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    Last Updated: 5/17/24

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    Team Previews

    Below you’ll find a link to each division where Hilow and Mike Johnson went team-by-team to help get the OWS Fam get ready for the season. The previews were written in May, but the guys released August updates to account for any changes. Here’s what you can expect to learn about each team:

    – Bull Case
    – Bear Case
    – Expectations / Takeaways
    – Coaching Philosophy // Personnel Changes // Schedule
    – A mid-August update after 2 weeks of Training Camp.

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    AFC EAST

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    AFC WEST

    Storyboard #7

    Written by :: Mike Johnson

    Published – 8/30/23

    My weekly “Storyboard” articles are a deep dive into the thought process I use when building a best ball tournament roster. My approach is different than many, as I am not concerned about my overall player exposures and I view each draft as its own entity where I try to tell a “story” of how the NFL season could play out that would be “outside the normal line of thinking/expectation”, but also “doesn’t take a huge leap of faith.” These exercises are a dive into the decision-making process and should help show how each decision made throughout a draft influences the outlook for that roster going forward. Below is a summary of a draft I did on August 13th for the $20 Drafters Million contest on www.Drafters.com: 

    Drafters Deposit Bonus

    First time depositors: use code OWS for 100% deposit bonus up to $100.

    Returning customers: use code OWSRELOAD for 20% deposit bonus up to $100

    Drafters Scoring/Settings::

    • Drafters format has NO PLAYOFFS. The format is cumulative points for 17 weeks
    • This means Week 17 correlations can be thrown out the window
    • 20 man rosters, same as Draftkings
    • PPR scoring, like Draftkings, but NO BONUSES for 100 yards rush/rec or 300 yards passing
    Picking from the 3rd slot

    1.03 — Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC — As I talked about last week, unique early-round pairings can give us a TON of value. After Jefferson and Chase are gone I have a decision to make. Ekeler isn’t the “optimal” pick here based on my rankings or most projections, but in terms of winning the tournament, I’m going to zag early.

    2.10 — Jalen Hurts, QB, PHI — Snagging Hurts here is what makes the “reach” on Ekeler a “+EV” proposition. The respective ADPs of Hurts and Ekeler result in extremely low combinatorial ownership, and if these two lead their respective positions then I’m now chasing six other spots to aggregate high-end production from 16 draft spots.

    3.03 — DK Metcalf, WR, SEA — I decided to pass on Mark Andrews here but it isn’t because I’m down on Andrews. TJ Hockenson’s ADP has tanked the last couple of weeks as he has been sitting out camp with minor “injuries” in search of a new contract. He’ll get better and play, and his current ADP is about a round and a half below where I think his true value lies. Because of that, I’m taking a high-upside WR here and banking on getting Hock in the 4th or 5th.

    4.10 & 5.03 — TJ Hockenson, TE, MIN and Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT — I already explained the Hockenson pick. As for Diontae, I didn’t take a WR in the first or second round, which means I am going to be relying on a lot of higher variance players at the position. Johnson has ranked top 6 in the league in targets each of the last three years, making him extremely valuable for this roster.

    6.10 & 7.03 — Zay Flowers, WR, BAL and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, SEA — OK, so here’s the theory I talked about earlier. My plan at RB is to “bet” on Ekeler as the RB1. For my second RB position, I’m going to take one RB in the 11-15th round (whenever the best value appears available) and then take RBs with my final five picks – basically betting on those six combining to fill that “RB2 silo.” I’ll take a “backup” QB and TE somewhere in the 11th-15th range. That means I’ll be hammering WR for the foreseeable future. JSN pairs nicely with Metcalf and appears that he will avoid the PUP list (meaning he’s likely back in the first 2-3 weeks of the year). I passed on Andrews earlier, so I’m taking Flowers here and will try to get one of Bateman/OBJ in my next round of picks.

    8.10 & 9.03 — Kadarius Toney, WR, KC and Odell Beckham Jr., WR, BAL — I’m not a huge fan of either of these players on their own, but for this roster, they make sense. Both are attached to likely high scoring offenses. Beckham gives me a second “out” on a BAL WR and Toney doubles down on the “Hockenson TE1” bet I’ve made (if that happens, Kelce may have struggled and Toney could easily be the benefactor). I’m also willing to take a shot on Toney on this specific roster where I already know I’m going to end with 9 WRs. He can be a ghost for most of the year but if I get 4-5 games where he’s getting a lot of targets from Mahomes, it’s more than worth it.

    10.10 & 11.03 — Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN and Jakobi Meyers, WR, LVR — After taking the upside WRs the last four rounds, time to get some stability in my life. Both of these guys are solid real life WRs who should consistently be involved in their team’s offenses. Remember that I’m assuming top-end production from QB, RB1, and TE spots, so now I’m optimizing for my 4 WR/Flex spots during this part of the draft and the 11-15 point weeks that these two may consistently provide will actually have a decent amount of value.

    12.10 & 13.03 — Elijah Mitchell, RB, SF and KJ Osborn, WR, MIN — When I selected Ekeler, I passed on CMC. Part of Ekeler ending the year as RB1 likely involves CMC either surrendering work to another RB or missing time due to injury. In either circumstance, Mitchell is the clear beneficiary. Imagine CMC misses a big chunk of time. What is Mitchell’s expected production then??? That’s the type of thing that wins tournaments. Osborn is a perfect addition to this WR corps as he should play a lot for a high volume passing offense, but will certainly have some peaks and valleys along the way.

    14.10 & 15.03 — Adam Thielen, WR, CAR and Ezekiel Elliott, RB, NE — Talk about a trip down memory lane. These are a couple of savvy vets. I intended on being done taking WRs after Osborn (my 9th), but couldn’t pass on the potential top WR option on a team given my lack of true top-end WR talent. Now that I’ve got 10 WRs, I’m only going to end up with 6 RBs which means I should take one here. I haven’t taken Zeke much this year, but he “fits” here. I just need a few decent weeks if the rest of this roster is playing out as expected.

    16.10 & 17.03 — Deuce Vaughn, RB, DAL and CJ Stroud, QB, HOU — I have five picks left, and I need to take 3 RBs, 1 QB, and 1 TE. I know I’ll have decent chances to take similar TEs to what is currently available in the last three rounds so I’m passing on that. I start with Vaughn as he’s a truly impressive player with just one clear flaw (size). Again, I’m just trying to fill one RB slot with five RBs so a player like him who could have some great bursts throughout the season is perfect. My QB1 (Hurts) has a Week 10 bye. I need my QB2 to still be starting when we get there. Stroud, the #2 overall pick in the NFL draft, will not be benched unless he’s severely injured this year. I can’t say the same about the other QBs on the board.

    18.10 & 19.03 — Deon Jackson, RB, IND and Taysom Hill, TE, NO — Jackson appears to be the top RB option for the Colts without Jonathan Taylor. We’ll see what happens there, but I’m happy to be on him for my RB group that is working to fill the RB2 slot. Taysom’s ADP has dropped 3-4 rounds since he had a minor oblique injury two weeks ago. Hill had SEVEN weeks scoring double digits last season, and we expect the Saints offense to be better this year. I’ll gladly take the discount and bet on his spike weeks complementing Hockenson’s down weeks and bye.

    20.03 — Pierre Stong, RB, CLE — The Browns just made a move for Strong and he now joins a backfield with a ton of contingent value and very little competition behind Nick Chubb. Having him fall in my lap here is an absolute gift for the type of team I’ve built.

    Final Roster:

    “Positional Silos” – The stories I am telling that fill out the positions on my roster and give me a chance to rise to the top.

    QB — Hurts has another high end season and rides the “tush push” play to a ton of rushing TDs. Stroud adds a few points along the way.

    RB1 — Ekeler repeats.

    TE1 — Hockenson repeats last year’s usage after the trade to MIN. Taysom’s few TDs and spike week or two complement well to provide max value at the position.

    WR1-3 & Flex

    • Diontae is a consistent high-volume player whose score is counting almost every week.
    • Multiple WRs from BAL and SEA should complement each other and *most* weeks I should get at least a usable score from both pairs. 
    • Boyd/Meyers/Thielen raise the overall floor of the group. They are locked in starters who should have a few games each with 8 to 10 targets.
    • Toney/Osborn will be on the field enough for good enough offenses to provide some spikes.
    • This group is built in such a way that I should always be able to get 3 to 4 reasonable scores and there are a lot of paths to spike weeks.

    RB2 — Mitchell, Elliott, Vaughn, Jackson, Strong. The riskiest “bet” on this roster is banking on this group consistently giving me one guy with 12-15 points, and a few 20 point weeks mixed in. I like how the group works together. Elliott and Jackson should have involvement and contribute early in the year. Vaughn and Strong are likely to need some time to work into some roles. Mitchell should get some touches early on but it will take a CMC injury for him to have consistent volume – that being said, his offense should score enough that he can put up 15+ points even when CMC is healthy.

    Tourney Selection Update

    WRITTEN BY :: alex pendergrass

    Published – 8/21/23

    Welcome to the second installment of the tournament selection series, designed to help inform your contest selection. With about two weeks remaining to draft, training camps are winding down and the final preseason games kick off this week.

    Here’s a look at the contests still available to enter across the industry:

    OVERLAY notes

    Drafters

    Our look at overlay absolutely must begin with Drafters. Last season, their $5.55 Early Bestball Championship (closed prior to the NFL Draft) finished with 18.99% overlay on just a 9.98% rake, after which their flagship contest ($20 THE DRAFTERS MILLION Championship) debuted with a field size of 55k entries and 9.1% rake. It closed with just over 44k entries, overlaying at 19.81%.

    This year, Drafters chose to double the field size of their flagship tournament to over 110k. With the tournament closing in less than 18 days, there are still less than 40k entries. Xandamere has been tracking the fill rate daily on Discord, and his projections agree with mine. I would be frankly shocked if this contest gets to 70% full. 

    If you’re able to play on Drafters, and you can do so effectively using Mike’s strategies to attack the cumulative scoring format, there is simply no better use of your best ball dollars.

    As a reminder, if you don’t have an account, you can use referral code OWS to get a 100% deposit match up to $100. If you already have an account, you can use OWSRELOAD to get a 20% deposit match up to $100. You can actually use both codes for separate deposits, so if you deposit $600, you get $200 free.

    I’m tentatively expecting a small amount of overlay in the $3 Drafters Mini contest for now as newcomers and Drafters vets alike jump at the massive overlay in the flagship contest. That said, I don’t think the overlay in this one will be able to eliminate the rake.

    Underdog

    Underdog are the experts at pacing their fill rates by staggering smaller contests across the draft window. I would not expect any overlay for Best Ball Mania IV, or certainly nothing that would make a difference toward the expected value. With its novelty and price point, Weekly Winners would be their only contest in danger of moderate overlay. I could see drafters preferring to allocate their budgets to familiar formats down the stretch, and its price point conflicts with BBMIV and the $20 Drafters flagship tournament with its alluring overlay.

    DraftKings

    Over on DraftKings, the $10 Millionaire tournament has nearly 1.75x the field size as BBMIV, the second largest tournament in terms of field size. With double the entry fee as last year’s flagship contest, DraftKings could see 5-8% overlay here. Savvier drafters recognize the softer competition, but they also chase more substantial overlay, and they know the massive field and final group size (1,364 entries, fully 3x as many as every other contest still open) make it more difficult to realize one’s edge. DK is continuing to offer free ticket promos for entering other contests, so I’m not comfortable with delivering a firm overlay verdict just yet.

    Other potential overlay candidates on DraftKings include the $2.6M Millionaire contest (a $555 entry fee contest, with a 1 in 29 chance at a million dollars in the finals) and the $250K Pocket Passer ($250 single entry, with an especially forgiving playoff advancement structure).

    FFPC

    Right now, only the Best Ball Tournament on FFPC (their flagship) is in danger of overlay. I suspect that’s due to the $125 entry fee. If it does, I would expect to see maybe 3-5% at the most. For most platforms, that’d make no difference to EV calculation. But on FFPC, thanks to their generous alternate payout offerings in next season tickets (valued higher than strict cash payouts), it could be enough to eliminate the rake entirely.

    I wouldn’t get too excited about chasing that right now. FFPC streams live coverage of drafts and is constantly promoting its offerings, so I still think they sell out. But the chance is something to keep an eye on for the next installment of this series.

    BB10s & NFFC

    If you’re still fairly new to best ball, and you don’t feel the need to chase life changing money, there could be some overlay opportunities here. For BB10s, their 2023 Championship ($10 entry fee, cumulative scoring, $10k top prize) fill rate is suggesting some overlay. I expect that to increase as we near kickoff, but right now I wouldn’t be surprised to see around 5% of overlay. If you can stomach drafting defenses, give it a shot.

    If you get queasy about defenses, the NFFC contests also require you to draft kickers. Approach with caution. That said, the $400 NFFC Championship is set to overlay significantly. Their reporting of entries and contest details is suspect, but both of their contests opened during the second week of January, and this one is still nowhere near halfway full. With such a high entry fee, an ungodly 34 rounds to draft, and nearly 22% rake, it’s no wonder why.

    If you’ve got deep pockets, I think this might top the Drafters flagship in overlay. NFFC has already had to cancel another costly tournament from their season-long, managed contest offerings (even though it had the sponsorship and backing of Footballguys.com) due to a lack of interest, so it’s not impossible they do the same here. Although this late in the drafting season that seems unlikely and would certainly be quite a blemish to their record.

    CONTEST COMPARISONS

    With the overlay discussion concluded, I wanted to provide a resource for you to easily compare similar tournaments to each other. It should be noted that the projected fill date column you see in the tables below are not sophisticated enough to expect fill rates increasing the closer we get to the start of the season. For now, you can think that the further past kickoff (9/7/2023) the projected date, the more likely there is to be overlay. Any blanks mean that the criteria do not fit the contest (i.e. cumulative scoring contests have no advancement structure) or the platform does not provide the information.

    FLAGSHIP CONTESTS
    HIGH STAKES CONTESTS
    LOW STAKES CONTESTS
    SINGLE OR LIMITED ENTRY CONTESTS

    Storyboard #6

    Written by :: Mike Johnson

    Published – 8/15/23

    My weekly “Storyboard” articles are a deep dive into the thought process I use when building a best ball tournament roster. My approach is different than many, as I am not concerned about my overall player exposures and I view each draft as its own entity where I try to tell a “story” of how the NFL season could play out that would be “outside the normal line of thinking/expectation”, but also “doesn’t take a huge leap of faith.” These exercises are a dive into the decision-making process and should help show how each decision made throughout a draft influences the outlook for that roster going forward. Below is a summary of a draft I did on August 13th for the $20 Drafters Million contest on www.Drafters.com: 

    Drafters Deposit Bonus

    First time depositors: use code OWS for 100% deposit bonus up to $100.

    Returning customers: use code OWSRELOAD for 20% deposit bonus up to $100

    Drafters Scoring/Settings::

    • Drafters format has NO PLAYOFFS. The format is cumulative points for 17 weeks.
    • This means Week 17 correlations can be thrown out the window
    • 20 man rosters, same as Draftkings
    • PPR scoring, like Draftkings, but NO BONUSES for 100 yards rush/rec or 300 yards passing
    Picking from the 7th slot

    1.07 — Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC — Decided to pass on Kelce in this draft and take a shot at Ekeler. Ekeler’s floor and ceiling are elite, and this is likely to be the best LAC offense we’ve seen yet. When I take Ekeler, I like to press that bet by loading up on Chargers across the board. Will look for Keenan and/or Mike in the 3rd/4th and Herbert in the 5th.

    2.06 — Garrett Wilson, WR, NYJ — Top WR on the board and the Jets make for a nice opportunity for a second team stack with some cheaper pieces later, opposite the expensive Chargers team stack.

    3.07 — Keenan Allen, WR, LAC — It worked out nicely, with Allen falling slightly below ADP to me here. He complements Ekeler well, and if this Chargers offense hits in the way I think it might then there will be plenty to go around here.

    4.06 — Christian Watson, WR, GB — Mike Williams went 2 picks before me, so I had to pivot. That’s actually fine with me, however, as 3 guys from 1 team in the first 4 rounds is a lot of draft capital that’s hard to pay off. Watson fits nicely on this team for multiple reasons. He is my WR3 and, perhaps most importantly, the Packers are another relatively cheap team to stack up which once again fits well next to my growing Chargers stack.

    5.07 — Justin Herbert, QB, LAC — If Ekeler and Keenan are paying off their draft positions, Herbert’s in for a monster year. By taking a QB at this point, and one that is so closely tied to 2 of my top 3 picks, I am locking myself in to a 2-QB build. Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love are the obvious candidates to fill the QB2 spot, but I won’t reach on either of them to make it happen. I’ll take them if there’s a value to be had, otherwise I will wait and take a cheap one in the 16th-18th.

    6.06 — Miles Sanders, RB, CAR — Sanders is a bit of a mystery for me this year, but last week our fearless leader JM made some good points about both Sanders as a player and his head coach Frank Reich’s RB philosophy. I’m not sure what kind of massive spike weeks to expect from Sanders in CAR, but he should consistently provide usable weeks for me and, combined with Ekeler, provides a great base at the position. Also, Bryce Young has been falling in drafts so he’d be a nice option as QB2 to lock in almost all of the scoring from a potentially underrated team in Carolina.

    7.07 — Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI & 8.06 — Isaiah Pacheco, RB, KC These picks are extremely correlated for this roster, although it probably isn’t very clear why/how…let me explain.  First of all, if you read my last Storyboard, you know why I am very high on Travis Kelce in this format, as if he puts up the “TE1” season, it is extremely valuable in cumulative scoring. By passing on Kelce in the first round of this draft, I’m basically saying I don’t think he has that type of season that separates at the position. Usually, when I pass on Kelce, I will try to get either Andrews in the 3rd or Hock in the 5th as I think they are the most likely “non-Kelce” TE’s to end up as TE1. Putting together the Chargers stack kept me from taking either of them, so how do I attack the position? Well, Goedert plays on arguably the league’s top offense and having him fall to me in the 7th as the TE7 when, after the big 3, he might have the best chance of being TE1 of any other TE is a nice consolation. Pacheco fits the story, because if Kelce isn’t the TE1, I don’t believe it’s because the Chiefs offense completely falls apart. Their RB1 taking a bigger chunk of the pie and having scoring variance go his way would fit perfectly in this “story”.

    9.07 & 10.06 — Romeo Doubs, WR, GB, and Jakobi Meyers, WR, LVR — Roster Construction 101….I neeeded some WR’s and Doubs continues the GB team stack while Meyers is kind of an often overlooked player who could excel playing in Las Vegas with Adams and Jacobs drawing the attention of opposing defenses.

    11.07 & 12.06 — Tank Bigsby, RB, JAX and Michael Gallup, WR, DAL — Sorry to the Etienne truthers, but Tank is coming. His preseason usage confirmed he’s got a role starting out and he will certainly have a few spike/usable weeks this year. RB4 on this squad works perfectly for his situation. Gallup is a talented WR in a good offense. Keep loading up on guys who will be in position to put up several 18+ point weeks.

    13.07 & 14.06 — DJ Chark and Jonathan Mingo, WRs, CAR — Already having Miles Sanders on the roster, and knowing Bryce Young is a QB target for me later, I was able to snag both of these guys as my WR7 and WR8.

    15.07 — Jerome Ford, RB, CLE — Ford is one of my favorite backup RBs to target in the teen rounds, and some preseason maintenance (which I view as a good sign) has him with a red Q next to his name and dropping on draft boards. I’ll gladly take the value.

    16.06 — Tyler Conklin, TE, NYJ — Conklin fits nicely on this roster as a little NYJ stack with Garrett Wilson. Those two are reportedly the two favorite targets for Aaron Rodgers so far in camp, so there’s a good chance that on the weeks where Wilson may struggle a bit I’ll get a boost from Conklin.

    17.07 — Bryce Young, QB, CAR — I love it when a plan comes together.

    18.06 — Josh Palmer, WR, LAC — Palmer is the direct backup to Keenan Allen, while also having flexibility to play other positions and has shown the ability to post spike weeks when he gets opportunities. He’s a perfect fit with this roster.

    19.07 & 20.06 — Mike Gesicki, TE, NE and Latavius Murray, RB, BUF — Hunter Henry and Damien Harris are two players I’ve been high on most of draft season. That said, everything has a price, and we have to pay attention to what teams are telling us. Gesicki’s price has fallen quite a bit in the last month and now going in the 19th round as my TE3 after the Pats told us they view him as a starter by healthy scratching him in the first preseason game, his high weekly upside is a gift here. Murray continues to gain momentum in pursuit of the RB2 job in BUF and in the final round of a draft getting a guy with a role in a premium offense is also a blessing.

    FINAL ROSTER:

    Storyboard #5

    Written by :: Mike Johnson

    Published – 8/9/2023

    My weekly “Storyboard” articles are a deep dive into the thought process I use when building a best ball tournament roster. My approach is different than many, as I am not concerned about my overall player exposures and I view each draft as its own entity where I try to tell a “story” of how the NFL season could play out that would be “outside the normal line of thinking/expectation,” but also “doesn’t take a huge leap of faith.” These exercises are a dive into the decision-making process and should help show how each decision made throughout a draft influences the outlook for that roster going forward. Below is a summary of a draft I did on August 3rd for the $20 Drafters Million contest on www.Drafters.com

    Drafters Deposit Bonus

    First time depositors: use code OWS for 100% deposit bonus up to $100.

    Returning customers: use code OWSRELOAD for 20% deposit bonus up to $100

    Drafters Scoring/Settings::

    • Drafters format has NO PLAYOFFS. The format is cumulative points for 17 weeks.
    • This means Week 17 correlations can be thrown out the window
    • 20-man rosters, same as Draftkings
    • PPR scoring, like Draftkings, but NO BONUSES for 100 yards rush/rec or 300 yards passing
    Picking from the 8th slot

    1.08: Travis Kelce — The first 4 picks were the top WRs, followed by 3 RBs (CMC, Ekeler, and Chubb). I LOVE Kelce in this format. He gives a huge positional advantage in the cumulative points format and allows me to use extra roster spots at RB and WR to hunt for 20 point weeks (if you listened to my August 1st Tuesday training session, you know what I’m talking about!!!)

    2.05: Jaylen Waddle, WR, MIA — The Kelce pick drives my draft going forward. Waddle gets the ball rolling on my “positional silo” at Wide Receiver (again, talked about this on Tuesday).

    3.08 — Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, DET — I’m Christopher Walken and Jahmyr Gibbs is my cowbell…..I’m gonna need more of it. Hard for me to overstate how high I am on him this year. Love getting him in the late 3rd.

    4.05 — Christian Watson, WR, GB — Adding Watson to this roster fits perfectly due to his elite weekly ceiling and how I plan to build going forward. I should have enough depth at the position to survive any “duds” his volatile playing style may leave me with, in large part thanks to having Kelce already in tow.

    5.08 — Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA — Lockett is once again a high weekly upside wide receiver and I’m going to keep hammering those types on this roster, probably taking 9 WR’s thanks to the Kelce pick.

    6.05 — Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN — Mattison limped a little bit at the end of a long practice in the heat on Tuesday and now he’s dropped from the late-4th to early-6th round? Thanks for the discount, fellas. Mattison may or may not be a great player this year, but he’s going to get opportunity and volume in a good offense, which means he’s going to raise my floor here. 4 to 6 20-point games likely

    7.08 — Zay Flowers, WR, BAL — A bit of a reach here, at 80th overall, but as my WR4 he fits perfectly and this roster will have enough WR’s to get through any rookie growing pains. Dude is absolutely crushing camp so far.

    8.05 — Skyy Moore, WR, KC — I don’t know that I “believe” all the hype Moore is getting, but he’s clearly in the Chiefs plans and going to play a lot this year. In a cumulative points Best Ball tournament, Moore is likely to give me several usable weeks. Once again, the way in which I plan to build this roster (9 WRs, meaning 4 more to come, means I’ll probably draft 1 or 2 more KC WR’s and just know between the group I’ll get a solid number of usable weeks from those roster spots). I’ve also got Kelce already, so this is a bit of a hedge on “down” Kelce weeks.

    9.08 — Dalvin Cook, RB, FA — It’s unclear where Cook will sign, but what is clear is that he will sign somewhere (likely NYJ or MIA). Cook definitely has gas left in the tank and he’s going to be on a good offense. His ADP also will jump a couple rounds as soon as that signing happens, giving this pick some extra value.

    10.05 — Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN — Cousins is my QB1 and fits well on this roster. He is a steadier producer (something I touched on in the Tuesday training session), so he gives me a nice baseline and now I’ll take some shots on a couple more volatile QB’s to finish out the position and try to raise the ceiling of my “positional silo” at QB. Adding to that, by having both Cousins and Mattison on the roster I have some potential correlation on weeks the Vikings score a ton as well as some diversification on weeks where maybe one of the running or passing game struggles.

    11.08 — Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN — I’ve got a lot of volatile WR’s on the roster so far, so a guy like Boyd has some value as a steady producer from an elite offense. Also, pick 128 is too late for him, it was great value.

    12.05 — Tank Bigsby, RB, JAX — This is where I’ll start hammering RB. As I talked about Tuesday (seriously, go listen if you haven’t), usable RB weeks are actually relatively similar for a huge portion of the position. I’d expect Bigsby to give me anywhere from 3 to 6 15-point games this season and I’ll load up on a few more to finish it out. The plan for positions at this point is: 3 QB, 6 RB, 9 WR, 2 TE (second TE to be selected in the 18th-20th round). If I can get a higher upside QB as my QB2, I may risk it with only 2 and go 7 RBs.

    13.08 & 14.05 –  Devin Singletary, RB, HOU and Raheem Mostert, RB, MIA – I like both players, but these picks are more about the overall direction of the team. Adding to the stable of RBs with guys who will see volume and can provide usable weeks.

    15.08 — Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, CLE — A perfect fit for this roster. DPJ has a skill set for big weeks, but also showed consistent production last year with 12 or more PPR points in 50% of his games last season.

    16.05 — Bryce Young, QB, CAR — Young isn’t necessarily a “huge ceiling” QB on a weekly basis, but I do think he’s wildly underrated because of his size. I’ll take the value here and add another QB before it’s over.

    17.08 — Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN — Tannehill had a bit of a down year in 2022, but the Titans offense looks much stronger this year and Tannehill had sneaky high weekly ceilings in past seasons. I’m banking on steady production from the duo of Cousins/Young and Tannehill adding 2 to 4 of his 23 to 28 point games when he gets his legs involved.

    18.05 — Isaiah Likely, TE, BAL — If we are trying to take 1st place in this tournament, pairing Likely with Kelce this late in a draft makes SO MUCH sense. Assuming Kelce stays healthy, anyone who drafts him is barely going to get any contributions from their TE2. However, Likely is basically free at this point in a draft and if Andrews misses time I’ve got an absolute power-duo at the position. Also, in that “story” where Andrews misses time, my earlier pick on Zay Flowers would also benefit.

    19.08 — Michael Wilson, WR, ARI — Wilson is an intriguing player due to his draft capital and stature among the Cardinals wideouts. There aren’t many WRs at this point in the draft with a path to being their team’s top WR for the last 6 weeks of the season, but Wilson is one of them.

    20.05 — Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, ATL — Once again, USABLE WEEKS. Obviously Patterson has to deal with Bijan and Allgeier — but this is a proven explosive player whose coach wants to make sure they get him the ball and who had FOUR games of 18+ points last season. In the final round of the draft, it was hard to beat that.

    FINAL ROSTER:

    Crystal Ball

    Written By :: Mike Johnson

    Published: 8/4/23

    It is so easy to get caught up in the past (last year’s stats, results, injuries, and trends) and present (current “it” players/teams, contract situations, ADP’s), that we often forget that fantasy football is primarily a game of predicting the future. With that in mind, every year I try to think about what I think the fantasy football landscape will look like a year from now. I play in quite a few Dynasty leagues, so this thought process comes relatively naturally to me, but it is one that would be highly beneficial for all formats – Dynasty, Best Ball, season-long fantasy, and DFS. If we can wrap our heads around what the future may look like, we can work backwards to find some potential values in our current drafts and by being ahead of the market in various formats. Here are five strong beliefs I have for how things will look at this time next year that will be guiding some of my approaches over the next month of drafting and into the 2023 NFL DFS season.

    1) Breece Hall and Jahmyr Gibbs will be top-15 picks in fantasy drafts.

    If Breece Hall hadn’t torn his ACL last year, he might be a top-3 RB in fantasy drafts right now. Read my “Mike’s Guys” article for my thoughts on Gibbs. For both of these players, I believe they are as cheap now as they are going to be for quite some time.

    2) Mingo, Mims, and Hyatt will be their team’s WR1’s

    Adam Thielen and DJ Chark are solid veteran receivers, but neither is an alpha while Jonathan Mingo is a physical specimen. Playing with a great offensive minded head coach and one of the smartest QB’s ever to enter the league, Mingo’s talent should have ample opportunity to take over. Jerry Jeudy is very good and Courtland Sutton can win in certain situations, but Marvin Mims is an elite prospect who was brought in by the current regime. The Giants are loaded with wide receivers who can play, but Jalin Hyatt has special traits and a coach who schemes things very well. All three of these players should assert themselves by the end of 2023 and be riding high into 2024.

    3) Dalton Kincaid will be a top-5 TE

    There’s just too much smoke here. Kincaid may have a slow start and/or some rough patches in his rookie year, but there is no doubt he has a ton of talent and his elite offense wants him heavily involved. He’s the type of guy who could decide fantasy leagues in December and January.

    4) Kendre Miller will be the Saints RB1

    Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams will both be 29 at the start of the 2024 season, geriatric age for running backs. Kamara will almost certainly be out of town by then and Williams has always been more of an “above average backup” than the type of RB who can hold down the fort for an offense, so it’s unlikely he develops those traits as he approaches 30 years old. Miller had a terrific college career and has a complete skill set. If not for an MCL injury, he likely would have been the third RB taken in the 2023 draft and gone in the first 50 picks. I would be surprised if he doesn’t enter 2024 as “the guy” and expect him to be drafted in the 4th to 8th round range next year.

    5) RB-Repeat

    Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, and James Conner will be in the same spot at this time next year that Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, and Kareem Hunt are in now. Talented running backs who are slowing down just as more and more young and athletic RBs with less tread on their tires and cheap contracts enter the league. Kamara and Mixon will also have the cloud of player discipline in their past hanging over their heads, as well as already decreasing efficiency in 2022. This isn’t to say definitely that none of these guys will have jobs, but these guys are much closer to being put out to pasture than most people realize. Their true value is going to be a little over league minimum, but given their career arcs that is going to be very hard for them to accept. 

    Mike’s Guys

    Written by :: Mike Johnson

    Published: 8/1/23

    Our main focus at One Week Season is on the elements of game theory and deep understanding of our contests and competition, but there is no question that player selection is an absolutely critical part of being successful in Best Ball. With that in mind, and with three months of drafting done since the NFL Draft concluded and the major contests were released, I put together this article outlining the three players at each position who I find myself drafting at a high rate and/or actively thinking about getting on my roster in optimal ways while I am drafting. Said another way, rankings are one thing, but when you are actually on the clock to make a selection there is often a “gravity” towards certain players that causes you to reach for them ahead of not only their ADP but also where you have them ranked….or in other scenarios they may fall in a draft and you abandon your previous strategy for that draft in order to roster them at a discount. 

    As we head into the heart of drafting season, these are the guys that I have the most conviction about and believe in with great confidence relative to where the field is valuing them. 

    Quarterback

    Lamar Jackson, BAL

    Sometimes things don’t have to be complicated. Lamar Jackson got the payday he deserves and now is blessed with, by far, the best supporting cast of his career. If that wasn’t a good enough situation, the Ravens offense will also look very different schematically with vertically-minded Todd Monken now in place as their offensive coordinator. Lamar Jackson had the best fantasy season in history in 2019 and I honestly think he has a chance to top it this year.

    Anthony Richardson, IND

    Richardson is a special talent athletically and all indications are that he is killing it in terms of work ethic and preparation. I have spent most of my adult life as a basketball coach, and one common quote that is used is “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. When a player as athletically gifted as Richardson is showing the preparation and leadership qualities that coaches look for in a player, special things usually happen. He is somewhat raw and will have some peaks and valleys, but for fantasy football his skill set is perfect and if the Jonathan Taylor situation blows up completely for the Colts then pretty much the entire offense will flow through AR-15. Richardson’s current ADP ranges from the late-9th to mid-10th rounds depending on the site you are playing on and I haven’t seen money given away like that since the last round of stimulus checks.

    Jordan Love, GB

    As hard as it is for many in the fantasy community to admit sometimes, there is a lot more to sports than what you can see on a spreadsheet. Human emotions, connections, and relationships absolutely matter. As talented as Aaron Rodgers is, it was clear for most of last year that his time in Green Bay had taken its course. Love is a physically talented quarterback who has been humbled but also had the chance to hone his craft, learn from a very smart coach, and watch an all-time great’s approach to the game for the last three years. The Packers offense should play at a faster tempo this season as Rodgers won’t be milking the play clock every down and I expect their young weapons to elevate their play without the constant fear of Rodgers’ wrath for making a mistake. 

    RUNNING BACK

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    Storyboard #4

    Written by :: Mike Johnson

    Doubling Down

    Something that is often discussed in weekly DFS theory and strategy is the “story” your lineup tells. Basically the idea is to think about what the recap of the day would have to be for each particular lineup to have been the “right” combination of players that gets you to a first place finish on that slate. I like to do something similar when drafting Best Ball rosters, thinking about the “story” that the roster is telling about how the NFL season will play out with each pick that is made. 

    At every selection in a draft, there are a variety of reasonable options available and whatever choice you make also implies some things about the other players you passed on. Similar to price point or positional pivots on a regular DFS slate, we want to be aware of the scenario where your picks are “right”. While everyone understands team stacks and most of the industry is focusing on late season correlations and balancing exposures, very few are actively trying to leverage the decisions made for a particular roster with their later round picks by using these indirect correlations. Below is a summary of a draft I did on the day the Draftkings NFL Best Ball $10M Millionaire contest opened.

    Picking from 9th slot

    1.09: Travis Kelce — I don’t have Kelce on many teams to this point because of where he usually goes and where I have him ranked. I also talked in one of my pods on the theory behind why I generally don’t draft him often. That being said, at the 9th spot he makes sense here.

    2.04: Saquon Barkley — Not much to disect here. My 12th ranked player at the 16th pick. Starting TE // RB isn’t typical for me, so it will be interesting to see how the board falls between now and my next pick to see what direction I go from here.

    3.09: Breece Hall — I have moved Hall up my rankings aggressively in the last couple of weeks. If he has a healthy 2023 season, he’s very likely a 1st round pick in 2024. I want to be ahead of this, and his return from ACL surgery should have him getting stronger as the season wears on.

    4.04: TJ Hockenson — Things are getting weird here. I have now started with 2 RBs and 2 TEs. While this may seem like a ridiculous start, I would argue that at both positions it would not be shocking for the two players I drafted to finish 1-2 at their positions. I now have an extremely unique build and player combination to start my draft. This also means that I won’t be drafting any other TE’s and probably only draft 3 more RB’s. 

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    Storyboard #3

    Written by :: Mike Johnson

    Trading Up

    Something that is often discussed in weekly DFS theory and strategy is the “story” your lineup tells. Basically the idea is to think about what the recap of the day would have to be for each particular lineup to have been the “right” combination of players that gets you to a first place finish on that slate. I like to do something similar when drafting Best Ball rosters, thinking about the “story” that the roster is telling about how the NFL season will play out with each pick that is made. 

    At every selection in a draft, there are a variety of reasonable options available and whatever choice you make also implies some things about the other players you passed on. Similar to price point or positional pivots on a regular DFS slate, we want to be aware of the scenario where your picks are “right.” While everyone understands team stacks and most of the industry is focusing on late season correlations and balancing exposures, very few are actively trying to leverage the decisions made for a particular roster with their later round picks by using these indirect correlations. Below is a summary of a draft I did on the day the Draftkings NFL Best Ball $10M Millionaire contest opened.

    Picking from 2nd slot

    Picks 1.02: Justin Jefferson — Jefferson is my top overall player in my rankings, so when he falls to me at 2 or 3 that is always a nice bonus to start off the draft.

    Picks 2.11 & 3.02: Josh Jacobs & Devonta Smith — The top 3 QB’s were gone already and Jacobs was the top available player at my turn. I was happy to take him here. I (correctly) assumed the person drafting behind me would take Burrow/Higgins to pair with Chase, which left my decision with either Smith or Chubb. I went with the WR and stuck with my rankings.

    Picks 4.11 & 5.02: Justin Fields & Jerry Jeudy — Fields fell a long way in this draft. I have him as the 5th QB in the top tier and he has potential to be the overall QB1 and is capable of breaking any given slate in the playoffs, so getting him here is terrific.

    I had three WR options who are all very close in my rankings — Jeudy, Christian Kirk, and Christian Watson. I could have taken Watson for Week 17 correlation with Jefferson, but decided to go with Jeudy instead.

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    Storyboard #2

    Written by :: Mike Johnson

    Blind Squirrel TE Strategy

    Something that is often discussed in weekly DFS theory and strategy is the “story” your lineup tells. Basically the idea is to think about what the recap of the day would have to be for each particular lineup to have been the “right” combination of players that gets you to a first place finish on that slate. I like to do something similar when drafting Best Ball rosters, thinking about the “story” that the roster is telling about how the NFL season will play out with each pick that is made. 

    At every selection in a draft, there are a variety of reasonable options available and whatever choice you make also implies some things about the other players you passed on. Similar to price point or positional pivots on a regular DFS slate, we want to be aware of the scenario where your picks are “right.” While everyone understands team stacks and most of the industry is focusing on late season correlations and balancing exposures, very few are actively trying to leverage the decisions made for a particular roster with their later round picks by using these indirect correlations. Below is a summary of a draft I did on the day the Draftkings NFL Best Ball $10M Millionaire contest opened.

    Picking from 12th slot

    Picks 1.12 & 2.01: AJ Brown and Ceedee Lamb — I loved getting two high end WR’s at the turn here as these two are both in my second tier of wide receivers. Saquon Barkley and Jonathan Taylor were available here as well, but I decided to take the two WRs because I love doubling up (taking two players from the same position) on picks at the turn and there are some solid RB’s that I am high on in the Rounds 6-12 range that I expect to have their ADP’s rise as the season draws nearer.

    Picks 3.12 & 4.01: Justin Fields and DK Metcalf — Fields is the 6th QB off the board at this point, so I love getting his upside after so many of my counterparts took their first QB. 

    Metcalf is a polarizing player, but I specifically like rostering him on a team like this where there are two other stud WRs who should contribute good weeks consistently, helping the team stay strong even through Metcalf’s inevitable down weeks. I also went this direction because Andrews and Hockenson were both off the board, so I’ll be using my “Blind Squirrel” strategy at the tight end position by taking four of them late. I expect a couple of solid RB’s to be on the board at the 5/6 turn. 

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    2023 Schedule Cheatsheet

    Storyboard #1

    Written by :: Mike Johnson

    Something that is often discussed in weekly DFS theory and strategy is the “story” your lineup tells. Basically the idea is to think about what the recap of the day would have to be for each particular lineup to have been the “right” combination of players that gets you to a first place finish on that slate. I like to do something similar when drafting Best Ball rosters, thinking about the “story” that the roster is telling about how the NFL season will play out with each pick that is made. 

    At every selection in a draft, there are a variety of reasonable options available and whatever choice you make also implies some things about the other players you passed on. Similar to price point or positional pivots on a regular DFS slate, we want to be aware of the scenario where your picks are “right.” While everyone understands team stacks and most of the industry is focusing on late season correlations and balancing exposures, very few are actively trying to leverage the decisions made for a particular roster with their later round picks by using these indirect correlations. Below is a summary of a draft I did on the day the Draftkings NFL Best Ball $10M Millionaire contest opened.

    Picking from 5th slot

    Round 1, 1.05: Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR – I was on the fence between Kupp, Tyreek, Bijan, or Ekeler. Ultimately decided that 1) I wanted to go WR here because based on how the rankings look, I like the RBs I could take at 2.08 more than the WR’s that will likely be available there (I usually don’t ever want to go first 2 picks w/o a WR in this full PPR format) and 2) I can stack Stafford with Kupp for a pick 5 rounds later than I can stack Tua with Tyreek.

    Round 2, 2.08: Tony Pollard, RB, DAL – I am glad I made the WR pick in the first round, as Pollard is a tier above all the other remaining RB’s on the board here. Side note, the Cowboys play the Rams at some point this year. As Hilow noted in his first Underdog Wednesday theory pod, we don’t know the schedules yet, but we can take some educated guesses. I could potentially have some correlation at some point during the playoffs with Pollard/Kupp.

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    Examining 2022 Best Ball Finals

    Written By :: Alex Pendergrass

    Last year, I compared and contrasted the 2021 finalists from DraftKings’s Play Action tournament to those from Underdog’s The Puppy 2. In doing so, I tried to impart some basic lessons on how to play the 2022 best ball contests on the less popular DraftKings platform, differently than one ought to on Underdog. The main takeaways:

    • Draft more balanced rosters than you might on Underdog, taking advantage of the two extra roster spots on DraftKings to take more swings at the QB & TE positions
    • Draft with DraftKings’s scoring bonuses and full PPR in mind

    This article will serve as a follow-up of sorts, although this time I’ll be looking at the 2022 flagship tournaments from the respective sites: Underdog’s Best Ball Mania III and DraftKings’s $3.5MM (aka The Milly Maker). Best ball data from DraftKings is not publicly available, but luckily yours truly qualified for the finals so I had access to it in my contest history (I finished 125th, if you’re curious).

    First, a quick reminder of the tournament structures of the two tournaments. DK’s Milly Maker had a field size of 837k and $5 per entry (150 max), with a $3.5mm prize pool ($1mm to 1st). Unlike BBMIII, the Milly Maker’s playoff structure remained the same each round. If you qualified, you were randomly sorted into a new 12 team group in which you had to place 1st that week to advance further until you advanced to the 969 entry final.

    UD’s BBMIII had a field size of 451k and $25 per entry (150 max), with a $10mm prize pool ($2mm to 1st in the playoffs, $1mm to the regular season points leader). If you qualified for the playoffs, you were sorted into a 10 team group for Week 15. If you won that group, Week 16 you were in a new 16 team group that you also had to win to advance to the 470 entry final.

    Now onto an examination of the roster constructions for the finalists of each tournament. 

    The most common lineup construction among the 470 UD BBMIII finalists:

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    CLV Early May Targets

    Written By :: Mike Johnson

    Closing line value (CLV) is a term used in the gambling world to describe when someone places a wager on an event with a specific spread or line and that number subsequently shifts in the direction of the side the person chose. For instance, a bettor who places a wager on a football team at a spread of +8 has gained two points of CLV if the game closes with that team having a line of only +6. For Best Ball purposes, CLV relates to where someone selects a player and the average draft position (ADP) of that player when the contest closes. There has been a lot of research done across the industry that shows the dramatic impact CLV has on the expected advancement rate and expected value from rosters in Best Ball tournaments. With this in mind, I will be periodically providing you with this article where I discuss the players at different points in the draft whom I expect to provide the most CLV at that specific moment in time.

    Rounds 1-2

    Tony Pollard, RB, DAL: Pollard is being drafted in the middle to late second round right now, but realistically could end with an ADP around the 1st/2nd round turn by September. Pollard is incredibly efficient and explosive, and the Cowboys have lost over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns from their backfield from last season.  Right now, you can usually pair Pollard with some of the top guys on the board (Jefferson, Chase, CMC) – something you likely won’t be able to do in a month or two.

    Rounds 3-5

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    Best Ball Tournament Selection

    Written By :: Alex Pendergrass

    Welcome to this year’s first installment of this series of articles designed to help inform your contest selection. Like last season, I’ve been maintaining a table of every tournament offered across the best ball landscape since the NFL draft.

    Here it is (as of May 7, 2023):

    With this first installment, I’m also going to note some of the changes or trends for some of the mainstay contests compared to last season.

    THE STATE OF INDUSTRY

    It’s really too early to monitor overlay right now, so I’m abandoning that aspect of this article for this first installment to take a moment to talk about best ball’s growth.

    At one point in late September last season, my contest table had 52 contests in it, including one pre-draft contest with a $50k prize pool and five in-season contests (like Underdog’s Resurrection) with $725k in payouts between them. All told, these 52 contests paid out just over $27 million dollars.

    This season, my table has 13 contests on it that launched post NFL draft. The combined prize pool? OVER $34 millions dollars.

    That’s simply astonishing.

    RAKE

    We should all be conscious of the cost the contest providers charge us. Underdog, DraftKings, Drafters and the rest need to churn a profit to keep providing us with these fun contests, but we should pay attention to it. And for those who may not feel the desire to chase down a high profile contest, or those with a more limited bankroll, tracking the rake will help you find better value for your entries.

    Inflation has hit the best ball industry too. Last season, the two Drafters tournaments were costing users below 10% in rake. This season they’re slightly above 10%, with the Million II contest seeing a full percentage point increase (9.1% to 10.11%). Still, Drafters remains the cheapest of the big three platforms to play on.

    Over on Underdog, BBMIV has a very slight increase to its rake (.07%). Likewise for some of the less popular platforms.

    Mixed credit is due to DraftKings, however. Their flagship contest has more than doubled in prize pool and flattened its payout structure (more on that later), but the rake on the Milly Maker went from 15.85% last season to 14.95% this year. Plus, should you max enter, you’re effectively refunded 10% of your entry fees via a promotion. That said, the $555 entry fee contest (called The Playmaker last season) 2.5x its prize pool, quadrupled the top prize to $1mm (now allocating 38% to 1st when last season it was 25%), and raised its rake by 1.26%.

    In terms of rake, the best bang for your buck remains at FFPC. They’re charging a little more than last season, but if you can deal with tight-end premium scoring (and super flex for their cheaper contest offering) and you don’t have lofty aspirations of becoming a millionaire come Week 17, no other platform comes close…at least until Underdog drops their essentially rake-free Pomeranian contests.

    STRUCTURE

    Look, we’re all dreaming of taking down a major tournament. We enter each draft with the mindset that this is the roster that’ll crown me as the winner of Best Ball Mania IV. But we also know that just qualifying for the Week 17 finals is against the odds, and once we’re there we are helpless against variance.

    So having a flatter payout structure is often preferred so that the sting of making it to the end but coming up short can be lessened.

    DraftKings made a concerted effort to flatten their Milly Maker tournament this season. As noted before, the prize pool ballooned and yet none of the gain went to first place. Instead, should you come in 10th, you’re walking away with a cool $100k this year when 10th place last year only made $20k. That $100k is of course exactly one tenth of what first place nets you.

    On Underdog, meanwhile, 10th place gets $30k compared to first place who will leave as a millionaire three times over. In other words, they’re getting just one percent of the champion’s winnings. Ouch. Of course, Underdog is instead paying out a full third of the prize pool to the top 1.5% of regular season scorers. So hopefully they’re making some there (although no guarantee by any means).

    The flattest payouts belong to NFFC, which is all fine and good so long as you like drafting D/ST and kickers. Oh, and you don’t mind the rake.

    Do you want Superflex? Defenses and kickers? Small field tournaments?

    The best ball landscape is exploding with options for any preference. I’m certain we’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards!