Best Ball: QB Tiers, Advance Rates & Players to Target in 2022
All summer long Betz and I discuss Best Ball on the Fantasy Footballers DFS Podcast. On Friday’s episode, I teased this massive article in Best Ball Stacking + Bullish QBs, Advance Rates and how it’s become a passion project of late.
For this series, I want to formulate each position (QB, RB, WR, TE) into ADP tiers and discuss what each player would need to do to become a true “win rate” player. I wrote Best Ball Win Rates & What They Tell Us if you need an introduction to the topic.
- Win rates are calculated based on how often a player ended up on a winning roster. It takes into account how often they were drafted and where they were drafted.
- Information like this is descriptive of last year, not prescriptive for 2022.
In this article, we will also look more in-depth at advance rates from Underdog fantasy. How often did a team with this player advance through on the Best Ball Mania-II tournament? Did this player end up on a top-2 points scoring roster in a 12-person league? The two terms (win rates & advance rates) are similar but not exactly congruent.
2021 Advance Rate Data for QBs
Before jumping into each QB tier, I charted out a simple comparison of QB ADP from 2021 and their correlating advance rate for Underdog fantasy.
The trendline is simply a guideline for us to view how picks fared in regards to advance rate. Obviously, the earlier picks had a higher expectation and fantasy finishes but we also realize that the key factor for painting a fuller picture with win rates is where a player was taken in terms of their average draft position (ADP). Players can have different win rates in different rounds because taking a player in the 3rd versus the 5th matters. It comes back to our old friend: opportunity cost.
Of the ten QBs taken in the top-100 picks last year, only four of them exceeded expectation: Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady.
Let’s tease this out just to understand. You might say to yourself “Wait but Josh Allen finished as the QB1? I want the QB who scores the most points!”
Josh Allen had five #1 overall finishes that helped drive him to his QB1 finish.
For context, that's more No. 1 finishes in 2021 than:
Herbert- the QB2
Tom Brady- QB3
Patrick Mahomes- QB4
Aaron Rodgers- QB5
Matthew Stafford- QB6
& Dak Prescott- QB7
— Kyle Borgognoni (@kyle_borg) January 11, 2022
Much like redraft, we care about value/opportunity cost even with our stacks. Keep in mind that “stacking” QBs does not necessarily equal a positive correlation every single time. With mobile QBs like Josh Allen, their spike weeks games can actually hurt their WRs if some of that fantasy production was accomplished on the ground. Here are four stacks I wanted to compare. All of these QBs and WRs finished in the top 10 at the end of the season but the advance rates + combined advanced rates differed.
Stefon Diggs (WR7) & Mike Evans (WR8) finished back-to-back in terms of end-of-season fantasy points. The Diggs/Allen stack versus Evans/Tom Brady stack was way different draft cost and results. The Buffalo stack cost you two picks in 1st three rounds & Diggs/Allen had slight negative correlation (-.02) despite Allen finishing as the clear QB1. On the other hand, the Tampa Bay stack was way and had a way higher correlation coefficient (0.62) than their counterparts. We can cherry-pick examples like this all day but the point remains the same: for stacking purposes, we want the COMBINED UPSIDE + the VALUE. Does that stack actually elevate the QB?
From 100 to 175, only three QBs fit the bill as exceeding expectation: Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, and shockingly Carson Wentz. As the ADP dips, so does the room for error. At the end of a draft where the advance rate expectation drops to roughly 15 percent, we have some interesting names that pop up: Derek Carr, Mac Jones, Jared Goff(?!), Jimmy Garoppolo, and… wait for it… Jordan Love.
How did Jordan Love have a win rate of 20 percent with an ADP of 204.9, one total start (QB18) on the year, and an end-of-season stat line of two passing TDs, three INTs, and 27 yards rushing??? Well of the 280 times he was drafted, 68 were stacked with Aaron Rodgers. An 18th-round pick like Love didn’t necessarily help a team accomplish its goals. But he also essentially “got out of the way” from harming the team especially if he was paired with Rodgers. I wrote an article last year entitled Best Ball Win Rates & the Eno Benjamin Principle if you want an in-depth look at how random players like Love show up high on best ball win rate lists.
I do need to give one final caveat from last year’s data: the rushing QBs that we counted on in years past failed to return their cost. Lamar Jackson was the QB8 in points per game scoring before going down in Week 13. Kyler Murray missed multiple games. It’s worth noting that Jalen Hurts met expectation with a 17.1 percent advance rate but ultimately bombed in the fantasy playoffs including an absolute stinker in Week 17. The rookie mobile QBs (Trey Lance & Justin Fields) had such abbreviated seasons that they sunk teams counting on them. I expect a majority of these guys to rebound.
Teasing Out the Tiers
These tiers below are organized below by ADP on Underdog Fantasy. For actual tiers, you can use the Ultimate Draft Kit+ with the Footballers projections and couple that with our BestBall rankings. The goal of organizing them in this way is to give you a view of each “bucket” and to group together players who drafters clearly feel belong near each other. I’ll give a quick take on each player without reiterating everything found in the Ultimate Draft Kit and Best Ball Primer as well as highlight
- Personal Highest Exposure: This is based on the drafts I’ve personally done on Underdog Fantas,y mostly the Puppy and Best Ball Mania 3.
- Best Win Rate(s) Prediction from this Tier: Often this will overlap with my highest exposure (I mean I drafted them for a reason) but this prediction is more of combining the value, stacking ability, and upside that could give you an advantage over the field. I want as many shots as possible at this player with as many combinations to get me through a tournament.
- Bust Alert(s): I’m worried. Not so much if this player can get it done for best ball but playing the odds of them exceeding their advance rate expectation based on their ADP. I’m combining their cost, their stacking partners, and the offensive outlook Betz described in the Best Ball Primer for their respective teams.