Based on intel from the first two lessons of the 2020 Best Ball Workshop, Shawn Siegele recommends seven players as the foundation of your BestBall10s lineup.
The RotoViz Best Ball Workshop uses intelligence from Mike Beers’ Roster Construction Explorer to help you put together a team that has an edge on your opponents at every position. Last year, our individual lessons helped you to a win rate that blew away the average across the board. In Lesson 1 from the 2020 Workshop, I checked to see how this translated to overall results.
When I entered all of our lessons into the RCE, I was ready for solid results. The actual results blew me away. Lineups that followed all of the recommendations in the Workshop returned a 14.7% win rate with a whopping 68.4% finishing in the top six.
But one result from 2019 was perhaps even more surprising. Despite the results displayed in the RCE and despite what we know of best-ball logic supporting these results, owners are actually moving away from the tactics that deliver the best results. Sometimes in fantasy, presenting the exploitable loopholes will lead to those advantages closing, but this isn’t currently the case in best ball.
With the first two lessons for 2020 already available, it’s time we use that intelligence to build a foundation with specific player targets.
The QB Window
The key insight from our QB lesson was a need to attack the window between Rounds 6 and 12. For 2-QB teams, this resulted in a 9.3% win rate. It was even better for our 3-QB teams who saw their wins jump to 10.9%.
We should also consider the results for 2018-19 where the win rate in Round 6 fell to 7.4%, while early-QB adoption plummeted. From 2015 to 2017, owners had their first QB by the end of Round 6 more than 32% of the time. Over the last two years that fell to just over 16%. With owners waiting longer, it makes sense to move the window back a round.
The Potential Targets
We can use the ADP Draft Grid function in the Fanball Dashboard to get a visual representation of the QBs available in Rounds 7 through 12.
By employing the Linear Regression tab in the RotoViz Screener, we can create a quick 2020 projection using the most predictive QB stats. With those numbers to help calibrate our expectations, three big values emerge once we consider offseason developments.
Dak Prescott – QB6
Even with the uncertainty from the coaching change, Prescott is a no-brainer at a point in the draft where 37 running backs have already come off the board.
Last season Prescott climbed to QB2, generating gaudy stats across the board. He ranked top five in both passing yards and TDs and top 10 in rushing yards. The NFL Stat Explorer also tells us that he finished No. 2 in both attempted and completed air yards, while posting 12 games with 20-plus points. Ten of those were weekly QB1 finishes.
The Screener places him behind only Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson for 2020, but Prescott was the big offseason winner. While the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins, unleashing a fantasy football tidal wave, the Cowboys re-signed Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100 million dollar contract. Michael Gallup’s 2019 emergence gives Prescott two elite weapons as he attempts to reprise his breakout season.
Daniel Jones – QB12
The Screener gives Jones a slight edge over the two legends in this range – Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees – and puts him in almost a dead heat with Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan. It likes his combination of age, draft position, and rookie year results, the type of profile that often leads to a second-year leap.
The supporting cast for Jones isn’t elite, but it could be sneaky good, especially if Evan Engram stays healthy. You’re probably way too low on Darius Slayton, and every QB can use a threat out of the backfield like Saquon Barkley.
Matthew Stafford – QB14
By grabbing Stafford, we avoid the land mines lurking in Round 12. The Screener likes him just below Russell Wilson, and a quick perusal of his bounceback 2019 season explains the enthusiasm.
On the back of passing efficiency numbers that ranked second overall (6.1 paFPOE/G), Stafford crafted five QB1 finishes in his eight games.
The Lions now possess all of the pieces to be a passing juggernaut for the first time since Calvin Johnson’s retirement. Kenny Golladay is a star and Marvin Jones an undervalued buy. If T.J. Hockenson can avoid the Eric Ebron comparisons and become the next great tight end, Stafford should return to the fantasy elite.
Our TE lesson offered two viable approaches for fantasy owners: the 2-TE construction with an elite TE and the 3-TE construction with all three coming in the TE window.
The Elite TE approach discussed in our lesson has jumped to a 12.6% win rate over the last two seasons.
Travis Kelce/George Kittle
Since the beginning of 2018, Kelce, Kittle, and Zach Ertz have lapped the field. These are your TE stars. The Screener projects Kelce and Kittle for an approximate 2-point gap over Ertz in 2020, and that margin is reflected in current ADP.
In many seasons it would be difficult to recommend Kelce so early in Round 2, but this year sets up perfectly. We know we want to follow his selection with a string of WRs, and drafts set up perfectly for this scenario.
3-TE in the Window
Owners who selected all three TEs in the window between Round 9 and 15 do not fare as well as elite-TE drafters, but the results have still been impressive, especially of late. TE window drafters recorded a 9.1% win rate over the last two years.
The numbers for the best tactical construction jump above 10%. (You minimize a lot of your gains by using nine roster spots between RB and TE.)
If we go back to our draft board, this window spans TE10 to TE25.
At first glance, our TE options are bleak enough to explain why the TE Mirage from Rounds 5 to 8 is so appealing. We do have a few solid choices, however.
Gesicki offered one of the best turnarounds in the NFL last season, averaging 4.3 PPG over his first seven weeks before vaulting to 12 PPG the rest of the way.
Gesicki’s emergence was the result of an improvement in both volume and efficiency. His full-season volume was among the elite. The second-year pro finished seventh in targets and fourth in air yards. He was able to capitalize on that volume better down the stretch where his splits went from -0.8 to 1.1 reFPOE. This translated into two extra points per game on efficiency alone.
It’s not a lock that Gesicki will maintain these volume levels with Preston Williams returning and a possible mid-season transition to a rookie QB, but he’s an easy value in Round 10.
I made the case for Ebron and explained why Pittsburgh was a good landing spot in Free Agency Winners, Losers, and 5 Sleepers to Buy Now. The Screener liked him as the TE18 even before the move, casting his TE21 status as a clear value.
For all of the disappointment around Ebron’s career, he finished as a top-15 TE each year from 2015 to 2018. Exempting his rookie season, Ebron has produced a weekly TE1 finish 47% of the time.
His TD-fueled TE4 result with Andrew Luck in 2018 offers a glimpse of his upside with Ben Roethlisberger.
Stay tuned for the next edition in the 2020 Workshop and catch up on the lessons so far.