My 2023 Fantasy Football Strategies Through 50 Drafts

Jul 7th 2023

Hayden Winks

Fantasy football season is in full swing. I've done 50 best ball drafts already, so it's time to peak behind the curtain to see which fantasy football draft strategies I've been using. It's one thing to make a video on strategy. It's another to fully show your ass with every bit of data on your exact exposures and draft strategies you're actually implementing when on the clock for real life US dollars.

Of course, I'm drafting on Underdog Fantasy only because it's the best place to draft in the world's history. If you'd like to join me, use promo code UNDERBLOG to match your first deposit up to $100. If you'd like to use a sweet player exposure tool, use Michael Dubner's like I did to build this column out.

Closing Line ADP Value

I want to be a player takes guy because I think I have an edge over the market on it, but at the same time, I don't want to reach on my guys. If I can draft players at cost, then I'll compete against the market straight up without losing my player take edge. Plus, there's a chance I can get my guys after ADP because many people are drafting near ADPs anyways.

It's a good sign that I'm already getting 2% of closing line value on the 23 players that I've drafted 20% of so far. That means I'm taking stances, but after I made these draft picks, these players are now getting drafted earlier. If I was drafting these players ahead of ADP at the time of my draft, my edge would be smaller. Make sure you aren't always reaching on the players you're very exposed to.

Stacking Exposures

96% of my best ball QBs have a teammate on that same team. Most of them just have 1-2 QB teammates, but there are some elite offenses that I will extend it to a full-blown stack with the QB. I've done that the most with the Browns, Bills, Bengals, Chiefs, and Chargers.

Not just including QB-to-teammate stacks, the teams I've drafted the most of straight up are the Browns (6.3% of picks), Texans (5.9%), Bengals (5.4%), Chargers (5.4%), Patriots (4.6%), Rams (4.4%), and Chiefs (4.3%). That's a nice mix of elite and late round stacks. I feel good about these.

As for Week 17, 30% of my QBs have a bring back option. I rarely draft with this in mind because I think player projection, roster construction, and teammate correlation is vastly more important. If all of those are equal, then I consider it I guess. For the most part, I'm naturally letting the very minor bring back correlation come to me.

Top Player Exposures (QB)

  1. Justin Fields (16% drafted rate)

  2. Anthony Richardson (16%)

  3. C.J. Stroud (16%)

  4. Lamar Jackson (14%)

  5. Deshaun Watson (14%)

  6. Matthew Stafford (14%)

  7. Josh Allen (12%)

  8. Joe Burrow (10%)

  9. Justin Herbert (10%)

  10. Jordan Love (10%)

  11. Mac Jones (10%)

  12. Jalen Hurts (8%)

  13. Patrick Mahomes (6%)

  14. Geno Smith (6%)

  15. Russell Wilson (6%)

  16. Kenny Pickett (6%)

  17. Brock Purdy (6%)

I've drafted an "elite QB" defined by a Round 5 QB or earlier on 76% of my teams, when the baseline is just 58%. It's a decent stand for me, and it'll only get stronger as the elite QB prices continue to trend downward. I've wrote about why I'm on these players here:

On the flip side, I've yet to draft a single "Punt QB" team defined by 3 QBs in Round 11 or later. If I don't get the true elites, I tend to drift towards Deshaun Watson or Anthony Richardson for upside purposes, rather than going into a QB2 tier that I believe lacks upside this season. Over the last two seasons, the top-7 QBs in current Underdog Fantasy ADP accounted for 69% of the QB spike weeks defined by 30+ fantasy points.

Because I draft so many elite QBs, I've drafted 2 QBs on 86% of my teams versus 14% with 3 QB. I've yet to draft a 1QB or 4QB build, as it's never been viable on average in all three years of Best Ball Mania.

I feel really uncomfortable with only 8% Hurts and only 6% Mahomes, so that needs to change moving forward. I'd rather be overweight on them rather than even with the field, as both have the potential to be the top scoring fantasy QB of all time this year. That matters extra in Half PPR.

As for my primary fades, I've drafted the current "upside" QB2s (QB12-19) at a combined 32% clip when the baseline is 58%. My specific biggest QB fades are Tua Tagovailoa (2%), Dak Prescott (2%), Jared Goff (2%), Kyler Murray (0%), and Bryce Young (2%). I have play-making or injury concerns with this group.

The last QB note is that I don't have as many player stances here as I do at other positions because I really like to correlate my QBs, while I feel okay with solo mission WRs, RBs, and TEs all the time. For example, I'm not drafting Round 4 Joe Burrow without Ja'Marr Chase or Tee Higgins, while I'm able to draft Round 4 Mike Williams in all builds.

Top Player Exposures (RB)

  1. David Montgomery (34% drafted rate)

  2. Tyler Allgeier (34%)

  3. Elijah Mitchell (28%)

  4. Nick Chubb (26%)

  5. Josh Jacobs (24%)

  6. Saquon Barkley (22%)

  7. Austin Ekeler (20%)

  8. Joe Mixon (20%)

  9. Brian Robinson (20%)

  10. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (20%)

  11. Rashaad Penny (18%)

  12. Chuba Hubbard (18%)

  13. Breece Hall (16%)

  14. Damien Harris (16%)

  15. Devin Singletary (16%)

  16. Rhamondre Stevenson (14%)

  17. Alexander Mattison (14%)

  18. Dameon Pierce (14%)

  19. Jaylen Warren (14%)

  20. Jerome Ford (14%)

  21. Trayveon Williams (10%)

  22. Ezekiel Elliott (10%)

  23. Gus Edwards (10%)

Only 4% of my teams have been "Zero RB" defined by my RB1 in Round 6 or later. I've also done "Modified Anchor RB" defined by my RB1 in Round 3-5 and my RB2 in Round 6 or later just 12% of the time.

In other words, I'm buying the dip on the entire RB market.

I've drafted my RB2 by Round 5 on 80% of my teams and by Round 3 on 50% of my teams. This is a version of my standard Bimodal RB strategy, which seems extra appealing with the low-end RB1 tier dropping a near full round in price. The very latest I've drafted my RB2 is Round 10 (and I've only done that once) because it has been optimal on average to have 3-5 RBs through Round 10 in Best Ball Mania.

I've drafted my RB3 in Rounds 6-10 on 76% of my teams. That's a sweet spot based on historical data, especially with these decreased prices. I've drafted my RB3 before Round 6 just 10% of the time, however. There's a diminishing returns aspect of roster construction that I want to respect, even if the RB projections are better than the WR projections at most parts of the draft. For this same reason, my RB4 has been drafted before Round 8 on just 10% of drafts.

By the end of drafts, I've drafted 5 RBs the most (52%), followed by 6 RBs (34%). I'll stick with 4 RBs when I've gone full send on the position early without bye week overlap (10%), and if I punt the position early, I do think 7 RB teams are in play (4%).

... I just rarely punt the position early.

As for player takes, I'm primarily drafting players with goal line upside at cost. Half PPR best ball is about touchdowns, so #SizeMatters (sorry if that triggers you). When in doubt, I want my RBs to kick your RBs ass in a fight, and I think I'm good track with that. The deeper we get into drafts, the more comfortable I am on having 20% or more of a player because it's easier for these late-round types to get overlooked by the market. That's why David Montgomery, Tyler Allgeier, and Elijah Mitchell sit at the top of player exposures.

Here are my biggest RB fades so far: Bijan Robinson (2%), Jonathan Taylor (2%), Tony Pollard (2%), Najee Harris (2%), Jahmyr Gibbs (4%), Travis Etienne (4%), Aaron Jones (2%), J.K. Dobbins (0%), D'Andre Swift (0%), Isiah Pacheco (0%), and Rachaad White (2%).

Top Player Exposures (WR)

  1. Tyler Boyd (30%) --> Don't tail. I blame 18% Chase exposure.

  2. Jordan Addison (28%)

  3. Diontae Johnson (24%)

  4. Nico Collins (24%)

  5. Mike Williams (22%)

  6. Rondale Moore (22%)

  7. Chris Godwin (20%)

  8. Elijah Moore (20%)

  9. Ja'Marr Chase (18%)

  10. Michael Thomas (18%)

  11. JuJu Smith-Schuster (18%)

  12. Van Jefferson (18%)

  13. Jerry Jeudy (16%)

  14. Jahan Dotson (16%)

  15. Rashee Rice (16%)

  16. Chase Claypool (16%)

  17. Cooper Kupp (14%)

  18. Calvin Ridley (14%)

  19. Hunter Renfrow (14%)

Just as interesting is the massive stances I'm taking against some top WRs, however. I have literally 0% of CeeDee Lamb, Chris Olave, DeVonta Smith, and Christian Watson in regular best ball tournaments. These are all very fun, young players that I think are good at the game. I just don't like their player projections versus the players around them (usually the upside RBs). To continue the hate, I have very little of Tyreek Hill (2%), Garrett Wilson (4%), Jaylen Waddle (2%), Tee Higgins (2%), and DK Metcalf (4%).

Because my biggest stance of 2023 is against the Round 2/3 WRs, I have to be very in on the Round 4-7 WR range. Most of the WR spike weeks come from the top-36 players in ADPs, and I don't want to miss out on them entirely. I just want to be as price sensitive as possible. Thus far, I have:

  • my WR1 by Round 4 on 100% of my teams,

  • my WR2 by Round 5 on 94% of my teams,

  • my WR3 by Round 6 on 88% of my teams,

  • my WR4 by Round 8 on 86% of my teams.

The difference between the WR avalanche drafters and myself is I like to stop the party early. My WR6 is drafted after Round 10 on 78% of teams, and I've only drafted more than 8 WRs on 8% of teams. This year, I'm relying on the early WR picks I've made more than ever. I don't want to hedge on my early picks in general.

Top Player Exposures (TE)

  1. Luke Musgrave (34% drafted rate)

  2. Dalton Schultz (28%)

  3. Gerald Everett (26%)

  4. Hunter Henry (26%)

  5. Tyler Higbee (22%)

  6. David Njoku (18%)

  7. Jake Ferguson (18%)

  8. Trey McBride (16%)

  9. Tyler Conklin (14%)

  10. Mark Andrews (12%)

  11. Pat Freiermuth (12%)

  12. Juwan Johnson (12%)

  13. Michael Mayer (10%)

This is an absolutely disgusting list ... But I love it. I've only drafted a TE through Round 8 on 18% of my teams versus a 60% baseline. When I've done it, it's been with Andrews paired with Lamar or with naked Kyle Pitts.

I've written about why I'm on late round TE in half PPR best ball here. In short, it's the position with the most random players finishing at the top of the position in a given week. At the same time, it's also the position with the least consistency, so I want more players to take advantage of the volatility. That's led me to a "Punt TE" defined by 3 TEs all after Round 11 on 52% of my teams.

The only other note is that I use my TE2 or TE3 selection to add to my QB correlation often. I draft a lot of Chargers, so I get Everett often. I draft Henry when panicking together a free Patriots stack. I draft Higbee on all these Rams builds. These aren't necessarily TE evaluation takes, but rather bets on their offenses. I'm just hoping these dudes fall into the end zone 6-7 times this year instead of their projected 3-4 TDs. That'd be enough for me.