August Underdog Best Ball Values


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August Underdog Best Ball Values

Underdog Fantasy is indisputably the most popular best ball site in operation. It’s nearly impossible to read a fantasy article, listen to a fantasy podcast, or spend time on fantasy Twitter without seeing something about Underdog fantasy.

This massive boom in popularity has led to many of the sharpest best ball players almost exclusively playing on Underdog. Why? Well, they have some of the largest tournaments, and, crucially, a lower rake (10-12%) than a comparable site like DraftKings (12-15%).

With sharp players comes sharp drafts, and just by looking at Underdog’s ADP you can probably tell these drafts are much tougher than almost any other site.

The most noticeable trend — almost certainly spurred on by Scott Barrett’s Best Ball Primer from March — is that WRs are getting drafted much higher on Underdog (a 0.5 PPR site) than FULL PPR sites like BestBall10s or DraftKings. Sharp players (likely following Scott’s advice) are prioritizing WRs heavily in the early/middle rounds of these drafts, and we’ve come to a point where WRs are looking overvalued in these drafts, especially in the early rounds relative to their RB counterparts.

Drafting on Underdog is tough, because, like I said, the player base is so sharp. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity. In this article, I’ll be noting the biggest values on Underdog, and as you may have guessed, there won’t be many WRs mentioned (at least early on).

If you’re trying to squeeze in a couple best-ball drafts in the last few weeks before we go to all redraft and DFS, here are some players on whom to focus.

Some strategy tips before we get started:

  • We already know the importance of upside, but in the massive tournaments available on Underdog, upside is basically all that matters if we are trying to take home first place.

  • Stacking assists in maximizing your lineups upside, and should be prioritized in these massive-field Underdog tournaments.

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

ADP: 19.8 (RB13)

2021 marks the first true bell cow opportunity of Mixon’s career. Mixon has been seriously gamescript-dependent during his time in the NFL, averaging 25.2 FPG in wins but just 13.3 FPG in losses over the past three seasons. Giovani Bernard’s departure to Tampa Bay opens the door for Mixon to garner more receiving involvement, and that appears to be coming true in camp as Bengals beat writers have noted Mixon is lining up more as WR and should expect to see “the largest workload of his career” in 2021. Increased receiving involvement will limit Mixon’s gamescript dependency, which means that unlike previous seasons, Mixon will remain offensively involved even if the game gets out of hand.

Even if Mixon only manages to repeat what he did last year, he’s still a screaming value at RB12, as he ranked 3rd in carries per game (19.8), 13th in targets per game (4.3), 9th in FPG (16.9) and 2nd in xFP per game (19.2) in 2020. Without a doubt, Mixon should be drafted as a top-10 RB in 2021 - our very own Scott Barrett even has Mixon as his RB7. On Underdog, he’s an undervalued player at a site-wide undervalued position. That’s a recipe for a massive value.

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

ADP: 38.6 (RB17)

Montgomery absolutely crushed from Week 4 onward last year after scatback Tarik Cohen tore his ACL in Week 3. Without Cohen, Monty ranked 1st in RB snap share (80.3%), 4th in FPG (19.0), 2nd in XFP (18.5), 5th in rushes per game (17.0) and 4th in targets per game (4.9). Granted, that bell cow workload was dependent on Cohen’s absence from the offense. With Cohen (from Weeks 1-3) Montgomery didn’t rank in the top-15 among RBs in any of those metrics.

The good news for Montgomery’s fantasy stock is that it appears Cohen is behind in his recovery and may not be ready for Week 1, or even beyond. Our own Edwin Porras noted that Cohen’s fringe draft capital and athleticism are quite concerning from a recovery perspective, and put Cohen in his “Red Light Tier”. Given that Bears’ HC Matt Nagy stated he wanted Montgomery to see “20 carries a game” this season, we can have confidence in Monty’s floor regardless of Cohen’s status. But should Cohen sit out longer than anticipated or just see a reduced role, Montgomery is almost certainly a top-8 RB with a Round 4 price tag. Minimal risk and massive reward always makes for an ideal draft target, and Montgomery fits that bill.

Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers

ADP: 85.6 (RB30)

The argument for Mostert is fairly straightforward. He’s going to be the 49ers starting RB come Week 1, and yet, he’s being drafted after backup Trey Sermon (RB26). Since Week 13 of 2019, Mostert has seen at least 10 touches in every game he’s played, and over that stretch he’s averaged 14.7 FPG and 5.4 YPC. While Mostert’s efficiency is obviously helped by SF’s scheme, 5.4 YPC would have tied with Derrick Henry for 5th among RBs last season, and that kind of efficiency will make it incredibly difficult for Sermon to usurp Mostert’s starting role, barring injury. I’m team #DraftTheDepthChart, and Mostert certainly represents a value at RB30 on Underdog as the starting RB on one of the league’s most efficient rushing attacks.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans

ADP: 88.1 (WR43)

Brandin Cooks has been an outstanding fantasy asset in his first six seasons. Scott Barrett noted just that in Underrated Upside, saying “Over the past six seasons, on four different teams, Cooks has finished 14th, 11th, 15th, 13th, 61st, and (last year) 17th among WRs in total fantasy points.” And in games without Will Fuller, Cooks averaged 22.5 FPG in 2020, which would have ranked 2nd-best among WRs over the full season. QB play in Houston is absolutely a concern, but Cooks is the best WR on the team and it’s not close. Given how much Houston will have to throw the ball this year (implied win total of 4.0), he offers a far better floor and ceiling than his ADP of WR43 implies based on projected target volume alone.

Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals

ADP: 110.5 (WR55)

Larry Fitzgerald earned the 11th-most slot targets in 2019 (90) and the 23rd-most last season (67). Not to mention he’s (shockingly) been one of the most used players in the screen game over the past two years. While the borderline-boomer in Fitzgerald never turned those targets into much from a fantasy perspective, the Cardinals Round 2 pick in Rondale Moore is a YAC monster. Both Kliff Kingsbury’s post-draft quotes and Moore’s preseason usage in Weeks 1 and 2 suggest he’s likely going to see starter-level playing time sooner rather than later and reclaim Fitzgerald’s (surprisingly high-usage) slot role as his own. His WR55 price tag just doesn’t accurately reflect his strong chances of finishing as the 2nd-most targeted WR in Arizona.

Terrace Marshall, WR, Carolina Panthers

ADP: 119.7 (WR58)

Marshall has been a preseason darling, seeing both strong usage and playing time through the Panthers first two exhibition games. He’s led WRs in first-team snaps both weeks — playing on 25 of 28 total first-team snaps and catching six of his eight targets for 138 total yards. It’s also crucial to note that Marshall should get plenty of run in the slot, playing there on 18 of his 42 total offensive snaps. Why? Because Sam Darnold absolutely loves targeting the slot, sending 37.3% of his throws that way over the past three seasons. Marshall seems locked in as a top-3 wideout in an offense that supported three top-25 WRs last season, presenting a clear value at WR58.

Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants

ADP: 149.1 (TE16)

Evan Engram took a significant step back in 2020, seeing his FPG fall from 12.3 (in his first three seasons) to 8.8 last year. He may be washed, but I think it’s more likely that he is actually a screaming injury discount. FantasyPoints’ very own injury expert Edwin Porras warned us last year, “Lisfranc injuries reduce NFL offensive players’ on-field production by an average of 21% in the first season following surgery. This production seemed to level off after the second year and returned to baseline.” Well, we are about to enter Engram’s second season following surgery.

If Engram just returns to his previous baseline of 12.3 FPG, he’ll be a top-6 TE. It’s important to remember, though, that with Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, the Giants have significantly more competition for targets than in 2020, when Engram averaged a 22% target share (third among TEs). A 15-18% target share for Engram seems like the most likely scenario in 2021, but keep in mind that only six TEs last season recorded a target share of 15% or higher, so that should still be enough to lift Engram into TE1 territory. Engram’s poor play last season and the added receiving competition seem to have pushed the market too far in a bearish direction, likely creating the top injury discount at TE.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Washington Football Team

ADP: 160.8 (QB21)

Fitzpatrick has better upside than QBs being drafted 20 spots ahead of him. Since 2018, Fitzpatrick has averaged 19.1 fantasy points in the 27 games he’s started. That would’ve ranked 12th among QBs last year, yet Fitz is just 18th in QB salary. And in the 23 games he’s started and finished (playing on at least 90% of his team’s snaps), he averages 22.6 FPG. For perspective, only two QBs average more FPG over this span — Patrick Mahomes (24.5) and Lamar Jackson (24.2). Unlike the past three seasons, Fitzpatrick faces minimal risk of being benched if he performs poorly, which further helps secure his floor. His ADP of QB21 likely represents that floor if he plays all 17 games and he offers legit QB1 upside — far better than the market is giving him credit for.

Jake Tribbey is the 2022 FSWA Football Writer of the Year and the leading Spring Football expert in the fantasy industry. He is a lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.