Raybon’s 2019 NFL Best Ball Draft Strategy: 10 Players I’m Fading


USA Today Sports. Pictured: Todd Gurley, Patrick Mahomes

Sep 01, 2019, 11:30 AM EDT
  • With fantasy football leagues ramping up, it's time to start working on your NFL best ball draft strategy for 2019.
  • Chris Raybon highlights 10 players who are overvalued in DRAFT NFL Best Ball right now and who to pick instead.

To be a profitable offseason best ball player, you’ll need to have a few league-winners — like Patrick Mahomes and George Kittle in 2018 — among your highest-exposure targets.

But at many points in your draft, you’ll be choosing between players of similar value and simply need to hold serve by avoiding potential busts.

Even though best ball results are largely a product of players’ ceilings since your starting lineup is automatically optimized each week, drafting is also about avoiding low floors — not in the sense of the lowest possible score a player could produce in a given week, as those tend to even out, but in the sense of how many non-valuable weeks a player will end up with relative to the value on the board.

Non-valuable weeks can occur due to not only the usual suspects (such as injury or lack of opportunity), but also to positional value: For example, if you draft three quarterbacks in the first six rounds and they all finish in the top five, you’ll probably still find yourself with a lot of unusable weeks because only one per week will count toward your score.

2019 NFL Best Ball Strategy

So with all that said, here are 10 players I’m fading as of early May.

And remember: Good players can have bad ADPs.

All ADPs are from DRAFT as of May 7

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams (ADP 7.8)

At first glance, this seems like a steal — Gurley finished as the RB1 in points per game and RB2 overall — but the first round is not the time to be all stingy with your glances. Every player in Round 1 (and well into Round 2) has a similar ceiling, but Gurley sticks out as the player with the lowest floor due to an arthritic knee condition that’s given some medical professionals reason to believe he’s already peaked.

From Week 9 through the Super Bowl, Gurley averaged just 16.6 touches in nine games — fine for a back in the Frozen Pond Tier, maybe, but well below the 23.4 in his first 24 games under Sean McVay that put him back on the high-end RB1 map.

Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Todd Gurley

The Rams’ pick of Memphis running back Darrell Henderson in the third round shouldn’t be taken lightly, either: Over the past five years, backs picked in Round 3 averaged 137 touches their rookie seasons.

The Rams also matched Malcolm Brown’s $3.25 million offer sheet, and C.J. Anderson showed that Sean McVay has no issues with plugging a back just signed off the street into a huge workload if necessary.

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP 32.7)

If you’re tempted to draft Mahomes this high, I’m going to assume it’s because you’re suffering from a severe case of FOMO after not getting enough exposure to him in the late rounds last year.

This is not even about Tyreek Hill’s indefinite suspension or 2018 being an outlier that will be tough to match even if Mahomes goes on to have a Hall of Fame career. This is about the fact that from a value-based perspective, there’s almost nowhere for a QB selected this high to go but down.

Even if Mahomes does give you first-round value, a max gain of +2 rounds of value is still not that valuable when a max of one QB will count toward your score each week.

Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes

Not only is this nearly 30 picks too high for Mahomes, but the main advantage of using a pick this high on a QB — getting a matchup-proof player who you don’t have to worry about whether to start or sit each week– is minimized in best ball formats.

UPDATE: With Hill good to go and rookies Mecole Hardman and Darwin Thompson coming along faster than expected, I’m now treating the Late Round QB strategy as a “know the rule but also know when to break it” situation in regard to Mahomes. While Mahomes’ 2018 season was an outlier relative to the rest of the league, I no longer believe it’s necessarily an outlier at all for him personally as long as his current supporting cast and coaching staff remain intact. I now like taking Mahomes so long as it’s at or below ADP. For more on why, check out tip No. 5 here. If you need to pile up Mahomes exposure quickly, ramp up your entries into 3- and 4-man contests.


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