Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

Best Ball Oracle Week 3

Welcome to The Oracle! :: The Greatest “Cheat Sheet” In Best Ball!

Each week in The Oracle, OWS team members will take on the key strategy questions surrounding Best Ball tourneys :: sharing their thoughts on how they plan to approach these critical elements from a roster-construction, game theory, and leverage perspective.

Best Ball Topics

1. Market Watch: Risers and Fallers

2. Does handcuffing work?

3. How to Maximize Expected Value (EV)

1. Market Watch: Risers and Fallers

The Question ::

We have one full week of preseason games under our belts and plenty of new information and data coming from those games, camp reports, coaches comments, missed practices/injuries, and so on. All of this action has led to some drastic ADP movement, in both directions, for many players over the last few days. Which players do you agree with the market movement on and which do you think are the biggest overreactions?

The Answers ::
Hilow >>

I can’t start the answer to this question on anyone but Isiah Pacheco, who, if you haven’t been paying attention at home, has rocketed up draft boards faster than a 13 year-old boy’s libido while watching Cinemax. The dude went in the fifth round of FFPC Main Event drafts this week, for Pete’s sake! This has come in complete disregard to camp reports of CEH seeing most of the work with the ones, his athletic profile (or lack thereof) and draft grades, camp videos showing plodding feet and limited agility, and the fact that he’s a rookie running back selected in the seventh (!!!) round. Hard pass (and I’m eating the fall in ADP for his running mate in CEH, while we’re speaking to the Chiefs backfield).

Treylon Burks has fallen all the way to the 115-120 ADP range across all major Best Ball sites amidst public shaming from his head coach. Look, I get it, he is not the most polished route runner of the class – but at the same time, he can be built into a WR5 or WR6 role on Best Ball rosters now for the absolute late season smash potential that he possesses. Nom noms.

In a somewhat more unheralded answer here, Rashaad Penny has experienced a little roller coaster in ADP over the previous week. First, reports of groin tightness saw his ADP slip almost seven spots across the majors. Then, Ken(neth) Walker was reported to have a sports hernia – then he wasn’t – then he had surgery, but it wasn’t for a sports hernia. Good God, man. All I know is that Pete Carroll once said Chris Carson had a neck stinger, which turned out to be a broken frickin neck. Then he said the team wasn’t interested in trading Russ – we all know what happened less than two weeks later. Now we have this report of surgery and a downplayed reaction. Color me skeptical, and give me some “discounted” Penny in the process (“discounted” because he’s still up about 15 spots in ADP from early drafts, but people were primarily drafting him poorly then so here we are).

Dameon Pierce is someone I have been out on since the beginning. I literally do not care if he emerges as the lead back in Houston. When I started this theoretical journey this offseason, I shifted the way I was viewing “backup” running backs and wanted to focus on the team instead of the player. The combination of Lovie Smith (defensive-minded coach, primarily of the DC variety) and Pep Hamilton (primarily involved with QBs and pass games throughout his coaching career) come together to form an offensive tandem I don’t expect to utilize one primary running back, and the team boasts a bottom 10 run-blocking offensive line heading into the season and a poor defense. That doesn’t sound like a situation that could see a league-winner emerge and I won’t be chasing the meteoric rise.

Romeo Doubs – see my notes in the Top 300s (they aren’t pleasant).

MJohnson >>

Rhamondre Stevenson is creeping up draft boards (and has been for a while) and I agree with this movement as it’s hard to see a bear case where he doesn’t pay off his current ADP even though it has risen to the middle of the 8th round. He will definitely get some early down work and appears to have the inside track on pass down usage. Frankly, there are some RBs going in the 3rd or 4th rounds that you could make similar statements about. I also agree with Treylon Burks dropping to an ADP near 100 (don’t tell Hilow!). Burks is a physical freak, but has a ways to go with the technical aspects of being an NFL receiver and isn’t exactly on a creative or pass happy offensive team. I’ll definitely be taking some shots on him now in the 10th round if he gets there, but he just has too many red flags at this point to justify where he was previously going.

Antonio Gibson and Romeo Doubs are the biggest overreactions for me. Doubs has been going as high as the 10th round in drafts I’ve been in this week and Gibson is dropping as far as the 9th or 10th, with an ADP approaching the 90’s. 

Gibson has made headlines for playing with the third team in practice, but JM had a really good take on Gibson in “Deeper Context” and going even a step further, let’s look at this from a logistics/EV perspective. If Washington was actually maybe considering being done with him they wouldn’t go about it by publicly demoting him like that…..he is a young player who has been productive, they’d try to keep his value up and quietly shop him for a 3rd or 4th round pick. The more logical explanation is this is an example of some “tough love” and sending a message. They likely know he is by far their best option at the position and it is much easier to bench a guy or play these mind games in mid-August than it is when the games actually count. 

As for Doubs, I can see the talent and the need for receivers that Green Bay has, but Aaron Rodgers also just publicly called out the young receivers for poor play and focus which should remind us all to tread carefully on expecting #12 to accept a 4th round rookie into his circle of trust.

Xandamere >>

I agree with the market movement on Dameon Pierce and Treylon Burks. Pierce’s ADP has risen modestly, and yes, I’m generally against drafting ADP risers because other rosters have him at a “cheaper” price, but at the end of the day this is a guy who could easily emerge as a 3-down bellcow RB (albeit for a mediocre offense) and is still being drafted around the 8th-9th round. For me, the upside there outweighs there being rosters out there with Pierce at a cheaper price, and the ADP has only risen a relatively small amount so far (if Pierce gets named the starter and his ADP shoots up to the 3rd-5th round, I’d shy away). 

For Burks, he played into the 4th quarter of a preseason game, which screams that the team doesn’t view him as ready for a starting role. So, it makes sense that his ADP has dropped….but I’m still drafting him. In this case, the ADP discount, to me, reflects the additional risk in his profile. So why am I not shying away? Because Burks’ upside of being the Titans’ WR1 is still intact. He could still be that guy. He may not be, and that’s why his ADP is where it is, but in tournaments I’m totally fine embracing volatility and taking the new discount.

The ADP risers I’m wary of are Romeo Doubs, George Pickens, and Isiah Pacheco. All three of those guys have shot way up with no real concrete information to support it, and all are guys who were already being drafted as late-round picks, so once again we run into the “other rosters have these guys at a discount” problem. Doubs is a rookie and we’ve always seen Aaron Rodgers shy away from heavily utilizing rookies. Pickens seems plenty talented but has a dubious quarterback situation and still has Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool in front of him. Pacheco has looked good in preseason but his pass protection, always a big hurdle for rookie RBs, remains a work in progress and he’s still looking slotted for, at best, the RB2 slot in a pass-heavy offense. I’d be more open to drafting these guys in a tournament that was posted recently, where you aren’t competing against rosters that picked these guys multiple rounds behind where they’re being drafted today, but in “older” tourneys I’m shying away.

JM >>

In my answer to the first question of last week’s Oracle, I dove into the camp battles I truly care about (the battles in which someone has a path to a genuine, large-scale role), which ties in nicely with what Xandamere answered above. When players soar up draft boards due to preseason hype that is taken out of context of the actual role/production-potential available to them, we generally want to avoid. I do think that there is enough opportunity across 17 weeks for a player like Doubs or Pacheco to emerge as a legitimate contributor that I don’t hate the idea of going there even as they’re rising; but what happens most often in these situations (which X defined, above, as guys who “have shot way up with no real concrete information to support it”) is that we end up drafting non-contributors. Think Darwin Thompson, Tajae Sharpe, Marquez Callaway (as just a small sample of available examples). All of those guys began to feel like “can’t miss” // “must-draft” guys in their respectively-hyped years (and began to feel like screaming values in Week 1 DFS), only to faceplant to one extent or another. It’s easy to make the positive case for Doubs (for example), but we want to also consider the negative case. Taking the Doubs example: Christian Watson was hurt, and Doubs stepped up with tremendous practice showings that opened eyes. He’s also a fourth-round rookie who is currently behind Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, and potentially Christian Watson on the depth chart, on a team that will also rely on running backs and Robert Tonyan. To be clear: this is not an expression of anti-Doubs sentiment; it’s simply a presentation of the facts. “Hype” is an emotional reaction to in-the-moment news. When we can separate our decision-making processes from that emotion and look at the full scope of known information, we can make better logical assessments.

In general, my answers to these Oracle questions have been a bit more “big-picture // how-to-think-through-these-things-yourself” than “here’s my concrete answer to this specific question.” Part of this is because I finished my drafting in early August and don’t want to pretend to have strong takes where I don’t; but a bigger part of this is the simple fact that the news cycle is constant, and ADP is always changing — and what you really need is the ability to assess these situations on your own! Hopefully, this helps you feel more confident in doing exactly that.

2. Does handcuffing work?

The Question ::

Handcuffing is a strategy that is often discussed in the fantasy football industry and something that is a hotly debated topic in season long fantasy football. For best ball, mathematically it is likely “optimal” to not handcuff, as you are using extra roster spots on a position that theoretically limits your upside (if one of the two players has a monster game/season, it is likely that the other player is being hurt by it). However, as we know things are never as simple as a math equation in large field tournaments and, just like in DFS, there is often a benefit to “zigging when others are zagging”. All of that being said, what are your thoughts on handcuffing? Are you open to it at all or completely in the “trust the math” camp? If you are open to it, are there specific teams/situations, contests, or sites that you think it is most optimal to handcuff?

The Answers ::

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