You’re almost out of time to get your entries into Underdog’s Best Ball Mania III and chase that $2 million top prize.
As I write this, that field of 451,200 teams is 94.5% full. And for the rest of this article, we’re going to focus on how to differentiate your lineup in such an enormous field.
Sure, entry volume is important, so that you can spread player exposures and lineup builds around some. And landing a few key sleepers who dramatically outperform their draft positions is always central to winning a fantasy football league.
But when we’re chasing the money at the top of a field that matches the population of Miami, there’s only so much differentiating you can do through the early rounds of your draft.
All those guys you take in rounds 1-16 are also getting picked in every other Best Ball Mania draft. That’s why you should take some time to scroll through the barely drafted names late in your large-field fantasy football draft.
Those players aren’t finding a home in every draft. So if they bust through for even a couple of big outings – especially come playoff time – your advantage will be supercharged.
With 216 selections in an 18-round Best Ball Mania draft, I’m only looking at players here with an ADP of 215+ in 1-QB Underdog drafts.
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Montgomery sustained an ankle injury in the preseason finale. It’s not yet clear whether he’ll be ready for Week 1, but that uncertainty is actually a good sign.
It’s no big deal if Montgomery misses a game. Before the injury, he was working in a straight rotation with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson – alternating starter series with a pair of backs going in rounds 9 and 7, respectively.
One thing we’ve learned is that we can bet on the Patriots backfield frustrating us with its week-to-week usage. Best-ball drafting obviously mitigates that some, but Montgomery has remained largely forgotten.
We want pieces of this backfield, which has ranked among the top 9 in collective PPR points every year since 2015. That included top-3 finishes 4 of the past 5 years.
We’re all excited about the upside of Travis Etienne. James Robinson has rebounded more quickly than anticipated from his December Achilles’ tear. Those 2 make it easy to forget about the 3rd member of this backfield.
It’s great for Robinson that he’ll be able to play right away. But the guy is still less than a year beyond a very serious injury. He and Etienne land in just the “medium risk” category in our Injury Guide risk projections. Even that, though, gives each guy more than a 70% chance of missing some time this year.
If either Robinson or Etienne goes down at any point, then Conner’s in for a big role boost in an offense with some upside under new leadership.
Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News came on our podcast back in the 1st half of August and called Brown the favorite to open the regular season as Dallas’ #2 wideout, with Michael Gallup still working back from his ACL tear.
The preseason aligned with that: Brown didn’t play a single snap, just like CeeDee Lamb, Dak Prescott, Dalton Schultz, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. (And Gallup, of course.) Rookie WR Jalen Tolbert played 102 snaps, 2nd most among Dallas wideouts.
Yet drafters still aren’t paying attention. Tolbert is going 63rd among WRs in Underdog drafting, at the 12-13 turn. Brown sits 107th.
Gallup’s anticipated absence to open the year obviously presents the most opportunity. But even when Gallup’s ready, there will be room for a 3rd fantasy-relevant WR – at least from a best-ball standpoint.
If you have a Dak Prescott roster going, make Brown an end-of-draft auto-pick.
Pringle’s quad injury cost him the entire preseason, and it’s not yet clear how soon he’ll get onto the field and into the lineup. But that injury didn’t make the rest of the Chicago WR corps any better.
Behind Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis closed out the preseason as the Bears’ 2nd and 3rd WRs. St. Brown and Pettis have each had multiple NFL seasons to carve out regular roles … and failed to do so. Rookie Velus Jones Jr. only got into 1 preseason contest and doesn’t look ready to open the year with the starters.
As recently as Aug. 25, HC Matt Eberflus said he was anxious to get Pringle back onto the field. He’d likely care a lot less if he weren’t hoping for the Chiefs import to play a significant role.
Even if Pringle starts the year slowly, there’s clearly room for him to emerge as Chicago’s #2 wideout over the course of the season. He’s an easy stash on Justin Fields rosters and correlation with players from the Lions, who the Bears play in Week 17.
If you’re generally taking 3 TEs on your BBM3 rosters, then there are lots of ways to build out. The best thing about an end-of-draft option is that he can fit any build.
Griffin closed out the preseason catching 1 of Fields’ 3 TD passes in the finale. He nearly matched Cole Kmet’s snaps (15-14) in that contest, though Kmet remained the clear leader in routes run (9-4).
The weakness of that Bears WR corps also helps the weekly outlook for Griffin, making 2-TE sets even more attractive for the offense. The fact that he’ll have any role to open the year is enough to put Griffin into view, and a Kmet injury would obviously vault his ceiling.
Griffin has been such a forgotten entity in best-ball drafts that he doesn’t even carry an Underdog ADP.
Dissly is similarly not getting drafted at all on Underdog, even though his path to mild relevance is even clearer than Griffin’s.
What do we hate most about Noah Fant’s outlook right now? It’s not the weakness at QB. The biggest problem is that Seattle insists on playing its other TEs too much. Fant ran a route on just 54% of Seahawks pass plays this preseason.
That should obviously make you wary of Fant, and his sinking ADP has matched that. But it should also put Dissly on your radar as a barely owned player capable of popping in a TD in any given week.
Seattle shockingly guaranteed Dissly about $16 million on a 3-year contract this offseason that averages $8 million per year. Sure, they like him primarily for his blocking. But Dissly still ran the 5th most pass routes among all Seahawks last season.
He tallied just 26 targets for the year and isn’t a good bet for production. But that, of course, is why no one’s drafting him at all. Stick Dissly behind 2 good TEs on a team or 2 and then cross your fingers for a Week 17 TD against the Jets.
No one’s as excited about Evan Engram’s upside vs. draft cost this year as I am. But he does top our TE board for injury probability. Only 2 players at the position carry a higher projection in the games-missed category.
If that risk is keeping you from wanting any shares of Engram, then it should also be pushing you toward taking some late shots on Arnold.
Just like Engram, this veteran TE is much more wideout than traditional inline plugger. Arnold immediately mixed in as 1 of Jacksonville’s top target-earners after arriving via trade in Week 4.
Engram’s big 1-year pact in free agency blocks Arnold from repeating that. But only an Engram injury stands between Arnold and what could be an even more attractive role with Trevor Lawrence a year wiser and HC Doug Pederson bringing an actual NFL system (both on and off the field).
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