Best Ball: Late Round Dart Throws for Tournaments (Fantasy Football)
The last pick of your Best Ball can feel like a throw-away… like those dollar scratch-offs Owl Borland can’t help but buy & light his money on fire.
On the latest Best Ball Breakdown, we did a deep dive and looked at Best Ball rosters over the last seven years and guys going past pick 200.
Wind back the clock to remind yourself of some of these recent last-round steals:
Some of the standouts from 2021 include:
- RBs– Cordarrelle Patterson, Elijah Mitchell, Darrel Williams
- WRs– Hunter Renfrow, Kendrick Bourne, Tim Patrick
- TEs– Dawson Knox, Dalton Schultz
What Do We Look For?
Let’s set some criteria and “buckets” to pull from for these late-round dart throws. Obviously, each player’s situation is different but we have a couple of simple principles to use for RB, WR, and TE.
4+ difference-making RBs per year (i.e. above expectation)
- Need Injuries Ahead of Them
- Pass Catching Work in Their Profile
- Jerick McKinnon (KC)– This is Jason’s personal favorite late-round RB dart throw. In fact, McKinnon has the highest exposure rates among his RBs and his utilization in the playoffs was eye-popping. He averaged 16 touches per game in the most high-profile games of the year. It’s worth noting that McKinnon ran four times as many 3rd down pass routes as Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Bet on the offense and the fact he could see 40-50 receptions.
- Chris Evans (CIN)– Who was the third down passing back for the Bengals last year? The answer is likely Samaje Perine as Zac Taylor showcased in the Super Bowl. But who was the most effective third-down passing back on the team?
|Name||Team||Position||Games||3rd Down Routes Run||3rd Down Tgts||3rd Down Rec||3rd Down Rec Yards||3rd Down Rec TDs||3rd Down FPPG||3rd Down 0.5 FPts||3rd Down Opp Per Game||FPT per 3rd Down Opp||xFP 3rd Down|
- That honor goes to Chris Evans. The beat writers have consistently said this off-season that Evans could overtake Perine as the No. 2 back on the team. I’ll lean into the younger more electric player.
- Eno Benjamin (ARI)– Ah, our guy Eno. Last year I wrote an entire article on the guy entitled Best Ball Win Rates & The Eno Benjamin Principle discussing win rates of players using his zero-point scoring season as an example. This year, he’s more than a running joke as he has a legit shot to be the No. 2 back in Arizona. Why does that matter? The Arizona running game ranked 8th in total fantasy points last year and we’ve seen backups like Chase Edmonds make noise in the past. Keep an eye on the Eno vs. Darrel Williams battle in training camp. James Conner isn’t known for being the most durable back in the league.
- D’Ernest Johnson (CLE)– Who led the Browns RB in 3rd down opportunities last year? The answer was D’Ernest Johnson, who balled out when he had the opportunity to step in for Nick Chubb and an injured Kareem Hunt. He’s a complete gamble but we know how effective he can be on a team that is bent on running the ball.
- Tyler Badie (BAL)– The Baltimore backfield is a confusing one to figure out during training camp. J.K. Dobbins‘ injury is shrouded in mystery and Gus Edwards is an unknown. Mike Davis didn’t exactly light the world on fire last year. Take a swing with a player with a monster senior year of production in his profile on a run-first team.
5+ WRs above expectation
- 2nd-year WRs who bottomed out in Year 1
- Rookies Drafted 3rd Round or later in NFL Draft who can start right away
- Veterans who never broke out (but younger than 27 yrs old)
- Terrace Marshall Jr. (CAR)– I’m a truther as I currently roster him in all my dynasty leagues after writing his Rookie Profile article last year. But he fits the “2nd-year disaster” posting one of the lowest yards per route run (0.54) seasons among rookie WRs since 2014. The Baker Mayfield trade breathed new life into my sails with a glimmer of hope that he can resurrect his career. Think D.J. Chark in Year 2.
- Zay Jones (JAX)– This dude got paid a ton of money and could end up being the No. 2 on the Jaguars. You may have forgotten but Jones averaged 7.7 targets per game over the final two months of the season. The only problem is he didn’t catch a TD. You’re hoping for gobbles of targets and a big step forward for Trevor Lawrence.
- Jalen Guyton (LAC)– He’s a big play waiting to happen averaging 16.3 yards per reception in his career. While Joshua Palmer seems like the favorite to be the starter, Guyton was one of the standouts in OTAs. He has blazing speed and if one of the other players goes down, he is a solid leverage piece. In Weeks 13-15 last year, he caught a TD in three straight weeks so consider him a high-upside shot in an offense we love.
- Cedrick Wilson (MIA)– He was surprisingly important to the Dallas offense last year (45/601/6) leading the team in 3rd Down Receptions, 3rd Rec Yards, and 3rd down TDs. Miami signed the big slot WR to be a full-time starter. It will be interesting to see how new head coach Mike McDaniel uses his Miami pass-catchers (Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki) who all are interchangeable in the slot.
- Romeo Doubs (GB)– Drafted in the 4th round, Doubs is stuck near the bottom of an ambiguous WR situation in Green Bay. Allen Lazard and Christian Watson are the favorites but it’s not crazy to think Doubs finds 5+ TDs this year being carried along by Aaron Rodgers. He caught 11 TDs in his final year at Nevada including some absolute long bombs. Correlating him with MIN stacks is a cheap way to check Week 17 off your list.
- Quez Watkins (PHI)– He seems buried on the depth with the addition of A.J. Brown. He’s competing with Jalen Reagor for snaps but clearly was running ahead of him last year. Watkins is a blazer (4.35) and according to Tim McManus of ESPN, he “made some splash plays this spring” with plenty of “buzz from the coaching staff and management”. We’ll take two spike weeks if possible from our final round player.
- Velus Jones Jr. (CHI)– Everyone hates Old Man Velus for being one of the oldest rookies known to man. Yes, he’s 25 years old. Yes, he transferred in college. Yes, the Bears shocked everyone by taking him in the 3rd round. All of that makes for an interesting, low-rostered dart throw in tournaments given his big play ability.
- Khalil Shakir (BUF)– Buying into the Buffalo offense. The draft capital (5th) is nothing special but he profiles as a slot receiver and if Jamison Crowder is dust, he could make some second-half noise.
- James Proche (BAL)– He was super productive at SMU yet buried on the depth chart in Baltimore. Entering Year 3, he could finish the year as the WR2 in a battle with Devin Duvernay behind Rashod Bateman. The WR2 for the Ravens usually has three top-24 weeks on their radar which doesn’t sound special. But if you find the right Lamar stacking partner in the Best Ball playoffs, congratulations.
4+ TEs above expectation
- TE with opportunity in a good offense
- Can they hit 8+ TDs if the TDs are distributed differently among pass-catchers?
- Taysom Hill (NO)– You could just as well as add Adam Trautman here. We have a couple of water bets on Hill/Trautman in the office. Regardless, unless Hill gets some gadget TDs, he’s tough to project without Sean Payton around.
- Mo Alie-Cox (IND)– We made the joke on air that he could catch eight TDs… on one game. Realistically, 5+ TDs are on the table. This offense is begging for contributors and we love Matt Ryan’s ability to distribute the football to a 6’6″ going on 7’10” TE. Complete the Indianapolis stack for no cost.
- Brevin Jordan (HOU)– Jordan is probably the most unlikely of this group to end up with eight TDs knowing how bad the Texans’ offense will be. Check out the Texans’ depth chart if you want a good laugh. It wouldn’t shock me if Jordan ends the year as the 2nd most targeted player in this offense. His another solid bet to beat his ADP and at the very end of a draft, you can get an extremely cheap Davis Mills + Jordan stack that might give you 3+ weeks of viability.
- Cade Otton (TB)– Some Tampa Bay beat writers have claimed that the 4th round rookie tight end is the “best answer” to replace Rob Gronkowski. Likely the Buccaneers will go full Moneyball “recreating in the aggregate” between Cameron Brate, Otton, a 32-year-old Kyle Rudolph and perhaps running fewer 12-personnel sets with O.J. Howard out the door. We know rookie TEs are a mess but Otton is cheap enough to complete a Tampa Bay stack as your 3rd TE in hopes he catches fire at the end of the year.
- Jonnu Smith (NE)– Jonnu is a sneaky, sneaky pick in a large tournament. His usage was atrocious last year considering how much money they paid for him. But there have been OTA rumors that the Patriots are going to open up the offense even more and hopefully expand his role from being the most expensive blocking TE of all time.
- O.J. Howard (BUF)– Howard’s departure from Tampa Bay is a bigger deal than people realize. He settles in with Buffalo behind Dawson Knox on an offense we love for Best Ball. Why not take a shot on a player likely undrafted by the majority of players?