My rankings are specifically designed for Best Ball Mania III, meaning there's more value in spiked week players, players with paths to elite ceilings, and they align with roster construction research. ADPs are from May 6th, 2022. "2021 Best Ball" rankings were derived here and are essentially fantasy points over replacement specifically for half PPR.
You can upload these rankings by going to the "Rankings" tab on UnderdogFantasy.com, clicking the CSV upload button on the table below, changing "ID" to "id" on the header inside the downloadable CSV, and dragging this saved CSV onto the Ranking tab.
When using my (or whoever's rankings), don't reach on players even though they are ranked higher than ADP. It's important (and fun) to have player takes, but we have to get "our guys" at good prices. For example, Mike Williams is one of my guys, but I'm not drafting him in Round 3 just because I have him ranked 35th overall. I'm only drafting him in Round 4 because his ADP is 48th overall.
In general, you lose about 40 points throughout the regular season every time you draft a player one round ahead of ADP. That will add up quick, and we'll be toast if so. On the flip side, teams scored about 10 points more than average every time they selected a player after ADP, so scoop values when they fall into our laps.
A common misconception is that drafting players ahead of ADP doesn't matter late in drafts. I don't buy it. What's the point? If we like a Round 17 player in Round 13, why not just draft him in Round 16/17 when we know he's most likely going to be there? If we draft him in Round 13, we're essentially swapping a Round 13 consensus player with a Round 17 consensus player. That makes no sense. ADPs matter throughout the draft because we'll be competing with teams that have that player at a much cheaper price, even if our player take was correct.
I think QBs Are Undervalued on Underdog Fantasy because they're drafted well after where they finish in fantasy points over replacement and they provide the most stackable upside for the best ball playoffs. We've also (mostly) priced in the rushing QB cheat code now, so it's harder to find true breakout QBs, meaning the late-round QB strategy is dying.
Specifically for this year, I think there are about 15 QBs who fit this stackable upside mold, and I want two of them most of the time. Going Josh Allen (Round 2) and Justin Herbert (Round 4) is excessive according to my research, but it's totally fine to go Kyler Murray (Round 5) and Matthew Stafford (Round 8) if we're stopping at two QBs. If we only grabbed Russell Wilson (Round 7) among the top-15 QBs, then it's time to pivot to a three QB build. Both two- and three-QB builds work when done properly. See the graph below.
For the most part, it's bad to draft a QB when we haven't drafted one of his top pass-catchers beforehand. If we draft Kirk Cousins without Justin Jefferson, then how are we going to beat other Cousins teams in the fantasy finals when we're missing his highest-producing receiver? More than any other position by far, we should be putting QBs on the Do Not Draft List as the draft is going on. If we didn't draft Ja'Marr Chase or Tee Higgins early, then we're not drafting Joe Burrow in huge best ball tournaments.
My initial When To Draft RBs on Underdog Fantasy primer shows that Zero RB (zero RBs early), Hero RB (one RB early), Superhero RB (two RBs early), and Robust RB (three RBs early) are viable in half PPR best ball tournaments, but that knowing when to use them and more importantly how to use them is the key.
Zero RB has the most to work on. The narrative has been that "just because we're drafting lots of early WRs doesn't mean we should stop drafting WRs". And well, that is some of the worst advice out there. The data very clearly show that having too many WRs in Zero RB builds is punting money away. Instead of having 8-10 WRs on a Zero RB build, go with 6-7 and save more dart throws for the positions we've punted off early on. My full column on this is here, and a lot of it can be applied to Hero RB, too.
Superhero RB is by far my favorite build. Always has been. Always will be (probably). The strategy is to draft two RBs within the first three rounds who have top-eight upside and hope they stay healthy. If they do, it's very hard to compete with, especially if paired with three upside RBs (mostly pure handcuffs) in the double digit rounds. Look at the two charts posted below and track the RB2 line. Getting that RB2 early and sticking with only two until about Round 10-12 has been very profitable.
Robust RB works just fine in half PPR best ball, but I think it has a lower ceiling than Superhero RB because the flex is filled earlier than it is in other builds. That Robust RB team won't benefit from an Alexander Mattison breakout as much as it would in a Hero RB build. That Robust RB team won't benefit from a Round 8 WR breakout as much as it would in a Superhero RB build where the flex is more up for grabs. When the values early on are all RBs, then it's fine to start RB-RB-RB, but it's not something I'm aiming for and when it happens I'm only drafting four RBs.
For this year, I'm in agreement with the consensus top-five RBs right now, but I seriously think RB11-15 in ADP is better than RB6-10 not even including the discount. Leonard Fournette and James Conner stick out to me as obvious targets, enough so for me to prioritize WRs early in Round 1 knowing WR/RB/RB starts look the best right now.
The RB dead zone looks the same as usual, and I think the sweet spot of WRs is in that WR17-40 range this year, so the middle rounds should be filled with WRs and QBs, not RBs. The dead zone RBs that I have some interest in are David Montgomery, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Kenneth Walker.
In the double digit rounds, it's insurance > "usable week pass catchers" (whomst never actually contribute to ceiling teams in half PPR best ball). If we're relying on 12-point weeks from Devin Singletary, then we're probably not competing for the top-heavy tournament prizes. Alexander Mattison > Michael Carter. Rachaad White > Rhamondre Stevenson. Khalil Herbert > Raheem Mostert. The list goes on an on. Play for ceilings.
When it comes to strategy, receiver is the least interesting position in best ball. It's really a position that comes down to player and team evaluations, so subscribe to The Underdog Football Show to hear Josh Norris' and I's takes all summer long.
In terms of strategy, Zero WR doesn't work (not that anyone is doing so). Teams that didn't have a WR through Round 4 were absolutely dusted in each of the last two seasons. As is the consensus, having 1-3 WRs through Round 4 is best. If you want to go crazy with four straight WRs, then please stop at 6-7 WRs in total.
As outlined When To Draft WRs On Underdog Fantasy, my general philosophy is to have four WRs through Round 8. It's easy to do in every build, so there's not a good excuse to not hit this mark. Beyond that, having 4-6 WRs into the early teen rounds is highly recommended. Having 7 WRs doesn't become optimal until about Round 13 (see the graphs below), yet I see this happen over and over and over and over again. My biggest advice is to find 6 WRs that we feel good about and actually bank on them producing.
For this year in particular, I think the low-end WR1s and high-end WR2s are pretty bad relative to other seasons largely because a chunk of them changed teams and landed in worse situations. That makes Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, and Ja'Marr Chase the clear consensus top-three. Being overexposed to them to take advantage of WR/RB/RB starts is my favorite thing right now. Let's call it Superhero WR.
The strength of the position is in the 40s to 90s, aka the RB Dead Zone. It's not just young players either. Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, Adam Thielen, and other veterans are being overlooked because they aren't the shiny new object, yet we wouldn't bat an eye if they were top-20 options once again.
The mid-to-later rounds are saved for rounding out stacks -- I personally love QB1-WR1-WR3 stacks -- and finding the last-remaining two-receiver set starters. DeVante Parker, Robby Anderson, Alec Pierce, and Byron Pringle stand out as examples of ideal WR7s in drafts.
Only four TEs finished inside the top-70 in Better In Best Ball Points last year. It's simply hard for a position that doesn't score many points in general to be true difference makers, so tight ends generally don't matter.
For best ball in particular, I like winning the position with double-digit round depth rather than banking on one tight end. The reason for this is touchdown variance. Because this position adds yards the least, it's the position that relies most on receiving touchdowns -- the most volatile fantasy stat in the game. Take advantage of that volatility by having 3-4 late-round TEs. Ping pong those touchdown games with little invested into the position.
With that said, all tight end strategy is highly, highly, highly predicated on how this year's group projects.
In 2022, I don't see tight ends that project as well as prime Gronk, prime Kelce, prime Kittle, prime Gates, etc. The position at the top just feels weaker with Kelce aging, Waller getting Adams competition, Kittle getting a QB downgrade with more target competition in general, and Pitts playing with an unstable QB group. The exception could be Mark Andrews, who I really want to stack Lamar Jackson with following the Marquise Brown trade.
The mid-round TEs I like best are Dalton Schultz and Dawson Knox, especially in Dak Prescott and Josh Allen stacks. If not them, then it's time to go nuts in the double digit rounds. It's a deeper than normal TE2 group this year, with Hunter Henry, David Njoku, Robert Tonyan, Evan Engram, Gerald Everett, Austin Hooper, and Cameron Brate particularly sticking out. It's such a deep group that I'm actually okay with a TE4 if the first three TEs were drafted in Round 14 or later.