Best Ball League Winners for 2023 (Fantasy Football)
You’ve been drafting all summer. Everybody and their mama have some exposure to the same players.
But… do you have a true league winner? Last year, we highlighted Rhamondre Stevenson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Chris Olave as smash picks that came through for best ball drafters. On the most recent Fantasy Footballers DFS & Betting Podcast, we shared our Best Ball League Winners for 2023.
We’ll go position-by-position and highlight some statistical marks giving credence to what we are looking for in our picks.
Here are the three simple criteria for league-winning QBs:
- Spike Weeks Galore- 3+ weeks with 25+ pts or 7 top-10 performances
- Elevating Teammates– In stacks, this QB can elevate lower ADP teammates.
- Elite Advance Rate- above 20%… 8 QBs accomplished this in 2021, 9 QBs in 2022
Justin Herbert– QB7/54.6
This is a bet on regression, positive regression that is. His TD rate (5.7%) in 2021 fell to 3.6% in 2022. Beyond just his cannon arm, he quietly should score a few more times with his legs in 2023. 14 QBs logged 50+ rush attempts in 2022. Justin Herbert is the only one who didn’t score a single TD on the ground. 12 of those 14 QBs scored 3+ times with their legs. We were drafting Herbert last year as the QB2. His situation arguably has gotten much better and now he’s QB7 off the board. New OC Kellen Moore brings an up-tempo approach and an increased aDOT. The offensive line should be much more healthy and the combo of Mike Williams, Keenan Allen plus the addition of 1st Round WR talent in Quentin Johnston stockpiles the weapons in Herbert’s favor. What’s the difference between the archetype of Joe Burrow (QB4) and Herbert (QB7)? For a more detailed look, Betz highlighted Herbert in his QBs to Take a Stance On article.
Josh Allen– QB3/27.7
You really don’t need a ton of convincing that Josh Allen is #goodatthegame. In fantasy, you know the inherent upside every week. Then why is this dude being drafted as the QB3 behind Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts?! Last year, he had 11(!) weeks as a top-5 QB, the most among all QBs. Heck, nearly 70 % of his starts he finished as a top-5 guy. He’s the cheapest of the “elite 3” yet he feels the most rock solid in terms of weekly spike weeks, which is all I care about in Best Ball. I’ve personally taken a stance of not drafting the first two and going all-in on Allen as the one elite QB I’m targeting. His stacking options are also cheaper than they’ve ever been. Outside of Stefon Diggs, it is so affordable to attack him to Gabe Davis, one of the TEs, or super late guys like Khalil Shakir. Josh Allen has the highest odds of finishing #1 at the QB position and that is reflected in my best ball rankings.
Here are the three simple criteria for league-winning RBs:
- Sustained Greatness– 5+ top-12 weeks or 10+ inside top-20
- Other Elite RBs Fail– We aren’t wishing ill on anyone but if CMC, Ekeler, Bijan, JTT, Saquon, Henry fail… this player becomes even more valuable later.
- Elite Advance Rate– Above 20%… 30 RBs the Last 2 Years
David Montgomery– RB24/81.1
We’ve been banging the drum for Montgomery all summer long. Jamaal Williams ran for over 1,000 yards and led the NFL in rushing scores. He had 46(!) attempts inside the 10-yard line. What did Detroit do? Let him walk, only to pay Monty MORE on the open market. Montgomery signed a three-year, $18 million contract including the fifth-most guaranteed cash ($11 million) of any free-agent running back since 2020. Jahmyr Gibbs is a talent but at 199, he is never going to be a major goal-line guy. Montgomery also has contingent upside if Gibbs goes down. Detroit targeted RBs 21% of the time last year, 11th highest rate in the league and Monty has 34+ receptions in 3 straight seasons. The current depth chart is also lacking behind Amon-Ra St. Brown considering Jameson Williams‘ 6-game suspension. We certainly shouldn’t expect 17 rushing scores from Montgomery after an outlier 95th percentile season from JWilly, but Montgomery finding his way to 8-to-12 TDs in a good offense is certainly in the range of potential outcomes. On a half-PPR site like Underdog, TDs make up a large portion of a player’s score, making Montgomery the ideal target in this scoring system.
Joe Mixon– RB15/49.9
If we were reassured that Mixon is the starting RB of this team, he would be drafted a good 20 picks higher in Best Ball. This is all about grabbing the cheapest part of an elite offense. You might be scratching your head why we would want to bank on an aging RB in BestBall? Well, he can still get it done and the depth chart behind him is uninspiring, to say the least. A whopping 25% of his fantasy points came via 5-TD explosion in Week 9. You can look at that as a bad thing or flip the coin and see he has massive weekly spike potential in one of the NFL’s best offenses. Mixon underperformed last year with the 5th most expected fantasy points, 5th most RB receptions, and 2nd most carries inside the 10-yard line. Samaje Perine and his nine opportunities per game are gone giving Mixon a clear path to dominate touches. His ADP is juicy as an RB2 or an RB1 on early-WR builds. It shouldn’t shock anyone if Mixon finished as a top-8 RB and vastly outperforms where he is being drafted.
Here are the three simple criteria for league-winning WRs:
- Can they hit double-digit TDs?
- Late with Awesome Offense– Can we find them past pick 60 in a top-10 in ppg offense?
- Elite Advance Rate– Above 22%… 15 WRs accomplished this in 2021, 21 WRs accomplished this in 2022
Tyler Lockett– WR34/64.4
What else can Tyler Lockett do for you? He’s been a top-15 WR in 5 straight seasons with 8+ TDs in each of those seasons. His 12.5 fantasy points per game versus DK Metcalf‘s 11.5 over their last 32 games played together makes the distance in their draft cost (40 picks!) somewhat confusing. But Lockett has been doubted every single year of his career. Age is a slight concern, but he showed zero signs of slowing down: 1.89 YPRR, 20.6% TPRR, and 13th among WRs in DVOA per Football Outsiders. He’s still #good at getting open: #2 in ESPN’s open rate behind only Diontae Johnson and #5 in Target Separation metric. Seattle is an offense we want to buy into across the board. They ranked 8th in Pass Rate over Expectation and 7th in neutral situation pass rate in 2022. They add JSN, which means they should continue to be pass-heavy in 2023.
Gabe Davis– WR41/77.8
You likely are grimacing. Gabe Davis? I thought we already read this story? Last year, Davis was going 44th overall and creeping into the 3rd round in many drafts. Woof. He finished as the WR27 on 93 targets for 48/836/7. He added 105.7 best ball points on average with an 18.7 % advance rate. But the opportunity cost of a 3rd or 4th round pick is what killed people. This year? We’re talking WR41 pricetag which is perfect for his type of archetype in best ball. If simply repeats or slightly regresses from last year’s numbers, he’d actually hit the 22% advance rate mark we were looking for. But the best part is basically nothing changed in his situation. He’s still going to be an every-down player running routes outside with fantasy’s premier gunslinger (see above.) Davis had 12 receptions of 20+ yards in 2022 (top-8 mark among WRs) including five deep TDs. The Bills stack of Allen-Davis is so much more affordable than last year. He’s the Ballers Consensus WR32 and the dude is entering a contract year at just 24 years old. Don’t bury Gabe Davis just yet.
Mark Andrews– TE2/29.7
Let’s not forget how good Mark Andrews can be.
- Weeks 1-6 last year: Producing as a top 12 WR, averaging 16 half PPR points/game
- Weeks 7-9: Knee Injury
- Weeks 11 on: Lamar injury
The Baltimore offense should be up in tempo and pass rate with new OC Todd Monken. Since Lamar has taken over, the Ravens have never ranked higher than 29th in neutral pace. The Bucs under Todd Monken: 4th, 4th, 11th in pace. That has been the main headline in camp reports: playing faster. We all want to chase Baltimore WRs because they are cheap…but what if the answer is Mark Andrews? This is also a bet against Kelce’s ADP (6th overall). His 15.4 PPG last year was the 2nd highest of Kelce’s career at 32 years old. Per John Daigle of 4for4, only 3 TEs have averaged 15+ PPG since 2015 and only 9 have done that since 2008. 2008 was also the last time the TE2-12 averaged less than 9 PPG. Kelce should regress and the TEs going after him in ADP should perform better if we use historical data. Andrews is a smash pick in the 3rd round and easily Betz’s highest-exposure TE.
Chigoziem Okonkwo– TE11/129.7
It’s been Chig all along. Since the beginning of March, I’ve been heaping up as much Chig propaganda as possible. Way back in March, Andy, Mike, and Jason shared some of their Things to Remember for 2023. I added the final point entitling it “Get your Tight Ends Checked Out Early” using as many derriere extraordinaire puns as possible. It ended in declaring my love for Chig and following that up with an article entitled How Do We Identify Breakout TEs? Beyond the hype, I thought his ADP would be steamed up even more. TE11 is a fair market price but going near pick 130 is a crime when you consider the type of big-play TE available in Best Ball. His 2.61 yards per route run led all TEs in 2022 (min. 40 targets) and ranked 2nd among all pass-catchers behind only Tyreek Hill. While Chig’s total volume (45) certainly skews some of our views with such a small sample size, it’s worth noting how stats like aDOT and YPRR can stabilize over a short period of time. As Danny Tuccitto of Intentional Rounding pointed out, aDOT can stabilize fairly quickly for TEs at only nine games or approximately “32 targets and about 157 routes” according to his study. Chig meets all of those requirements but it’s his after-the-catch ability that shined as a rookie. Chig posted the 2nd best YAC per reception number (7.8) of any rookie TE since 2016 (min. 30 targets) and the 12th-best of any TE in the last seven years. Spike weeks is what you want from a TE this late. 3TE builds also afford you the ability to swing away with Chig.