With the Super Bowl just a few weeks away, it’s time to start transitioning to Best Ball Season 2022. How do we look ahead? Well, we review of course! I wanted to take a look back at individual teams and see how efficient the market was in terms of ADP and then look at those same situations and how we may be able to exploit them (at least for now).
Over the next few weeks, I will outline each team in the NFL and provide what could change with the off-season right around the corner (Free Agency & the Draft).
We are going to start with the AFC East.
No one circles the wagon like the Buffalo Bills. They were one of the most exciting offenses of the year and for good reason. They were 3rd in pts/gm and were the darling of many fantasy teams. The BBM II winner, GOBILLS2020 AKA Chess Liam, is a die-hard Bills fan and was taking them almost everywhere he could (Allen 22%, Davis 62%, Manny 34%, Beasley 30%, Diggs 25%, Singletary 25%). He wasn’t the only one though. There were 7 Bills regularly chosen in BBM II drafts – Stefon Diggs (10.5, WR3), Josh Allen (50.2, QB2), Zack Moss (107.9, RB35), Emmanuel Sanders (131.5, WR62), Cole Beasley (138, WR59), Devin Singletary (134.7, RB43) and Gabriel Davis (137.8, WR64). Occasionally, you had Dawson Knox (~40%) and Matt Breida (~2%) drafted.
Overall, the Bills were pretty good to have. In terms of Advance rates (to the playoffs), Josh Allen was the QB5, Emmanuel Sanders was the WR15, Beasley WR21, Singletary was the RB24, and Knox was the TE3. However, Stefon Diggs was the WR34, Gabe Davis was the WR49, and Zack Moss was the RB54.
Diggs was an absolute team killer with him being drafted at the end of round 1 or beginning of round 2. The explosive plays and boom weeks never really came to fruition, as they did in 2020, which was disappointing. He still ended the year as a WR1 in the fantasy season (WR7) due to him catching 10 TDs, but his YPT was down. Add that to the emergence of Gabriel Davis and his outlook is concerning for 2022. Zack Moss, on the other hand, was the epidemy of a Dead-Zone running back. His draft position was fruitful at best. We expected him to be the goal-line back on a good team with a QB who runs and is an absolute unit. We negated to realize that Josh Allen is the goal-line back. It was just a total oversight by the community. Couple that with the fact he wasn’t an overly efficient runner and isn’t involved in the passing game and you get what we had to endure this season. I am going to put Josh Allen in this section, as although he was the QB5 in advance rate and overall QB1 for fantasy football, based on his ADP of QB2, it could be viewed as a disappointment. He was an absolute unit in the Best Ball Playoffs and NFL Playoffs, though.
All of the secondary pieces far exceeded their draft costs. Grabbing ancillary/cheap pieces of a good offense is typically going to be a winning strategy, especially when you truly get the boom weeks. None of Gabe, Cole, or Manny were anything special in season-long formats, but when partnered with a team that can hang 50 in any given week, they far exceeded ADP (Cole and Manny), while Gabe Davis and Singletary’s emergence were necessary for the playoffs.
Looking forward to this year, the Bills are still in win-now mode. They are going to do everything in their power to capitalize on their chances of winning a Super Bowl. Manny Sanders, Matt Breida, and Isaiah McKenzie are all free agents and Cole Beasley is a huge cut candidate (6.5M in cap savings). Overall, they are about 4.5M over the cap and will need to restructure some money around to be players in Free Agency to retool. They will get creative. I just wouldn’t expect them to hang out around the top of the FA market. Breida and McKenzie could come back. I wouldn’t be surprised for them to get someone like Will Fuller or Odell Beckham in free agency (on a 1-year prove-it deal/ring chaser deal) or draft someone early in the draft to complement Diggs and Davis.
As a Patriots fan, I hate that Josh Allen is good. He is fun to watch for fantasy purposes though and is #good. At his current ADP (24), I will tend to stay away. This could come back to bite me in the butt. But after two years of early QB not working (Lamar and Mahomes), I will probably be underweight based on exposure. Diggs is priced about right but could be similar to Adam’s last year where a complementary piece causes him to exceed the “discount” we are getting on him right now.
Two of the most interesting cases are Gabe Davis and Singletary. If Singletary has the workload, he had during the second half of the season and playoffs, he is an absolute smash. They could also bring someone in, and he does what Zack Moss did this year and is the face of the Dead-Zone. I will tread lightly until we get more clarity after the draft. I honestly thought Gabe Davis would be going higher due to the recency bias in our minds. My biggest concern for him is they are almost assuredly going to bring someone else in. Take your stabs early as he could easily exceed his 7th round ADP. They are two situations to monitor closely, as I think the market won’t react as quickly as it should.
There was a ton of excitement for the Dolphins this year and it comes to my disappointment they underperformed. They had a tale of two halves. They started 1-7 and finished 8-1. Despite righting the ship, they fired their head coach. Many (fantasy) head coaches have been fired due to their love for the Dolphins, as well. In the majority of BBM II drafts, 7 dolphins were selected regularly – Myles Gaskin (71.2, RB26), Will Fuller (87.8, WR42), DeVante Parker (111.1, WR56), Jaylen Waddle (92.3, WR47), Mike Gesicki (129.9, TE13), Tua Tagovailoa (141.9, QB17) and Malcolm Brown (184.9, RB55) with Preston Williams (3%), Salvon Ahmed (16%) and Lynn Bowden (3%) occasionally being drafted.
As I stated before, the Dolphins underperformed. They were a highly sought-after secondary team-stack by many in the fantasy industry. Yet, due to injuries they wildly underperformed outside of Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki. Waddle was the WR13, and Gesicki was the TE9 in terms of advance rate. Gaskin was the RB30 and Tua was the QB17, both of which were similar to ADP. Malcolm Brown exceeded his ADP by being the RB44. Devante Parker and Will Fuller were detrimental to teams (mostly due to injury) posting WR80 and WR85 seasons, respectively.
It truly is hard to come away with takeaways when two highly sought-after players missed so much time. DeVante looked like a steal to start the season. He was targeted like an alpha-receiver when healthy. But missed a total of 7 games in the Best Ball regular season. Will Fuller, on the other hand, played in only 2 games, broke his finger, and was out the rest of the year (after being suspended early on).
Gaskin had a few spike weeks due to touchdown equity but was wildly inefficient this year and is another case of the RB Dead-Zone. He was so inefficient, the Dolphins traded for Phillip Lindsay and signed Duke Johnson off the streets to become their lead back to end the year. As with Zack Moss, another back that wasn’t wildly efficient was expected to take another leap forward, but unlike in Moss’s case, Gaskin had a horrible offensive line. Tua could have been higher on the list but missed 4 games and was knocked out of one early during the regular season. He was wildly inconsistent throughout the year and didn’t run as much as expected.
Waddle was a revelation. Trading up in the draft seems like the right decision as the Dolphins have found themselves a bonafide star. He is only going to get better and if they are going to hyper-target him, he should exceed ADP this year as well. Gesicki although he exceeded his ADP, was average. He was a startable TE most weeks due to the options around him being thin.
Looking ahead to this year, there is some potential optimism around the Dolphins yet again. They are hiring a new head coach, have loads of cap space (65M) and the offense will be the primary focus. The OL is their priority, but they will also want to get some new weapons around Tua. They will get another RB probably in the draft and they will be involved in the mid-tier WR market. Mike Gesicki is a FA, and they only have one TE (Hunter Long) on the roster. Gesicki could be back. But one thing is for sure, Will Fuller won’t be.
At current costs, I will be drafting almost all of the Dolphins. The hardest to stomach is Waddle at ADP 30.6 (WR11). He is so talented, but targets could get siphoned away depending on how they add this off-season. He is a bet on talent though and could be on the MT path. Give me all the Fuller (even if he isn’t on the Dolphins). He is just #good. I expect Tua to be a bit more fantasy-friendly and provide more spike weeks. I will be drafting Gaskin as a volume play in zero-RB builds.
New England Patriots
The Patriots were always an interesting team to me. On one hand, they were TERRIBLE in 2020. The saving grace of the offense was Cam Newton being a running back, but it wasn’t a scenario that people were actively trying to get a part of. In 2021, they went into free agency and went on an absolute spending spree. They signed the two best TEs on the market (Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry) and signed 2 weapons at receiver (Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne). Combine all of that with drafting a QB in the 1st round and you have a revamped offense. Due to the changes, 7 Patriots were drafted regularly – Damien Harris (83.3, RB29), Jakobi Meyers (129.8, WR61), Nelson Agholor (137.7, WR63), Jonnu Smith (139.5, TE14), Hunter Henry (175.3, TE21), James White (180.5, RB54), and Rhamondre Stevenson (193.1, RB57). Mac Jones (~32%), Kendrick Bourne (~14%), and Sony Michel (~29%, traded) were occasionally drafted at the tail end of drafts.
The Patriots weren’t an offense that was highly targeted, people more used their players to supplement their primary and secondary stacks due to their cheap cost. You could have spent 6th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 17th round picks and secured a good majority of the offensive output. There were some good and some bad in our pre-season predictions. Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and James White were the RB16, RB17, and RB40 in terms of advance rate. Hunter Henry was the TE6, Jonnu Smith was the TE26, Jakobi Meyers was the WR35, Nelson Aghlor was the WR47, and Kendrick Bourne was the WR7. I am not going to get into Sony since he was traded to the Rams and Mac Jones was the QB14.
The good: Mac Jones albeit barely drafted was a key 18th round pick for drafters. With the uncertainty of him playing this year, getting anything out of him was a lovely surprise. He wasn’t a league winner by any stretch but did have some usable weeks which is all you were hoping for. I feel like almost every year in fantasy, we undervalue the Patriot’s RBs. I just don’t understand how the community missed it this year. They bulked up the offensive line and gave the keys to the offense to a rookie. The Patriots wanted to play bully ball and try to win with their newly renovated defense. It ended up being a winning strategy and grabbing either Rhamondre or Damien was a huge boost to your team. The only disappointment was a zero-RB favorite in James White who got hurt early in the year (but was on pace to be THE league winner).
Now the enticing part. Everyone was grabbing bits and pieces of the passing game hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Agholor was a stud for the Raiders, maybe lightning does strike twice? Wrong. He was mediocre and went back to his career averages. Jakobi was a nice piece but better in re-draft due to his consistency as the #1 target. Where we screwed up was assuming all of the big plays would be with Agholor and not Bourne. Bourne ended up being more of the deep threat in the offense and the spike weeks were a welcomed outcome. One thing I will never understand is why we were so hell-bent on drafting Jonnu but no one wanted Hunter Henry. They signed both to HUGE deals. I understand that they could have split Jonnu out wide, but we have seen the Patriots have two tight ends be usable and Henry was the most likely Gronk replacement. It was a clear oversight on our parts.
Looking ahead to this year, there shouldn’t be too much turnover for the offense. James White could retire, and they will need to resign Trent Brown. They have an in-house replacement for Ted Karras in Michael Onwenu and Jakobi is an RFA so I wouldn’t expect him to leave. I wouldn’t expect a big splash in Free Agency, as they only have about 7.3M in cap space before contracts are restructured. Do not rule out them using an early pick on a WR in the draft (Burks, London, Jameson Willaims and Justyn Ross are great fits).
Both Harris and Rhamondre are now in the heart of the RB Dead-Zone. But can easily pay off on their prices of RB25 and RB35. I will be grabbing them now as if either gets injured in the offseason, the other is going to shoot up the draft board. I would expect Jonnu to exceed his ADP. He may not be as good as we thought but he will get opportunities to surpass TE30. I would stay away from Mac Jones at cost as I don’t really see him lighting up the stat sheet and would rather have more upside with Tua or Zach Wilson as they can do more with their legs. Sprinkle in the WRs at your own risk, they should all have spike weeks throughout the year.
New York Jets
Similar to the Patriots, the Jets were not a team people were really targeting. They have been a dumpster fire in terms of fantasy for years, annually being near the bottom of the NFL standings. This has caused some excitement in terms of young players and rookies being in negative game scripts. In total 6 Jets were drafted regularly in BBM II – Corey Davis (93.7, WR48), Michael Carter (90.8, RB31), Elijah Moore (101.4, WR51), Jamison Crowder (168.2, WR79), Tevin Coleman (193.1, RB57), and Zach Wilson (178.4, QB23). Occasionally, Ty Johnson (~35%), Denzel Mims (~51%, Thanks Leone), and Keelan Cole (~24%) were drafted.
Much like the Patriots, more so than correlating these teams and having them as a secondary stack, players were grabbing more one-offs. Carter and Moore were exciting rookies that had pretty good draft capital. Corey Davis was paid to be the number 1 WR, Coleman was the projected starter and Crowder usually has usable weeks. Wilson was intriguing as a prospect, he ran in college and is a gunslinger, but how would that translate to the NFL? Not really. He did have spike weeks but ended up the QB25 in advance rate. Corey Davis was the WR62, Elijah Moore was the WR19, Jamison Crowder was the WR30, Michael Carter was the RB25, and Tevin Coleman was the RB36.
Overall, the Jets ended up being good players to have. The team itself was not very good, but they had their weeks and their players showed up for fantasy owners. They were the definition of better in best ball outside of Corey Davis. Which isn’t necessarily fair. Davis did have a few spike weeks, but injuries really derailed his season.
Looking ahead to this year, the Jets will stay an intriguing team. They are in the prime of a rebuild but Carter, Moore, and Wilson are all primed for 2nd-year breakouts. With Wilson, it is all about consistency. If he becomes more consistent and limits the turnovers (like he did in the second half), he could be an absolute steal in drafts. With Carter and Moore, it is more about getting on the field and staying on the field. We have seen what they can do if they are the focal points of the offense.
The Jets head into 2022 with about 48M in cap space which should primarily be spent on the OL and the defense. That isn’t to say they won’t be players at the top of the market. Their current free agents are Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole, Tyler Kroft, Braxton Berrios, and Tevin Coleman. Of those, I would only expect Berrios to be back. That leaves them in the market for a RB and at least a WR or 2 and most likely they draft one of the WRs to make their offense a bit more explosive.
At current ADPs, the Jets are a pretty easy team to stack, and I will be prioritizing them as a secondary team on my rosters. Elijah Moore and Corey Davis could EASILY beat their ADPs of WR25 and WR51, respectively. Based on the tail-end of last year, I am willing to bet on Zach Wilson takes a step forward and at pick 147, he is worth the risk. It pains me to say I will be staying away from Michael Carter due to the uncertainty of his role and with him being in the RB Dead-Zone. If the Jets resign Berrios, I will be interested, until then, I will be staying away.
Disagree with me? Join the Spike Week Discord and let’s talk! Or feel free to tag me on Twitter @silasjackson15.