Underdog Fantasy Big Dog Best Ball Tournament Recap with Borg and Betz

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By now, you’ve probably heard Kyle and I talk about Underdog Fantasy’s Best Ball Mania and Great Dane Tournaments on the DFS Podcast, but you may not have heard that Underdog is hosting another best ball tournament on their site this summer, and it’s called the Big Dog. We entered this last year, and despite a hot start to the year, our squad fell short due to injury…but we’re back!…and writing up every pick in this article after we make a selection in our slow draft. These articles can often be helpful to understand the “why” behind selecting a player when we do.

Below are the tournament details:

  • $250 buy-in
  • 2,304 max entrants
  • $100,000 to first place
  • Weeks 1-14: Qualifiers
  • Week 15: Quarterfinals
  • Week 16: Semifinals
  • Week 17: Championship
  • 18 roster spots, Start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex
  • 0.5 PPR scoring

In order to advance after Week 14, you must finish in the top four of your 12-man league. From there, entrants are randomly matched up in groups of 6 for Week 15, 8 for Week 16 and a final group of 64 for Week 17. In order to advance, you must finish in the top 2 of your group for the quarterfinals and again in the semifinals. Week 17 consists of essentially a 64-man small field tournament.

Below is pick by pick analysis of each of our 18 selections in our co-managed team from the 2 spot. Looking for more information on best ball? Be sure to check out our Best Ball Rankings and our Best Ball Primer in the 2022 Ultimate Draft Kit+.

Round 1, Pick 2 – Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

After Jonathan Taylor went 1.01, this was a no brainer pick for us as we have CMC as our consensus #1 overall player in our best ball rankings. While we did briefly discuss taking one of the elite WRs in Kupp or Jefferson, we ultimately chose to stick to our ranks and take the player who provides arguably the biggest positional advantage in all of fantasy football when healthy.

Selected over: Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson

Round 2, Pick 23 – Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

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At the back of Round 2, we were primarily deciding whether or not we wanted to go with a ‘Hero RB’ build or start RB-RB then hammer WRs in the middle rounds. After looking at our consensus rankings with Javonte coming in 22nd overall, we ultimately decided to go with the RB given that the WRs are generally much stronger than the RBs in Rounds 3-6. This has been coined by many in the industry as the ‘RB Dead Zone’ – the part of the draft where RB hit rates generally fall off a cliff. By starting RB-RB, we’re now able to avoid that zone and can also target other positions for the next 5-7 rounds. We wrote about Williams earlier this off-season in our RBs to Take a Stance On article – we love his upside in what projects to be a great offense and while Melvin Gordon will certainly get touches, there’s a possibility Williams carves out an elite role come season’s end. Of course, if anything should happen to Melvin, Javonte would be a weekly top 5 RB play.

Selected over: Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, Tee Higgins

Round 3, Pick 26 – Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts

After Mike Evans and Keenan Allen went after our Javonte pick at the turn, we were back on the clock in early Round 3. Because we went RB-RB to start, it was time to turn our attention to the WR position, especially given that both elite TEs like Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews were off the board. This spot in the draft was one where we would have been happy with a number of different wide outs. Names like A.J. Brown, Tee Higgins and Big Mike Williams were in the conversation to be our WR1, but we ultimately landed on a player we’re bullish on this season – Michael Pittman Jr. “Pitty City” as he’s known around here fits a lot of criteria we look for in a breakout WR – entering his third year, the ability to earn an elite target share, and a QB upgrade. We’re all in.

Selected over: Tee Higgins, A.J. Brown, Mike Williams

Round 4, Pick 47 – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kansas City Chiefs

After selecting just one WR through the first three rounds, our build led us to taking a WR, although we did briefly mention that we noticed Breece Hall falling past his ADP. We debated several wide outs here including D.K. Metcalf, Brandin Cooks, Rashod Bateman and Diontae Johnson. We landed on JuJu for two reasons. First, we wanted some exposure to the KC passing offense, and by selecting JuJu with this pick, we set ourselves up for a possible Mahomes stack at our next selection (Spoiler alert – that didn’t work as you’ll see Mahomes was taken with the next pick). Second, because all of the money is in the playoffs and Week 17, we used the Week 17 correlation between Javonte Williams and JuJu as a final tie breaker. KC and DEN currently have a look ahead total according to Vegas that’s approaching 50 points.

Selected over: Diontae Johnson, D.K. Metcalf, Brandin Cooks, Breece Hall

Round 5, Pick 50 – Breece Hall, New York Jets

This was our first point in the draft Borg and I had differing opinions. After going RB-RB to start, I would have much preferred to take our WR3 here as Underdog is a start 3 WR league. However, after discussing the options on the board, including the elite TEs, we ultimately couldn’t pass on the value of Hall almost 10 spots after ADP. Over the last decade, rookie RBs with an ADP inside the first 5 rounds averaged over 18 touches per game, 8.8 TD per year and 64% of them out-performed their ADP. There’s a chance Breece can be that late season hammer for us, and this 3RB room gives us a unique build relative to our opponents. We’ll plan to make up for our WR position with quantity later in the draft.

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Selected over: Brandin Cooks, Rashod Bateman, George Kittle, Darren Waller

Round 6, Pick 71 – Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

Going into Round 6, our plan was to target one of Drake London or Adam Thielen, two players we’re bullish on in our rankings. Of course, this draft room is sharp and didn’t allow those guys to make it to us, so we had to pivot. After Trey Lance went off the board the pick before us, we decided to shift our attention to the QB position given that we had about 4-5 WRs in the same tier for us. We considered names like Brandon Aiyuk, DeVonta Smith and even Christian Kirk, but we felt confident we could get one of those guys at the next pick. We didn’t want to risk not getting Russ to complete our Wilson-Javonte stack. This stack should give us access to almost all of the Denver TDs in 2022, and if this team can make the leap as a top-5 offense, we think both can beat ADP. As mentioned above, that game is one that we’ve now landed on for a Week 17 game stack, so taking Russ here makes a lot of sense. In addition, we know taking your QB1 in Rounds 6-10 has done extremely well in terms of advance rate in past seasons. We’ll hope to target someone like a K.J. Hamler late to pair Russ with a WR.

Selected over: Brandon Aiyuk, DeVonta Smith, Christian Kirk

Round 7, Pick 74 – Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers

This pick was one that was difficult for us. We knew we were taking WR here, but this feels like no mans land on Underdog based on their ADP. As previously stated, we were fine with any of Aiyuk, DeVonta Smith or Christian Kirk, but ultimately chose to take Aiyuk given that he fell past ADP. The tie breaker here for these three WRs was the San Francisco offense and the trajectory of Aiyuk’s 2nd season down the stretch in 2021. According to Vegas odds, the Niners have the highest win total and best odds to make the playoffs compared to the Eagles and Jaguars, so we used it as a tie breaker to attach ourselves to what Vegas projects as a good offense. From Week 9 on last season, Brandon Aiyuk’s 17-game pace was 78 receptions, over 1,100 yards and 7 TD. Finally out of the Kyle Shanahan dog house, let’s hope the camp hype of the Trey Lance-Aiyuk connection is real. We’ve always been a believer in his talent.

Round 8, Pick 95 – Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With an ADP of 87, we were expecting Brady to go earlier, and he wasn’t necessarily a priority target for us, but when he fell to the 8/9 turn, we decided to scoop him up as our QB2 almost 10 spots after ADP. We now have two QBs who are not only are reliable, but can provide massive spike weeks in great offenses. Therefore, we’re set on making this a 2QB build, and we’re done with the position. Brady is a guy we’ve been higher on than market all offseason. No team has thrown more over the last two seasons than Tampa, and in that same two year sample when Brady has been in Florida, he’s led the league in pass attempts from inside the 10-yard line, giving us access to plenty of 2TD and 3TD games that we need from pocket passers in best ball. With CMC as the anchor of this team, correlating him for a Week 17 matchup with the Bucs makes all the sense in the world. We’ll look to snag Julio Jones or Russell Gage later to complete the stack.

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Selected over: Robert Woods, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Dawson Knox

Round 9, Pick 98 – Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kansas City Chiefs

After the drafter who’s drafting next to us decided to double tap Buffalo RBs with back-to-back picks (what?), we were back on the clock and looking for a WR4. We briefly considered Robert Woods and MVS with our last selection, so we were definitely taking one of those two guys here. Because of the structure of this specific tournament, we decided to further lean into Week 17 correlation. As we’ve already discussed throughout our process, we’re committed to that DEN/KC game in championship week. If this were a Best Ball Mania or a DraftKings Milly Maker, we’d want to avoid over correlating because the field is so much larger and we’d need that top 0.01% of outcomes for our lineup to hit. In those styles, we fear if you over correlate, your players could cannibalize each other’s upside if you select too many from the same team. Given that this is only a 64-man field for the final week, it’s unlikely we’ll need a massive upside week from all of our plays, so we can further lean into getting one thing right – the DEN/KC game stack. This led us to MVS over Bob Woods. Plus, we know MVS should give us a handful of spike weeks throughout the year playing as a near every down perimeter WR for Patrick Mahomes.

Selected over: Robert Woods

Round 10, Pick 119 – Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans

With this pick, we again were looking to add to our WR room, not really considering too many of the other options at the RB or TE position. While there were some intriguing names on the board like Michael Gallup and Jahan Dotson, we ultimately chose to go with the Titans rookie at a value. His ADP of 101.6 and the fact that he fell to pick 119 is a snapshot of the market’s view of the rookie. He struggled with asthma/conditioning early in mini camp but since then has fallen due to playing extended time in the 4th quarter of preseason games, scaring fantasy managers off of the 1st round talent. The bottom line is that the Titans need Burks this season, they invested a lot into him by trading away A.J. Brown, and he’ll be thrust into an every down WR role sooner than later. As our WR5, we don’t necessarily need Burks’ best ball in September. We’re counting on him to give us some boom weeks down the stretch given that we know rookies tend to perform better in the second half of the year. We think the market is over-correcting a bit too much for the camp “concerns.”

Selected over: Julio Jones, Russell Gage, Jahan Dotson, Michael Gallup

Round 11, Pick 122 – Julio Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Because we already had Tom Brady, we wanted to complete the stack with this pick, and fortunately both Jones and Russell Gage fell to us here. Other players really weren’t in consideration given that we know how valuable stacking is in best ball, and we didn’t have to reach at ADP to complete this stack. We sided with the veteran Jones for two reasons – 1) We felt Jones was more likely to find his way to 6-8 TD than Gage, especially with Gronk now retired. And 2), Gage has yet to return to practice since injuring his hamstring in early August, missing most of training camp. Let’s hope Julio isn’t #Washed.

Round 12, Pick 143 – Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

This draft has been so friendly to us in terms of value and getting our guys when they fall past ADP, which we know is historically good for win rates. Entering Round 12, we had yet to select a TE, virtually locking us into a 3TE build. While the Muth isn’t necessarily viewed as a difference maker for our squad, getting him almost 10 spots after ADP was a no brainer. We’ll hope he can find the end zone 6-8 times this year, which is really all you can ask for from a TE going in this range. He banked 6 scores over his final 10 games last year and wasn’t even a full time player for the Steelers until after Eric Ebron went down. Let’s hope the Muth stays Luth in 2022.

Selected over: Albert Okwuegbunam

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Round 13, Pick 146 – K.J. Hamler, Denver Broncos

We debated selecting Albert O with this pick to knock out our TE2 while also stacking with Russ, but we ultimately chose to take Hamler as our WR7. Historically, we know the correlation between QB-WR is stronger than QB-TE, giving the Hamler stack a higher ceiling running as Denver’s speedy down field threat. Russell Wilson‘s elite deep passing should help Hamler hit a few splash plays throughout the year.

Selected over: D.J. Chark, K.J. Osborn

Round 14, Pick 167 – Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

Entering Round 14, we had just one TE on our squad, making it a priority for us before we get to the Evan Engram and Mo Alie-Cox‘s of the world. Borg and I debated two names here – Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. With no correlation or stacking partners to consider, these two were a coin flip for us as they’re in the same tier for us. We opted to go with Higbee given that the drafter next to us had Keenan Allen on his squad, meaning we thought it was more likely that we would not snag Everett and we could get him at our next pick. Mr. Higbee, welcome to the squad as our TE2.

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Selected over: Gerald Everett

Round 15, Pick 170 – Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers

After we took Higbee with our prior pick, we decided to double tap TE at the turn and add Everett as our TE3 to round out our TE room. Ultimately, when looking for late round TEs, we were targeting players with an every down role as the primary pass catching TE attached to a great offense and a top tier QB. Both Higbee and Everett fit the bill. For a more detailed breakdown of Gerald Everett, be sure to check out Kyle’s article here.

______

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Current Roster:

QB (2): Russell Wilson, Tom Brady
RB (3): Christian McCaffrey, Javonte Williams, Breece Hall
WR (7): Michael Pittman, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brandon Aiyuk, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Treylon Burks, Julio Jones, K.J. Hamler
TE (3): Pat Freiermuth, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett

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