I play in a bunch of NFFC 25 & 50 best-ball drafts (so-called because they are $25 & $50 to enter). It is a price point that suits me and allows me to get in a drafting rhythm. I can see first-hand where players are falling and rising, and they also allow me to see how different roster constructions could work out. I also like the idea that many other high stakes players are in these, so I can scout the competition. If you have never played with high stakes players before, the NFFC 25/50s are a great way to test the water. They have slow drafts (1-, 2- & 4-hour pick timers) and the regular drafts have a 55-second clock.
In this article I am going to concentrate on the latest NFFC 25 I did that took place on May 23rd.
These drafts, even though low entry price points, are not throwaway drafts for me, nor should they be for you. I am not going to do anything knowingly stupid in them. For instance, I’ve seen teams pick Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson back-to-back. Because these are best-ball leagues, you absolutely need two Quarterbacks, but using your 2nd and 3rd round picks on QBs is foolish. If you have to take a QB early, it is far better to pair them with a stud RB or WR than another QB.
Money management and return on investment (ROI) are best-saved for another article, but to quickly illustrate my mindset I’ll give this example. I will do at least 20 NFFC 25s. That is $500 in entry fees, and to make 10% on my money I will need to make $550. To make 20% I will need to make $600. First-place money is $200 and second place is worth $50. So out of those 20 leagues, to make 10% I need to win two and finish in second place in three of them. To make 20% on my investment, I need to win three leagues. I like my chances and, truthfull,y hope my ROI is even better than 10% - 20%.
I am going to take a team-by-team look at this draft, commenting on the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly. I will also alert you to some value picks, sleeper picks, coma picks (think Rip Van Wrinkle waking up from a long sleep, as these players will be in a comatose state for part of the season, but if they wake up, you could have a game-changer) and some drafting tips.
This is my team and as such, I will spend more time on it because I know my thought process. Since I am picking at one end of the draft, I’ll break up my notes in terms of turns (ie. 2/3 Turn is at the end of 2nd round and turn around to start of 3rd round), except for the first round.
1.01 - Christian McCaffrey is the consensus 1.01 and you will get no argument from me there.
2/3 Turn: I went with an upside pick in Jonathan Taylor. Easily the best RB in the rookie class, but his landing spot in Indy has two established guys there already in Mack and Hines. I’m a firm believer in talent winning out (unless the player is on an Adam Gase coached team) and Taylor will be the main ball carrier about 5-6 weeks into the season. It would have been sooner if there was or is a pre-season. Taylor will also run behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and has a HC in Frank Reich that wants to “run the damn ball.”
Pre-draft plan was to go RB/WR with picks 2.12 & 3.01, but surprisingly Patrick Mahomes made it all the way back. I tend to wait on QBs whether in a re-draft or best ball, but Mahomes is so dynamic and can put up so many points, I wasn’t going to let him slide. Put it this way, would you rather have Mahomes (3.01) or Todd Gurley (who went 3.02)?
Tip: If you do not look at O-line rankings, it is a real simple thing to find and I would suggest giving them a quick look. See how teams finished the year before and look to see if they drafted or signed in free agency any O-line help. If you are between several RBs, a good O-line could make the decision easy.
4/5 Turn - It’s a long wait for your next pick when picking on the end. WRs I liked kept flying off the board, even Calvin Ridley didn’t make it back to me. I believe folks are sleeping on Robert Woods this season because of his slow start to last season; but Woods finished strong (four of his last five games he has 20+ points in PPR leagues) and there are more targets now that Cooks is gone. I take Woods at the end of the 4th round. I’m targeting another WR here and really like A.J. Brown, especially in Dynasty leagues. It was Brown or Metcalf at 5.01, I have lots of shares of Metcalf, so I mix it up and go Brown. Metcalf goes next at 5.02
6/7 Turn - Coming back in the 6th round Team 2 took my first target, Kareem Hunt, so I go with Plan B, which is keep banking solid WRs. I draft Tyler Boyd, who I think will have a very strong year with Joe Burrow under center (look what he did with his slot receiver at LSU), and Marquise Brown. A tad early on Brown, but there was no chance of him making it back to me. When you are at the end you sometimes have to force picks and jump ADP.
8/9 Turn - I really wanted to take another QB because Team 2 had yet to draft one and I knew he had to in the 9th. I wanted to dwindle his chances at a good one, but I put myself in an RB hole and still didn’t have a TE, so no QB. In hindsight, I should have gone RB/RB here, but after Hayden Hurst, I thought the TE value would drop too much if I had to wait another 22 picks. I take Hurst at 8.12 and feel good that he is in Atlanta now with Matt Ryan, who loves to throw to his TEs. I really like Cam Akers, but with no off-season workouts scheduled as of this writing, it could be tough for him to learn the complicated Rams offense. If Akers is a slow learner, in steps Darrell Henderson, who I take to start the 9th. If I were to have passed on Hurst and taken a RB, it would have been Tevin Coleman. In these rounds I am looking for RBs that play in good offenses and are an injury or other circumstances away from being a full-time starter.
10/11 Turn - I’ll gamble in drafts that my late-round sleepers will be available and when I go QB/TE at the 10/11 turn that is exactly what I did. Normally, I wouldn’t ignore RB here and since I took Mahomes early I would want to wait a couple more rounds for a backup. How often is my backup QB really going to be used with Mahomes on my team? Hopefully not very often, but in best-ball leagues you have to maximize points. There will be at least one week one Mahomes is on bye and likely a few weeks where he has sub-par outings. In steps talented rookie Joe Burrow, who I take with the 10.12 pick. Overall I like the pick, but I should have checked the schedule to see who Burrow played in Week 10, which is Mahomes’ bye week. Burrow gets PIT…dicey, but I have faith he will get the ball out quick and make plays with his legs.
Tip: I like to print out or have open on my laptop a NFL schedule grid when I draft. The grid format makes it very easy to see a certain week’s schedule. I will use this to find favorable match-ups for my QB2 who I know will be in my line-up when my QB1 is on bye. It’s also great when picking your second DEF for the same reason.
12/13 Turn - I continue to look for upside and try to fill holes at the 12/13 turn. Finally I take another RB in rookie Zack Moss at 12.12. I like Moss to eat into Singletary’s playing time right away. At 13.01 I feel Preston Williams is the gift I need because I ignore WR for five rounds. A very impressive 13.4 yard per catch (YPC) until he tore his ACL in November. Not sure he will be 100% by Week 1, but by Week 4 I expect him to pick off where he left off in his rookie campaign.
14/15 Turn - I take my first DEF in NE. I generally like to take a Top-7 DEF in best-ball formats and then wait to take my second and sometimes third DEF. At 15.01 I take RB Nyheim Hines who might get me some PPR points and could have a slightly expanded role if Jonathan Taylor goes down. A cheap alternative to drafting Marlon Mack who went in the 7th.
Tip: If you are new to the best ball format, most folks take at least two Kickers and two Defenses, sometimes even three. You need 2-3 to cover bye weeks and have options every week to get points. These points can make a big difference at the end of the year. Let’s look at one of the top Kickers last year, Wil Lutz. He had seven games where he scored less than 10 points. That’s when you need your second and/or third Kicker to step-up and hopefully get you double-digits points one of those week. If your second or third Kicker gets you five more points than Lutz in his seven off weeks, that is 35 more points your team will score. That is the difference between first and second in many leagues.
Let’s speed things up here and take a quick look at some of my second half of the draft picks:
16.12 – K Zane Gonzalez… I like to have a top-ranked Kicker that plays for a potent offensive team. Good offenses give Kickers more opportunities to score points.
17.01 – WR Laviska Shenault… not sure he will have much of an impact his rookie year, but I like his versatility, and the Jags can line him up anywhere, including the backfield.
18.12 – RB Josh Kelley… one of my late round RB targets. Won’t set the world on fire, but will get touches and the tough yards spelling Austin Ekeler.
19.01 – WR Russell Gage… had four games last year of nine or more targets. He will have at least two games where he will crack my starting line-up and if Jones or Ridley go down could be an every-week contributor. I take Gage in almost all my best ball drafts. Value pick.
20.12 – K Rodrigo Blankenship… anyone watch him kick at Georgia? He was nails! Bonus, in kicking for Indy he will play at least half his games inside (weather will not be an issue). Sleeper alert.
21.01 – RB Gio Bernard… another of my late-round RB targets. Gio will make some PPR noise with a rookie RB under center who will likely have to dump it off a lot. Value pick.
Rounding out the final picks there are two players I would like to mention:
24.12 – WR John Ross… hard to believe the Bengals took him ninth overall in the 2017 draft. Ross has never lived up to that draft spot and the Bengals are not picking up his fifth-year option. Had two games with over 100 yards receiving. If rookie Tee Higgins falters, Ross could see more playing time.
25.01 – WR Van Jefferson… rookie receiver is a fantastic fit in Rams offense. His father is former NFL WR Shawn Jefferson and he taught his son well. Very intelligent WR and a great route runner. I try to draft Josh Reynolds and Van Jefferson in my leagues, but when I don’t get Reynolds, I make sure the Reynolds owner doesn’t get Jefferson. Could splash at some point in the season. Coma pick.
In my mind I have the #1 RB and #1 QB, both should give me some 30+ point games. Will that be enough to make up for my lack of running back depth?
Aforementioned RB depth, plus my so-so TEs. Would have been better if I could have had a mix of three okay TEs, maybe a Jack Doyle or Noah Fant type to go with Hurst & Goedert.
Absolutely should have secured Rams RB Malcolm Brown. Instead was too busy taking my third K in Round 23. Brown went two picks later and I realized my mistake. That would have given me 2/3 of the Rams backfield.
His roster composition is pretty well balanced except his TEs. Did really good by waiting on QB nabbing Baker Mayfield in the 9th and Big Ben in the 11th, plus Jarrett Stidham in the 21st. Value pick - Ben Roethlisberger.
TEs are just okay… I would have liked to see a third viable TE put in the mix. I do not like his Jordan Howard pick in the 8th, as Miami has one of the worst O-lines and Matt Breida is in the mix. RBs that went off the board after Howard that I like are Darrell Henderson, Tarik Cohen, Sony Michel, Latavius Murray, Tevin Coleman, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
I like that he has two Cowboys on his team, Dak and Zeke. And I like his Mark Ingram pick in the 4th round. I also like that in the 29th round he got Dak’s back-up Andy Dalton. Having back-up QBs allowed me to cash in the very first best ball I played, an NFFC $1200 buy-in league.
Not a fan of his WR corps as there is not enough upside for me. The Sammy Watkins picks stands out to me as a missed opportunity to get some upside like Michael Pittman or Jalen Reagor.
Leonard Fournette is such a knucklehead that if you draft him, taking his handcuff--Ryquell Armstead--is a must. Armstead went in the 17th round, Team 3 could have easily drafted him.
Love his first four picks of Cook, Ekeler, Kelce and Ridley. Also really like the boom or bust pick of Antonio Brown in the 15th.
Since this is not a TE premium league, I’m not a fan of taking two TEs within the first five picks. If he would have picked Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel or Tyler Lockett there, I would think he is a contender.
Dalvin Cook owners must lock up his back-up Alexander Mattison. Mattison shouldn’t be a back-up, he is good enough to start on many NFL teams. If Cook goes down, Mattison is a player who will win leagues. You don’t always have to get your handcuff, but there are some key ones to look at, like Mattison.
Only team to start WR/WR and the two he picked are very good, in Thomas and Godwin. Very good TEs and once again a team shows that waiting on QB is a good play. Rivers and Goff in the 11th and 12th work for me. Value pick – Philip Rivers (great ROl and knows the Colts offense because HC Frank Reich coached Rivers for three years in SD). Smart to back up his QB3, Derek Carr, with Marcus Mariota in the 29th round. And to grab Kaden Smith in case Engram goes down. Not that Smith has the talent of an Engram, but he would get a few points a game which is better than a zero.
RBs are suspect after starting WR/WR/TE. I’m not comfortable competing with David Johnson as my RB1. He is maybe serviceable as an RB2 or RB3. I do like the Swift and Dobbins picks, but both have obstacles in front of them for playing time, although Swift should emerge.
I thought he nailed the draft through 10 rounds. Kamara and Drake to start? Wicked good. Tyler Higbee in the 7th, and Daniel Jones & Ryan Tannehill the next two picks, solid upside. Has some upside WRs in Ruggs and Reagor. Sleeper alert: Jalen Reagor.
I don’t see much bad, very balanced roster composition and depth at most positions. RBs dry up so fast, I think everyone is a tad short. Maybe he could have nabbed Tevin Coleman to go with Mostert, but then he wouldn’t have had Daniel Jones. With two solid RBs to start his draft, I prefer to have Jones than Coleman.
Another well-balanced and I suspect, competitive team. Melvin Gordon in the 3rd was a pivotal pick, had he looked elsewhere I wouldn’t have liked his team as much. Waited on TE, but got four with upside. Sleeper alert: Irv Smith Jr. (his fourth TE).
Not in love with his second Kicker, Daniel Carlson. He should have taken a better one two rounds earlier instead of Devin Funchess.
Only one Defense. If he is competitive, Kicker and Defense could cost keep him from cashing.
Solid drafting effort. Mark Andrews in the 6th round is quite good value, as I usually see him go in the 5th round. After two good RBs, drafts 3 good WRs AND then Andrews.
Not much bad here. Maybe he could have got Nick Boyle late to back-up Andrews. Not a Mike Gesicki fan, but I can see him having a decent year.
Pretty good balance and some good upside picks in Tevin Coleman, Mike Williams, Sam Darnold, Tee Higgins, and Ryquell Armstead.
I am a Le’Veon Bell fan, but not an Adam Gase fan. Gase keeps trying to fit square pegs in round holes with his offensive players. He had one of the premier backs in the league with Bell and refused to tailor his scheme to fit Bell’s strengths. Even though his RBs look a little thin, he has locked up some other teams back-ups and this could pan out for him.
Nice WR corps in Adamas, Kupp, Samuel, Diontae Johnson (Sleeper alert) and Mecole Hardman. I like Miles Sanders and if you want him, you will likely have to pay a first-round price (and that is okay). Murray and Brady are a nice QB duo. And he backed up Sanders with Scott.
By going so hard at WR, there is very little behind Sanders. Damien Williams is his RB2 and he won’t have much impact with CEH in KC now.
No need for four Defenses. With such a lack at the RB position, I would have taken a couple stabs at RBs with two of the four DEF picks.
I like the Clyde Edwards-Helaire pick at 2.01 and the Cam Akers pick at 6.11. Michael Pittman in the 12th is a nice pick and he has a nice trio of QBs.
I am all about grabbing your player, but Julio Jones is not a first-round pick. If he would have taken a RB like Drake, Jones or Ekeler instead of Julio, then he wouldn’t have had to take David Montgomery in the 3rd and could have gone Allen Robinson and DJ Moore in the 3rd and 4th. A Jones/CEH/ARob/Moore or J Jones/CEH/Montgomery/Moore? It is not close to me… the first group, please.
It’s hard to take a QB so early and Team 12 pays the price. I like Josh Jacobs and Lamar Jackson okay as a start, but not what follows.
Besides maybe Michael Gallup, there is no upside to his WR group. No backups to his RBs, unless you count rookie DeeJay Dallas in Seattle.
Waited too long for TEs, as Greg Olsen as your TE1 will not bring home a championship. And another team taking four Defenses when they are in desperate need of some upside darts.
Looking at all the teams, I will be competitive against some tough teams and you never know when injuries start happening who will emerge. Learned some lessons, such don’t take a QB early, and that I am not a fan of 1.01. Hope to see you in some NFFC 25/50s, my team name is SWAMI CAT… if you see me in your drafts, be sure to say hello!