The FanEx Fantasy Analysis Draft (FAD) is a long-running best ball league. It intentionally drafts on the early side of fantasy football season to showcase the picks and required pick commentary by the participants.
The format is 12-team, PPR with starters 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 Flex RB/WR/TE, 1 K, and 1 DEF. The draft is 20 rounds, so not particularly deep for a best ball draft (no in-season waivers) when injuries inevitably strike.
2018 League Champ
This is my third year competing in FanEx FAD. I won in 2018 starting my draft from 1.06 WR-WR, DeAndre Hopkins-Davante Adams. The primary league winning contributor was, no surprise, Patrick Mahomes in the 10th round. However, Kenny Golladay in the 11th plus James White in the 12th were exceptional, too.
2019 Antonio Brown Landmine
Last year it was a different story as I slumped down to 8th, and it is easy to see why from the draft report. Drafting 1.09 started Hopkins again, but followed that up with the now-retired Antonio Brown, before there were any apparent issues with him going to the Oakland Raiders. My first RB was Kerryon Johnson and my third RB was Darrell Henderson–yikes. A 12th round Dak Prescott and 14th round Mark Andrews couldn’t save the day from those early missteps.
2020 Best Ball Draft Review
On to 2020. While this best ball draft is painfully slow this year, we are into the back half, so now is a good time to share my picks. From the 1.05 I hoped for and received the opportunity to draft Alvin Kamara.
A recent ADP update for Draft Buddy shows Kamara average drafted 4th overall (high 3; low 6) in NFFC drafts and 4th overall (high 2; low 6) in FFPC drafts. As an aside, I am really happy to have NFFC and FFPC ADP in Draft Buddy this year. Definitely check out these sites for trusted mid-to-high stakes fantasy football leagues, including best ball drafts.
We can be pretty certain Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Ezekiel Elliott are going inside the top four in most leagues. To get Kamara at five I needed someone willing to pivot off running back or reach a bit for an alternate RB. This isn’t a super-flex league or TE premium, and it is a PPR, so unless the four-hole takes Michael Thomas, odds are not great for Kamara to fall to five.
Owners Chris Dolfi and Tom Walls, at four, took Michael Thomas. If they took Kamara, then I likely would have taken Thomas. Here is my pick commentary for Kamara and my other picks through five rounds.
1.05 RB Alvin Kamara, NO
I was 50-50 Alvin Kamara would make it to me at 1.05. He disappointed last season finishing RB9 in PPR but, reportedly, played injured much of the year. Toughing it out through 14 games resulted in similar touches, fewer yards, and significantly lower touchdowns (6 in 2019 versus 18 in 2018, 13 in 2017). A healthy Kamara and his anticipated 80-catch forecast is the safest bet to finish as a Top 5 RB than the remaining choices on the board.
After Ian Allen took Tyreek Hill I’d be inclined to trade down from this spot if I could, as I am not seeing a clear top choice at RB or WR. Narrowing my selection to DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones, I have a mild concern for each player. Hopkins needs to acclimate himself to his new surroundings in Arizona. Jones worries me a bit with his propensity to get dinged up. A stats review shows Hopkins typically plays over 98% of his team’s snaps, while Jones is under 80% each of the past four years. I opted for the younger receiver, Hopkins.
3.05 RB Le’Veon Bell, NYJ
When I initially set my pre-draft for this pick Tuesday night with four to go it started Odell Beckham, Jr. and then Le’Veon Bell. Wednesday morning, two picks to go, and both players were still on the board, but I switched them around ranking Bell first. The primary reason is the drop-off at running back. I’m better taking a RB here and waiting at WR for the next round. As to Bell over secondary considerations Todd Gurley or James Conner, better talent and higher volume. Here is to the Adam Gase effect being much less a negative factor this year than last year. I expect the Jets to be much improved out of the gate with a healthy Sam Darnold, which should set Bell up for a strong rebound season.
4.08 WR Adam Thielen, MIN
Adam Thielen was hurt in Week 7 last season. Through Weeks 1 to 6, he ranked WR14 in PPR. He was WR7 in 2018 and WR8 in 2017. While the departure of Stefon Diggs spurs debate of a net-positive or net-negative impact, there is little doubt Thielen is the primary receiving target on the Vikings, and it isn’t close. The Vikings defense looks like it is in a bit of decline, to boot. Thielen is one of the safer top WR choices on the board this season and it surprises me he routinely falls outside the top 10 at the position.
5.05 TE Mark Andrews, BAL
This point in the draft comes down to deciding between a potential difference-maker at a shallow position or a high upside wide receiver who could land in the Top 10. I decided to pull TE Mark Andrews, sacrificing my chance to get young guys like Terry McLaurin or DK Metcalf. There are pluses and minuses from Andrews’ breakout season a year ago. He only played 44% of snaps in 2019 and Hayden Hurst is out of the picture. However, ascending teammate Marquise Brown might take a bigger slice of the pie. But, Lamar Jackson may throw more. Weighing these pluses and minuses, Andrews is a good bet to replicate or better his production from a year ago. Expect more catches and a lower TD rate. Plus, I am very leery of the late drafted tight ends contributing much (or picking the right one), which tipped the scales to Andrews.
Best Ball Draft Strategy
Through five rounds I have a roster construction of 2 RB, 2 WR and 1 TE. Had I not paid up at TE for Andrews, then it would likely be a significant wait at TE and a roster of 2 RB, 3 WR. This is right in line with the draft plan to wait at QB and own at least two RB at this point.
The top quarterbacks didn’t fall to a decent value to even make me think about a QB earlier. Deshaun Watson went 5.12 and then not a single QB was taken after that until Matt Ryan at 8.07.
When Ryan and similar ranked QB got going through the 8th and 9th rounds, then the remaining QB projected out very similarly. This is consistent with end of season scoring. Last year there was only a 30 point spread between QB12 and QB20. It makes sense to keep waiting.
If I am one of the last to take a starting QB then I should be one of the first to take a backup. And, I might take a third since I waited and this is a battle of attrition.
As much as I like Travis Kelce and George Kittle, they went so early in this best ball draft – between my first and second picks – that neither was available to even consider. Zach Ertz surprised me a little as the third TE off the board in the late-4th. By the time we got to the mid-5th Andrews represented a good price for him.
A common TE target for me this year is Jared Cook. He went mid-10th in this draft. Had I passed on Andrews, drafted a player like McLaurin or Metcalf, and taken Cook in the 9th or 10th, that is not a bad trade off.
The issue is I have a shortlist of TE in this range I am comfortable with as a regular starter. Cook is one, and maybe Dallas Goedert, but players like Tyler Higbee, Hunter Henry, and T.J. Hockenson concern me for various reasons. There is no guarantee I would be able to draft Cook.
Running Back and Wide Receiver
I need to stockpile more RB and WR in the next five rounds, particularly RB because they will get really thin after ten rounds. While backs like Alexander Mattison and Tony Pollard, “coulda shoulda woulda” explode if the starter holds out or gets injured, don’t overpay for them. They are more likely to post weekly goose eggs as turn into a surprise Top 10 RB.
So, primarily looking for RB with a decent role in their offense from Week 1 to fill the RB3 and RB4 spots. After that the players who need some divine intervention to get an opportunity are fine. But again, limited roster spots keep these picks to a minimum.
It is very important to stockpile WR in a best ball draft. It is PPR with a flex spot. Filling seven roster spots with receivers increases the probability of getting four solid starter points on a weekly basis.
There is a kicker and team defense position in this league. While a third defense is advantageous in best ball, an extra WR is better at only 20 roster spots. At the end of the draft, my complete roster construction should be 2 QB, 5 RB, 6 WR, 2 TE, 2 K, and 2 DEF. That is 19. BPA (best player available) for the final spot at any of QB, RB, WR, or TE.