When To Draft WRs In Fantasy Football

Jul 21st 2021

Hayden Winks

My two biggest takeaways from “When To Draft RBs on Underdog Fantasy” were that 1) half PPR makes more fantasy drafting strategies viable compared to full PPR leagues, and 2) that best ball makes more fantasy drafting strategies work compared to managed re-draft leagues.

The two primary reasons for that are 1) WRs are valued slightly less in half PPR compared to full PPR, and 2) a few of the RBs that are typically found on a re-draft waiver wire after injuries aren’t being drafted on Underdog Fantasy, the GOAT best ball site that only goes 18 rounds deep. Some waiver wire examples from last year were James Robinson, J.D. McKissic, and Mike Davis. In full PPR re-draft, going zero RB is far more viable because you can find the next Robinson, McKissic, or Davis on the wire while stacking your team with stud WRs and an elite TE/QB.

But despite the reasons listed above, zero RB on Underdog is still totally viable … if done properly. The last part of that sentence is what today’s column is about.

When Do We Have Too Many WRs in Best Ball?

Roster construction is massively important in best ball, but I think what roster construction looks like at the end of the draft (2–4–9–3 builds vs. 2–4–10–2 builds vs. 3–5–8–2 builds) is only the very beginning of what the term “roster construction” means.

In 5 years from now, we’ll know exactly how many players at each position are optimal through every round of every draft. The path to getting to 8 WRs vs. 9 WRs vs. 10 WRs is more important than knowing the blanket win rates of having 8 WRs vs. 9 WRs vs. 10 WRs at the end drafts. Using Best Ball Mania I data, we have our first chance of finding out this part of the equation.

The chart above shows how many points a team averaged last year based on how many WRs they had through each round of the draft. When in doubt, I want to be more WR heavy than my opponents (there’s plenty of research to show why this is the case), but there is a point where we’re going too WR heavy in half PPR best ball. Let’s find that exact line now.

WRs Through Round 6:

Teams that drafted either 3, 4, or 5 WRs through Round 6 averaged 1,452 best ball points last year. That was better than teams that drafted 0 or 1 WRs (1,432 points) and much better than teams with 6 WRs through Round 6 (1,422 points in a sample of 43 teams). I’d recommend having 3–5 WRs at this point in the draft.

WRs Through Round 8:

The cutoff point in Round 8 based on last year’s data was having at most 6 WRs. Teams who started with either 7 or 8 WRs averaged 1,436 best ball points. Teams with 4, 5, or 6 WRs through Round 8 averaged +15 more points across the best ball regular season.

WRs Through Round 10:

This is important. Just like it was in Round 8, the cutoff point when we’re drafting too many WRs on Underdog Fantasy through Round 10 remained at 6 WRs. Teams with 4, 5, or 6 WRs averaged +18 more best ball points than teams with 7 WRs through Round 10. This is because of “The Law of Diminishing Returns” — a theory in economics that predicts that after some optimal level of capacity is reached, adding an additional factor of production will actually result in smaller increases in output per Investopedia. In other words, that 7th WR we just drafted in Round 10 isn’t adding as many points to your best ball roster as the 2nd or 3rd RB we could’ve drafted in Round 10 after going WR-heavy early on. Once you already have elite players or high-end depth, there are fewer reasons to keep adding to that position.

Through Round 12:

This will be the last one for me because you already get the point. Through Round 12, teams shouldn’t have more than 7 WRs drafted. Teams with 8 or 9 WRs at this point averaged 40 fewer points than teams with 5, 6, or 7 WRs.

Overall, I think we want 5-6 WRs that we feel great to good about and 3–5 more WRs that could have a few nice weeks at the end of our drafts.

Before we get leave, I want to note that there is likely a small bias towards teams going WR heavy because they are likely picking better players throughout the draft in general. The only people going against the grain with Zero RB like builds are the people subscribing to RotoViz and other dope fantasy sites that provide awesome player-based advice in addition to their roster construction content. In other words, if there was a gun to my head and I needed the best Round 11 TE pick available and I could either let the person who started RB-RB-RB make my pick or let the person who started WR-WR-WR make my pick, give me the WR-WR-WR person’s pick every single time.