Welcome to a new series I’m starting up! Every few weeks or so, I’ll document and recap ADP trends that we’re seeing in Best Ball 10s run by our friends at the NFFC.
At the end of the day, fantasy is a game about a game and the path to winning starts with exploiting prices. In my opinion, the only way to get useful ADP data is from actual leagues where players have skin in the game. Which is unlike ADP sourced from Big Brand sites that run non-competitive mock drafts where there is always some Jabroni that takes five straight quarterbacks and then a kicker in the 6th round. You’re not doing yourself any favors wasting time with that.
Obviously, this column will be slanted towards best ball formats, but there will be a fair amount of overlap between regular redraft season-long leagues, too. BB10s are structured like most redraft leagues — your starting roster is 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 FLEX, and 1 D/ST — so the insights and trends will matter for both games.
The BB10 ADP tool is completely free and has filters where you can get fresh data daily. I’ll be comparing the last three weeks of data (5/25 - 6/20) to the previous three after the draft (5/1 - 5/24) here.
Let’s get to it.
Russell Gage (WR, Atl) — Up 26 spots to 147 overall (13th round)
This is obviously a fallout from the Julio Jones trade. Gage is a fine depth WR5/6 to target in drafts, but I question his ceiling. In the eight games that Julio has missed over the last two combined years, Gage has averaged 11.7 fantasy points per game and saw a sturdy 17% target share. That 11.7 FPG equates to mid-range WR4 numbers, but that was obviously before the selection of Kyle Pitts, and the team changed coaching staffs. At the end of the day, Calvin Ridley and Pitts are going to dominate targets here and leave Gage as a distant third on the totem pole. Joe Dolan and I were both all-in on Gage when he only cost an 18th-19th round pick last year, but he’s now going in a range where I’m shooting for upside — not floor.
Giovani Bernard (RB, TB) — Up 18 spots to 183 overall (16th round)
Drafters are warming up to Bernard potentially playing a lowercase version of the “James White role” from Tom Brady’s Patriot days. Bernard doesn’t have 70-80 catches in his range of outcomes like White once did, but he’s going to play enough snaps to potentially zap Leonard Fournette’s upside as the team’s primary pass-catching back. Last year during the Bucs’ Super Bowl run, Fournette out-snapped Ronald Jones by a massive 119 to 15 margin on passing downs. Granted, RoJo was dealing with an injury — but that still highlights how HC Bruce Arians views Fournette and Jones’ roles. I’m taking stabs at all three of these guys in best ball because they’re all cheap, fit any team build, and this Bucs’ offense will generate a ton of layup TD opportunities, but I want no part of this headache in weekly start/sit leagues.
Kyle Pitts (TE, Atl)— Up 17 spots to 56 overall (5th round)
I’ve never seen hype about a rookie take off like the Pitts rocket ship has this summer. Pitts is now a locked-in 5th round pick and is getting taken ahead of Mark Andrews (60 overall ADP) and T.J. Hockenson (63 overall). At this rate, Pitts will be a 4th round pick by mid-July and will start going before WR2-types like Adam Thielen, Diontae Johnson, Tyler Lockett, and Cooper Kupp. For some background, now that Pitts is the fourth tight end off of the board, he will have to average around 13.3 PPR points per game to pay off his ADP — which is what the TE4 in FPG has put up over the last five years. How likely is that? Well, only one tight end has ever put up more than 13.3 FPG in their rookie campaign and that was Mike Ditka back in 1961. Everyone is thirsty for a tight end not named Kelce, Waller, or Kittle to ascend and make it a “Big Four” at the position. I get it. But by taking Pitts in the 4th or 5th round, you are not only betting on him to have the best rookie season ever at the position (which is reasonable) but you need him to do so by a considerable margin (which takes a big leap in projection). Right now, our projections have Pitts at TE6 behind Andrews and Hockenson.
Trey Sermon (RB, SF) — Up 12 spots to 89 overall (8th round)
The Sermon hype is going to get out of control by the time Training Camp rolls around. He’s jumped a round in ADP since Jeff Wilson (knee) got hurt and I have a feeling he’s going to eventually pass Raheem Mostert (77 overall ADP) as the first 49ers back off of the board. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of Sermon’s game but this isn’t going to be a Javonte Williams-Melvin Gordon situation where the veteran is in danger of being ethered. Mostert will be 100% over the ankle injury that plagued him for all of 2020 and Kyle Shanahan will be able to go with a four-deep rotation among Sermon, Mostert, Wayne Gallman, and Elijah Mitchell. Does Shanahan change his stripes and go with a clear cut lead back?
Elijah Moore (WR, NYJ) — Up 12 spots to 159 overall (14th round)
If you have been following any of the news coming out of the Jets OTAs, you’ll know that Moore has been the best offensive player on the field according to all of the team’s beat writers. I’m always reluctant to fall into Hype Traps, but you’re not paying anywhere near the iron price to get Moore on your team. The Jets bringing back Jamison Crowder takes some of the steam out of Moore’s ceiling, but on the plus side, it will probably keep Moore’s price palatable all summer. Moore is undersized, but his separation and route-running savvy will immediately earn him snaps as a boundary receiver in the Jets 3-WR sets especially since Denzel Mims has been stuck on the second-team offense during OTAs. I’ve got Moore ranked 3 rounds ahead of his ADP in our staff best ball ranks.
Jeffery Wilson (RB, SF) — Down 34 spots to 168 overall (14th/15th round)
Wilson is the auto-draft special in the late rounds these days. Just don’t be that guy or gal. After tearing his meniscus, Wilson will start the year on PUP and then have a long pathway back to earning snaps with Sermon, Mostert, and potentially Gallman all in his way.
Josh Reynolds (WR, Ten) — Down 19 spots to 225 overall (19th round)
No surprise here. Reynolds is going to be a rotational player in this Titans offense with the addition of Julio and I suspect he’ll only end up playing on 50-60% of the team’s snaps every week. Keep in mind, even though Arthur Smith has moved on, Tennessee simply promoted tight ends coach Todd Downing to offensive coordinator. That means there will be a large holdover in terminology and scheme with Downing calling plays and I’d imagine he’ll stick with 2-TE as the base offense. Last year, the Titans played with at least two tight ends on the field on a league-leading 48% of their offensive snaps. Anthony Firsker will be the “move” tight end and line up in the slot while Geoff Swaim will line up on the line of scrimmage. All of that spells fewer snaps for Reynolds.
Jameis Winston (QB, NO) — Down 12 spots to 194 overall (17th round)
The NFFC’s 35-round Best Ball Championship tournament is the perfect format to get exposure to Winston and Tayson Hill because you have to draft 3-4 QBs no matter what, but outside of that, I am usually taking 2 QBs in the normal 20-round BB10s. Instead of taking a third passer, you’re just much better off rolling with 2 QBs and using that pick on a receiver or a third defense. According to RotoViz’s win rate tool, team’s that take 2 QBs have a higher win rate (8.9%) and average more total points (2,247) than team’s that take 3 QBs (8% win rate; 2,231 average score). Since we’re playing with a strict 2-QB build in mind, it pretty much takes you out of the market on Winston since Hill likely gets the first shot at starting.
David Johnson (RB, Hou) — Down 10 spots to 102 overall (9th round)
There are quite a few things working against D.J. in 2021. The Deshaun Watson situation is looming over the Texans’ head, the team has added a ton of competition in the backfield for snaps, and Johnson will turn 30 in December. I never want to be in the business of drafting aging backs on bad teams (remember Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell last year?) at any cost. Best ball is a game of not only drafting the best team, but one of opportunity cost. D.J. might look like a value in the 9th round, but is he really going to put up enough contributing weeks on what will be a bottom-3 team without Watson? I don’t want to waste a 9th rounder to find out.