Numerous resources this time of year will point you towards who to draft in best ball. In fact, we have multiple already live on Team Rise or Fall. However, being aware of which player not to draft can be just as vital, especially early in the draft. This article features the players that I’m staying completely away from in best ball drafts this season.
Don’t get me wrong, the players I mention aren’t bad and will certainly score their fair share of fantasy points. The problem with most of them is their current draft price. The draft equity you need to invest in these players is simply more than I’m willing to considering the other options available at their cost. The later you get in the draft, the more risk you can take. For that reason, I’ll only be looking at players with an average draft position (ADP) inside the top-100.
Note the positional and overall ADP listed next to each player from Underdog Best Ball drafts on June 27, 2021
Josh Allen (ADP: QB2 50.3 overall)
Allen turned out to be one of the best picks made in best ball drafts last season, not just because he finished as the QB1 overall, but because you could draft him in the eighth round. He’s not likely to return that type of value this season as his draft cost has soared up to early in the fifth round as the second quarterback off the board. He made a huge leap last season but it’s tough to imagine that he doesn’t regress a bit from his career-high 6.5% touchdown rate. Allen should certainly be considered a top-five fantasy quarterback but at his current draft price, I won’t have him on any best ball rosters in 2021.
Tom Brady (QB10, 99.3 overall)
The Hall-of-Fame quarterback continued to pile it on last season finishing as the QB8, his best fantasy finish since 2017. While his ADP as the tenth quarterback doesn’t seem egregious, I’m still staying away. His fantasy success last season came on the back of his 6.6% touchdown rate, the highest he’s posted since 2010. He adds nothing on the ground, as he only rushed for six total yards all of last season. Brady does have a safe fantasy floor but he doesn’t have enough upside to make him appealing in best ball.
Cam Akers (ADP: RB8, 10.1 overall)
Akers put up a few huge games over the back half of the 2020 season and it’s caused his ADP to skyrocket this summer. From Week 13 on, when he started seeing over 60% of the offensive snaps for the Rams, Akers averaged just 12.9 fantasy points/game. He only had two weeks all season that he finished as a top-12 fantasy running back and never cracked the top-five. Akers may well be primed for a second-year breakout but his small sample size of success isn’t enough for me to use my vital first-round best ball draft pick on him.
DeAndre Swift (ADP: RB16, 29.4 overall)
Swift is another exciting up-and-coming running back but he may be in one of the worst running back situations in the league. The Lions had the 20th ranked scoring offense in the NFL last season and have major downgrades at quarterback and wide receiver heading into 2021. They did, however, upgrade the running back room by adding Jamaal Williams in free agency. Swift seems destined to be part of a running back committee on a bad offense in 2021, which is something I don’t want on my best ball rosters.
Chase Edmonds (ADP: RB27, 70.3 overall)
The Cardinals let Kenyan Drake walk in free agency but don’t make the mistake of treating Edmonds as the workhorse running back in Arizona. He only played above 50% of offensive snaps one time in 2020 and he turned that into just 10.3 fantasy points. What’s worse, he only saw one carry inside the five-yard line the whole season. I’d much prefer to wait and draft his new teammate James Conner, who had ten carries inside the five-yard line in just 13 games with Pittsburgh. What’s more, Conner can be had more than three rounds later.
Adam Thielen (ADP: WR23, 51.1 overall)
Thielen is at best the third offensive weapon in Minnesota behind Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson. For him to pay off his draft price he’ll need to frequently find the end zone again. Last season he had double-digit touchdowns for the first time in his seven-year career and it would be surprising if he repeated the feat this year. He can easily finish as a top-36 fantasy receiver but I’m not touching him in the top-24.
Deebo Samuel (WR35, 77.2 overall)
Two of the best fantasy football traits for best ball wide receivers are the abilities to make big plays and consistently score touchdowns; Deebo hasn’t checked either of these boxes over his first two seasons. He’s scored just seven career touchdowns, four receiving and three rushing, over 22 career games. He also has a ludicrously low 5.6 yard career average depth of target (aDOT), including two games in 2020 with a negative aDOT. Even at the draft cost I highly prefer his teammate Brandon Aiyuk, who profiles as a true alpha wideout, a round and a half earlier.
Brandin Cooks (WR44, 92.3 overall)
Cooks has been a consistently underrated fantasy wideout and is the unquestioned top target on his team, but I still don’t want him on any best ball rosters in 2021. The chances of Deshaun Watson taking snaps for the Texans is less than slim and Houston may have the worst offense in the NFL this season. While I don’t typically agree with the “injury-prone” label, five documented concussions in his career are just one more reason to avoid him.
Tyler Higbee (TE8, 91.7 overall)
Higbee, who finished as the TE18 last season, is going off the board as the TE8 right now in best ball drafts. I typically avoid tight ends in the middle rounds regardless, but Higlbee is currently being drafted near his ceiling. Even with the upgrade at quarterback with Matthew Stafford, there are too many other offensive weapons on the Rams for Higbee to be a premier fantasy tight end in 2021.
Logan Thomas (TE10, 104.2 overall)
Thomas is going just outside the top-100 picks but since he’s still being drafted as a top-10 tight end I feel the need to mention him in this article. He may have finished as the TE6 last season but the Washington offense has been completely overhauled. In 2020 Thomas’ 110 targets were the third-most among all tight ends. That isn’t likely to repeat with the additions of Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries, and Dyami Brown. Not to mention, new Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has a history of favoring wide receivers heavily over tight ends. Thomas is a tight end I won’t be rostering in best ball for 2021.
Featured Photo Credit: Erik Drost