When you are trying to be successful in an avenue that requires writing, it can sometimes be difficult to find inspiration on what to write about next. Luckily for me, I have friends like JAM Sportz co-founder Matt LaMarca:
Well ask and you shall receive Matt! For those of you who don’t know, a “best ball” league is one in which you draft your team and the computer sets your optimal lineup each week. You can think of it as set it and forget it. Knowing your league settings is probably never as critical as in a best ball league like an MFL10, and it is important to take advantage of the lack of decision making involved in your lineup. Players who are highly volatile and can sometimes be tricky in standard re-draft formats become targets in best ball because you don’t have to worry about when to start or sit them. Because of this, my strategy is almost entirely different in these kinds of formats (and I will release a piece on that strategy soon). Here are 15 high volatility players that I am currently targeting in best ball leagues (ADP from MFL Public Leagues from July 15th on):
1. Zac Stacy, RB, Rams
Okay so maybe Stacy isn’t someone who is necessarily high volatility, but most of the volatility at running back is directly tied to playing time. That seems to be the biggest question mark with the sophomore Rams back after the team drafted Auburn runner Tre Mason this year. Luckily for best ball drafters, you don’t have to worry about Mason siphoning a TD here and a few carries there. You get his best games, which last year were very good, and you get them at a third round price. This makes Stacy a bargain in best ball drafts.
2. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens
If you’ve been following my work, then you know that I’m all over Torrey this year in all formats. He is an even bigger value going in the 5th round right now in best ball. Even if I am wrong about Smith being able to be the new Andre Johnson for Gary Kubiak (in terms of target-load), he should still be able to do what he’s done his whole career, which is get behind defenses and make big plays. At the least, Torrey should give you a few high-end startable weeks after scoring long touchdowns.
3. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
You can basically apply the same logic to Hilton as I just did for Torrey. I think Hilton should be a focal point of the Colts passing game this season, but even if he isn’t, you should get some big games like the 5/140/2 and 7/121/3 stat lines he put up last season. I am very comfortable with either Smith or Hilton as my top receiver this year in best ball.
4. Justin Hunter, WR, Titans
I am not alone in thinking that Hunter will have a second year breakout this season, but even if you disagree you should be looking at him in the 9th round of drafts. In a rookie season in which he only received 42 targets, Hunter had four different games in which he scored a touchdown, and he was most likely a start in all four performances. His 6/109/1 and 4/114/1 lines towards the end of last season could have given you the late push your team needed to get to the top of the leader board. Now with a year under his belt and the down-field minded Ken Whisenhunt running the offense, Hunter should have a better chance to put up such performances in 2014.
5. Tavon Austin, WR, Rams
Tavon Austin is the discount Cordarrelle Patterson, and that makes him an ideal best ball target this season. Everyone knows about his clunkers last season, but the big games that he had were elite. In re-draft, he is a very risky proposition, but since you just have to draft him to get those big games and avoid all the rest, I’ve been sure to grab some shares of him in my MFL10 drafts. Just watch him run by the Colts three different times last season, and you’ll see that he only needs a few touches to have an impact.
6. Kenny Stills, WR, Saints
Ask any fantasy player what the worst part about owning a Saints receiver is and they’ll tell you it is the lack of predictability (though they may express that in slightly more colorful terms). Kenny Stills owned a yards per reception average of TWENTY last season and scored 5 touchdowns on just 51 targets. With Lance Moore gone from New Orleans, there should be even more big plays and big games for Stills this year.
7. Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles
I have been very outspoken on my love for Cooper this season:
Riley Cooper should be getting more love in startups. Currently going as the 58th WR, 130 overall according to DFW.
— Anthony Amico (@amicsta) July 1, 2014
Almost as if everyone forgot that he showed great chemistry with Nick Foles, showed ability to win jump balls, and plays in a top offense — Anthony Amico (@amicsta) July 1, 2014
And he just signed a 5 year, $25 million contract. Love Jordan Matthews, but I think Cooper is going to be productive with Chip in town
— Anthony Amico (@amicsta) July 1, 2014
That summarizes my feelings pretty well, and he is going almost four full round after Jeremy Maclin. After a season where he had 7 double digit fantasy outings, including 3 over 20 points, Cooper is an absolute steal in best ball formats.
8. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers
I am not even close to sold on Benjamin’s talent, but if there is one thing I know he can do, it is score touchdowns. Picking the games where he reaches the end zone is a risky proposition, but in best ball you can just draft him and pat yourself on the back later when he has multiple touchdown performances.
9. Heath Miller, TE, Steelers
To me, Miller is massively underrated in the fantasy community right now. If you are in the camp that thinks he is old, declining, and not a big time asset in re-draft leagues, you should take another look at the Steeler depth chart. Right now the top receivers are expected to be Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, with Lance Moore handling slot duties. I’m not sure that all three of those players combine to be the red zone threat that Miller is, making him the tight end version of Kelvin Benjamin in best ball formats.
10. Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons
Douglas has had an incredibly underwhelming career in the NFL, but should still be an asset for your best ball team this season. Last year, he capitalized off of injuries to both Julio Jones and Roddy White to put together a career year. This season, I expect him to inherit many of Tony Gonzalez’s targets after he retired this off-season. A 15th round price tag for a guy with a shot at 800-900 yards and 5 touchdowns (and more if one of the players ahead of him gets hurt again) is something I will very happily take a shot on.
11. Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers
It has been a while since we heard from Floyd, who missed almost all of last season after a scary neck injury in week 2. Now back in the fold, the veteran has looked great in camp and should see regular playing time again this season. Floyd was always a quality deep threat (career YPR of 17.3) and should give fantasy owners a couple of big games this season.
12. Geno Smith, QB, Jets
Geno was wildly inconsistent last year, but his success seemed to correlate directly with Jet wins if we check using the RotoViz Game Splits App:
It is easy to see that Geno was not just startable, but elite in games the Jets won last season. Take him in the later rounds of your draft and get multiple weeks of top 5 production at an absurd QB27 price.
13. Marquess Wilson, WR, Bears
Wilson is the rare receiver handcuff that you want to have some shares on in best ball formats. He has established himself as the third receiver for Marc Trestman and the Bears this season, and should receive a substantial boost in playing time should injury befall any of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, or Martellus Bennett. You can get a potentially valuable piece of an very productive offense in the 17th round. Yes please. Even without injury, Wilson should manage to score a long touchdown or two to make himself startable in a few games this year.
14. John Brown, WR, Cardinals
Brown is the discount T.Y. Hilton in best ball formats, with almost identical measurables as prospects and the same coach running the offense in their rookie seasons (Bruce Arians). Hilton broke the 100 yard mark 5 different times as a rookie and scored 7 touchdowns. If Brown can produce even 50% of that he will be a worthwhile investment in the 18th round of drafts.
15. Luke Willson, TE, Seahawks
I mentioned Willson as a tight end to target due to his Freak Score and run-heavy offense. There is no format to better take a shot on him than best ball. It may take a Zach Miller injury for him to put up consistent production, but there is a good chance he finds his way into the end zone a couple of times, which would make him startable at tight end. There is no downside to taking him with one of the last picks of your draft as a third tight end.