As the 2021 NFL Best Ball Regular Season tournaments have concluded, we see once again that all good things must come to an end. Now, it’s time to reflect and focus on the strategy for the upcoming 2022 season. I mean, come on. What else am I supposed to do? Watch baseball?
One of the main overarching strategies I took on was treating the playoffs like 3 single-slate DFS weeks and trying to build game-stack correlation into your overall builds. The theory was, if one could correctly predict the “blow-up” games in the off-season and correlate teams around those games, the chances of advancing would be much higher over the field.
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With over 12,960 drafts in Best Ball Mania II (BBM2) resulting in 155,520 teams, every scenario on here was stacked at least once. I know, personally, I stacked most, if not all of them, in my portfolio. Games in particular that people were excited for were KC-LAC, LV-CLE, TB-NO in Week 15, ARI-IND, CAR-TB, KC-PIT, in Week 16 and ARI-DAL, ATL-BUF, IND-LV, KC-CIN in Week 17.
It turns out that projecting and being excited for games in the off-season is in fact #badprocess (this could be a shortsighted, results oriented take). With 2/3 games in week 15 and 2/3 games in week 16 going under 40 points. However, all 4 games in week 17 were over 40 points and two of them went over 47 points. KC-CIN was a shootout and amassed a total of 65 (!!!) points leading us to crown Ja’Marr Chase as the must-own player in 2021.
Unexpected games that popped-off (amassed >50 points) in the Playoffs:
Dolphins – Jets – Week 15, 55 points
Packers – Ravens – Week 15, 61 points
Bills – Patriots – Week 16, 54 points
Ravens – Bengals – Week 16, 62 points
Rams – Vikings – Week 16, 53 points
Chargers – Texans – Week 16, 70 points
Cowboys – WFT – Week 16, 70 points
Patriots – Jaguars – Week 17, 60 points
Buccaneers – Jets – Week 17, 52 points
Lions – Seahawks – Week 17, 70 points
This graphic put together by Jack Miller from Establish the Run, complies implied team totals. Drafters were primarily stacking the Chiefs, Bucs, Bills, Cowboys, Cardinals, and Ravens based on their offensive pedigree.
Based on those main stacks, those teams were a part of a ‘blow-up’ (>50 points) game, 7 times just during the fantasy playoffs (~35% clip). So how did the players from these teams actually fare in terms of advance rate?
Let’s first take a look at the Chiefs, Tyreek Hill was a top WR this year. He was drafted in every draft towards the end of R1 and advanced to the playoffs at a 18.4% clip, totaling 2385 teams. Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce were in a similar state at 18.9% and 18.5% advance rates. The Chiefs had a “blow-up” in week 15 and caused all 3 to have 23+% advance rates at 23.4%, 29.6% and 31.8% for Travis Kelce. Although they didn’t have another breakout performance in week 16 (game total at 46), you can see the residual with Mahomes on 20% of finals rosters, Tyreek 18% and Kelce at 13% (missed week 16 due to COVID). Of the 263 players on finals rosters, all 3 were in the top 35 most owned players.
The regular season darlings were almost assuredly the Bucs, averaging ~29.3 points a game. Their offense blessed us with the 3rd highest advancing player, Leonard Fournette (RIP ROJO) highest QB, Brady, at 31.44%, 3rd highest WR, Mike Evans, at 30.27%, highest TE, Gronk, at 28.74% and 5th highest WR, Godwin, at 27.6%. Even Tyler Johnson had a high advance rate at 26.49% (although he was only selected 151 times). But they threw up an absolute stinker (AT HOME) in week 15. Based on the off-season, it was projected for 52 points, tied for the highest on the slate. It was Sunday Night Football. They got shut out. At home. Causing us to see advance rates of 9.6% (Fournette), 5.3% (Brady) 8.3% (Evans), 7.1% (Godwin) and 6.4% (Gronk) to Round 3. The Bucs overall did not have a strong presence in the finals, outside of Fournette who was on IR and didn’t play in week 16.
What happens when you look at not highly sought-after teams like the Lions, Bengals, and Jets (3 of the 4 lowest implied team totals)? For the Jets, the team had a few viable players during the regular season, Michael Carter (17.42%), Jamison Crowder (18.2%), Elijah Moore (20.33%). Hell, even Zach Wilson (13.89%) had a similar advance rate to Dak Prescott (13.92%). They were a team that lacked firepower. But could they be/ were they a viable opponent or bring-back option? In the playoffs, they attributed to 2 “blow-up” games. Elijah Moore was out. Crowder was mostly out too. Yet we saw their round 3 advancement rates plummet to 9% (Carter), 8.2% (Moore), 9.8% (Zach Wilson), 11.2% (Crowder). All of their final’s ownerships were in the 6-9% range, as well. Which could be attributed to injuries.
The Lions were an interesting team to predict. On one-hand, they were going to be one of the worst teams in football. Yet easily projected for negative game-scripts which is a positive for fantasy football. Players drafted included Jared Goff, D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Breshad Perriman (thanks Leone), Tyrell Williams (thanks again, Leone), Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Josh Reynolds (Remember the Titans?). The Lions ended up being a very pivotal team for the playoffs, as they were part of the highest scoring game in the playoffs, which happened to take place in week 17 and win people some significant $$. But how did they fare in terms of advance rates? Perriman had a 13.75% advance rate to the playoffs, but he was cut in the preseason, so everything else is essentially irrelevant. Reynolds had a 13.96% advance rate, 21% advance rate to R3 and was on 3% of final rosters (yet was only drafted about 43% of the time). Amon-Ra was in a similar breath with a 17.62% advance rate, 19.5% to R3, yet was owned on 29% of finals rosters (and even the winning team!!). Swift was a huge winner in the 3rd round, advanced 18.55% of teams to the playoffs, 10% to R3 and was on 3% of rosters, but got injured and missed weeks 15 and 16 (which hurt his overall numbers). Jamaal Williams advanced at a 17.28% clip to the playoffs, 11% to R3 and was on 8% of finals rosters, without playing in week 15. Goff was a popular 2nd or 3rd QB option and advanced at a 16.4% rate to the playoffs, a 15.5% rate to R3 and was on 6% of rosters in the finals without even playing in weeks 16 or 17.
Lastly (at least in this version), the Bengals. People were excited (at times) to draft Bengals with most of the offense going relatively early (outside of Ja’Marr Chases’ drops) in drafts. Burrow (15.92%), Higgins (14.49%), Chase (22.5%), Mixon (22.4%), Boyd (15.3%) and Uzomah (17.9%, only drafted 731 times) all had relatively high advance rates to the playoffs. The start to the playoffs was similar to most of their season, where they threw up a dud, causing poor advance rates to R3 (Burrow 7.5%, Higgins 5.8%, Chase 6%, Mixon 17%, Boyd 13.7%, Uzomah 9.2%). They were, however, well represented in the finals (Burrow 16%, Higgins 24%, Chase 6%, Boyd 14%, Uzomah 1%) due to their “blow-up” game in week 16. Week 17 did not disappoint. The highly anticipated matchup with the Chiefs caused Bengals players to make drafters a lot of money in the finals. Ja’Marr Chase was the must-have player of 2021 as his 50-point explosion catapulted teams up the leaderboard if they happened to survive his dud in R3.
Based on overall advance rates, it is fair to say that game stacking in the playoff weeks has very little correlation to actual advance rates. Although it appears that specific games helped propel specific people forward, team stacks individually look to be more the driving force. The KC-CIN and DET-SEA games lead to the eventual champion (Chase, Penny, Amon-Ra). There was additional correlation (Christian Kirk-Amari Cooper) that didn’t actually pan out. There is some correlation that can be seen to game-stacking week 17.
All in all, just play the right plays and embrace the variance YOU will be the BBM3 champion. For now, it is time for baseball… if there magically isn’t a lockout.