Evan Silva

Best Ball Strategy

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Updated Best-Ball WR Tiers

Sunday, May 27, 2018


I’ve been playing in best-ball leagues for years, and began posting tiers specific to best-ball strategy this offseason. These tiers are adjusted for DRAFT’s 0.5 PPR scoring system. Different from season long, your best-ball responsibilities are finished as soon as each draft ends. No trades, no waiver wire, no lineup setting to worry about. You draft deep rosters to compensate for injuries and byes, and your best scores are auto-picked each week. You can sign up at DRAFT here and start playing in some Best Ball Leagues of your own.

 

Tier One

Antonio Brown (WR1) > DeAndre Hopkins (WR2) > Julio Jones (WR3) > Odell Beckham (WR4) > Keenan Allen (WR5) > Michael Thomas (WR6) > Davante Adams (WR7) > A.J. Green (WR8) > Mike Evans (WR9) > Doug Baldwin (WR10)


Summary: Tier-one receivers are target monsters and offensive focal points, ideally with at least serviceable quarterback play and sustained track records of high-end production. Our generation’s version of Jerry Rice, Brown has been a top-three fantasy wideout in four straight seasons, leading the NFL twice in catches and twice in receiving yards during that span. Hopkins was the overall WR1 from Weeks 2-8 with Deshaun Watson healthy. Julio scored just three TDs last year despite finishing second in the NFL in receiving yards and is an easy positive-touchdown-regression pick. Thomas and Evans can be viewed similarly; both managed five TDs but have double-digit scores squarely in their range of potential outcomes. Before last year’s season-ending ankle injury, Beckham was a top-five wideout in three straight years. Green has finished as a top-12 receiver in points per game in 7-of-7 NFL seasons. Allen, Adams, and Baldwin are Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson’s go-to guys. I moved Allen ahead of Thomas after Hunter Henry's ACL tear. Baldwin’s arrow is especially pointing up with Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson out of town and Seattle’s defense in disrepair, increasing Wilson’s pass-attempts projection and Baldwin’s raw targets expectation.

 


Tier Two


Larry Fitzgerald (WR11) > Tyreek Hill (WR12) > Adam Thielen (WR13) > Marvin Jones (WR14) > Stefon Diggs (WR15) > T.Y. Hilton (WR16) > Amari Cooper (WR17)


Summary: Tier-two receivers offer tier-one upside but carry more risk and/or lower target projections. Fitzgerald is turning 35, but he has 100-plus catches in three straight seasons, and Sam Bradford has leaned heavily on slot receivers from Danny Amendola to Jordan Matthews to Diggs. Hill exploded as last year’s WR5, but he ranked 22nd among wide receivers in targets (105) and is playing with a new quarterback while vying for looks with Travis KelceKareem Hunt, and highly-paid Sammy Watkins. Jones passed Golden Tate as Matthew Stafford’s primary receiver last year, finishing as the overall WR7. Eric Ebron’s departure frees up 86 targets. Jones is undervalued in early drafts, routinely lasting until the fifth and sixth rounds. Thielen and Diggs are co-No. 1s whose outlooks are improved by Kirk Cousins’ quarterback upgrade. Hilton would be a tier-one candidate if we knew Andrew Luck would be ready for Week 1. Jon Gruden – originally a WRs coach -- promises Cooper will be the focal point of Oakland’s passing game. 

 

Tier Three

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR18) > Alshon Jeffery (WR19) > Josh Gordon (WR20) > Golden Tate (WR21) > Allen Robinson (WR22) > Brandin Cooks (WR23) > Julian Edelman (WR24) >  Demaryius Thomas (WR25) > Sammy Watkins (WR26) > Chris Hogan (WR27) > Emmanuel Sanders (WR28) > Pierre Garcon (WR29) > Devin Funchess (WR30) > Will Fuller (WR31) > Robert Woods (WR32) > Cooper Kupp (WR33) > Jarvis Landry (WR34) >  Jamison Crowder (WR35) > Nelson Agholor (WR36)


Summary: Tier-three receivers have warts but can flirt with WR1 value if things go their way. Smith-Schuster finished WR20 as a rookie and has room for growth at age 21. The Martavis Bryant trade enhances JuJu’s target projection. Jeffery started slow in his first year as an Eagle, then exploded for 219 yards and three TDs in three playoff games. Despite his injury-prone reputation, Jeffery has played 16 games in three of the last five years. There is always value in safety, and Tate provides it with 90-plus catches all three seasons in Detroit. We haven't seen Robinson play well since 2015 and receivers changing teams always come with increased risk, but A-Rob should lead the Bears in targets. Gordon returned to average nearly 70 yards per game and 18.6 yards per catch in five appearances with DeShone Kizer last year. Jarvis Landry is a target hog, but Gordon’s skill set better suits Tyrod Taylor’s vertical-passing strength. I dropped Cooks from tier two after his trade to L.A. to play Watkins' old coverage-changer role. I think Cooks will outproduce 2017 Watkins, but he'll have to do more with less on a balanced Rams offense where Woods, Kupp, and Todd Gurley command targets. Hogan and Edelman were solidified in this tier by the Cooks trade, Hogan rising most as a trusted red-zone target for Tom Brady. The five-round gap between Thomas and Sanders’ early ADPs is too large; Sanders is a far better value and will be one of my highest-owned players this year. Garcon, Funchess, and Crowder are Jimmy Garoppolo, Cam Newton, and Alex Smith’s projected No. 1 wideouts. Funchess has double-digit TD upside in his contract year. Agholor and Fuller are volatile producers with high game-to-game ceilings but low floors (which matters less in best-ball than re-draft leagues). Landry is a volume-dependent scorer whose volume will take a big hit in Cleveland. In Tyrod Taylor’s three years at quarterback, no Bills pass catcher ever topped 60 receptions. 

Tier Four

Michael Crabtree (WR37) > Marquise Goodwin (WR38) > Corey Davis (WR39) > Randall Cobb (WR40) > DeVante Parker (WR41) > Robby Anderson (WR42) > Rishard Matthews (WR43) > Jordy Nelson (WR44) > Kenny Stills (WR45) > Tyler Lockett (WR46) > Mohamed Sanu (WR47) > Sterling Shepard (WR48) > Dez Bryant (WR49) > Martavis Bryant (WR50)


Summary: These are WR4/5s critical for best-ball roster building in the double-digit rounds. Crabtree is the heavy favorite to lead Baltimore in targets but turns 31 in September and downgraded quarterbacks from Derek Carr to Joe Flacco/Lamar Jackson. Goodwin, Parker, Stills, and Martavis are big-play threats who lack consistency. While Davis figures to be a popular breakout pick in his second year, Matthews is a higher-floor option with a much more cost-effective ADP. Big-play specialist Anderson was a top-20 fantasy wideout in 2017 and would rank a full tier higher if not for recurring legal troubles. Sanu and Cobb lack high ceilings but have job security and plus quarterback play. It’s unclear what Nelson has left after a miserable 2017 season. Now 33, Jordy has gone 18 straight games without reaching 80 yards. Lockett rises in my rankings each time I reset them. Based on opportunity, he is my favorite late-round wide receiver breakout pick. Shepard has a defined role but faces heavy target competition from Odell BeckhamEvan Engram, and Saquon BarkleyDez Bryant’s stock plummeted when the Cowboys cut him. He has struggled to generate any free agent interest. 


Tier Five

Kelvin Benjamin (WR51) > Marqise Lee (WR52) > Ted Ginn (WR53) > DeSean Jackson (WR54) > Paul Richardson (WR55) > Kenny Golladay (WR56) > Cameron Meredith (WR57) > Tyrell Williams (WR58) > Josh Doctson (WR59) > Dede Westbrook (WR60) > D.J. Moore (WR61) > John Brown (WR62) > Allen Hurns (WR63) > Taywan Taylor (WR64) > Albert Wilson (WR65) > Michael Gallup (WR66) > Anthony Miller (WR67) > Jordan Matthews (WR68) 


Summary: This is a mishmash of receivers with lower-volume projections, suspect quarterback play, recent dips in performance, and/or in-limbo roles. Benjamin has bad knees, his game is painful to watch, and his quarterback situation is the worst in the league, but sheer opportunity gives him fantasy viability in an otherwise empty Bills receiver corps. Lee, Ginn, Jackson, Richardson, Golladay, Westbrook, Doctson, Williams, and Brown should provide random spiked weeks. They are much more preferable best-ball than re-draft picks. Rookies Moore and Gallup found good landing spots for opportunity. It’s not crazy to think Moore could lead Carolina in targets, and Gallup has a chance to be this year’s Cooper Kupp. Hurns is still the favorite for targets in Dallas. I really want to be bullish on Meredith with the Saints, but he tore his ACL and MCL last year and is a question mark until proven otherwise. Taylor, Miller, and Wilson appear locked into their teams’ slot roles. I’m going to make it a point to target Taylor as a WR7/8 in best-ball drafts from here on out. Matthews is guaranteed just $170,000 on a one-year, $1 million deal with the Patriots, but having the opportunity to play with Tom Brady makes him interesting. I think he’s the slight favorite for third receiver duties at the moment.

Tier Six

Terrance Williams (WR69) > Geronimo Allison (WR70) > Willie Snead (WR71) > Calvin Ridley (WR72) > Mike Wallace (WR73) > Christian Kirk (WR74) > James Washington (WR75) > Ryan Grant (WR76) > Taylor Gabriel (WR77) > Trent Taylor (WR78) > J.J. Nelson (WR79) > Keelan Cole (WR80) > Jermaine Kearse (WR81) > Quincy Enunwa (WR82) > Cole Beasley (WR83) > Mike Williams (WR84) > Corey Coleman (WR85) > Travis Benjamin (WR86) > Brandon LaFell (WR87) > Terrelle Pryor (WR88) > Kendall Wright (WR89) > Donte Moncrief (WR90) > Chester Rogers (WR91) > John Ross (WR92) > Courtland Sutton (WR93) > Dante Pettis (WR94) > D.J. Chark (WR95) >  Zay Jones (WR96)


Summary: Many members of tier six will elevate or fall off the radar altogether as the season approaches. They are worth late-pick consideration at the moment. Allison is an intriguing last-round best-ball flyer as the favorite for Packers No. 3 receiver duties behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. I really liked Taylor before the draft and still do somewhat, but the 49ers’ trade up for Pettis has me a bit concerned. Taylor is purely a slot receiver, and Pettis profiles best to the slot.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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