Guru's 2024 Underdog Fantasy Best Ball Draft Plan

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Guru's 2024 Underdog Fantasy Best Ball Draft Plan

When I take on a new best ball fantasy football season and get a feel for the early ADPs, I always focus on the players who are mispriced, especially the values, and those players are always central to any draft plan I have. Each season usually brings at least some subtle trends that I react to, but so far the main trend in 2024 is that there is no main trend. Or it’s that opinions are varying a little more than usual, so draft boards are all over the map.

As for what I see this year, I’ve done several drafts on Underdog Fantasy already this year, and I believe I have good clarity when it comes to how to attack each position in a draft, and of course which players to target at or around their ADPs.

In other words, I have your 2024 Best Ball Draft Plan right here.

Keep in mind, this plan is more a breakdown of players I find valuable at current cost. As always with best ball leagues, certain players may jump up your board, maybe even by a round or two, as you account for the upside of stacking players.

THE QUARTERBACK PLAN

Last year the sharps continued their recent trend of giving more love to the QBs in all types of fantasy drafts, and that worked out well for those who took Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and, to an extent, Lamar Jackson. That’s because so many other top QBs fell short of expectations, namely Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Justin Fields. I thought the depth at the position last year was insanely good, so I was not into paying a heavy premium for my QB, which wasn’t a great play (but it was the year before). I liked Kirk Cousins, Jordan Love and Brock Purdy, but since I focus on getting value for my picks, my QB recommendations were weak overall, thanks mainly to Burrow, Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, and Deshaun Watson.

Those outcomes sucked, but I’ve always felt the worst thing I can do when I’m wrong about something is to overcorrect the next year — only to be wrong again. In other words, I still trust my process, and I still feel that the position is insanely deep, so I’m once again fading the safe route, which is paying top dollar for a signal-caller. This is especially true in a Best Ball league, the majority of which have only one QB starter.

I’ve seen a clear trend the last few years of the skill positions being very top-heavy, so it’s wise to load up on as many of those elite options at RB/WR/TE as possible before considering a QB. There are some small tiers within this top group of superior players, but I see about five options TE, about 10 at RB, and about 25 at WR. After that, there’s a lot of “sameness” in terms of the quality and upside of the skill players drafted. So we’re looking at 40-45 elite non-QB options, which will preclude me from drafting anyone at this position going off the board in at least the first three rounds.

As for the players I’m targeting after the third round, there’s only one guy I’ll seriously consider in the fourth, ideally the second half of the fourth:

  • Patrick Mahomes (KC, 45 ADP) — We’ll see what happens with Rashee Rice, but it’s clear they’re going to get vertical with their passing game, and in theory, his receiving corps is significantly better compared to last year.

Once we get past the top-50 overall, the QBs become more appealing due to cost plusupside, so I’m okay with Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Dak Prescott in the 55-85 range, but the case for them isn’t compelling enough to prompt me to officially list them as targets. There is one player I will get behind in this range, though, because I’m looking for that initial cheat code advantage with a young, running QB. We got a taste of it last year, but this should be that early breakout (hopefully full) season for this guy:

  • Anthony Richardson (Ind, 55 ADP) — The positives far out-weight the negatives with AR, who should have a good OL and running game along with a strong group of receivers and a very capable staff of offensive coaches.

So that’s only two QBs I’d consider in the top-50, and neither of them are optimal picks, since there will be some great RB/WR/TE options

  • Jordan Love (GB, 88.5) — The markets are still a little skeptical, which opens an opportunity to get a league-winning option at a great price. We can’t truly rely on his rushing production, but he’s got 35-40 fantasy points in those legs with 250/2 a bare minimum, and I’d bet on another 30+ TD passes if they enjoy relatively good health, as their deep and young receiving corps continues to grow.

  • Trevor Lawrence (Jax, 118 ADP) — I backed him for the first time last year, and he let me down, so at this point, I think he’s just a “good” quarterback in this league. But he has continuity with the coaching staff and offense, a solid group of talent at WR, and he’s put up 50+ FP with his legs in each of the last two seasons. His price tag has also been slashed from 60 overall last year to 118 this year, so he’s a great bet to return a solid ROI.

  • J.J. McCarthy (Min, 179) — Given this excellent situation and his strong game and intangibles, the rookie might actually be one of the best bets to return a good ROI at the position, given this lost cost. I’d have to have an elite QB1 option if I’m to roll with J.J. as my two (like Mahomes), but he’s a great option if you wait on QBs and plan to take a third one late.

  • Daniel Jones (NYG, 202 ADP) — I know, I know. But his cost is down 100%, so he’s as close to a free pick as there is for a starting QB who has produced in the recent past. There is continuity, his supporting cast at receiver has been upgraded, and his OL literally cannot get any worse than last year’s performance. If you’re wading through the skank in the 17th round looking for a QB, I submit Mr. Dimes.

Other QBs I’m fine with at their ADPs:

  • Caleb Williams (Chi, 95) — Low-end QB1

  • Brock Purdy (SF, 104) — Low-end QB1

  • Jayden Daniels (Was, 110) — Low-end QB1

  • Tua Tagovailoa (Mia, 111) — High-end QB2

  • Jared Goff (Det, 120) — High-end QB2

  • Kirk Cousins (Atl, 132) — High-end QB2

  • Matthew Stafford (LAR, 143) — Low-end QB2

  • Bryce Young (Car, 196) — High-end QB3

  • Russell Wilson (Pit, 209) — High-end QB3

For now, as of mid-May, here’s a ranking of my five favorite QB picks based on ADP:

  1. Jordan Love (GB, 88.5)
  2. Anthony Richardson (Ind, 55 ADP)
  3. Patrick Mahomes (KC, 45 ADP)
  4. Trevor Lawrence (Jax, 118 ADP)
  5. J.J. McCarthy (Min, 179)

THE RUNNING BACK PLAN

The plan last year was to be very selective with my early-round RB picks with a heavy lean toward the wide receiver position the first 2-3 rounds, and that was a solid recipe for success in 2023. My player targets were also pretty good, since I was very into Breece Hall, Rachaad White, David Montgomery, James Cook, Brian Robinson, and Tyjae Spears as targets at their ADPs.

Things are a little different this year in that I see four elite options who are incredibly appealing, given their youth and versatility, and they really, really stand out to me. We know the wideouts are safer picks in general, and there is a small tier of truly elite studs who are hard to pass up. But there are more appealing WRs at the top of the board and in general, so I’m inclined to prioritize these four backs over most of the top-10 star wideouts on the board.

  • Bijan Robinson (Atl, 6) — No more Artie Smith, and it’s a big upgrade at QB in Kirk Cousins, so Bijan should crush it this year with 300+ touches (only 272 last year).

  • Breece Hall (NYJ, 8) — I’m hearing OC Nate Hackett’s influence will be minimized this year, which is great because he’s awful. As long as Aaron Rodgers is on the field, a healthy Breece is a lock to kick ass behind an upgraded OL.

  • Jahmyr Gibbs (Det, 12) — He’s still in a dual backfield and I’m not 100% sold on their ability to maximize him in the passing game, but he's an elite talent, and just 22 years old.

  • Jonathan Taylor (Ind, 15) — I’d take him over Gibbs, for the record. I think Gibbs is a comparable talent to Taylor (in terms of overall skill level, not how they’re deployed), but Taylor’s massive role on the improving Colts is too good to pass up.

These guys will all be snatched up quickly, obviously, but there’s a very good chance I’ll get one of them. In a 12-team league, there’s a 33% chance I do just by the luck of the draw and my draft position (even if someone takes JT early), but it’s a 100% chance if you go by ADP, since Taylor’s is 15. I’ll set those odds to over 80% because I’m willing to take Gibbs and Taylor over their ADPs. If I do get one of these four, he is an RB1 of the “anchor” variety, meaning I’m not placing a high priority on acquiring my RB2 in the next 2-3 rounds at least.

My plan otherwise is to be calculated by targeting the best value selections, upside picks, and the backs I’m into and/or fine with at their ADPs. Unlike last year, when there was a nice pocket of picks in rounds 4-9, the strong values/targets for me are scattered throughout rounds 4-5 to rounds 8-9. Here are my targets in this range:

  • Rachaad White (TB, 52.5) — He was my top RB target last season, and he was one of the best values of the year. He would have been a value as the RB4 in scoring last year at this current 55 ADP, yet he had that elite standing last year and is still only the RB14 off the board this year. Underdog is .5 PPR, but White’s OL should be improved, and his backfield competition remains weak.

  • Kenneth Walker (Sea, 62) — I’ve never been a Walker person, and my complaints about him have definitely been prevalent, but he’s also flashed a ton of upside. I’ll take 5-6 high-impact games from Walker at this price (and I’ll hope for 8-9).

  • David Montgomery (Det, 73) — I had him seven spots over his positional ADP last year as the RB18 with 213 FP, and he was the RB17 with 208 points, so I’m back. He’s not the ideal RB2, but there’s nothing boring about double-digit TDs.

  • Rhamondre Stevenson (NE, 76) — I loved Rhamondre in 2022 and faded him last year, but now I’m back. His cost has fallen over 40 draft slots from last year, yet his competition in the backfield got worse with Zeke Elliott gone and no one of note added. He may concede a healthy chuck of the receiving work to Antonio Gibson, but Rhamondre is locked in with a 300+-touch role.

  • Zamir White (LV, 79) — He may be a JAG, but he’s their JAG, and he at least has fresh legs and a coach who will lean on him heavily with 20 or more carries in his final three games. He’s not forcing many missed tackles, but he had the 18th best explosive run rate among 68 RBs with 50 or more carries last year. He was also 16th of 68 in YAC/att, and 30th of 68 in YBC/att. White also flashed competent receiving chops, catching 15 of his 19 targets late last year.

  • Najee Harris (Pit, 86) — He could be annoying with Artie Smith, but we know he’s getting the rock. Harris may avoid last year’s slow start due to their upgraded OL, which bodes well, considering he fared surprisingly well with the 11th-best explosive run percentage among 68 RBs with at least 50 carries last year. He also checked in with the 19th-best MTF/Att rate and the 19th-best rate in YACO/Att. The worst metric for him was YBC/Att (30th of 68), but the Steelers should be blocking it up better for Najee this year.

  • Jonathon Brooks (Car, 93) — I’ve always targeted rookie RBs because they’re young, but also because they’re unproven, so in a few cases most years, the rookie season is by far the best buying opportunity for a productive back. Last year, Jahmyr Gibbs ended up being a little undervalued, but don’t tell that to the people who were dying with him at RB38 through the first six weeks. Brooks is different in that he’s coming off a serious injury and has more competition, but I think he’s very much worth a seventh or eighth round pick for the long haul this year.

  • Jaylen Warren (Pit, 94) — Arthur Smith’s backfield produced 25 FPG in a bad offense last year, so I think both Harris and Warren can clear 12 FPG this year if things go relatively well. That would have put both in the RB2 range last year. It’s certainly not a stretch when you consider how amazing Warren’s metrics were last year. Per Fantasy Points Data, among RBs with 50 or more carries (68), he was 3rd in explosive run percentage, 2nd in MTF/Att, and 3rd in YACO/Att.

  • Trey Benson (Ari, 102) — The oldest trick in the book is to grab an elite talent in the 9th round to stash as your RB3 or RB4, and it should apply even more in BB because all you need from Benson is 4-5 big starts for him to pay off. James Conner is hanging on, but we can pencil Benson in for at least three starts, which is good enough for me.

We’re adding 5-6 RBs at least, and further down the board there are more sneaky values, upside plays, and boring players I’m more than fine with at their ADPs. These are my targets in round 10-18:

  • Brian Robinson (Was, 111) — His surprising receiving production pushed him to RB2 status last year, and those four receiving scores will be tough to replicate with Austin Ekeler in town, but Kliff Kingsbury did coax an RB1 season out of James Conner back in 2022 with 15.5 PPG in 13 games, and B-Rob is of a similar skillset. It’s boring, but he should once again return a nice ROI, and Jayden Daniels should inject some energy and juice into this offense.

  • Chase Brown (Cin, 121) — I’m not convinced that Zack Moss is going to perform to the level he hit in Indy last year, especially since he’s moving to a Bengal team with a lesser OL. I’m also not convinced that Brown is much more than a good changeup and receiving back, but I do see a path for Brown to return well on a 10th or 11th round pick in the running back 1B role in Cincy with 150-175 touches.

  • Tyjae Spears (Ten, 123) — It really didn’t work out for fantasy last year, but I have no regrets for the major love I gave Spears from February through the end of the season. If you are blessed with the gift of sight, you know he’s really good. Despite playing behind a crappy OL, Spears’ data was superb. Among 49 RBs with 100 or more carries, he was 5th in explosive run rate, 18th in YACO/Att, and he had the 16th-best stuff percentage, which is worth noting because their OL has been upgraded this year with veteran C Lloyd Cushenberry and #1 pick LT JC Latham. He’s a better football player than Tony Pollard.

  • Ezekiel Elliott (Dal, 128) — Yes, it’s a RBBC, but right now Zeke leads that committee when it comes to high-leverage touches, namely the goal line carries, and likely at least half of their RB targets, thanks to his excellent pass-protection skills. Until they sign someone else (which is likely), I can see Zeke scoring 10 TDs this year with 40+ grabs.

  • Blake Corum (LAR, 130) — A boom-or-bust pick because Kyen Williams is likely still good for 18-20 touches a game until he’s not, so Corum could be a pain as he gives Williams a breather for a couple series a game with Williams locked into the lead role. But Williams missed four full games due to injury last year, and Corum is more talented, so I’m not ruling out Corum taking the job from Williams at some point in the fantasy regular season. If he gets 4-5 starts at this point, he’ll be a good investment.

  • Kendre Miller (NO, 155) — You focus on ceiling 150 picks into a draft, so Miller makes a ton of sense with Alvin Kamara clearly on his last legs. Miller may get off to another slow start behind the veteran, but over the course of a full season, Miller looks like a sleeper in the waiting, since Jamaal Williams should stick on the roster given his salary, yet the veteran may have turned into a complete JAG. They’re going to need a lot of Miller this year, I think.

  • Ray Davis (Buf, 161) — I have nothing but good vibes on Davis after watching him for a week at the Senior Bowl and interviewing him at the combine, and I do believe he can carve out a 175+ touch 3-down role in this backfield, and I think he can James Cook complement each other pretty well.

  • Kimani Vidal (LAC, 166) — A bet against the 29-year old Gus Edwards and walking injury report JK Dobbins doesn’t seem too risky when it occurs in the 14th round, so Vidal is one of the top sleeper backs who is available 150+ picks in this year.

  • Audric Estime (Den, 209) — I’ve been waiting for the early vibes on Javonte Williams this year, but unfortunately they aren’t great, starting with their non-need pick of Estime, who is of a similar body type and skill set. The current staff inherited Javonte, who was sluggish last year coming off a major injury, so Williams is guaranteed nothing in the final year of his rookie deal. Motivation won’t be a problem, but his diminished skills may continue to be. If so, the rookie may be in business eventually.

THE WIDE RECEIVER PLAN

First off, I’m a lot less inclined to draft a wideout with my first pick this year, as outlined in the running back plan. If I knew I could open with an elite option like Amon-Ra St. Brown or Garrett Wilson and still get Jonathan Taylor in the second, I’d be all about it, but it’s unlikely. I’m not as locked in that I’m taking Jahmyr Gibbs over Tyreek Hill, for example, so I could get pinched if I’m picking at five or six and the teams ahead of me scoop up those elite backs. But I’m prioritizing a small group of elite RBs this year, so I’m likely going RB 80% of the time this year in the first round.

To back up a moment, if I get the first pick overall, I’m probably going to have to take CeeDee Lamb, who I see as having the best combination of upside and high floor of all the wideouts on the board. But I’m prioritizing my “Flawless Four” running backs over each of the following: Justin Jefferson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Puka Nacua, and A.J. Brown. I’m not necessarily down on these four, but I’m not in love with them at their expensive ADPs.

So I’ll likely open my draft with a RB, but then I’m banging the WR position hard with my next 2-3 picks at least, and my top WR1 options in Round 2 are:

  • Marvin Harrison (Ari, 13.4) — I was high on his dad both in the 1996 NFL Draft and for the season in fantasy, and he delivered a low-end WR2 year with the help of his solid veteran QB Jim Harbaugh. We not only have the genetic cheat code advantage with Harrison Jr., we have a superior physical specimen compared to his pops, so I’m in.

  • Drake London (Atl, 16) — He’s in great shape with Kirk Cousins as long as the pair are in good health, so a 100-catch season is within reach as they throw the ball 35 times or more each week. Even if Kirkie is down, it’s a big upgrade for London with rookie Michael Penix.

  • Brandon Aiyuk (SF, 17.6) — This is pricey for a guy who was only 22nd in target share at WR last year for the 49ers, who took at WR in the first round. But he’s Spiderman out there, so I can’t quit him after I endorsed him heavily last summer, which he backed up with a baller season and the third-best YPPR number among 109 WRs to run at least 50 routes.

  • Davante Adams (LV, 18.6) — New rule: Avoid 30+ year old receivers unless they are future HOFers. Adams is, and he can still play, so there will be targets.

  • Chris Olave (NO, 18.7) — He’s not cheap, but he stands out from a pedigree and target share perspective, so he’s not a bad WR1 if you open with a RB in the first. He was 15th with a 23.7% share last year, but Michael Thomas (16.2%) is gone so unless Bub means business (rookie 5th round WR Bub Means), Olave’s target share should grow to 25-26%.

We’re well into the second tier at the position now and it’s a noticeable drop from that first-round tier, but there are some nice WR2s for me in the third and fourth rounds, and my favorites are:

  • DJ Moore (Chi, 26.8) — Moore’s 72% catch rate combined with his 14.3 YPR number last year was insane, considering he was playing with Justin Fields and Tyson Bagent. He’s not a value, but I’m also not letting him pass if he’s available in Round 3.

  • Jaylen Waddle (Mia, 28.3) — I won’t be kicking myself if I don’t get Waddle, but lost in all the focus on Tyreek Hill is that Waddle was an amazing fifth in YPRR among 105 WRs with at least 50 targets last year.

  • Michael Pittman (Ind, 30.2) — I got him wrong last year, but I’ve been a big Pittman guy since he came out, and he’s been about as good as I could have hoped, and I had pretty high hopes. Among 109 WRs who ran at least 50 routes last year, Pittman was fifth in target share at 28.1%, and outside of adding AD Mitchell, what else did they do at receiver? The answer is nothing.

  • DeVonta Smith (Phi, 33.9) — I’ve been over the markets on Skinny Batman every season up until this point with no regrets, so I might as well make it four-for-four. In fact, I may like him even more this year compared to last, since he’s about a round cheaper.

  • Tee Higgins (Cin, 43.1) — I’ve been taking him left and right, since his ADP is down a round and a half from last summer. That’s not a big drop, but it should ensure a strong ROI if he’s healthy, as he continues to gun for a long-term contract somewhere.

  • George Pickens (Pit, 48) — When I built this year’s season projections on the site, one of my big takeaways was that George was gonna eat. I know the pass attempts will be limited, but I think his target share will be over 25%, so he’s probably looking at 120+ targets. My conservative projection of 70/1045/6 has us at WR19, which is considerably higher than his ADP of WR28.

I’m not leaving the fourth round with fewer than two wideouts, and outside of taking Trey McBride late in the fourth, which I have been doing a lot, I’m probably loading up on WRs and landing three of them through four rounds. That’s because we’ve hit another big drop-off at the position. However, there are a few sneaky-appealing options, so I do think you can come out of the fourth round with only two wideouts and be more than fine. In rounds 5-6, I’ll be lining up the following guys in my queue.

  • Christian Kirk (Jax, 55.5) — Kirk has been everything they could have hoped for after they signed him in 2022, and he’s locked into a large role with a healthy 20% or more target share and a first-read target share (23% in 2023).

  • Rashee Rice (KC, 69.9) — Although it was close, I’d rather bet on Rice’s suppressed ADP than the likelihood that Marquise Brown clicks quickly and enjoys good health, so I do like buying the dip with Rice — and remember, he’s going to continue to plummet until we get clarity on his legal situation. It’s a risk, but one worth taking in my mind.

  • Jordan Addison (Min, 71) — I’ll take a shot with the way cheaper Addison compared to his running mate because there will likely be slack to be made up for TJ Hockenson early on, and he’ll often get the best matchups in general.

  • Chris Godwin (TB, 77.3) — The “Cooper Kupp role” is significant, since it’s perfect for Godwin, who was having a so-so season last year until he moved inside a lot more. There’s some competition for targets, and Mike Evans is Baker’s guy, but I like the potential payoff at this lowered ADP, and I like his chances to eat inside.

I’ve found that around 75 players into a typical fantasy draft lately, there’s a noticeable drop-off in talent around 75 players in, so as I’m looking for no worse than my fourth receiver in this round 7-8 range, I’m homing on a pair of young receivers with elite physical tools:

  • Christian Watson (GB, 87.2) — I know target share is an issue, but I also think he commands the ball a little more than his ADP would reflect. We’re talking best ball, so we should accept volatility. If we do, then Watson’s a good pick. The early word on his hamstrings is good, so I think his upside clearly outweighs whatever downside he presents in the 7th or 8th round.

  • Jameson Williams (Det, 101) — It’s time for Jameson to finally, you know, play football! He’s averaged fewer than three targets a game so far in his career, but they lost Josh Reynolds and they’re light at the position. It’s time to put on the big boy pants, so I think at least 4-5 big games are forthcoming, possibly 5-6.

I’m being pretty selective with my targets, so I have only the four options that I particularly like in the 100-150 range, and they are as follows:

  • Khalil Shakir (Buf, 116.5) — He was outstanding last year with an excellent 86.7% catch rate along with a big YPR number of 15.6. That’s how he was an efficient 34th out of 120 WRs who ran at least 25 targets last year. He is a little redundant with Curtis Samuel, but one or the other can line up outside, but the bottom line is I would not be surprised to see Shakir emerge as their best wideout this year.

  • Joshua Palmer (LAC, 126) — I do like Ladd McConkey, but he is pricey already with an ADP around 70. I’d prefer the veteran Palmer, who has a ton of reps with Justin Herbert. It’s a low-volume passing game, but Palmer should be a high-impact guy for them.

  • Gabe Davis (Jax, 128.7) — We’ll see how the rookie does in camp, but I’m thinking Brian Thomas will need some time to develop, which would mean Gabe is getting his usual reps on the outside, and perhaps an increase in targets from his new QB Trevor Lawrence. He’s not a value at his ADP, but we’re getting 3-4 big games.

  • Jahan Dotson (Was, 133.6) — Last year was ugly, and his ADP is down 70+ spots, or 6-7 rounds, and they did lose Curtis Samuel. I don’t envision rookie Luke McCaffrey kicking ass right out of the gate, so they are very thin at receiver, so the talented former #1 pick should have a healthy target share well north of 20%.

And when I’m 150+ picks into my draft, here are the players I’ll be lining up as potential picks:

  • Darnell Mooney (Atl, 152) — Yes, I like him every year, but he’s also always cheap, and he’s delivered in the past, like in 2020 and 2021. The last two seasons have been terrible with Justin Fields, but he’s in an ideal spot with the Falcons and Kirk Cousins this year, so I’m sending 3-4 big games.

  • Michael Wilson (Ari, 156) — His injury history is long and lucrative, but he was a solid 28th in Yds/Target last year out of 120 wideouts with 25 or more targets. In theory, he’s the third option in the passing game, meaning he should often get the best matchups.

  • Jermaine Burton (Cin, 163) — He’s a longshot as a rookie who is the #3, at best, but Burton strikes me as a potential surprise baller in the NFL, so I’m willing to take a shot if he drops a little lower than this (20 spots would be nice).

  • Marvin Mims (Den, 169.8) — I’m surprised he’s not getting a little more love, given the flare for the big play he showed last season with three of his first nine career catches going for 60, 38, and 48 yards. His QB situation isn’t great, but Mims is a great back-of-the-roster flier.

THE TIGHT END PLAN

If you’ve read my draft plans in the past, I’m usually avoiding the expensive tight end options and trying to steal a value at this position a little later in drafts, but the landscape has changed this year with studs Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews falling down the board. Of course, they are dropping for a reason, with Kelce turning 35 and Andrews now competing with Derrick Henry (and I think we’ll see more Isaiah Likely than some expect).

It seems more wide open this year, but it’s also clear that there are a limited number of truly appealing options, and I definitely want to get one of them. Not including TJ Hockenson, who is an elite option but coming off a late-season ACL, I see nine TEs I’d feel good about as my TE1. I’m not exactly inclined to take the aging Kelce or George Kittle, and while I’m okay with Mandrews, I’m not really targeting him. I’m also not actively targeting Sam LaPorta, who is the #1 TE but who might struggle to match his 8% TD rate last year. LaPorta will be fine, since they didn’t little else at receiver this year, but if I’m paying up for a stud, I’m going with this guy:

  • Trey McBride (Ari, 45) — As a McBride person, I’m actually glad the Cardinals got Marvin Harrison, since Trey would have been a marked man after last year’s run. From Week 8 on, once Zach Ertz was gone, McBride had the 11th-highest first-read target percentage out of 122 receivers with at least 25 targets, which is sick.

Taking McBride in the fourth may not be optimal in terms of trying to form the best starting lineup as possible, since he is pricey, but then again I think he could easily catch 100 balls, so there is elite, second-round level production potential.

I’m not going to be totally bummed if I don’t get McBride, because the next tier for me is a good one, and by the time I’m selecting them, I probably already have three top WRs and one stud back, so it could be the perfect time to go BPA and grab one of these guys, who very well may be the best players available:

  • Dalton Kincaid (Buf, 51) — I’m a little worried about OC Joe Brady’s ability to utilize him as more than a checkdown Charlie, but they lost 241 targets with just Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis departing, they need Kincaid to be a vital cog in their passing game, and that’s good enough for me given the talent he flashed last year.

  • Kyle Pitts (Atl, 60) — I hate myself for backing him last year, but I’ll be even angrier if I fade Pitts and he comes up with a dream season. Two years removed from his knee injury in 2022, and with a pass-happy approach and a fine passer in Kirk Cousins, the Pitts dream may not be too good to be true this time around.

Moving down a tier, we’re down to the final two targets for me before the talent falls off a cliff:

  • Evan Engram (Jax, 75) — I do expect his targets to drop, obviously, and his 8.4 YPR was pretty sad last year, but he’s getting the ball from Trevor Lawrence again in this TE-friendly offense, and a top-5 finish is squarely still within his range of possible outcomes.

  • Jake Ferguson (Dal, 89) — He’s been one of my guys from Day One, but even I’m a little surprised how good he’s been. It’s a great spot with Dak Prescott trusting him majorly as a security blanket, and his high level of play commands the ball on a passing team that’s suspect at receiver after CeeDee Lamb, so Ferguson is one of my 1-2 favorite TE picks this year.

My TE plan is to get one of these five players, but in Best Ball you need at least two TEs, and I usually prefer to get three unless my top two are really strong or if I punt on the position, which means I’ll need to take at least three swings with options available 100+ picks into a draft.

  • T.J. Hockenson (Min, 114) — It’s risky, but I might take a shot if I fade TE because eight strong games from Hock at this price is not bad.

  • Luke Musgrave (GB, 151) — He’s hardly a must-have in this loaded receiving corps, but he’s just scratching the surface on what he can do as a key cog in this offense, so I’m okay with a high pedigree guy in the 13th round.

  • Isaiah Likely (Bal, 175.5) — He may be fool’s gold, but the 15th round isn’t a lot to pay for a guy with legit potential to go off 2-3 times, and that’s assuming Mark Andrews stays healthy. No matter what, I don’t know how they keep Likely off the field at this point.

  • Tyler Conklin (NYJ, 182) — I challenge you to find anyone on the planet higher on Conklin than I am. I could argue that he was the biggest winner among the veteran skill players coming out of the draft, since the Jets passed on Brock Bowers, and for a stud LT, which is even better for Conklin. If he and Aaron Rogers play 14+ games together, I believe Conklin will be a TE1.

  • Greg Dulcich (Den, 214) — He was a sneaky draft “winner” with the Broncos passing on addressing the position, which is a start. The vibes haven’t been great, since Denver was reportedly interested in adding an athletic TE in the offseason, but they didn’t, which opens the window for Dulcich. If things go well he’ll be their top TE and maybe one of their top 2-3 weapons.

I’ll check back and update the content of this article all summer, so happy drafting!

Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer John Hansen has been an industry leader and pioneer since 1995, when he launched Fantasy Guru. His content has been found over the years on ESPN.com, NFL.com, SiriusXM, DirecTV, Yahoo!, among others outlets. In 2015 he sold Fantasy Guru and in 2020 founded FantasyPoints.com.