Underdog Fantasy Big Dog Best Ball Recap with Borg & Betz

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By now, you’ve probably heard Kyle and I talk about Underdog Fantasy’s Best Ball Mania 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. 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
  • 20 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 two of your 12-man league. From there, entrants are randomly matched up in groups of eight for Week 15, eight for Week 16 and a final group of 12 for Week 17. In order to advance, you must finish atop your group of eight for the quarterfinals and again in the semifinals.

Below is pick by pick analysis of each of our 20 selections in our co-managed team from the 6 spot. Looking for more information on best ball? Be sure to check out our Best Ball Rankings and our Best Ball Primer in the 2021 Ultimate Draft Kit+.

Round 1, Pick 6 – Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

Drafted over: Saquon Barkley, Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs

As with most best ball drafts, the first several selections here started out with the elite running backs. Kyle and I were thinking we’d have a tough decision between Ezekiel Elliott and Travis Kelce at the 6 spot as most drafts start Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry in some order. With Henry falling to the 6th pick, it was a no brainer selection as we will likely have a unique roster since most other teams who have Henry in this tournament will have Henry at either the 4th or 5th selection based on his ADP of 4.5. Drafting the Big Dog in the Big Dog tournament as to be a winning strategy, right?

Round 2, Pick 19 – Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

Drafted over: A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Joe Mixon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire

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Kyle and I could have gone RB-RB to start here or selected A.J. Brown to start building a Titans stack. However, after Travis Kelce and George Kittle both came off the board, it left Waller as the only remaining elite TE. We decided to snag Waller as this will allow us to build a roster with just two tight ends, giving us the ability to add extra depth at the WR and/or RB positions. In our opinion, Waller is one of just two tight ends (the other being Kittle) who has the potential to outscore Travis Kelce. If that happens, we’ll have a massive advantage over our league mates here in this best ball format.

Round 3, Pick 30 – Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Drafted over: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp

Entering the third round, Kyle and I were fully prepared to select our first WR, but Najee Harris fell to the 30th spot (ADP of 26.3). In almost every draft we’ve done, Harris typically goes at the 2/3 turn, so we felt we were getting a nice value on the Pittsburgh RB who has a path to 300+ touches in 2021. Despite the fact that we knew the WR run would be tough to recover from, we decided to take the value and scoop up the last workhorse RB in his tier by making Najee our RB2 alongside Derrick Henry. Moving forward, we’ll be planning to make up for our lack of WR quality with quantity by hammering WRs over the next 3-5 rounds.

Round 4, Pick 43 – Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Drafted over: J.K. Dobbins, Miles Sanders, Patrick Mahomes, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool

By passing on WR in the first three rounds, we were in a position where we needed to take our first WR, and we selected Thielen at WR24 off the board. There are some potential concerns regarding Thielen’s TD regression after scoring 14 times on just 108 targets in 2020, but we know the target share in Minnesota is ultra condensed between he and Justin Jefferson, especially after likely WR3 Olabisi Johnson recently tore his ACL in training camp. Furthermore, Thielen and Kirk Cousins have shown underrated chemistry near the goal line. We’ll be hoping he remains Kirk’s preferred target when the Vikes get in close.

Round 5, Pick 54 – Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

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Drafted over: Josh Allen, Kenny Golladay, David MontgomeryTravis Etienne

We had been planning on passing on the elite QBs in this range to add to our WR room, but we got sniped multiple times. Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Odell Beckham were all in our queue for this pick but went a few picks before us. Rather than forcing a WR here, we went one of just a few quarterbacks who have the chance to finish as the QB1. In addition, given that this is a large field tournament with a top heavy payout structure, we took the Cardinals end of season schedule into consideration. We’ll look to stack Kyler later in this draft.

Round 6, Pick 67 – Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Drafted over: Mike Williams, Michael Thomas

After taking Waller early on, we were never looking at tight end in this range, and after spending two early picks on RBs, we were pretty locked in on a WR here. We would have loved Michael Gallup to fall to us here as he would have set up nicely for a Week 17 game stack with Kyler Murray‘s Cardinals. Instead, we ended up with Deebo Samuel as our WR2. Kyle and I want to be high on this 49ers team given their insane schedule and Deebo is a way to get exposure to San Francisco.

Round 7, Pick 78  – Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Drafted over: Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, Myles Gaskin, Darrell Henderson

With the current build of our roster (the elite QB and TE with RB early), we found ourselves again targeting a WR with this pick in the 7th round. The Bucs have one of the highest average implied team totals across the season and have a very favorable schedule down the stretch, and as a result, this is definitely an offense we want some exposure to, especially in Brown’s second year with Tom Brady. Recall that last year down the stretch after AB was signed, he was the WR21, and of course, should Mike Evans or Chris Godwin miss any time, Brown’s upside would be immense.

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Round 8, Pick 91 – Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Drafted over: Michael Carter, Russell Gage, Jaylen Waddle, Marquise Brown, Darnell Mooney

At 91st overall, it felt really solid to add our RB3 in Chase Edmonds 10 spots after his current ADP of 81.0. With our build, we’re counting on Derrick Henry and Najee Harris‘ scores to count for us almost every week (outside of their bye week, of course), but Edmonds is a great way to correlate a successful Kyler Murray season, who we already have as our QB. Last year, Murray and Edmonds showed a positive correlation coefficient of 0.51, which makes sense given that Edmonds is very likely to operate as Arizona’s pass catching back. Side note: Edmonds also looks like he could be in play for us in Week 1 based on our way too early look at DraftKings pricing.

Round 9, Pick 102 – Henry Ruggs, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

Drafted over: Tom Brady, Dallas Goedert, Corey Davis

After spending three picks on RB in the first eight rounds, RB was never on our radar, and by taking a QB and TE early, we’re building this roster as if we’re correct – Kyler finishes as a top-2 QB, and Darren Waller finishes as a top-2 TE. As a result, spending draft capital here on a QB or a TE doesn’t really make sense for us. And because of that, we’re back at the WR well, looking for upside. Henry Ruggs has the upside we’re looking for here, and he makes sense as a mini-stack with Darren Waller. Given that we decided to invest in these two Raiders pass catchers, we’ll be looking to stack with Derek Carr as our QB2 later in this draft. Recall last year, the Raiders quietly ranked 10th in points per game, 2nd in red zone plays and Raider games hit the over 13-of-16 games last year, thanks to their Swiss cheese defense.

Round 10, Pick 115 – Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo Bills

Drafted over: Damien Harris, Nelson Agholor

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Kyle and I were close to taking Damien Harris after he fell to the middle of the 10th round just based on the value alone, but based on other rosters in this league, we know we need to make up for a lack of quality at the WR position with quantity. As a result, we decided to take a high floor player in Bills’ WR Emmanuel Sanders. Last season, the Bills led the NFL in 3WR sets, running this formation at a 94% clip. All reports right now suggest that Sanders is running ahead of the youngster Gabriel Davis in Bills training camp, suggesting he should be a near every down player for one of the most pass happy offenses in football. He may not give us massive ceiling games, but Sanders it the type of best ball WR that can help you get to the finish line thanks to his elevated floor.

Round 11, Pick 126 – Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Drafted over: Jakobi Meyers, Breshad Perriman, Terrace Marshall Jr.

After taking three RBs that we feel confident in for the 2021 season, we decided to swing for the fences with our RB4 pick of Tony Pollard. Should anything happen to Ezekiel Elliott, we know we have a top-15 RB in Pollard who has smashed with Zeke out of the lineup over the last two seasons. Moreover, the Cowboys face the Cardinals in Week 17, the final week of the Underdog Big Dog tournament. The Cowboys and the Cardinals are both projected to be top-5 in pace of play and this game could turn into a shootout given it’s current total of 52.0 points. It’s obviously silly to think we know what is going to happen in Week 17 in the middle of August, but we’re playing a bit of game theory here with this pick by trying to create a game stack with Kyler Murray, Chase Edmonds and Tony Pollard. In a tournament like this, we’re looking for the top 1% of outcomes and shooting for the moon here.

Round 12, Pick 139 – Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints

Drafted over: A.J. Green, Breshad Perriman

A.J. Green‘s ADP on Underdog as of this selection was 152.7. At pick 139, we decided not to reach on Green despite the fact that he would have been the perfect stacking partner with Kyler Murray. Hindsight analysis is always 20/20, but we definitely regret passing on Green, as he was selected with the 140th overall pick, the next pick after ours. We felt we could get him with our next selection, so we decided to take our TE2, Adam Trautman. It’s not difficult to see a path for success for Trautman in 2021. Michael Thomas is set to begin the season on the PUP list, Tre’Quan Smith is missing time with a soft tissue injury, the aforementioned Manny Sanders is now in Buffalo, and Jared Cook is in Los Angeles. Someone has to catch the football in New Orleans, right? We’re betting on Trautman, who put up gaudy numbers in college at Dayton and has been praised in the blocking game by coaches, indicating he’s likely going to be an every down player for the Saints.

Round 13, Pick 150 – Dyami Brown, WR, Washington Football Team

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Drafted over: Jamison Crowder, Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Dyami Brown is the type of later round rookie WR to target in best ball formats given that we know rookies tend to earn more playing time and targets over the back half of the season, and it’s not difficult to tell yourself a story where Brown earns his way into a near every down role for the Football Team in 2021. He only has to beat out declining veteran Adam Humphries and Cam Sims while he has the profile we’re looking for in terms of rookie WRs who project well at the NFL level. Brown averaged more than 20 yards per reception at North Carolina, broke out early and has top three round NFL Draft capital. We know we probably won’t get much from Brown out of the gate, but we’re hopeful he emerges later in the season with a QB who isn’t afraid to push the ball down the field in Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Round 14, Pick 163 – Tyrell Williams, WR, Detroit Lions

Drafted over: Amon-Ra St. Brown, John Brown

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In the 14th round, we’re looking for WRs who can give us usable weeks, and we felt confident that Williams will be an every down player for the Lions. Training camp reports indicate that Williams and Breshad Perriman seem to be locked into 2WR sets, so we know playing time shouldn’t be an issue. That said, it’s not like we’re projecting 10 targets a game or double digit TDs. For Williams to work on this best ball roster, we only need 2-3 usable weeks.

Round 15, Pick 174 – Marquez Callaway, WR, New Orleans Saints

Drafted over: Allen Lazard, Derek Carr

It’s a bit too early for us to reach for Carr (ADP 197.1) despite wanting to round out a Raiders stack. As a result, we decided to keep adding to our WR depth with Marquez Callaway. Our thought process here was similar to the Adam Trautman selection. As of mid August, Michael Thomas isn’t on the field, Tre’Quan is banged up, and Callaway has been generating the most buzz in training camp. In addition, by taking Callaway and Trautman, we can also set up a back door Saints stack with Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill later in the draft. Again, we’re only looking for a few usable weeks here for Callaway’s 15th round price tag to pay off.

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*Given that the final 5 picks of this draft won’t feature much in depth analysis, check back over the next week for our final roster. We’ll be looking for stacking partners to maximize correlation and looking for WRs who can give us usable weeks throughout the year.

Current Roster:

QB (1): Kyler Murray
RB (4): Derrick Henry, Najee Harris, Chase Edmonds, Tony Pollard
WR (8): Adam Thielen, Deebo Samuel, Antonio Brown, Henry Ruggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Dyami Brown, Tyrell Williams, Marquez Callaway
TE (2): Darren Waller, Adam Trautman

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