Best Ball Debates: June Edition


We've all been there. The Underdog timer is counting down and turns from black to bright red. With each precious click of the clock, we get one second closer to two potential outcomes: the perfect bestball build or busting our lineups with bad split-second decisions. Maybe Underdog does this by design to create urgency? Regardless of intent, it's on us to make sound decisions to be in the running for the money by the time we get to the semifinals. Fighting Chance Fantasy writers Leo Grandio and Michael Chasco have teamed up to debate the best ADP positional decisions Underdog has to offer. We're putting you on the clock as well. Tell us, who you are voting for to settle the debate.  

Estimated read time: 10-15 minutes

QUARTERBACKS

It's hard to imagine the reigning Heisman Trophy winner — especially an award-winning quarterback — entering the NFL with fewer expectations than another player in the same draft. That may be the case for Jayden Daniels this year. Let's not get it twisted; the second overall pick comes with high expectations as a potential savior for a Washington franchise that desperately needs one. Daniels will likely take the first snaps of the season when we get to September, and he will become the eighth consecutive different quarterback to start Week 1 for the Commanders. Last year's second overall pick, C.J. Stroud, didn't help to calm rookie quarterback expectations with his Rookie of the Year performance and a playoff berth in his first year at Houston. Fortunately for Daniels, all eyes (and pressure) will also be on the top overall pick Caleb Williams. Taken one spot ahead of Daniels last April, Williams will have his chance to turn around a franchise in Chicago. The two quarterbacks' history will forever intertwine with their collegiate and professional careers. Both won the most prestigious collegiate award and were selected with the first two picks in the NFL Draft. It's funny how fantasy football imitates real life in its unique way; Underdog has both quarterbacks listed next to each other with near identical ADPs. Let's debate. 

The Case For Caleb Williams

UNDERDOG POSITIONAL RANK

UNDERDOG ADP

UNDERDOG PROJECTION

QB12 106.6 279.3

The quarterback position is as deep as ever. In bestball, unless you want to take one of those first four quarterbacks (Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, or Lamar Jackson) in the first four rounds you can wait on drafting a quarterback. I tend to be one of the bestball managers who will wait and be one of the last drafters to take a quarterback. One quarterback that I continue to get drawn to is Caleb Williams. I know, he’s an unproven rookie but the table is set for him to feast on the NFL this year. 

With D.J. Moore and Cole Kmet already in town, the Bears added offensive weapons Keenan Allen, D’Andre Swift, and drafted Rome Odunze. Allen will be a huge asset for Williams' game since he recently was the goto receiver when Justin Herbert was a rookie a few years back. In his three collegiate seasons, Williams threw for 10,082 yards, 93 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. The former Trojan can also make plays with his legs as he rushed for 966 yards and an additional 27 touchdowns during that span. 

Williams is currently the 12th quarterback to come off the board in bestball leagues. His ADP is 101 meaning he is going in the eighth to ninth rounds. So if you want to wait on drafting your quarterback later in the draft aim to select Williams in that range and enjoy stockpiling wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends before then. - LG

The Case For Jayden Daniels

UNDERDOG POSITIONAL RANK

UNDERDOG ADP

UNDERDOG PROJECTION

QB11 102.5 278.6

Any quarterback taken in the top five of any NFL Draft is worth selecting in bestball. Both rookie signal callers will find their fair share of rosters in Underdog, but which one is the question? We know who the Chicago Bears chose to lead its franchise, but where will the fantasy community lean to when they are on the clock? Only time will tell who will be the better option for bestball and real-life football, but history tells us to take the running quarterback and profit. Last year, the top three quarterbacks in fantasy football had at least 30 percent of their points come from rushing stats. Josh Allen led all fantasy quarterbacks with 34% of his fantasy stats coming from his rushing ability, followed by Jalen Hurts (38%) and Lamar Jackson (31%). Fortunately for us, we have one of the best running quarterbacks over the last decade in college football entering the league this season in Jayden Daniels. According to PFF data, Daniels was a prolific dual-threat quarterback at LSU and recorded a 91.5 career rushing grade by their proprietary metrics. Daniels finished with an impressive 44 explosive runs (gains of 10 yards or more) for the Tigers last season and finished with 1,134 rushing yards in his Heisman-winning campaign. His two-way skillset is ideal for fantasy football and can provide the blueprint to become a bestball monster without the early-round draft capital. We know Daniels can run, but can he marry the rushing ability with his arm talent?

Daniels threw for 3,812 yards and only four interceptions in his last season in the SEC, and comes into the league with a reputation for making accurate deep throws to speedy, NFL-caliber receivers like former LSU teammates Brian Thomas Jr. and Malik Nabers. Is there a more underrated playmaking deep threat than Terry McLaurin? McLaurin never had any stability at the quarterback position in his five-year career in Washington. The 28-year-old is in the middle of his prime and can stretch the defense like any elite No. 1 option with barely NFL-level QB play. McLaurin was still top 20 in targets (128) and receptions (79) and eclipsed the century mark with 1,002 yards for a lost Commanders squad with a doomed coaching staff last season. Secondary receiving option Jahan Dotson had as many touchdowns as McLaurin with four and will serve to work in the intermediate areas of the field for Daniels and the Washington offense. Veterans Zach Ertz and Austin Ekeler are likely past their primes, but their experience can be invaluable for a rookie quarterback and can provide safety blankets while Daniels figures out NFL defensive schemes. The Commanders also added former Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury to manage the offense, who comes to the franchise with experience coaching young signal callers. Under Kingsbury, Kyler Murray was a top-12 points per game fantasy quarterback in all four years when the two were together, including his rookie year in 2019. When I'm on the clock — give me Daniels. - MC  

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RUNNINGBACKS

Running backs matter. At least in bestball, they do. Is there a better debate than two running backs under 25 years old, and clear leads on playoff contenders? Both players took over full-time roles for aging veterans Leonard Fournette and Devin Singletary. Both had speculative adds around them as fantasy managers weren't convinced they were ready to take on a three-down role. By the time we got to the semifinals in Underdog, both finished as RB1s; White finished as the overall RB4, and Cook the RB11. White led the way with 12 finishes inside the top-12 on the season, highlighted by his top overall RB performance in Week 9 against a stout Houston defense. The Buccaneers were on the wrong side of a shootout that week, but White turned 20 carries into 73 yards and two touchdowns while adding four catches for 46 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Cook had six top-12 finishes and turned in an RB2 performance in a Week 15 blowout against Dallas. In that game, Cook ran over the Cowboys for 179 yards on 25 carries and a rushing touchdown while adding two catches for 42 yards and a receiving touchdown. You're on the clock, who do you take? Let's debate. 

The Case for James Cook

UNDERDOG POSITIONAL RANK

UNDERDOG ADP

UNDERDOG PROJECTION

RB13 56.1 183.7

In his second year as a pro, James Cook took on a heavier workload that many thought he could not handle. Cook carried the rock 237 times for 1,122 yards and two touchdowns. The running back also proved that he’s a dual threat by bringing in 44 receptions for 445 yards and four touchdowns. 

Most of Cook’s production came after Joe Brady took over as offensive coordinator (OC). Luckily for Cook, Brady is set to return as OC which makes the talented running back prospects for the season very enticing. During the second half of the season, Cook ranked fourth in receiving yards among all running backs and was second in yards per route run. 

Cook is currently the 14th running back off the board in bestball drafts, and 48th overall. Cook is a perfect running back to implement in a Zero-RB draft strategy. After bestball drafters load up on wide receivers in the first three to four rounds you can pounce on Cook as your first running back. After Cook, Rachaad White, and Joe Mixon come off the board there is a significant tier drop at the running back position, so make sure you draft one of these running backs at the four/five turn. -LG

The Case For Rachaad White

UNDERDOG POSITIONAL RANK

UNDERDOG ADP

UNDERDOG PROJECTION

RB14 60.8 202.5

Admit it. You fell for the speculative Buccaneers running back late-round picks in the preseason last year. The echo chamber told us to take a shot at veteran Chase Edmonds, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, or even rookie Sean Tucker. How did that work out for you? Rachaad White proved the doubters wrong last year and became the main focal point in a playoff-caliber offense. If you faded the noise and drafted White anywhere near his RB24 ADP spot, he returned your investment and then some en route to an RB4 season for Tampa Bay. White doubled his total scrimmage yards from 771 yards to 1,539 yards in his first, full season as the featured back, including 549 yards receiving on 64 catches. San Francisco's Christian McCaffrey and White were the only two running backs to eclipse 250 carries, 60 receptions, and 530 yards receiving last year. The main difference between the two players is that McCaffrey scored 21 touchdowns compared to White's nine. Consider both teams' structures, and you can't help but come away impressed that White averaged 15.9 fantasy points per game despite running behind a poor offensive line that PFF graded out as well below average (67.6). Yes, the Buccanneers added Oregon's Bucky Irving in the draft, and he may eat into some of White's playing time. But look for White to be once again the focus point on an offense that hadn't changed its personnel dramatically. - MC 

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WIDE RECEIVERS 

If you played Underdog bestball in the past, you know receivers go off the shelves faster than a 99 Cents Only store closing sale. It's a position that's perceived to be safe at the top of bestball drafts combined with the fact you need to fill three starters every week. But not all receivers are immune to being a bestball bust - just ask the people who took Davante Adams and Garrett Wilson in the first round or near the first turn of the draft last year. Whiffing on a receiver isn't the end of the world but it can make or break your build to be in serious contention on the leaderboards by season's end. So what are you doing with Jordan Addison? Last year Addison turned in two WR1 finishes in Week 7 and Week 15 but finished outside of flex territory in five other weeks. A true definition of a boom-or-bust receiver. Would you rather have the shiny new toy with Chargers rookie Ladd McConkey? McConkey impressed NFL scouts at the combine and was taken 34th overall by Los Angeles. You're on the clock, who you got? Let's debate.

The Case For Ladd McConkey

UNDERDOG POSITIONAL RANK

UNDERDOG ADP UNDERDOG PROJECTION
WR39 70.4 141.8

Talk about walking into a situation with a plus upside. Well, that is what Ladd McConkey is about to do. First, the Chargers traded away their best wide receiver over the last decade Keenan Allen to the Bears, and let Mike Williams walk in free agency. The only wide-out left that McConkey will get challenged for targets will be second-year receiver Quentin Johnston, who battled the dropsies all season long. This sets the stage for Justin Herbert to target McConkey early in the season to establish his new go-to target.

McConkey played three seasons at Georgia tallying up 119 receptions, 1,687 yards, and 14 touchdowns in 39 games. The rookie also rushed 13 times for 214 yards and four touchdowns. In his final season with the Bulldogs, he missed five games hurting his draft stock at the NFL Draft. McConkey proved he has speed with his 4.39 40-yard dash and is an excellent route runner.  

In bestball drafts, McConkey is being drafted 70th overall as the 44th wide receiver off the board. For this season I would much rather have McConkey who’s being drafted five picks after fellow rookie Rome Odunze. Odunze will be the fourth receiving option on the Bears, making his target share minuscule for this year. Unlike Jordan Addison who will be a secondary option in Minnesota with Justin Jefferson commanding WR1 target share, McConkey should lead the Chargers in targets and receiving yards this Fall with Herbert tossing passes his way. - LG

The Case For Jordan Addison

UNDERDOG POSITIONAL RANK

UNDERDOG ADP

UNDERDOG PROJECTION

WR38 67.9 175.6

Jordan Addison had two different types of seasons last year. The rookie was enjoying a successful start to his career and settled in as the secondary option opposite All-Pro Justin Jefferson. With defenses primed to take away one of the best weapons in the league, Addison flourished in one-on-one situations. The 24th overall pick in 2023 collected seven touchdowns by Week 8 and seemed to click with veteran Kirk Cousins in the intermediate area of the field. PFF graded Addison as a 98.1 on receptions 10-20 yards from the line of scrimmage which put him in an elite class with fantasy studs A.J. Brown and Chris Olave. Then it all changed in a heartbeat. Or more accurately a strain in the hamstring. Jettas suffered the first significant injury of his brilliant career and dramatically changed the dynamic of the Minnesota offense last season. Without its all-world wideout, defenses keyed in on Addison, resulting in a weekly boom-or-bust outlook for the rest of the season. It got ugly and Addison was barely a startable option as he gained only 40 yards in four of his last five games to finish the year. The Vikings never solved its issues in the running game and Cousins was lost for the year with an injury of his own. Even with the Jekyll and Hyde season, Addison only finished behind standouts Puka Nacua and Rashee Rice in receiving yards and led all rookie wideouts with 10 touchdowns. Cousins is gone to Atlanta so the quarterback questions remain in Minnesota. But as long as Jefferson, who signed a massive 4-year, $140 million extension in the offseason, is still garnering all the attention, then Addison could be the fantasy star we saw in the first half of last season. Give me Addison as the best is yet to come. - MC

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TIGHT ENDS

For years you might've heard seasoned fantasy experts tell you not to draft a rookie tight end. Just don't do it. It was sound advice since the greatest rookie tight end season was turned in by Mike Ditka in 1961. 1961! That all came to an end last year with a TE1 performance by Detroit rookie Sam LaPorta. The Iowa product turned in an impressive 11 top-12 finishes including eight games in the top-5 for the position. So will fantasy managers be willing to give another rookie a chance to repeat that kind of performance? You might get your shot with former Georgia Bulldog Brock Bowers this year. What's not to like about a receiving tight end who is 6'3'' 240 pounds and can run a 4.53 40-yard dash? Or do you take a known commodity in David Njoku who finished in the top-5 among all tight ends last year? You're on the clock so tell us who you're taking. Let's debate.  

The Case For David Njoku

UNDERDOG POSITIONAL RANK

UNDERDOG ADP

UNDERDOG PROJECTION

TE10 101.5 134.1

Anybody who almost burns his face off in a freak accident and comes back to dominate NFL defenses can have a spot on my bestball team anytime. It was a career year for David Njoku in 2023 as he lit up defensive schemes and led the Browns in targets, catches, and touchdowns. His 120 targets were third in the league while he finished in the top 10 with 81 receptions (tied for 5th), 882 yards (6th), and six receiving touchdowns (tied for 2nd). Njoku was deadly with the ball in his hands and led all tight ends in missed tackles forced (23) and explosive gains (24). When the Browns needed the veteran the most he came through and ranked second in yardage gaining on third and fourth downs (336) and playaction plays (368). This is especially impressive since he caught passes from three different Browns quarterbacks: Deshaun Watson, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and Joe Flacco. Njoku had 10 top-12 finishes last year, including an impressive run at the end of the season. Njoku finished top-5 in Weeks 14-17 before taking off the final week of the season to prep for the playoffs. At 6'4" and 246 pounds that runs a 4.6 like Njoku quite literally be a fantasy monster. Maybe it's time to put some respect on his name after being listed as the TE10 in ADP. - MC

The Case For Brock Bowers

UNDERDOG POSITIONAL RANK

UNDERDOG ADP

UNDERDOG PROJECTION

TE11 102 127.2

When it comes to drafting tight ends fantasy managers will either spend an early-round pick securing a stud tight end or if not just wait on the position and draft one later. The four tight ends currently in a Tier of their own are Sam LaPorta, Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Trey McBride. The remaining tight ends that follow don’t warrant an early draft pick capital. One can wait to select one since the fantasy point differential between them isn't significant.

In bestball drafts, you will want to come out of the draft with two to three tight ends. One tight end currently being drafted 101st overall and just outside the top 10 at the position is Brock Bowers. He’s a rookie tight end who didn’t land in an ideal spot after the draft but his talent will make it hard for the Raiders not to work him into the offense, especially with new gunslinging Gardner Minshew in town. 

Bowers has the talent and the NFL draft capital to make a fantasy impact in this offense sooner rather than later. In three seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs, Bowers totaled 175 receptions, 2,538 yards, and 26 touchdowns. He even rushed 19 times for 193 yards with an additional five touchdowns. His NFL combine scores were through the roof making him the obvious top tight end in this draft class. Some may be wary of drafting Bowers in bestball leagues due to Michael Mayer already being with the Raiders, but don’t be. Bowers can still score over 10 fantasy PPR points per contest this Fall. So if you still haven’t drafted a tight end by the ninth or 10th round pull the trigger to draft the talented rookie tight end and enjoy the ride. - LG

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