Fantasy Football Best Ball: Identifying Late Round WRs

by Preston White
Fantasy Football Best Ball: Identifying Late Round WR

Welcome to class. Today we will be talking Fantasy Football Best Ball and identifying late round WRs!

With the NFL season quickly approaching there's no better way to prepare for the action than with some Best Ball drafts. Best Ball drafts can prepare you for both Fantasy Football redraft leagues and DFS season.

The format can provide a much more accurate view of player valuations, and the way the board moves, since real money is involved. And since real money is involved, you can actually win money too.

With that said, if you're looking to get into Best Ball drafting, be sure to check out Underdog fantasy. While you're there, you can use our sign-up link to receive a free draft.

Fantasy Football Best Ball: Identifying Late Round WR

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What are late-round wide receivers?

You might be wondering what exactly defines a late-round wide receiver. For the sake of this article, I'll be defining them as wide receivers that are drafted in the 16th round or beyond.

In other words, these are wide receivers with an ADP above 192. If you've ever done a Best Ball draft before, you know pickings can get slim in those last few rounds.

In reality, every pick just feels like a dart throw. It's not like you can avoid the wide receiver position in these rounds either, especially considering most every position is filled with uncertainty at the end of the draft.

I do typically prefer to draft wide receivers in this range though. For the most part, I'm taking a wide receiver in two of the three last rounds.

This is because late-round wide receivers can actually provide "usable weeks". It's just a matter of drafting the right ones. So let's take a look at how we can draft wide receivers that aren't total duds.

What makes up the best late-round wide receivers?

In order to better identify late-round wide receiver targets, I analyzed a variety of stats for these players to determine if there are any trends. These stats came from players that provided at least one "usable week" in 2020.

A "usable week" is defined as a week in which a wide receiver scores 12+ points in PPR or 10+ points in half-PPR. These "usable weeks" were determined through weekly hit rates, which I discussed in my Wide Receiver Hit Rates article.

By compiling these players together, we can identify trends to determine which wide receivers have the best shot at actually making it into our lineups, and contributing to our scores.

For the sake of this analysis, I've focused on three primary stats. These include targets, touchdowns, and average depth of target (aDOT).


Targets can paint the picture of the type of role a player had. If a player is only seeing a couple of targets week to week, chances are they don't have a significant role on their team.


Looking at the data, it's clear there is a wide range of players that are found at the end of drafts. Some players like Tee Higgins, breakout into consistent roles where they have multiple weeks of double-digit targets.

Alternatively, players like Jalen Guyton caught one ball for 72 yards and a touchdown and made it into your lineup. Aside from the extremes, the average targets being almost seven indicates that these players typically don't get lucky across a week.

What I mean by that, is that they are less likely to have that crazy 1/72/1 line that Guyton had. Typically, these receivers actually maintained a role throughout the game by seeing six or more targets.


Touchdowns are a clear indicator of volatility. They are extremely unpredictable compared to stats like targets and receptions.

At the same time, touchdowns are huge for Best Ball. If a player scores a touchdown, he's already more than halfway to a usable week - even if he only earned one receiving yard on the catch.


The range of outcomes for touchdowns further demonstrates there are some very different players we are dealing with in the late rounds. Chase Claypool actually fits both molds here.

With Claypool being a breakout player, he had some weeks of massive volume. This included a week of 13 targets with no touchdowns, in which the volume carried him into your lineup. At the same time, Claypool had a week in which he posted three touchdowns due to his breakout role.

At the end of the day, it's important to realize that most of these late-round wide receivers that make it into your lineup do so on weeks in which they also make it into the end zone. In this sample, 65% of receivers with "usable weeks" scored at least one touchdown.

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Average Depth of Target (aDOT)

A common player type targeted in these late rounds is the extreme speed, deep vertical threat receiver. This is because these players are very volatile. Occasionally, they can turn four targets into three receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Because of this tendency, these players are coined as "better in Best Ball". While you definitely don't want these high aDOT players in a managed league, let's see if they really are what we are after in Best Ball:


Again, the range of player types is large here. It's important to note, for reference, that the median season-long aDOT was 10.35 yards (minimum 25 targets).

While the average can be skewed by high aDOT outliers, the median still fell at 11.00 yards. A prime example of one of these outliers is Tyron Johnson, who managed to score 12.3 PPR points in a game with one single target. That one target came with 52 air yards from Justin Herbert.

Additionally, 56% of these cases had an aDOT higher than that of the season-long median. So yes, the needle does lean slightly towards the down fields threats.

Late-Round Wide Receiver Categories

It's important to understand what these ideal late-round wide receivers look like. To do so, I've broken down the ones that actually have a chance at making it into our lineups into three categories.

  1. The Breakout Candidates: These are the wide receivers that provide "usable weeks" consistently throughout the year. Think Hunter Renfrow or Amon-Ra St. Brown from 2021. This is the goldmine that we hope to hit with every late-round draft pick.
  2. The Down Field Threats: These are the speedy, high aDOT guys we've discussed. The volume is never there, but they're always a touchdown away from making it into your lineup. These are the Van Jeffersons and Jalen Guyton's of Fantasy Football.
  3. The Product of Opportunity: Some receivers naturally see an uptick in targets on a given week. This can be from starters being out or based on game script. Think K.J. Osborn or Joshua Palmer from 2021.

When identifying these wide receivers, it's clear we want the one that can make it into our lineup the most. These frequent lineup fliers are typically going to be the breakout candidates.

While drafting true breakout players, such as Amon-Ra St. Brown, is great, there are other viable options too. The options often come from receiving rooms we have question marks on.

Nelson Agholor from the 2020 season is a prime example of this. When Agholor moved to Las Vegas, there was uncertainty surrounding his role. As it turns out, Agholor became the WR1 on his team, and provided plenty of "usable weeks".


At the end of the day, I want to prioritize wide receivers with uncertainty regarding their roles. I want to take shots on the players that could work their way up the depth chart, and see an expanded role from what's expected.

While the other categories of late-round wide receivers can still make it into our lineups, it happens a lot less. It certainly isn't the end of the world if our 18th-round pick only makes it into our lineup a couple of times.

It could be worse, after all. There were plenty of wide receivers that were drafted, but never scored double-digit points on a given week.

From an upside standpoint, if we want to have the best shot at winning the more condensed payout structure tournaments (Underdog's Best Ball Mania II), we want bigger hits on our late-round wide receivers. We want the league winners.

With that said, be on the lookout for my next article. I plan to utilize the data from this article to find and discuss late-round wide receiver targets for 2020 Best Ball.

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