The season is far from over, especially in Underdog Fantasy's best ball tournaments where most of the prize money is determined based on Week 17 scoring. But that doesn't stop me from giving an update on fantasy football trends from the first 8 weeks of action. All referenced average draft position (ADP) will be from Underdog Fantasy's Best Ball Mania III.
And the primary metric I'll be referencing today is Better In Best Ball Points - aka half PPR points over weekly replacement. It only counts the total points above the QB12, RB24, WR36, TE12, and FLEX12 replacement. For example, if Christian McCaffrey scores 22.2 half PPR points in Week 3 when the flex replacement is at 8.6 half PPR points, then he gets 13.6 Better In Best Ball Points. If McCaffrey scores 7.4 half PPR points in Week 4, then he gets 0.0 Better In Best Ball Points. Get it? Good.
I've only included players who were drafted in at least 1% of BBMIII drafts.
Hayden Winks ... This is as good as I can sum up the fantasy football season to date:
Josh Jacobs ... Through 8 weeks, Jacobs is 7th in Better In Best Ball Points despite having an ADP of 71.3 overall. Towards the end of BBMIII, he was often going well after that due to Hall Of Fame playing time oddities. Jacobs is a complete outlier in this Round 6-8 range and fits in Zero, Hero, and Robust RB builds.
Rhamondre Stevenson ... He's the only player selected after 72nd overall on average to have more than 50.0 Better In Best Ball Points (56.6). Stevenson has boomed partially due to a Damien Harris hamstring injury, but it's possible he would've been a good pick by earning a bigger piece of the pie due to his on-field play. Put simply, he's been a top-6 RB on tape this year.
Jamaal Williams ... He's the only player with over 45.0 Better In Best Ball Points who was drafted after 100th overall (167.5 in ADP). More importantly, Jamaal has the best dance moves in the NFL:
Taysom Hill ... Eligible as a TE on Underdog Fantasy, Taysom is the TE4 overall in Better In Best Ball Points despite being a Round 17 or Round 18 pick. Were you Taysom Pilled this offseason???
Elite QB ... There was a consensus top-6 "Elite QBs" and most of them are smashing; Josh Allen (10th in Better In Best Ball Points vs. 29th in ADP), Jalen Hurts (17th vs. 61st), Lamar Jackson (19th vs. 48th), and Patrick Mahomes (23rd vs. 47th). In fact, there is only one player (Jaylen Waddle) to have more Better In Best Ball Points than any of these 4 QBs who was drafted between Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts. More importantly, there has only been one competitor to the Elite QBs -- Tua Tagovailoa.
6-7 RBs ... I think this is a good year for "Most strategies can work in half PPR best ball". It's very clear from the chart above that the best picks in the Round 7-14 range have been RBs. In fact, 9-of-12 players in this range with at least 35.0 Better In Best Ball Points have been RBs with the exceptions being Joe Burrow, Amari Cooper, and Tyler Lockett. This is a strong argument for Zero RB and Hero RB certainly, but it's difficult for me to say Zero RB has been better than Hero RB (or even Super-Hero RB) when 5-of-9 players with over 71.8 Better In Best Ball Points were Rounds 1-3 RBs, including 3 of the top-4. That's why I'm currently concluding that it was just smart to devote more roster spots to RBs in general. I wrote about the topic this offseason below:
"Just draft young players." ... There have been 10 players who were drafted by Round 10 and who have fewer than 1.0 Better In Best Ball Points through 8 weeks. 7 of them have been rookies or sophomores: Eli Mitchell (hurt), Elijah Moore (bust), Trey Lance (hurt), Kadarius Toney (hurt and bust), Skyy Moore (bust), Treylon Burks (hurt and bust), James Cook (bust). And this list doesn't even include Najee Harris or Kyle Pitts. It used to be as simple as just draft young players, but there has been so much research on this trend that it's now very much accounted for in ADP. It'll be harder than ever to sneak by a young stud when everyone is looking for them. And unfortunately, that will leave many young players in the bust category moving forward.
Kenneth Walker ... If you watched just 60 seconds of a highlight tape of him in college, you would've been in love. If you watched his college all-22 and saw his ADP sitting at 108th overall, you would've needed new shorts.
Tua Tagovailoa ... His rookie tape wasn't pretty coming off serious injury while adjusting to NFL speed. This was the industry consensus, and in my opinion, there is a Jimmy G type of system QB still on Tua's 2022 tape, BUT it doesn't matter with this play caller and with these play makers.
Miles Sanders ... He scored 0 TDs on 5.2 expected TDs last year. In 2022, 5 and counting.
Deebo Samuel ... He averaged 18.3 half PPR points per game on just 13.3 expected half PPR points per game last year according to my model. In 2022, Deebo has averaged 12.4 half PPR points on 13.1 expected half PPR points.
Alvin Kamara ... He went from 1) potentially suspended for battery to not suspended for battery, 2) Jameis Winston to checkdown god Andy Dalton, 3) Michael Thomas to no Michael Thomas, 4) Jarvis Landry to no Jarvis Landry, and now 5) Mark Ingram to no Mark Ingram in a span of two months. The best possible teams easily could be those rare Round 4 Alvin Kamara teams.
Elijah Mitchell ... Since suffering a fluke Week 1 injury, we've seen Jeff Wilson put up 11.3, 12.1, 13.4, and 19.7 half PPR point games and have even seen Tevin Coleman pop up for 20.2 half PPR points. Even when Mitchell returns now, he'll have to watch CMC go to the absolute moon.
Jets @ Seahawks ... Geno Smith doubles with a Tyler Conklin and now-suddenly-a-Jet James Robinson. Oh yeah, make sure you don't have Breece Hall, Elijah Moore, or Rashaad Penny on these teams.
Zach Ertz with a Tyler Allgeier bring back ... Davis Mattek was right.
Diontae Johnson ... No comment.
Rachaad White and George Pickens