In life, we often drift towards consensus. The consensus is safe. And it’s usually correct. The wisdom of the crowds is a saying for a reason.
We see this play out in countless ways, with NFL closing lines being one of the most obvious examples. By the time every bettor has made their wager, NFL closing lines have absorbed thousands of inputs, and thus, they have more data points to use in forming the closing line than any model could dream of.
As a result, NFL closing lines are incredibly difficult to beat, and substantially harder to beat than NFL opening lines.
With that said, there are still times to drift away from consensus. DFS tournaments provide the perfect example. Roster the 1% owned player who leads his position in fantasy points that week? Congrats, your lineup has a big edge over 99% of the field, and the payout structure could reward you with a 1,000-1, or even 10,000-1 payout if the rest of your lineup can get you into 1st place.
Best ball, and specifically Best Ball Mania III on Underdog, falls somewhere in between the examples I outlined above. We won’t want to drift too far away from consensus in our drafts to the point we are giving up substantial value just to be different. But we also don’t want to completely mirror consensus, as there is virtually no edge in doing so, especially in a tournament with nearly half a million entries.
So, we will need to carefully pick and choose when to be different.
Thankfully, the FantasyPoints best ball rankings are here to guide us. I’ll be going over the biggest discrepancies between Underdog ADP and our rankings, hunting for the biggest values round by round. And I’ll also include a full list of the players we are lowest on at the bottom of the article, so you can get a sense of who we are fading.
NOTE: If you’re a new customer at Underdog Fantasy, the industry leader in best ball drafts with their awesome app, use code “FANTASYPTS” for a deposit match up to $100.
Dalvin Cook +2.8 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 8
UD ADP: 10.8
Cook is coming off the 2nd-worst fantasy season of his career by half-point PPR FPG (14.6), but we aren’t concerned for 2022. Last year, Cook dealt with a litany of injuries, winding up on the injury report in 9 different weeks with ankle and shoulder issues alongside a COVID spell in Weeks 16 and 17. The result? Cook posted a career-low PFF rushing grade (68.8) and fell 1.4 FPG short of his weekly expectation.
But a fully healthy Cook is as good as any RB in the NFL.
He is, after all, just one year removed from being PFF’s 2nd-highest graded RB (89.0) and finishing behind only Derrick Henry in rushing yards (1,577), yards after contact (1,039), and missed tackles forced (68). And with beat writers noting that Cook could line up more as a WR and be more involved in the passing game, it’s reasonable to assume this modest draft discount is entirely due to his perceived injury risk and has little to do with his ability (which is elite) or forecasted role (which is borderline elite).
When asked if he'll be able to do more as a receiver in O'Connell's offensive scheme, Cook was hesitant to reveal any plans.— NFL Beat Writers (@32BeatWriters) May 18, 2022
"I don’t want to just sit up here and tell y’all everything," he said. We’ve got to wait and see. We got Green Bay Week 1, so we’re gonna wait and see." https://t.co/U4SPvko3Aa
Leonard Fournette +10.0 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 14
UD ADP: 24.0
Fournette was one of the best RBs in fantasy last season. He ranked 7th in snap rate (63%), tied with D’Andre Swift for 1st in targets per game (6.0), 7th in half-PPR FPG (15.8), tied for 3rd with 0.8 XTD/G, and tied for 5th with Austin Ekeler in XFP/G (18.1). And, he captured 66% of the goal line work in one of the best offenses in football.
Drafters seem concerned that Fournette could cede some of his outstanding passing game role to rookie Rachaad White, or that the wear and tear of over 1100 career NFL touches could finally be catching up to him. But that doesn’t change that he was a top-8 fantasy RB in nearly every metric that we place value on, and that he’s returning to the same offense, and likely a close to identical role.
Fournette is, almost undoubtedly, the most undervalued RB available in the first 3 rounds of Underdog drafts. 5 of our 6 rankers have Fournette at RB10 or higher, and every single one of us has Fournette ranked at least 5 spots higher than his current ADP of 24.0.
Diontae Johnson +4.0 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 32
UD ADP: 36.0
Diontae’s numbers were absolutely incredible last season from a volume perspective. Johnson had 12 games with 10 or more targets – 2nd only to Cooper Kupp and tied for the 12th-most games with 10 or more targets since 1992. He also ranked 3rd in XFP/G (20.8) among all players at all positions, and tied with Davante Adams for the 2nd-most targets per game (10.6). And, even with poor efficiency (likely due to brutal QB play), Johnson still finished as the WR9 by half-point PPR FPG (13.8) – 6 spots ahead of where he’s being drafted on Underdog.
The reasons for consensus being down on Johnson are obvious. The Steelers may be one of the worst offenses in the NFL next season, and we have no idea if the combination of Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky is going to give Johnson the target volume Big Ben did. And while we obviously account for that in our rankings, the potential continuation of Johnson’s 2021 volume still pushes us to the bullish side. Johnson is ranked ahead of his ADP (36.0) by every one of our best ball analysts.
David Montgomery +18.9 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 29
UD ADP: 47.9
Mongomery was a borderline bell cow last season, ranking 2nd in snap rate (75%), 8th in touches per game (20.5), 9th in XFP per game (16.8), and tying for 15th in half-point PPR FPG (13.4).
So what’s the reason for pessimism? Some would argue this Bears’ offense could be absolutely atrocious. But, that’s exactly what they were in 2021 when Mongomery was putting up those strong numbers, averaging just 18.7 PPG (27th) and 307.4 YPG (24th). A significant step backward for this offense is almost impossible, given just how bad they were in 2021.
But despite those awesome 2021 numbers and his backfield competition being Khalil Herbert (who never played more than 30% of snaps with Montgomery healthy), Darrynton Evans, and Trestan Ebner, Montgomery is clocking in as RB18 on UD with an ADP of 47.9. Even the most bearish FantasyPoints analyst disagrees with that sentiment, as Montgomery clocks in no worse than 40th in any of our analysts' rankings.
JK Dobbins +17.9 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 31
UD ADP: 48.9
Dobbins appears to be a massive injury discount, even with the lingering chance he isn’t ready for training camp. He’s a tremendous talent, having logged 16.2 FPG from Week 11 of 2020 through the end of the year (12th-best), despite seeing just 9.4 XFP/G over that stretch (40th). In fact, Dobbins’ rookie year was actually the 4th-most efficient by any RB since 2000 in terms of YPC (6.0), and he managed top-12 numbers in yards after contact per attempt (3.35) and PFF rushing grade (82.0).
That kind of efficiency is on par with the likes of Nick Chubb and Jonathan Taylor, with the obvious caveat being that Dobbins is locked into a rather gross committee with Gus Edwards, and to a lesser extent, Lamar Jackson. While Dobbins won’t be heavily targeted and offers capped upside due to the committee, he is clearly the most talented back in the league’s best rushing offense. Like many RBs in the early rounds of Underdog drafts, he is being seriously undervalued with his current ADP.
Josh Jacobs +20.2 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 41
UD ADP: 61.2
Jacobs finally went from gamescript-dependent workhorse to borderline bell cow in 2021. From Week 10 onwards, Jacobs averaged the 12th-most XFP per game (17.1), 15th-most FPG (12.4), and crucially, the 5th-most targets per game (5.1) among all RBs.
We know targets are worth 2.64 times as much as a carry (in PPR leagues), but Jacobs’ additional target volume also helps negate his gamescript dependency. This past season, Jacobs’ averaged +2.9 more FPG in wins (16.4) than losses (13.5) which is a massive improvement over the +8.0 more FPG he averaged in wins across his career. So, Jacobs is a safer bet than ever in the event the Raiders are bad. But chances are, they’ll be the best they’ve been in his entire career after adding Davante Adams. Jacobs offers prospective drafters both downside protection (top-15 RB receiving workload) and consistent RB1 numbers should the Raiders perform to the upside.
Even with the return of Kenyan Drake, Jacobs is a far safer pick than the market is giving him credit for, and he’s absolute highway robbery in Round 6.
TJ Hockenson +10.0 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 67
UD ADP: 77.0
We don’t disagree with where Hockenson is valued at his position (5 of 6 rankers have Hockenson at TE6), but we certainly disagree with where he is being valued relative to everyone else.
Last season, Hockenson actually tied Darren Waller for TE6 in half-point PPR FPG (9.6). And despite playing in an offense that averaged just 19.1 PPG (25th), Hockenson still managed to tie for 5th among TEs in games over 18.0 fantasy points (3) – more than Kyle Pitts and Darren Waller, and in just 12 total games. So, while he isn’t one of the ‘oligarch’ TEs (as Scott Barrett likes to say), he is still capable of high-end production similar to, or even better than, some of the TEs being drafted ahead of him. And because high-end TE production is so valuable in best ball, it should be no mystery why we like Hockenson more than consensus.
Kenneth Walker +19.2 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 70
UD ADP: 89.2
Every single best ball ranker has Walker ahead of his current ADP, with his lowest ranking being 83rd overall (Scott Barrett). Staff-wide, I think there is little doubt about the talent. He led the 2022 class in yards created per attempt (5.9), ranking in the 92nd percentile and winding up as Graham Barfield’s top RB in the class. Scott Barrett called Walker “the best pure runner in the class” and Wes Huber actually comped him to current Seahawk (and efficiency monster) Rashaad Penny.
So, Walker is very good. But it’s hard to have comparable optimism about the landing spot. The Seahawks' offense may be terrible, and should they fall behind in games, it remains to be seen if Walker will be significantly involved in the receiving game. And, we don’t know how this committee shakes out between Walker, Penny, and the likely to retire Chris Carson. Still, we know Penny is injury prone, the Seahawks will run the ball into the ground, and Walker is an elite talent. The path to 250 or more touches is clear. Walker is one of our top mid-round picks as a result.
Michael Gallup +12.7 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 92
UD ADP: 104.7
Gallup should see a boost in volume with the departure of Amari Cooper, but the market doesn’t seem to have fully come around to that notion. Cooper accounted for 117.3 targets per season, 1056 receiving yards per season, and 12.0 half-PPR FPG per season since 2019. And while CeeDee Lamb is sure to be the main beneficiary, Gallup being upgraded from WR3 to WR2 in the league’s highest-scoring offense (30.4 PPG) simply can’t be ignored.
If Gallup were to recreate Amari Cooper’s 2021 production (11.2 half-PPR FPG), he would’ve ranked no worse than WR32 over the last 3 seasons. And I think that’s a reasonable expectation, given Gallup averaged 12.8 half-PPR FPG the last time he was firmly entrenched as the No. 2 WR in Dallas (2019).
The only caveat here is that Gallup appears truly questionable to play Week 1, and could miss the majority of the first month of the season due to his ACL recovery. But, I think that should only be a minor knock on Gallup’s fantasy prospects, as the final weeks (AKA the playoffs) of the best ball season are so much more valuable than the first weeks of the season. Plus, Gallup’s questionable early availability likely exaggerates his already stellar discount relative to our rankings. He is one of my favorite picks at WR51 on Underdog.
Chase Edmonds +21.5 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 87
UD ADP: 108.5
Despite the signings of Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel, we need to remember that Chase Edmonds is the Dolphins' highest-paid RB (assuming Myles Gaskin gets cut), and Miami should be a run-heavy team under new HC Mike McDaniel. Since 2017, when McDaniel took over as SF’s run game coordinator, the 49ers have produced a top-36 RB (by half-PPR FPG) in every single season. The 49ers' top back was RB22 or better in 3 of those 5 seasons, and an RB1 twice (2021 and 2017).
So, we can assume Edmonds is being drafted at his floor (RB35) if he winds up as the leading back. Should Tua Tagovailoa take a step forward and make Miami a top-8 offense after the addition of Tyreek Hill, Edmonds would be one of the big winners. Each one of our rankers has Edmonds ahead of his current positional ADP, illuminating the top fantasy value in south beach.
Rhamondre Stevenson +10.6 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 112
UD ADP: 122.6
Stevenson is being drafted at the exact spot he finished in half-PPR FPG last season (RB39), but we think that’s too cheap. Partly because RBs are undervalued across the board on Underdog, but also because Stevenson should absolutely smash in the event Damien Harris misses any time. In his 2 games sans Harris in 2021, Stevenson averaged 16.6 half-PPR FPG – roughly equivalent to 2021 Joe Mixon (16.7 half-PPR FPG).
And should Harris remain healthy, I’d still expect Stevenson to best his 2021 numbers (and thus his current ADP) as he’s a really great player. He ranked 13th in PFF rushing grade (81.4), 12th in yards after contact per attempt (3.15), and 6th in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.23) of 50 qualifiers. He may be one of the more talented rushers in the entire NFL. That, combined with a likely monster role in the event Harris goes down, makes Stevenson our top Round 11 value.
Michael Carter +26.8 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 109
UD Rank: 135.8
Carter popped in just about every efficiency metric from last season. He ranked 18th in PFF rushing grade (77.3), 2nd in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.27), and 8th in yards after contact per attempt (3.37) of 50 qualified rushers last year. Obviously, the downside argument is that Breece Hall will make Carter’s role no more than an ancillary one, massively capping his fantasy upside. While I certainly think that argument has legs, Carter is talented enough in his own right to force more of a committee than some may anticipate.
And, as we know from experience, health is far from guaranteed in the NFL. Should Hall go down, Carter has a path to a 60% snap share and 15 or more touches per game. In a much-improved Jets’ offense, that could easily amount to RB1 production. Carter is ranked no worse than RB42 by any of our best ball rankers, signaling value at his current RB44 cost.
Darrell Henderson +21.9 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 130
UD ADP: 151.9
Another round, another value RB. The pattern here is obvious, we are clearly placing a greater emphasis on RBs throughout best ball drafts than the market. And that’s in large part to what Scott Barrett summarized in his 2021 Best Ball Primer, “a quantity over quality approach [at RB] is very much viable in best ball, while such a strategy is not at all viable in start/sit.”
Henderson sums up the quantity over quality approach pretty well. He’s unlikely to claim more than 40% of backfield half-PPR FPG (6.9 FPG using 2021 numbers) should Cam Akers remain healthy all season, meaning we should expect him to be roughly equivalent to 2021 Latavius Murray barring any changes to Akers’ availability. But if something happens to Akers, or if Akers simply ends up being bad post-Achilles tear, Henderson is easily an RB2 (at worst) any way you slice it. Despite competition from Sony Michel last year, Henderson still managed to rank as RB21 by half-point PPR FPG (12.4). And without Sony Michel competing for backfield carries, we’d have to expect even more impressive numbers in 2022 should that situation come to fruition. Henderson is a premium handcuff, and a clearly undervalued one at that.
Raheem Mostert +30.1 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 135
UD ADP: 165.1
Mostert faces stiff backfield competition from fellow best ball value Chase Edmonds and the recently signed Sony Michel. But, what makes Mostert a best ball value are his ceiling games – something I don’t think the market is fairly valuing in players across the board. In 2019 and 2020, Mostert averaged 19.5 half-PPR FPG in his 8 best games, but just 3.9 half-PPR FPG in his other 24 games. When healthy, Mostert has been equivalent to 2021 Austin Ekeler in his best games, and 2021 Carlos Hyde in his remaining games.
Obviously, that kind of inconsistency makes Mostert completely unpalatable in season-long. But he’s just one of those guys who is going to be far more valuable in best ball. The path to immediate volume isn’t clear, but we can’t ignore the absolutely incredible scores Mostert has put up in his career, despite limited overall opportunity to this point (0 seasons with more than 140 carries). He is, afterall, the 2nd-most efficient rusher of all-time by YPC (5.7) with at least 250 carries. Mostert is one of our favorite late-round RBs.
Logan Thomas +31.6 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 148
UD ADP: 179.8
In his 5 healthy games last season, Logan Thomas averaged 8.9 half-PPR FPG, which bested TEs like Zach Ertz and Kyle Pitts, and would’ve been good enough for TE10 over the full season.
With John Bates and Cole Turner as his only competition, we should absolutely expect a return to what Thomas was in 2020, when he averaged 8.8 half-PPR FPG (TE9), 6.9 targets per game (4th), and a quite impressive 19.2% target share (5th). Thomas is one of the most straightforward values you’ll find. He’s a glaring injury discount after tearing his ACL on December 17th, but given he’s slightly ahead of schedule in his recovery, the risk of missed games is minimal, and the upside is equivalent to a mid-tier TE1.
Robby Anderson +41.8 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 140
UD ADP: 181.8
Anderson’s 2021 was an objective disaster, as he averaged just 6.6 half-PPR FPG. But, Anderson did earn the 28th most targets (105), the 10th-most targets per game (8.5), and the 4th-highest target share (25.9%) of any WR. His problem was obviously one of efficiency, as he posted an abysmal 0.83 YPRR and a 59.3 PFF receiving grade – both easily the worst marks among WRs with more than 100 targets.
Anderson was so inefficient, in fact, that he actually posted the 5th fewest receiving yards of all-time by a player who earned more than 100 targets. Given Anderson was a well above average WR for nearly every season prior to 2021, I think it’s far to expect a significant positive efficiency regression. And if that takes place, and his volume stays relatively the same, then we can expect something much closer to 2020 Robby Anderson (11.0 half-PPR FPG, WR33). At a current price tag of WR77, Anderson is a risk worth taking.
Nico Collins +23.1 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 176
UD ADP: 199.1
Collins didn’t do much last season, posting just one game with double-digit half-point PPR points, and earning more than 7 targets just once. But, there are still reasons to be optimisitic. For starters, Davis Mills might actually be good. Mills averaged 251.6 YPG and 17.8 FPG over his last 5 games. And that also happened to be the best fantasy run of Collins’ rookie year. Collins’ three best games of the season came during that 5 game stretch, and he averaged 7.1 half-PPR FPG, good for WR63 if extrapolated over the full season.
And if we assume Mills finally found his groove and can carry that play into next season, then Collins is an obvious value as the WR88 off the board on Underdog. Competition from John Metchie could certainly push Collins to a WR3 role in Houston, but our own Wes Huber noted he didn’t think Metchie would be a significant contributor in his rookie year, so that concern may be overblown. Collins is a solid bet to beat ADP on a Texans’ offense that’s largely being overlooked for fantasy across the board.
James White +44.8 vs. ADP
FP Rank: 169
UD ADP: 213.8
If James White plays in 2022 (which I expect given he re-signed with NE), he’s arguably the top injury discount available in Underdog best ball drafts. Scott Barrett’s 2021 Best Ball Primer notes that the optimal strategy, “modified Zero-RB,” has us taking somewhere between 2-3 RBs in the final 4-5 rounds. White’s Round 18 price tag means he fits right in.
Since 2019, White has played in 32 games and has averaged 15.6 FPG in the better half of his games, compared to just 6.2 FPG in his 16 worst games. Or, put another way, he’s a low-end RB1 half the time, and completely useless the remaining weeks. That inconsistency (which is relatively common among receiving RBs) makes White infuriatingly difficult to even roster in redraft, but for best ball, those low-end RB1 weeks are extremely valuable, and we never have to worry about when to plug him in.
Still, there is a clear downside to White. His hip came out of socket last season, and that’s an extremely serious injury. He’s also 30 years old. But, to be fair, those factors are more than price in.
White re-signing with New England is huge given he had his best game of the last two seasons in Week 2 of 2021 and saw at least 6 targets in both of his games with Mac Jones under center. If we see a continuation of that in 2022, an RB2 season for White wouldn’t be shocking. Relative to ADP, White is the biggest value according to our consensus rankings, as he’s basically a risk-free flier on Underdog.