Peak Best Ball Season

We are down to the final weeks before the season kicks off, which means we are in peak Best Ball season. Unless you may have already max entered a tournament, this is still prime drafting for everyone who plays Best Ball. The folks that understand #math know in order to draft an efficient portfolio, you need to do so over months of ADP flow and random draft slot assignments.

As you plan out the last few weeks of fun, you should be asking yourself the following questions to hone in on the best players, for you. Yes, there is a difference between a ranking, BPA, ADP value. What YOU need to do is to add value to your portfolio of Best Balls. This is a macro game that you can manage your unknowns as risk allotment in your portfolio of gladiators playing chess. Here are some questions going through my head as I wrap up my Best Ball tournament drafts.

You are managing a large portfolio of long/short exposures to players you are above or below consensus on in conjunction to their price (ADP).

  • Assuming a Best Ball tournament, am I competing with teams that drafted in May?
  • If yes, what did their build structure look like?
  • How have ADPs migrated for individual players, and also at a positional level?
  • What’s the exact date the tournament started?
  • Who am I over/underweight on that I would like to alter. Or what pace do I need to keep my % constant?
  • How have I neutralized injury news? Meaning if I have 50% of my Ekeler teams paired with an injured Cam Akers, how are you attacking Austin Ekeler? Given the shift in probabilities and desired ownership? At what rate, how much more Austin Ekeler do I need to draft, at what rate, to give me the actual exposure I desire?

Example of Cam Akers Injury

Let’s wrap the above questions into an example. Darrell Henderson’s ADP on Underdog. Now I don’t know the exact formula they use to calculate their ADP, but UD did confirm for me they share the same ADP for similar contest structures. If it’s calculating a fixed sample of drafts, say the last 100 drafts, then activity would be important to know. Puppy 2 drafts seemingly on the minute, and give us a rich sample of data. We have to understand the ADP converges then on other contests. All 18 round NFL Best Ball leagues on UD have a mixed ADP. Now let’s get weird on Darrell Henderson’s known ADP based on the above.

Darrell Henderson’s ADP is the same on every 18 round Underdog contest, but we know in reality, each tournament needs its own ADP and ranking, because of the shifts in risk in everyone’s portfolio vs. demand for each player. If a tournament started today, there would be no Cam Akers. No Cam Akers, you never have the explosion in demand to buy Darrell Henderson. The risk over the summer needs 3 buckets:

  1. With Cam Akers only healthy. Tournament fills while Akers still fine.
  2. Akers gets hurt before tournament fills, we have a mix.
  3. Akers injury happens before tournament starts. No Akers is drafted.

Buy Price on Henderson

This means your buy price on Henderson differs with shifts in demand for each tournament. In Option B, the example of drafts occurring both before and after Henderson. Have I really obtained value drafting Henderson in a tournament, when other squads obtained him 10 rounds cheaper, pre-Akers injury? This means, Henderson’s ADP is an enigma. His ADP should be unique to each tournament based on the above, however we receive a blended ADP on Underdog. Remember, Henderson has 100% bidirectional exposure. He is always drafted in an 18 round format. You either have positive, or negative exposure to Henderson, it all will net out on an exposure of risk. 10% owned, 90% short. 0% owned, 100% short. 50% owned, 50% short. If a player spikes in ADP like Henderson that was not drafted earlier in the season, then we flip that script on its head.

Henderson/Akers is a unique example, but you still need to evaluate your teams after the draft as you map out your ending exposure goals before Week 1. There is a point to looking at your teams after you drafted. Yes, our individual completed Best Ball teams are set in stone. Who wins the league cannot be altered, and we can’t change anything midseason with a waiver. However, examining your teams after the fact matters from a holistic portfolio view that can assist building future unique teams to maximize your exposure goals.

Other Risks to Consider

Cole Beasley for example has risk built in, he has talked about not playing this year due to his protest of COVID-19 protocols. If I somehow have structured my builds with 35% of my Bryan Edwards exposure attached to my Cole Beasley, I need to be cognizant this effects Bryan Edwards exposed teams. Exposures are a 2D examination of our builds, we need to know the ADP we bought them at, and if they are tied together on the same individual team.

ADPs this time of year typically narrow and mature, but we can still capitalize on others mistakes. See below for players I am still buying, based on ADP.

Aaron Jones  

The ADP of Aaron Jones was premium for the taking with the volatility in Green Bay over the last 5 months. Aaron Jones sits in my favorite CASHMEOUTSIDEHOWBOUTDAT zone. We have a clear runway for an RB1, with the same ADP as a discounted Aaron Jones.  Let’s recap:

-Jamaal Williams goes to Detroit.

-Packers don’t draft an RB until round 7, but spend two earlier picks on OL.

We then see the dip in ADP with Aaron Rodgers potentially not returning.

-Aaron Rodgers returns for one more season.

The aggressive Aaron Jones buyers after July 27 took advantage of a hesitant market. We still see him being drafted at the same ADP as dip during Aaron Rodgers drama. Aaron Jones is a do everything machine. 2020s #4th in Fantasy Points per game and rushing yards, as well as #6th in the coveted target share. He was my overall RB5 going into 2021, and it’s a laughable steal in the prolific offense, that you can still acquire him in the 2nd round. Aaron Jones has an even better situation in 2021, then he had in 2020. Draft him with confidence, the market is scared.

Marquez Callaway

The leagues cheapest potential WR1 on his team is a difficult one for gamers to absorb. His ADP has been tepid, but rising. Thomas news was late July, and we should be attacking Callaway with confidence. Tre`Quan Smith did flash, but did not perform as expected when called upon to be the alpha. His injury has helped Callaway see a spike in ADP, but the massive volatility we see in Callaway’s ADP has my attention.

This is not a Russell Gage scenario of a tight, corrected ADP. This is still buying into ambiguity, and the ADP shows this. Marquez Callaway has the most volatile ADP for any WR, a standard deviation of 48! Michael Thomas situation is getting worse, Tre`Quan is banged up, and nothing excites me about the profiles of Deonte Harris and LiL`Jordan Humprey. The path to targets at the cheap assists Robust RB drafters (me). Think 2020 Cole Beasley. Even if Jameis plays half the snaps, and Callaway is listed as the defacto #1, he’s worth his ~200 ADP when he falls.

Dalton Schultz

– Dalton Schultz is not a hedge, he is what we want in a TE3. Upside. Do not think of your TE as a snoozer 6-point plug. That isn’t helping anything, and we need to not waste a pick, ever. It’s opportunity cost you just gave up to a Rookie QB, a team’s WR3, a stack you have with one of your QB. His ADP currently flirts with an injured and extinct OJ Howard and the corpse of Ian Thomas, with a lower volatility to Partham and Hayden Hurst. His ADP is quiet, and bankable to achieve, when you want.

You can wait on him and acquire late WR dart throws, because people aren’t reaching for him. Dalton Schultz has a chance to repeat last year’s involvement of the leagues #3 Snap Share, on the #1 ranked team for Pass Plays per game, at his current free price of ADP ~250. Blake Jarwin is less than a year removed from a serious ACL injury, and Amari Cooper is not 100%. This offense could absolutely rip, and you want pieces here. Maybe Daks ADOT drops with the shoulder hindering him as of late, and he targets Dalton Schultz. It’s a low probability play, but there is upside here. Dalton Schultz can be 2020 Jimmy Graham. You wouldn’t think of Graham as a typical Best Ball winner in 2020, but his free cost (ADP) combined with his earnings (points) was a benefit at a 13.1% Win Rate.

Not only to your TE slot, but more importantly an edge at opportunity cost, you were able to grab WR/RB/QB with that prime draft capital and get Jimmy Graham for a few Shekels. That, in addition to production, is the 1-2 punch that is another edge. Another probability booster. Moneymaker. We call those Win Rate helpers, they make you money. We like those. Go win your league.  

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Image Credit: Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports