A Glimpse Into 2021 Best Ball Drafts

We literally just finished up the 2020 FFPC Best Ball season less than a week ago, but the mindset of players shifts rapidly, as we leave 2020 behind (gladly), and look forward to what 2021 will bring. In anticipation of 2021 Best Ball leagues firing off shortly, even before the Super Bowl is played, we felt it was a worthwhile exercise to get a glimpse into what a 2021 draft would look like. Last year the first Best Ball drafts fired off on January 16th, so we are probably just days away from seeing the 2021 drafts.

There have been a few “way too early” 2021 rankings published in the fantasy community here and there, but these are essentially the thoughts of  individuals. We felt it would be interesting to see the results of what the top of a 2021 FFPC Best Ball draft board looks like when you assemble a group of veteran drafters (consisting of analysts and players) within the fantasy community. In the interest of keeping the exercise brief, and out of respect for people’s time while we all shift into a playoff fantasy mindset, we kept it to just the top two rounds. Let’s face it though, the majority of fantasy players are consumed with what the first couple of rounds look like when entering a new fantasy season, and the discussion you hear usually revolves around the top players.

The draft board shown below is the result of this two round exercise. The participants, in draft order included:

Jim Coventry – @JimCoventryNFL – RotoExperts.com – SiriusXM Fantasy Host
Shane Hallam – @ShanePHallam – FakePigskin.com
Dan Williamson – @OverHypedSleepr – Goat District Podcast
Biplab Mandal – @__RainMaker – FFPC High Stakes Fantasy Player – 2020 Pros Vs Joes Overall Champion
Brian Drake – @DrakeFantasy – FightingChanceFantasy.com / Fantasy Football Hustle Podcast
Darren Armani – @FantasyMojo – FantasyMojo.com
Michael Petropoulos – @BrotoFantasy – BRotoFantasy.com
Tod Miller aka “Scoundrel” – @DraftJunkie – FFPC High Stakes Fantasy Player
Rich Hribar – @LordReebs – SharpFootballAnalysis.com
Scott Engel – @ScottETheKing – Rotoballer.com – SiriusXM Fantasy Host
Tod Burros – @TodFromPa – Run To Daylight Podcast – OneWeekSeason.com (DFS)
Adam Krautwurst – @Adam_Krautwurst – DraftSharks.com

Round 1

1.01. @JimCoventryNFL – Christian McCaffrey – Run CMC still seems likely to be the #1 overall pick in most drafts despite the injury. Other than Alvin Kamara (who has some questions for 2021), there is no other running back that produces like him when he is on the field.

1.02 @ShanePHallam – Dalvin Cook – Through week 16 of the 2020 season, Cook was the #2 overall RB (behind Alvin Kamara). Can’t argue with the pick, but I do think the players selected at 2 through 7 might be more interchangeable than we have seen in recent history. I could make a case for any of them to be selected at #2.

1.03. @OverHypedSleepr – Jonathan Taylor – Dan is dynasty focused and not scared to ruffle feathers with his first round picks. Last year he was the man behind a few A.J. Brown 1.01 picks. (Which he noted would have actually yielded a better result than the consensus 1.01 or 1.02 picks of 2020).

1.04 @__RainMaker – Alvin Kamara – Questions around who the QB will be in New Orleans are going to influence the draft stock of Kamara. If Brees is the QB, you could argue he is the #1 overall pick. If Taysom Hill (or Winston?) find themselves starting, Kamara takes a hit in production most likely.

1.05 @DrakeFantasy – Saquon Barkley – Barkley’s injury issues are going to scare off a lot of drafters in 2021. This very well could turn out to be a good value for Barkley. From a talent perspective, it’s a no brainer.

1.06 @FantasyMojo – Travis Kelce – I felt Adams/Henry/Kelce were all good picks here. But I leaned towards Kelce primarily based on the historical data associated with drafting 1 or 2 TE’s with your first picks in FFPC Best Ball leagues. (It is very good). Kelce is heads and shoulders above all other TE’s in this TE Premium format. The knock on him is his age as he will be 32 next year. That’s fine. We’ll keep riding this train until it slows down. This isn’t a dynasty league. FWIW, @OverHypedSleepr indicated he strongly considered Kelce at 3.

1.07 @BrotoFantasy – Davante Adams – Clearly the top WR on the board. He will likely get the “Michael Thomas 2019 Treatment”, which saw Thomas going off as early as #2 or #3 in drafts. It will all depend on a particular drafter’s strategy and disposition towards early WR in those slots.

1.08 @Scoundrel – Derrick Henry – The Big Dog is a beast, and is another player we could easily see at #2 overall. The concern may be the number of carries he has seen over the past two years. It may very well be over 400 for two consecutive years when you factor in playoff work.

1.09 @LordReebs – Ezekiel Elliott – Is Zeke washed, or is his production a function of the presence of Dak Prescott? Zeke was rolling when Dak was running the offense. And even with his “subpar” performance this year, he still ranks as RB7 through week 16

1.10 @ScottETheKing – Tyreek Hill – He’s the #2 ranked WR of 2020, so WR2 in this draft seems like chalk at 1.10 . Also taking into consideration this is a Best Ball format, no other WR gives you a ceiling as high as Tyreek week to week. His week 12, 57.9 point explosion is evidence of that.

1.11 @TodFromPa – Michael Thomas – Thomas’ value , like Kamara, is going to be tied to who the QB is for New Orleans in 2021. I suspect we see a wide range on Thomas in drafts. In theory, he is a very safe play.

1.12 @Adam_Krautwurst – Stefon Diggs – The superstar of 2020. The receiver who single handedly won championships for so many fantasy players with his end of season production. Can he repeat this production

Round 2

2.01 @Adam_Krautwurst – D.K. Metcalf – “Decaf” production declined a bit down the stretch (in conjunction with Russell Wilson’s fading), but he still was ranked as WR6 through week 16, so if that is his floor, he should still be able to return value on the investment here. Adam might also have been intentionally going for a WR/WR start in this draft as a strategy.

2.02 @TodFromPa – Aaron Jones – With Jones being a free agent after the end of the season, it’s difficult to forecast exactly what his value will be in 2021. He IS the premier running back on the market though, so you would have to assume that if he signs with a new team, he would be the feature back, but it might be a team dependent situation.

2.03 @ScottETheKing – Darren Waller – Changing of the guard within the “elite” tight end tier. Darren Waller’s breakout 2020 performance has launched him ahead of George Kittle in this 2021 mock, though I suspect we might see those two going back and forth with respect to the #2 TE off the board in drafts.

2.04 @LordReebs – D’Andre Swift – Interesting pick. Swift going before Chubb, Ekeler, and maybe even some others, will raise some eyebrows here. But that is why we are conducting this exercise, to get the gears in the brain churning. What does Mr. Hribar see here that maybe some others don’t?

2.05 @Scoundrel – Calvin Ridley – Seems the torch has been officially been passed in Atlanta. Ridley is the new #1 receiver with Julio Jones unable to stay healthy for any significant stretch of time at this point in his career.

2.06 @BrotoFantasy – Austin Ekeler – This is about where Ekeler went in 2020 drafts, and there is no reason to believe his injury is something to be concerned about for 2021.

2.07 @FantasyMojo – George Kittle – My selection of George Kittle is a function of completing the TE/TE start here. Mostly very high win rates historically for TE/TE starts in FFPC. I suspect that when we run the numbers for 2020, we will see that trend continue. Not that the TE/TE by itself gets you a win, but it establishes a very strong foundation for sure. I did win the “Hard Way” Best Ball league using this strategy intentionally. It is a high risk / high reward approach. This pick was fired off with a pre-draft, and my backup picks to Kittle were Nick Chubb, Austin Ekeler, James Robinson, and DeAndre Hopkins in that order.

2.08 @DrakeFantasy – J.K. Dobbins – Imagine a world where there is no Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards is Gus Edwards. Then look at the boxscore for the Ravens in week 17 for Dobbins. 13 carries, 160 yards, 2 TDs. Not too shabby. This is what folks had hoped for with Dobbins much earlier in the 2020 season.

2.09 @__RainMaker – DeAndre Hopkins – I think this is way too late of a selection for Hopkins, but Biplab is doing what good fantasy players do, scoop up value when it is there. Hopkins could just as easily be a first round pick depending on the draft you are in for 2021.

2.10 @OverHypedSleepr – Justin Jefferson – Jefferson will finish as a top 8 receiver for 2020 and broke the rookie receiving record. He is selected here as WR8 in this draft. I actually thought Dan (who hails from Minnesota) was going to draft Jefferson at 1.03 to make another splash (ala A.J. Brown at 1.01) .

2.11 @ShanePHallam – Nick Chubb – Another case of scooping up value here. Chubb can be argued as a 1st round pick himself, similar to 2020 where he was drafted quite often, but was mostly an early 2nd rounder. Chubb really didn’t do anything to hurt his draft stock in 2020, so this is a nice value. And like I said, I would have selected him at 2.07 if I wasn’t consumed with applying Best Ball theory to a two round mock.

2.12 @JimCoventryNFL – Antonio Gibson – Amazingly, even with Gibson’s late emergence, and then late season injury, he still finished as the RB12 in this PPR based scoring format. Imagine what he could do with a full season under his belt.

In summary, this two round exercise left me feeling like the top of 2021 draft boards is full of a much deeper pool of elite talent than we saw in 2020. Think of all the names still on the board that didn’t make the cut for the first two rounds based on the evaluation of these experienced drafters. I am looking forward to seeing what these 28 round behemoths look like when the drafts kick off in a couple of weeks.