2019 Yahoo Best Ball Position Guide

by DFSx42
2019 Yahoo Best Ball Position Guide

In my 2019 Yahoo Best Ball Position Guide we'll delve into some more detail on each position available to draft in Yahoo Best Ball Fantasy Football.

An introduction of best ball is here and my own tiers and rankings can be found here.

See Fantasy Six Pack's official best ball rankings here.

F6P's traditional fantasy football rankings here.

Look out for the upcoming article on reciprocal pairing, which is part of advanced strategy.

2019 Yahoo Best Ball Position Guide

Yahoo has added best ball! (receive $10 worth of points when you sign up with this link).

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QB: A Mystery for Mahomes and Watson

You'll need to ask yourself one question heading into this draft:

How likely is it Patrick Mahomes will be significantly better than any other quarterback in fantasy?

Another way to look at it is to ask yourself if the difference between a WR/RB in the 2nd round vs a WR/RB from the 8th-10th round is the same as the difference between Mahomes and another QB.  That's the price you pay if you take Mahomes.

The math defends an early pick on Mahomes.  If I ran an optimizer that didn't account for game theory, it would tell me to take Mahomes with the first pick every time.

Mahomes scored a good 100 points or so more than the next best options, that's just absurd.   Simply put, someone who had Mahomes last year but no team defense would have still outscored most opponents.  Even with expected regression, Pat is still very likely to put up more fantasy points than anyone else.

There are some minor arguments against drafting Mahomes:

  • Unlikely to repeat 2018 performance
  • A top 5 QB will likely be drafted nearly 10 rounds after Mahomes - QB is insanely deep and level
  • Early pick on QB will leave you scrambling to make up ground at other  positions

Then there is the biggest argument against an early pick on Mahomes.  He could still be available next round.

In my dozens of real money drafts, he's gone anywhere from top 3 to 50th.  There really is no set point where he goes.  You literally can't say that about any other early round picks.  This means the team that takes Mahomes in the first round will be significantly worse than the team that gambled and was still able to grab him in the 4th or 5th round.

It's a test of patience.  How long can you let the #1 fantasy football player go undrafted? Mahomes is the fantasy football marshmallow test.

In the end, there's really no wrong answer.  There's the game theory solution of fading Mahomes and math solution that says he should be the #1 pick.  Understandably, he often gets drafted somewhere in the middle of those two viewpoints.  It all comes down to personal preference.  Whichever path you choose, whoever drafts Mahomes is going to have a solid QB on their hands regardless of the price that was paid.

Don't Dig Deeper Watson

Deshaun Watson also has a lot of hype and garners many early picks as well.  I can defend an early pick on Mahomes but not one on Watson.  My golden rule is to never draft for the ceiling in early rounds.   I try to reduce variance by taking lines that which don't rely upon someone having a career year to pay off.  If Watson is anywhere close to last year's output then people who drafted him will suffer heavily.

I like Watson, he's my #2 QB.  Yet Houston has arguably one of the most difficult fantasy schedules.  As good as he could be, it's unlikely to be much better than another QB drafted several rounds later.

If You Reach, Reach with a Purpose

Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson should be a part of many championship rosters, but it won't simply happen by accident.  The people who make it work did an exceptional job the rest of the draft plugging all the holes they have from having one less top WR/RB.  I won't be following that path, but that doesn't make it an invalid strategy.

Another reasonable time to reach at QB is to match them with each other and with your receivers.

Your QB1 and QB2 should have complementary schedules.  The next article in this series will discuss this in great detail and provide some useful charts for these purposes.

The easier simpler route is stacking QBs with their own receivers for big game correlation.  In a recent F6P best ball league, someone took Luck a bit early because he already had TY Hilton.   Without already owning Hilton, it'd be a bit of a head scratcher.  But it makes sense to forfeit a little draft equity to get that big game multiplier.
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Just use common sense when you team stack.  Brady as QB1 when you have Edelman or White has the makings of a losing team.  Brady as QB2 on that same team could pay big dividends.

Tight Ends and Loose Rankings

With deep rosters, the tight end position is ideal for best ball.   With tight rosters, it's a minefield.  Yahoo best ball only has 200 players drafted, so thread carefully.

The TE zerg swarm just isn't feasible in this format because you'd have to take largely worthless TEs over productive receivers.  This is truly heartbreaking.  I'd love to stock up on 4 inconsistent guys like Jordan Thomas and just collect their random touchdowns.  But there's no way I'm ignoring the half dozen 800 yard wide receivers still available in the final round to accomplish that.

Furthermore, depth at TE means holes everywhere else.  That make this strategy so ridiculous, we can't even label it a fantasy as this is already fantasy football.  Mark this a formal request for Yahoo to launch fever dream football next year.

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TE zergling fever dreams aside, there's a significant dropoff after TE14.  So this is a key position to pay attention to during your draft.  Be prepared to punt draft equity to get your guy if you see supplies running low.

Most TEs are heavily game script dependent, so it's very difficult to have any sort of reasonable projections for them.  The mid tier guys could just as easily give anywhere from 400 to 900 yards and 3-12 TDs.   Yahoo tellingly projects them all for roughly the same amount of yards and TDs.  Another reason for me to prioritize getting a top one or double dipping into the mid tiers.

The lack of uncertainty after the eliter options are why Kelce and Ertz do well in my rankings. When one of those two don't fall on my lap in the early rounds, I'm absolutely dead set on getting one of the guys in the next tier down and then prioritize a second once all the big holes are plugged.

TE is where I tend to reach the most.  Don't sleep on TE or you could easily wind up relying upon Jordan Reed and Mike Gesicki.

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Despite the premium on TEs, Dallas Goedert is drafted too early.  He's taken long before many starters.  With only the top 200 in play, you can't be wasting mid-round picks on what-if scenarios.  Especially if the best-case scenario is just being another league-average player at the position.  If Ertz gets hurt, Goedert doesn't become the second coming of Tony Gonzalez. He's going to give you more or less the same as an old Jimmy Graham.  Yet, an old Jimmy Graham can be drafted several rounds later.  Old Jimmy Graham also doesn't need someone else to get hurt to give you old Jimmy Graham production.

RB: Relax, It's Out of Your Control Anyway

Unless you're willing to go way against the crowd and punt your draft equity, the players you end up rostering in the first two rounds has everything to do with your draft position and little to do with your own personal strategy.

So long as you don't go too contrarian, it's basically impossible to screw up your first two picks.  The differences between those players at the end of the year is going to be driven by things you couldn't possibly have foreseen when you draft anyway.  They are all outstanding and anyone of them could easily be the #1 pick next year.  Frankly, you can autodraft first 3-4 rounds and it won't hurt you a bit.

Only one player will actually get to decide if he prefers Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott. Everyone will get to decide whether or not to take Kerryon Johnson.

Too much time is wasted on ranking the top runnings backs.  Prioritize your brain cells on the next tiers down where you will actually be making real decisions that matter.  Focus on the Kerryon Johnsons of the world, those are the only decision points that matter.

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It's not just Gordon's ADP that can dive

Gordon & Gurley Uncertainty (& Now Zeke too!)

Thus, my only thoughts on the upper crust of RB is on whom to rule out.   Since I prioritize safe floors in the early rounds, I'm fading Gurley and Gordon.

Gurley has too many concerns about his health.  If healthy, it's still unclear if he'd ever get the same workload again.  If I'm wrong about both, well... RBs tend to expire quickly anyway. I'd rather quit a back a year too early than a year too late.

Likewise, Gordon was already a borderline first rounder in my mind.  Yet with all the uncertainty, he's still drafted in the first round.  His contract situation makes it easy to push him far enough back I know I'll never get him.

It normally makes sense to target the guys who I believe will take up the slack with Gurley and Gordon.  I haven't been grabbing Darrell Henderson due to concerns he'd still be part of a dreaded committee. I do however often end up reaching out and grabbing Ekeler as my RB5 around the 11th round or so if he's still around.  Unlike Dallas Goedert, someone like Ekeler would be an early-round pick if he earned the starting spot.  He has the upside to chase and if he doesn't get it, he's not an unreasonable pick that late given his secondary role in the offense.

A Special Note About Job Security

Ekeler goes much later in traditional fantasy football drafts than in best ball drafts.  Yet, Justin Jackson is usually undrafted despite being part of traditional fantasy league drafts.  The reason for this paradox is job security.

In traditional fantasy football, very little of your team will survive waivers and bye weeks.  Simply put, there's a lot of churn.  Most draft picks will at some point be discarded and therefore hold less value.  You'll likely drop most of your late picks anyway, so it pays dividends to chase upside with those throwaway picks in traditional fantasy football.

Without being able to waiver wire yourself out of failed draft picks, spending a pick on Justin Jackson becomes an untenable position in best ball.  If it fails, and it most likely will, then you're stuck with a zero.  One unproductive player is survivable, but the teams who are ok with drafting a Justin Jackson often get several iterations of him.  Furthermore, you'll have bye weeks and injuries coming up as well.  As the zeroes pile up, it can sink your team.  In contrast to Jackson, Ekeler will still produce solid fantasy points even if Gordon works out a deal before week 1.

Job security is the largest input factor into my best ball rb rankings.  Unfortunately, it's not very easily quantifiable.  I can't peer into the minds of the coaches and front offices.  With so much subjectivity, you're own rankings will likely be far different from my own.  Just be sure to account for the fact the dangers of a back losing his job.

The more I look at RB, the more reasons I find to hedge towards more WR centric teams in best ball.
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Wide Receivers Go Fast

Best ball has 3 WR slots plus the flex spot.  All those slots and the natural variance of the position means this is where you want to focus most of your depth.  A team of 3 quality RBs of different bye weeks is not ideal in best ball.  But with only 2 spots of need it's not only feasible but often a championship formula.  Meanwhile, a team of less than 5 quality WRs is a disaster.

In traditional fantasy football, I'm of the belief in spending heavy on RB for early picks.  I'll pass up a few picks of equity to get the next best RB remaining instead of an elite WR.  Yet in best ball, I won't panic draft an RB.  I'll keep taking the receivers offered up.  The time to panic at RB is when they are running short on supply and you still don't have 3 that are starters.

Furthermore, everyone else wants those WR depth pieces as well.  It's not uncommon for someone to draft WR4 before TE1 for this reason.  So if you happened to have gone RB in the early rounds, make sure to hammer home the last remaining good WR options while they are still around.

Coveted 800 Yards vs Unwanted 800 Yards

The cliche that it's far better to get your WR numbers in big batches in best ball is true.  What's not true is the ability to predict lopsided production.

When you peg a guy as boom or bust or as floor pick in your mind, you're probably grossly exaggerating, if not outright lying to yourself.  Look at the raw numbers and not the names.  I think you'd be surprised that most wide receivers experience the same ups and downs.  Here's a hint, whenever most players earning a certain label have less than 3 seasons of production, it's more about sample size driving false narratives than anything else.

There is far more equity in running contrarian here than paying for labels.  Don't go out there hunting snarks.

Godwin and Ridley have the coveted boom/bust labels and thus you'll need to use an early pick to get one.  Meanwhile, Humphries and Sanu are consistent and boring guys who often go undrafted.  Yet despite that gap in ADP, they all finished 2018 within 26 yards of each other.

Ridley only had 2 games of either 100 yards or 2 TDs and Godwin had 3. Humphries and Sanu had one each.  Touts abound lauding the insane boom and bust qualities of the former, but they were essentially the same as the latter.

There are obviously other factors in play here. Despite the similarities of last year, Godwin and Ridley are way above those two in my rankings.  I'm just trying to illustrate that you shouldn't necessarily ignore the boring guys.  Nor should you overvalue the "boom" guys.  Some best ball rankings are irresponsibly optimistic on those two.  People tend to take the boom and bust idea and run with it to such absurd heights that you can find a lot of value in just being slightly contrarian.  My rankings preferring Ridley and Godwin over Sanu and Humphries has more to do with age and team situations than any notions of boom and bust.

But not Mike Evans, Mike Evans was designed for best ball.  Some of the boom/bust guys actually deserve that reputation and he is one of them.  I have my suspicions his variance has more to do with his team than him personally... but he's still on that team.  I'm jamming Mike Evans in all the lineups I can get him in.  TB coincidentally factors heavily in separating Godwin from Ridley as well.

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A Tale of Two Defenses

For defense, I have one system and one system only.

Yahoo Best Ball DST Barometer Flowchart

I'm of the school of thought that your DEF1 will play most weeks whereas your RB4 or WR6 probably won't.   You also can't play the defense of the week via waivers. Therefore, I tend to value taking a good one for DEF1 a bit more than most other players in best ball.

In contrast, I'm from the school of thought that DEF/DST should be the last pick in traditional fantasy football.  I honestly don't believe there is much difference between them because scoring is heavily influenced by infrequent and unpredictable events like a pick six.

So I want a good defense but am indifferent about which one of several I draft.  This led to the strategy posted in the image above. I'm happy to use Chicago as a canary in the coal mine instead of as a draft target.

Why are team defenses worth more in best ball?

The inability to play waivers severely impacts rankings.  In traditional fantasy football, you have half the league to choose from freely on waivers each week.  There's a good chance several of them have a better matchup than whatever team defense you currently roster.  Traditional fantasy football defense is a FWB whereas best ball is a shotgun wedding.  No longer able to play the field, you better be sure you wind up with a good one.

But more importantly, this is a shotgun wedding from the state of Utah.  So you go through the process twice.  Having two average defenses with complementary schedules will prove much more valuable than two elite ones that don't mesh well together.  I'll go into this further in the next article where I provide a table of defenses that make good and bad pairs.

An equally valid counterpoint is that this is defense and they are all the same.  Quit being a nerd and draft who you like wherever you please.

I honestly can't argue against that. Having a system makes me feel like I'm in control.  Peace of mind, no matter how false it may be, can be nice to have on your side.  Models can't accurately account for coaching decisions, luck, nor injuries.   So even if the model is perfect, it'll still often be wrong.  Thus both  "LOL Defense" or "Take CHI in the 4th" are perfectly valid approaches if you're into it.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY8jaGs7xJ0[/embedyt]

Like QB, there really is no way to mess up in drafting DEF.  Either pay to get the elite one or draft any other much later.  The only way to truly screw it up is not covering your bye week.

Good luck everyone!

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[…] However, if you think that defense matters, these would be the teams in order of my best ball model’s preference.  I’ve also listed the teams to target and avoid as DEF2.  For further reading, here’s a refresher on my defense draft strategy in part 2 of this series. […]


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