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NFL Best Ball Values

Heath discusses some of his favorite NFL best ball targets on PlayDraft.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past week yours truly has gone slightly degenerate and drafted a team or two at PlayDraft every single night. I blame the football-loving cousin, @PapaCBryant, as he’s the avid drafter in the family. Now he has me hooked, and for a baseball guy my efforts haven’t been too shabby...maybe? You guys can decide! Anyway, if you’re into best ball I’d suggest giving the cuz a follow—he’s always up for some best ball banter on the Twitter machine.

Anyway, I’m 10 drafts into this arena and I thought it would be wise to pause and assess the damage. I’m already identifying guys I like and where I like drafting them. Here’s my initial look at who I’m drafting (and some of these I’ve probably drafted too much already).

I wasn’t planning to hit every round, but when I finished finding guys I liked I had only omitted a couple. So even though it’s tough to find a “value” in Round 1, every round it is!

Round 1

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

Borne out of a host of 1.10 and 1.11 draft slots, Fournette has been my main man so far in Round 1. Honorable mention goes to Melvin Gordon, but if I’m choosing between the two I’ll take Fournette. I don’t see the Jaguars all of a sudden abandoning the run, especially not in that division. They’ll be happy to play keep away from Deshaun Watson, Marcus Mariota, and (perhaps) a healthy Andrew Luck.

Round 2

Keenan Allen, Chargers

This one is easy. Any chance I get to draft this guy, I take it. I love pairing him with a Round 1 running back. If you take a running back in the first round, odds are OBJ and Julio will be gone by the time the draft wends its way back to you. Allen is an epic consolation prize.

Round 3

Doug Baldwin, Seahawks

When the draft is coming back to me in Round 3, Doug Baldwin is my guy if I’m hunting for a wide receiver. He should be a target-monster in 2018 and he isn’t surrounded by the same caliber of players that Adam Thielen is (another wide receiver being drafted in Round 3). At times Baldwin is my second wideout selected, but I’m also content if he’s my WR1 if I’ve gone RB-RB or RB-Gronk in the first two rounds. “Floor” picks in the early going are how I like to roll.

Round 4

Dion Lewis, Titans

Don’t let the fact that Derrick Henry physically dwarfs Lewis distract you from finding running back value in this round. Henry may even be drafted before Dion in your league, and that’s just more good news. If you are a believer in MariGOATa, adding some pieces from this offense seems prudent. I can’t stop/won’t stop drafting Dion in this round.

Honorable mention: Zach Ertz, Eagles

Ertz is the last of the big three at tight end, and those three are in a tier all their own. I’d consider taking him if I felt really good about my first three selections.

Round 5

Carlos Hyde, Browns

I keep landing Hyde in Round 5 very easily, and I once I nabbed him at 6.10! This is a pick that the cousin and I agree on completely. Hyde is an awesome value in the middle. Thanks a lot, Nick Chubb (really).

Round 6

Greg Olsen, Bears

This isn’t a sexy pick, but it’s a solid one.

Round 7

Tarik Cohen, Bears

I stole this one from the cousin. He’s a little higher on the new-look Bears than I am, but running back dries up quickly and Cohen is the sort of quick-strike guy that you need to chase in the middle rounds. He bulked up a bit in the offseason and is currently to 190 pounds (was 179 last season). That added muscle is encouraging from a playing time standpoint. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Jordan Howard has his struggles catching the ball. If you’re not into Cohen, you could consider Russell Wilson or Tom Brady if they were available. If not, perhaps Delanie Walker if Greg Olsen were gone.

Round 8

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings

He’s one of the more underrated assets in all of fantasy football, and he’s actually not as injury-prone as you might think. Rudolph has played 16 games in each of the last three seasons and has ranked inside the top five in red zone targets among tight ends over the last two years. Rudolph also topped all tight ends in overall targets in 2016 and finished 11th among his peers in 2017. That’s probably a truer version of what to expect in 2018, but Stefon Diggs has never played a full season and we know Kirk Cousins doesn’t mind slinging it to his tight end. This year, Cousins’ starting tight end may actually stay healthy for the full year—sorry, Jordan Reed owners.

Round 9

Randall Cobb, Packers

If you are of the opinion that Aaron Rodgers is still elite, then surely you subscribe to the idea that he can support a pair of elite wide receivers? New addition Jimmy Graham will surely factor into the red zone, but Cobb will get his fair share of work moving the chains. Last year in 12 point PPR formats like PlayDraft, Davante Adams finished as the WR15 and Cobb was the WR36. Rodgers only managed seven games played, though.

In 2016, A-Rod played a full slate of games and supported the overall WR1 (Jordy Nelson), the WR9 (Davante Adams), and the WR49 (Randall Cobb). That year, Jared Cook (51 targets) and Richard Rodgers (47 targets) split the tight end duties. Let’s say Jimmy Graham gets all 98 of those—that would be more than he’s received in Seattle in each of the last two full seasons he has played (95 and 96). Let’s say Davante gets 150 targets...who else is getting targets?!? There’s room for Cobb to return to the 120-target threshold in 2018. If he does so, you’re looking at a guy with a career 70.4% catch rate, which means about 84 receptions. Corresponding yardage would be 850 or more, and let’s say a safe five or six touchdowns. That’s Top 20 output by my count in this format, with upside for more. Cobb is a free square in Round 9.

Round 10

Rishard Matthews, Titans

Still only 28 years old, at worst Matthews is going to be the WR2 in this passing attack. The disparity in ADP between Matthews and Corey Davis is interesting...I’ll take my chances on the veteran, though.

Round 11

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

It’s either Mahomes or Rivers in this spot, and I’m inclined to chase the ceiling of Mahomes. I’ll mix in the veteran Rivers a little (mainly to differentiate) but I love me some Mahomes in 2018. I put this one in here for you, Ray—if you ever do PlayDraft and want to make sure you get Mahomes, here’s when you should do it!

Round 12

David Njoku, Browns

Another tight end. There is a lot of value at the position this year. Njoku as my TE2 is something I can definitely get behind.

Round 13

Nyheim Hines, Colts

All day, every day. I’m generally taking Hines as my fifth running back.

Round 14

Case Keenum, Broncos

Just like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, Keenum is a whole lot of underrated. In fact, this entire Broncos offense is underrated. I love removing the guesswork about who to draft by simply taking the quarterback late.

Round 15

Mike Wallace, Eagles

Still only 31 years old, Wallace is an excellent late-round target in your best ball formats. Speed doesn’t disappear as quickly as you might think, and Alshon Jeffery is already questionable for Week 1 (rotator cuff). Other than Alshon, it’s the inconsistent Nelson Agholor and the second-year man in Mack Hollins. I could definitely see a scenario where Wallace is relevant as a deep threat in 2018.

Round 16

Quincy Enunwa, Jets

I’m generally going Wallace and Enunwa back-to-back if I need some wide receiver darts late in my drafts. It’s quite possible Enunwa is a significant part of the Jets passing attack, and he appears to be nearly fully recovered from last year’s neck injury.

Round 17

Tyler Kroft, Bengals

I love me some cheap tight ends, especially as my TE3. Also, Kroft is GUARANTEED playing time since only Tyler Eifert is ahead of him on the depth chart. Sorry, not sorry. Love me some Kroft.

Round 18

Ed Dickson, Seahawks

He’s free, and Russell Wilson has to throw to someone in the end zone...right? Starting wide receivers Doug Baldwin (5’10”) and Tyler Lockett (5’9”) aren’t exactly ideal targets in close. Perhaps Brandon Marshall (6’4”) can rediscover something, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the 30-year-old Dickson makes a bit of a splash in Seattle this year.

Honorable mention: Tavon Austin, Cowboys

Let’s see if the Cowboys make good on all this Tavon chatter. In the 18th round, who cares? There’s no risk involved, and apparently there may be some reward. In this round you’re just tossing a bunch of you-know-what against the wall to see if it sticks, anyway.

Another option: Terrance West, Saints

Here’s a running back dart throw for the final round, given his recent signing with New Orleans. With Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games of 2018, West may see enough work to matter in the early going.

That’s about it for my initial takes. Who are you guys drafting, and where? Feel free to flame me in the comments or on Twitter at @HeathCapps if I missed your favorite guy.