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DRAFT NFL: Best Ball Hypotheticals 2

Mario Puig

Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.

In the previous article on this subject I detailed by approach in the first round in DRAFT best ball leagues, and this article will take on what I would do in the second round following those first round scenarios.

Listed below is a recap of the players I target on DRAFT, and the pick ranges where they come into play for me. Click on the pick categories to get taken to the second-round scenarios that follow.

I apologize for the delay on this I had to scrap the format a bunch of times after trying a number of bad ideas to make it look vaguely coherent. And I'm bad at HTML. The third-round follow up should be comparatively swift.

Picks 1.01 and 1.02:
Todd Gurley (1.4 ADP) or Le'Veon Bell (2.2 ADP)

Picks 1.03 thru 1.06: " +
Antonio Brown (5.8 ADP), Ezekiel Elliott (3.5 ADP), David Johnson (4.3 ADP), or Alvin Kamara (5.4 ADP)

Picks 1.07 thru 1.09: " + Saquon Barkley (7.5 ADP), DeAndre Hopkins (8.9 ADP), or Odell Beckham (12.3 ADP)

Picks 1.10 thru 1.11: " + Kareem Hunt (8.3 ADP) or Julio Jones (13.2 ADP)

Pick 1.12: " + Davante Adams (26.4 ADP)

1. If Pick 1.12: Pick 2.01

Potential previous picks: Odell Beckham, Kareem Hunt, Julio Jones, Davante Adams

Next target: A.J. Green (21.6 ADP)

I identify Adams as my No. 12 player, but hopefully I have the option of picking one of my top 11 players at this slot instead. Nothing against Adams, but I do think there's a significant drop off after Julio Jones, my 11th-ranked player. In any case, if I have the 13th pick I realistically picked one of Jones, Beckham, or Hunt at 12th, with Adams the worst-case scenario.

If I'm not lucky enough to land some pair in my top 12, then with the 13th pick I would typically take my 13th-ranked player, A.J. Green. Green's current ADP on DRAFT rests at 21.6, so this is technically a reach of some sort, but I think the mainstream is making an unsound evaluation of Green at the moment. There is a general tone of bitterness in the chatter that surrounded him in the past year, mostly due to the visible and memorable failure of the Bengals as a whole. And yet, even in what was conventionally received as a worst-case scenario, Green finished the year with 75 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns. He saw 142 targets, giving him 242 in his last 26 games. Even last year's numbers would nearly pay off for Green's owners at his current ADP. The Andy Dalton risk is already more than baked into the price. I don't understand this.

Green averaged more than nine yards per target in each of the three years prior to last. If you project the 9.3 targets per game that Green has seen the last two years and apply a YPT of 9.0, you get 1,339 yards. Green posted a YPT of 9.2 or higher three times in his career, so this is something of a mid-range projection rather than a best-case one. It's worth mentioning now that, while Adams is my 12th-ranked player, the difference between him and Green is minimal to me.

2. If Picks 1.10 or 1.11: Picks 2.02 and 2.03

Potential previous picks:: DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham, Kareem Hunt, Julio Jones

Next targets: Davante Adams, A.J. Green, Mike Evans (23.3 ADP)

Regardless of who I get at 10 or 11, my range of interests at the corresponding second-round selection is narrow. I already analyzed Green for the previous draft slot, and Adams' appeal as Aaron Rodgers' WR1 is obvious enough, so I guess I'll use this as an opportunity to dissect the Mike Evans situation.

Evans finished last year with 71 receptions for 1,001 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games, the worst season of his career. He is two years removed from a season where he averaged 15.8 fantasy points per game in 0.5PPR scoring. The more expensive Michael Thomas and Keenan Allen are both coming off seasons that could go down as the best of their careers, yet they respectively averaged 12.9 and 14.1 fantasy points per game.

Do you want to bet that a bounce-back from Evans, 25 in August, is less likely than Thomas maintaining his market shares with Cam Meredith and Tre'Quan Smith now in the fold? Would you rather bet on two unhealthy years in a row for Jameis Winston, or Allen playing 16 games for the second time in six years? My point is not that Evans is safer than Allen or Thomas, but that there are risks that aren't calculated yet into the ADPs of Thomas and Allen. In the meantime, it's objectively true that Evans' upside is higher than those of Thomas or Allen.

Heading into the third round without a running back can be risky this year with the increased demand at the position, but I'm willing to take the plunge if I have one of the WR tandems previously mentioned. I wouldn't feel any extra pressure to take Hunt in the first in this scenario, even though he's the only running back named. Not beyond general diversification thinking, anyway.

3. If Picks 1.07 thru 1.09: Picks 2.04 thru 2.06

Potential previous picks: Antonio Brown, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham

Next targets: Davante Adams, A.J. Green, Mike Evans

Perhaps I'll eventually feel the need to diversify in these scenarios and consider running backs in the second round, but for now I'm thinking strictly wide receiver if I have the 16th, 17th, or 18th selection. While I mention Barkley and Kamara as running back targets in the first, their general ADP in the top six means I'm more realistically looking at the receivers Hopkins or Beckham as my initial selection.

Just as mentioned in the previous pick range, I'm willing to head into the third round without a runner as long as my two wide receiver picks beforehand are some combination of Brown, Hopkins, Beckham, Jones, Adams, Green, and Evans. What I'm seeing here is that I generally end up with similar-looking teams when picking anywhere from seventh to 12th, and I usually have two receiver picks heading into the third.

4. If Picks 1.03 thru 1.06: Picks 2.07 thru 2.10

Potential previous picks: Antonio Brown, Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley

Next targets: Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette (10.3 ADP), Melvin Gordon (11.9 ADP), Rob Gronkowski (20.0 ADP), Doug Baldwin (34.6 ADP), Keenan Allen (17.7 ADP), Michael Thomas (15.4 ADP), Travis Kelce (24.7 ADP)

Given that these second-round picks rest at 19th through 22nd overall, the odds of Fournette or Gordon falling this far are very poor. I will therefore end up with very few shares of Fournette and Gordon this year, because I will almost always prefer Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Davante Adams, and A.J. Green instead. But I would start picking the running back duo if they should start slipping to me. More realistically, though, I'm diversifying between Evans, Baldwin, Gronkowski, Allen, Thomas, and Kelce.

I'm happy to continue piling up mid-to-late round shares of Pierre Garcon, Rishard Matthews, Kenny Stills, Josh Doctson, and Allen Hurns as WR depth, so passing on a second-round wideout to make room for Gronk or Kelce is something I'm totally okay with. I'm also high enough on Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Trey Burton, and George Kittle as TE1 options that I don't feel compelled to go with Gronk or Kelce at any particular frequency. I'm trying to make it about a 2/3 split in this scenario, with wideouts as the two thirds.

I suppose I should talk a little bit more about the receivers in this range. Thomas and Allen are the consensus targets, but I prefer Baldwin. The current market strikes me as a classic case of paying last year's prices rather than accounting for a range of new outcomes.

Baldwin's ADP is significantly lower than those of Thomas, Allen, or Evans, so I'm trying to wait on him where I can, though I expect his ADP to creep into the late second very soon. Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson are gone, and Seattle added just Brandon Marshall to make up for it. Marshall isn't even a guarantee to make the team. With 29 touchdowns on his last 344 targets, Baldwin should breeze past double-digit touchdowns if he stays healthy this year. The target volume in general should go up, and the volume of red-zone targets specifically is an interesting variable to consider. Graham saw 47 red-zone targets the last two years. Three years removed from a 14-touchdown season, I like Baldwin's chances of doing it again.

5. If Pick 1.01 or 1.02: Picks 2.11 or 2.12

Potential previous picks: Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell

Next targets: Doug Baldwin, Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Adam Thielen (29.7 ADP), LeSean McCoy (15.1 ADP), Dalvin Cook (14.4 ADP)

Given how much higher I am on Green, Evans, and Baldwin than most people, I love getting the first or second pick and subsequently catching a guy in the late second that I'd also pick in the early second if I were stuck with picks 10 through 12. Going Gurley-Green-Baldwin is just about the best-case scenario I can imagine. But even I'm not looking at my preferred scenario, there are a handful of other guys I start to appreciate in this range.

As was the case with runners like Leonard Fournette and Melvin Gordon, that I'm so much lower on LeSean McCoy and Dalvin Cook at their current ADPs means I'm not likely to end up with them in this hypothetical. But I would get over McCoy's injury history and cursed team context if I could get him this late, and the fact that Dalvin Cook returns from an ACL tear with an already lengthy history of hamstring and shoulder issues would bother me much less in this range than it would at the top of the second round. Another concern I have with Cook is that Latavius Murray might get a lot of short-yardage and red-zone touches if the Vikings understandably try to limit Cook's exposure to contact. But man, Cook is incredible as long as he gets the ball.

Given his ADP around the 30th selection, it appears I am higher on Adam Thielen than most people. Indeed, while I rank him in a tier behind the likes of Michael Thomas and Keenan Allen, it's not because I feel strongly about that. I'm convinced that Thielen is one of the best receivers in the league, and I think he has more upside than most people figure, especially with Kirk Cousins around. If the Minnesota defense weren't so ruthless I'd probably be willing to take Thielen high in the second round.

Despite making do with middling quarterback play at best, Thielen has a YPT of 9.6 over his last 234 targets. That's a more than big enough sample for me to jump in head first. As a repenting former doubter of Kirk Cousins, I think his arrival to Minnesota could take Thielen (and Stefon Diggs, of course) to the next level.

Given my general trend to go heavier on WR than most in the first two rounds, you can expect the next publication to feature a heavy dose of running back analysis, probably centered around guys like Jerick McKinnon, Joe Mixon, Jordan Howard, Derrius Guice, and Derrick Henry.
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Mario Puig plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: rotwireyasiel, FanDuel: rotowireyasiel, FantasyDraft: rwyasiel, DRAFT: rwyasiel.