Best Ball Journal: QB-RB Portfolio Analysis
Best Ball Journal: QB-RB Portfolio Analysis

This article is part of our Best Ball Journal series.

I've now concluded eight BestBall10 drafts, all of them in the site's Pre-Draft Best Bowl tournament, and with that there's now a decent sample with which to analyze my selection tendencies so far. In this article I'll look at the picks I've made, the current and potentially shifting markets for the players in question, and whether I want to invest more in those players.

For this article I'll look at my quarterbacks and running backs, and for Wednesday I'll dive into the wide receivers and tight ends.

I'll list the picks by position, with the number of shares listed parenthetically next to the player. For this article I'm only listing the players for which I have at least two shares. I'll address the players by positional group subsections. Again, this is after eight drafts.

All ADPs listed are from the BestBall10 drafts, and for this article the sample is collected since March 4.

Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew (4), Lamar Jackson (2), Daniel Jones (2), Baker Mayfield (2), Joe Burrow (2), Ben Roethlisberger (2)

Minshew (215.8 ADP) is a player I will regularly consider at his current price. He typically lands in the 18th-round range, a price tag so low it's as if drafters doubt he'll hold a starting role for 2020. Either that or they're projecting regression in a way that I find uncharitable. Minshew's strong rookie season doesn't make him invincible – Marcus Mariota and Baker Mayfield were so promising at first, after all – but it generally bodes well that Minshew threw for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns, and six interceptions in 14 games. That he ran for 344 yards (5.1 YPC) is quite reassuring additionally, and if he can maintain that sort of rushing efficiency he's due for positive regression in the touchdown department after not scoring once on those 344 yards. I'm not looking to select Minshew in every draft – I'd ideally get a better backup option – but if I wait until this late in the draft order I much prefer him over more costly quarterbacks like Ryan Fitzpatrick (208.6 ADP), Dwayne Haskins (201.2 ADP), Mitchell Trubisky (189.0 ADP), and Drew Lock (179.6 ADP).

Lamar Jackson certainly isn't cheap at his 21.6 ADP, but I'm too big of a fan to stay away. If I don't like the running backs at the turn of the second and third rounds, Jackson will be a frequent target of mine in that range. I generally only try to stack him with one of Marquise Brown or Mark Andrews, however, since even an optimist should presume fewer than 4,000 passing yards for Jackson. 

That I've twice picked Daniel Jones (119.8 ADP) proves I'm no dogmatist – I thought Jones was an awful pick by the Giants and I remain skeptical that he'll be a good starter in the NFL, but I think his situation bears some resemblance to that of Josh Allen, another quarterback I couldn't stand as a prospect and still think isn't very good. But as Allen has shown, when a quarterback runs well enough and throws for enough air yardage, he at the very least can be better in fantasy than he is in real life. Jones is definitely an above average runner, like Allen, and just as similarly Jones showed an encouraging willingness to make aggressive throws as a rookie. The turnovers and inconsistency are a threat to both players, but in best ball you don't need to correctly anticipate their ups and downs. I'm totally okay with getting more shares of Jones in the ninth or (more ideally) 10th round, though I'll usually make myself go the three-quarterback route instead of the two-quarterback approach I might consider in light of a QB1 option superior to Jones.

Baker Mayfield (123.8 ADP) is a player I more or less project the same as Jones, but I've taken Jones earlier a couple times since that's just how the market is shaped at the moment. Given that I like both players enough in this range and have two shares of each, I'll probably maintain this approach going forward. Freddie Kitchens may well be the most incompetent head coach any of us will ever see, and I refuse to believe Mayfield's rookie season was totally fraudulent. Worse quarterbacks have had worse letdown seasons and still bounced back emphatically.

Joe Burrow (134.2 ADP) is likely headed to Cincinnati, for whom he'll face at least four tough matchups a year between the Steelers and Ravens, and there are of course enough concerns with the Cincinnati team itself beyond that. But once you hit the 11th round you're only left with treacherous options, and Burrow at least might have unique upside among the remaining candidates. That's because the Cincinnati offensive line should improve somewhat with the introduction of Jonah Williams at left tackle, and if A.J. Green is retained then a wideout trio of him, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross might prove among the league's best. Plus, Burrow is a candidate to run for 400 yards or so per NFL season after running for 368 yards in 2019 and 399 yards in 2018. He's risky, but I expect to buy more Burrow in this range if only for the lack of superior alternatives.

Ben Roethlisberger (140.6 ADP) is at once highly risky but also probably reasonably priced in nearly the 12th round. The next quarterbacks in the ADP are Jimmy Garoppolo (145.6 ADP) and Cam Newton (145.8 ADP), which is appropriate since I think all three more or less fit into this 'high risk, reasonable price' category. I'll probably look to split my ownership between the three, and maybe even Sam Darnold way down at 158.6 ADP.
 

Running Backs


Jonathan Taylor (4), James Conner (4), Tarik Cohen (4), Ezekiel Elliott (3), Zack Moss (3), Damien Williams (2), J.K. Dobbins (2), AJ Dillon (2), Duke Johnson (2), Ito Smith (2)

I suppose people might already be sick of me talking about Jonathan Taylor (27.8 ADP), but I have some bad news if so. For as much as I should temper my purchase volume at my current 50 percent exposure, I otherwise plan to keep buying what I fully believe to be one of the eight best running backs in the NFL. It's a high price to pay and it comes with plenty of risk since we don't know who Taylor will play for, but the same is true of Kenyan Drake (26.4 ADP), and I don't think I can bring myself to take Drake over Taylor even once.

James Conner (46.4 ADP) might be a durability worry going forward, but the fact that his price is this low leads me to think some people believe Jaylen Samuels or Benny Snell will force some sort of timeshare. I feel entirely at ease to ridicule this suggestion. I like Samuels (don't like Snell), but I think Conner clearly will take around 2/3 of this backfield if healthy. Tarik Cohen (106.0 ADP) is another post-hype guy, though one I'm more agnostic on. As much as I'm not going for Cohen head-first like I am some other players, I don't even need to be that high on the guy to pick him in the second half of the ninth round. The next runner in the ADP is Tony Pollard at 114.2, who might not even play 300 snaps if Ezekiel Elliott stays healthy. David Montgomery (57.0 ADP) averaged 10.9 PPR points per game last year, while Cohen averaged 10.2 per week despite unsustainably low per-target numbers. How are they more than four rounds apart?

Speaking of Ezekiel Elliott (3.0 ADP), he's obviously the kind of player you acquire on the basis of your draft slot, your own potential opinions held hostage by your lack of options otherwise. I'll keep buying him if I keep getting the third pick, although the fact that I have three out of eight times tells me I need to get a share or two of Pollard to insure me against an Elliott injury.

J.K. Dobbins (45.0 ADP), Zack Moss (128.8 ADP), and AJ Dillon (157.6 ADP) are three rookies of varying skill sets and price tags, with Dobbins obviously much more expensive than the latter two. As much as I don't regret owning two shares of Dobbins, I'll probably decline to buy many more shares as long as his price remains higher than that of James Conner. Moss' best subsequent alternatives are only the likes of Duke Johnson (138.4 ADP) and Jamaal Williams (148.0). Neither has upside anywhere near Moss, who could be a three-down back and a red-zone hog if he lands in the right spot. They do have higher floors, though, and I plan to buy more Duke and Williams if it suits my roster construction. But just as I'd rather have Moss than Johnson or Williams, I'd probably also prefer Dillon over the two veterans – at least on up to 40 percent or so of my teams. Dillon might still have his skeptics, but I doubt he falls past Day 2 of the NFL draft after outrunning and outjumping Derrick Henry at the same weight (247 pounds).

Ito Smith (N/A ADP) isn't an impressive prospect to me, but I think he's better than Brian Hill and he's objectively the best passing down option between himself, Hill, and Qadree Ollison. If the Falcons cut Devonta Freeman, I can't imagine Smith's ADP stays below the 16th round or so. I like to buy him in the 20th round of BB10s, along with similarly-priced runners like Damien Harris (264.0 ADP), Travis Homer (N/A ADP), and Anthony McFarland (255.43 ADP).

On a somewhat unrelated note, I also intend to target a handful of Nyheim Hines shares at his 212.86 ADP. I don't even think Hines is any good, but he's the passing down guy in Indianapolis until further notice, and in PPR I think he's clearly an advantageous purchase at his current price. Philip Rivers has to be the favorite to start at quarterback for the Colts in 2020 – Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni both coached Rivers with the Chargers before they went to the Colts – and Rivers has an almost out of control habit of checking down the running back. You don't need to be good to be useful in the 18th round, you just need to have a role, and I think Hines has one more suited to the 15th round at the moment.


 

Preview of the wide receivers and tight ends:

WR: DJ Chark (4), Michael Gallup (4), Will Fuller (4), James Washington (4), Mecole Hardman (3), Tyreek Hill (2), Odell Beckham (2), Christian Kirk (2), T.Y. Hilton (2), Jamison Crowder (2), Larry Fitzgerald (2), Jalen Reagor (2), John Ross (2), Kenny Stills (2), Steven Sims (2)

TE: Blake Jarwin (5), Chris Herndon (3), Zach Ertz (2)

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