson, ??? – 10.9%

Kudos if you got some JuJu Smith-Schuster back when he was going in the 40s among wideouts. He’s currently WR27 in FFPC best-ball drafting, and similarly positioned elsewhere.

Tyreek Hill looked good as a late-Round 1 option before leaving Kansas City. He’ll need to reach Round 3 before I’m interested now.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Chiefs – 8.7%
Justyn Ross, ??? – 8.7%
Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals – 8.7%
Jakobi Meyers, Patriots – 8.7%
Robert Woods, Titans – 8.7%
Nelson Agholor, Patriots – 8.7%
Jarvis Landry, ??? – 6.5%
Michael Gallup, Cowboys – 6.5%
George Pickens, ??? – 6.5%
Darnell Mooney, Bears – 6.5%
Christian Kirk, Jaguars – 6.5%
Mike Evans, Buccaneers – 6.5%
A.J. Green, Cardinals – 6.5%
Calvin Austin, ??? – 6.5%
K.J. Osborn, Vikings – 6.5%
David Bell, ??? – 6.5%
Quez Watkins, Eagles – 6.5%
Russell Gage, Buccaneers – 6.5%
Justin Jefferson, Vikings – 6.5%
Jahan Dotson, ??? – 6.5%
Alec Pierce, ??? – 6.5%

I thought Marquez Valdes-Scantling was trending toward not getting the kind of contract he was hoping for. Now that he has landed in K.C., I wish I had taken more of him. Of course, most of this drafting also occurred before Green Bay traded away Davante Adams, so it was tough to see the ultimate upside path for MVS. Ultimately, I’m not too regretful over this one.

Why A.J. Green at all? A couple of late stacking shots with Kyler Murray in case Arizona re-signed him. I’m not currently interested.

Justyn Ross is another player I’ve backed off some. He’s going late enough that the risk is low, but his recent injury history also doesn’t seem to portend quick production in the NFL.

Bo Melton, ??? – 4.3%
Kadarius Toney, Giants – 4.3%
Terry McLaurin, Commanders – 4.3%
John Metchie, ??? – 4.3%
CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys – 4.3%
Odell Beckham, ??? – 4.3%
Rondale Moore, Cardinals – 4.3%
Courtland Sutton, Broncos – 4.3%
D.J. Moore, Panthers – 4.3%
Olamide Zaccheaus, Falcons – 4.3%
Treylon Burks, ??? – 4.3%
DeVonta Smith, Eagles – 4.3%
Chase Claypool, Steelers – 4.3%
Amari Cooper, Browns – 4.3%
Darius Slayton, Giants – 4.3%
Dyami Brown, Commanders – 4.3%
Tyler Johnson, Buccaneers – 4.3%
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers – 4.3%
Joshua Palmer, Chargers – 4.3%
D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks – 2.2%
Allen Lazard, Packers – 2.2%
Khalil Shakir, ??? – 2.2%
Sterling Shepard, Giants – 2.2%
Antoine Wesley, Cardinals – 2.2%
D’Wayne Eskridge, Seahawks – 2.2%
Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins – 2.2%
Devin Duvernay, Ravens – 2.2%
Van Jefferson, Rams – 2.2%
Rashod Bateman, Ravens – 2.2%
Byron Pringle, Bears – 2.2%
Tre’Quan Smith, Saints – 2.2%
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Titans – 2.2%
Sammy Watkins, ??? – 2.2%
Isaiah McKenzie, Bills – 2.2%
Tim Patrick, Broncos – 2.2%
Davante Adams, Raiders – 2.2%
Nico Collins, Texans – 2.2%
Anthony Miller, Steelers – 2.2%
Cam Sims, Commanders – 2.2%
Jamison Crowder, Bills – 2.2%
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Browns – 2.2%
Jameson Williams, ??? – 2.2%
Chris Godwin, Buccaneers – 2.2%
Elijah Moore, Jets – 2.2%
Tee Higgins, Bengals – 2.2%

This final swath contains a fair number of players I’m fading vs. consensus – but also some “1%” shots to take on tournament rosters.

These are the names from that final section I’d consider relative fades (in no particular order) …

Tee Higgins
Elijah Moore
Chris Godwin
Jaylen Waddle
D.K. Metcalf
Brandon Aiyuk
Courtland Sutton
Amari Cooper
CeeDee Lamb
D.J. Moore
Terry McLaurin
Treylon Burks
Jameson Williams

Elijah Moore, Waddle, Metcalf and Lamb were just going too early for me. I’m more interested in Lamb now but am still not going crazy over him in Round 2. Waddle and Metcalf have slid in ADP and now look a bit less fade-worthy.

Higgins seems appropriately priced among WRs but often fell into a range where I was favoring an RB or DeAndre Hopkins. Keenan Allen has sat in a similar range as well. D.J. Moore is a similar case, though he also lacks the TD ceiling of some surrounding players – which matters more in this half-PPR format.

McLaurin has been going in the same range as well. Frankly, I’d probably have a few more shares of each of these guys if I had backed off Calvin Ridley in that neighborhood.

Godwin is tough to like coming off the end-of-year ACL tear while still going inside WR2 territory. Cooper’s tenuous situation made him iffy inside the top 4 rounds, and I don’t know that his outlook improved with the trades (especially before we know whether/when Deshaun Watson will be suspended).

Sutton, I’m simply hesitant to believe in after he disappeared in Jerry Jeudy games last year.

Aiyuk looks fine where he’s going outside the top 40 WRs in ADP now but didn’t intrigue me as a WR3 in what should be Year 1 of the Trey Lance Era (and a still run-leaning scheme).

Burks opened best-ball season going well ahead of the other projected 1st-round wideouts, which felt unbalanced at the time. I feel even better about that reaction now that Burks has come down to meet classmates Garrett Wilson, Drake London and Chris Olave in ADP.

Jameson Williams, on the other hand, will remain someone I’m relatively low on for 2022 drafting. It’s difficult enough for a rookie wideout to deliver truly relevant fantasy numbers. When that guy has to do so coming off a January ACL tear and is still going in range of multiple upside candidates (Fuller, for example), I’d just rather bet against him for redraft.

Perhaps you noticed Deebo Samuel's name missing completely. I've mentioned across multiple podcasts now why I'm totally out on him at current 2022 cost.

Finally, let’s zero in on a few end-of-draft darts that could be low-owned, spike-week differentiators.

Olamide Zacchaeus: We’re still waiting to see who besides Kyle Pitts will catch any passes in Atlanta this year. Bonus for him being easy to stack with end-of-draft Marcus Mariota.

Darius Slayton, Antoine Wesley, Devin Duvernay, Cam Sims: Plenty of entries will have the more obvious pass-catchers stacked with these QBs. That means just 1 late-season spike week from, say, Wesley in a Murray-Hopkins lineup could be the difference between advancing/winning.

Anthony Miller: I’m hesitant to take more than a couple of shots on the only Pittsburgh wideout who has already played with Mitchell Trubisky. But you can bet I’m watching for any signal that he has a shot to win the slot job.

Bo Melton: Maybe he winds up a forgettable 5th-round pick, but there also seems to be some sleeper potential. He delivered strong final-season market shares: 33.7% receptions, 39.3% yards and 50% receiving TDs. He also garnered 25 career carries and delivered some kick-return value over the past 2 years (25.9 yards per return, 1 TD).

Melton then tested great at the combine, rocking an 80th-percentile speed score and a 9.23 (on a 0-10 scale) Relative Athletic Score. Throw in a strong dominator rating and average breakout age (20), and you get Tyler Lockett as PlayerProfiler’s top comp. I’m intrigued.

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