Bjorn Yang-Vaernet shares why he thinks double-digit best ball draft slots could have a big advantage again in 2023.
Over a large enough sample size, best ball drafters should get every draft slot once in every 12 drafts. However, for drafters like myself, whose full-time job is not drafting best ball teams, I am at the mercy of the random number generator (RNG) program in Underdog’s draft algorithm. Unfortunately, RNG has not been equal to me and I’ve gotten draft slots in the last-fourth of the draft in 39% of my drafts (25% is the baseline).
But…based on the last two years of data, getting a double-digit round draft slot was a huge advantage.
The double-digit draft slots have the potential to be even better for a couple of reasons in 2023. Let’s explore why!
The Wide Receiver Landscape
Good NFL offensive coordinators want to get the ball into their best players’ hands and in recent years, the best young players to enter the league have been WRs. In just the last three years alone, the influx of high-end talent at the WR position includes and is not limited to:
- Ja’Marr Chase
- Justin Jefferson
- Jaylen Waddle
- Amon-Ra St. Brown
- Garrett Wilson
After a few down years for WRs following the epic 2017 RB draft class (Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, plus more), the number of WRs that earned 25% or more of the team’s targets rebounded. In 2022, 14 WRs that played 13 or more games hit the 25% threshold. Notably, the 14 WRs in 2022 don’t include Chase or Cooper Kupp who accounted for 29% and 31% of the team’s targets, respectively, in their healthy games — both are early-Round 1 picks in 2023.
Selecting WRs early also helps get ahead of any potential issues in WR-heavy rooms, aka WR avalanches. By the time the draft comes back around to the back half of Round 3, 17 WRs are taken by ADP, and in WR-heavy rooms around 20 WRs could be off the board. More importantly, the WRs in this range of the draft start to have a lot of question marks such as target competition (Deebo Samuel), efficiency concerns (Christian Watson and Jerry Jeudy), and age-related decline (Keenan Allen) that the top-12 WRs do not have.