Best Ball Journal: WR-TE Portfolio Analysis
Best Ball Journal: WR-TE Portfolio Analysis

This article is part of our Best Ball Journal series.

**This article will look at my WR-TE shares, but you can view the breakdown of my QB-RB portfolio in the last article, here.

I've now concluded eight BestBall10 drafts, all of them in the site's Pre-Draft Best Bowl tournament, and with that there's now a decent sample with which to analyze my selection tendencies so far. In this article I'll look at the picks I've made, the current and potentially shifting markets for the players in question, and whether I want to invest more in those players.

I'll list the picks by position, with the number of shares listed parenthetically next to the player. For this article I'm only listing the players for which I have at least two shares. I'll address the players by positional group subsections. Again, this is after eight drafts.

All ADPs listed are from the BestBall10 drafts, and for this article the sample is collected since March 4.

Wide receivers

DJ Chark (4), Michael Gallup (4), Will Fuller (4), James Washington (4), Mecole Hardman (3), Tyreek Hill (2), Odell Beckham (2), Christian Kirk (2), T.Y. Hilton (2), Jamison Crowder (2), Larry Fitzgerald (2), Jalen Reagor (2), John Ross (2), Kenny Stills (2), Steven Sims (2)

I've talked about this with John McKechnie on the RotoWire Fantasy Football Podcast, but my primary strategy for the current best ball markets is to attack running back early and then raid the receivers from Rounds 5 to 9. That's not because I want to fade the top receivers, but there's remarkable depth at receiver with multiple WR1 candidates falling to WR3/WR4 prices. There is no such scenario at running back, where you're lucky to find RB2 upside after the sixth round.

This wide receiver sweet spot, I think, begins with Robert Woods (59.5 ADP) and includes from that point Adam Thielen (60.9 ADP), DJ Chark (63.8 ADP), Michael Gallup (64.5 ADP), Terry McLaurin (64.6 ADP), Christian Kirk (71.6 ADP), and Tyler Boyd (72.5 ADP). Among this group I want to have relatively even ownership, especially between Thielen, Chark, Gallup, and McLaurin, because I don't feel strongly about any of them being better than another. With that in mind, I'm both happy to have four shares each of Chark and Gallup, yet I plan to hold off buying more until I get a similar share volume of Thielen and McLaurin.

There are other receivers in or nearby this 'sweet spot' range, some of which I intend to buy more of and some of which I intend to fade further. Some of my nearby targets include Stefon Diggs (50.9 ADP), Calvin Ridley (57.5 ADP), T.Y. Hilton (75.8 ADP), Marquise Brown (84.6 ADP), Mecole Hardman (90.7 ADP), Jamison Crowder (93.1 ADP), and Will Fuller (102.7 ADP). So far I've tended to go running back where I would otherwise need to pay for Diggs or Ridley, so I might have to consider aiming specifically for those two a bit instead of taking more shares of James Conner, Damien Williams, or whoever else I might consider at running back in that range. As of now, I only have one share each of Diggs and Ridley. Fuller I have enough of for the time being, but I'm willing to take on roughly 50 percent exposure if he continues to fall toward the 10th round. I'd like to acquire more Crowder shares, because he already showed well last year and I fully expect Sam Darnold to improve. You already know how I feel about Hardman, who I especially like to pair with Tyreek Hill (13.1 ADP).

Speaking of Hill, it might be a small sample, but the early signs indicate that of the priciest receivers my favorite targets are Hill and Odell Beckham (29.1 ADP). I don't think I'm willing to waive my general intention to hammer running back early, but if I don't like the running back options then I'm content to pivot to these two. I'll need to consider sprinkling in some shares of Julio Jones (19.4 ADP) and Amari Cooper (34.2 ADP) when I find myself in similar situations in the future.

As you can see from my four shares of James Washington (162.6 ADP), I also have a couple preferred targets in the later rounds. I typically get Washington in the 14th round, which is basically the WhoCare region price-wise, but I'll probably try to tap the brakes on acquiring too many more immediate shares. I'd rather have Washington around 30 percent than 50 percent, because there's no telling what happens with Ben Roethlisberger and his busted elbow. But I like Washington more than Diontae Johnson (105.3 ADP), and I'm generally interested in fading Johnson. Aside from Washington, my other wideout targets in that range have so far been John Ross (143.6 ADP) and Jalen Reagor (163.0 ADP). I'm good on Ross shares for now, but I'll probably target Reagor a few more times after his price fell. I will also continue to target Larry Fitzgerald (174.4 ADP) in this range since BB10s feature PPR scoring. Ross is mostly a stacking interest where I have Joe Burrow, whereas I like Fitz as a glue guy on any roster construction.

As far as my other multiple-share late-round wideouts go: Kenny Stills (208.0 ADP) is someone I consider mostly when I'm stacking with Fuller, and Steven Sims (221.7 ADP) is merely a last-round dart I mean to sprinkle in occasionally. But generally speaking, I'm more likely to take Sims as a standalone target than Stills, who's mostly a cheap way to guard against Fuller's down weeks. As far as the end-of-draft darts go, my favorites are probably Sims, Stills, Randall Cobb (212.8 ADP), Allen Lazard (218.0 ADP), and Mohamed Sanu (266.9 ADP)

Tight ends


Blake Jarwin (5), Chris Herndon (3), Zach Ertz (2)

I knew going into the offseason that I'd be a fan of Blake Jarwin (150.7 ADP), who I plan to buy in bulk for the foreseeable future. I don't think the market fully understands yet that Jason Witten is over in Dallas, and once that realization gets beaten over everyone's heads I think you'll see Jarwin's price jump from the 13th round to the ninth or so. Wrong or right, I'll keep buying in anticipation of that day. Jarwin will only be 26 in July, yet last year he was one of the league's most effective tight ends on a per-snap basis, earning 1.07 air yards per snap (86th percentile) and catching a solid 70.5 percent of his targets even at a high ADOT (10.6 yards, 95th percentile). Granted, he'd be hard-pressed to maintain that sort of efficiency over a bigger snap count, but if he plays 850-plus snaps like Witten did then Jarwin looks like a legitimate candidate to finish as a top-eight tight end in 2020, and at worst something like the TE14. At the moment he's going as the TE19 in drafts. That's a mistake. I'm willing to go into the year with Jarwin as the TE1 on at least a handful of my squads, though in the meantime I'm content to hoard shares as a TE2 at his unreasonably low price.

One loadout that works for me is Jarwin as my TE1 and Chris Herndon (170.1 ADP) as my TE2. It's risky perhaps, but I think Herndon is one of the most skilled tight ends in the league and, like I mention with Crowder, I'm eager to buy bargain Jets pass catchers since I believe that Darnold will be a standout quarterback soon, perhaps even this year. I think people let Herndon fall into the 170 range because of a lingering fear over Ryan Griffin, and if so then I'm eager to fade the sentiment. Griffin is a below average pass catcher, Herndon is an above average pass catcher. That Griffin was a useful fantasy tight end last year is a reason to invest in Herndon, who only ceded the spot due to his suspension and then a pair of injuries (hamstring, ribs). Herndon's rookie season in 2018 was spectacular, and if you look at his college production at Miami (FL) you'll see he was similarly effective there. In his final two seasons with the Hurricanes, Herndon caught 68 of 94 targets for 811 yards and six touchdowns (72.3 percent catch rate, 8.6 YPT) even though the Hurricanes as a team completed only 57.5 percent of its passes at 7.9 YPA.

For as much as Jarwin is easily my most owned tight end to this point and Herndon my second, I don't specifically go into drafts planning to punt at tight end. Whether I spend earlier on a tight end depends on my draft slot and whether certain targets of mine make it to my picks. As much as I like the savings Jarwin provides me, I'm content paying the going rate for Zach Ertz (47.2 ADP) if I think I've otherwise accounted for RB-WR sufficiently, and Mark Andrews (54.9 ADP) especially is my favorite early-round tight end target. I say this without meaning to sound critical of Ertz, but Ertz and Andrews posted roughly the same PPR point total last year even though Andrews played just 467 snaps and Ertz played 953. Andrews of course would not be able to keep up his blistering per-snap rate of production and he just as importantly won't play more than 750 snaps or so with how the Ravens offense operates, but if you prorate his 2019 numbers over 953 snaps you'd get 130 receptions for 1,729 yards and 20 touchdowns. Even if Andrews plays only 700 or so snaps this year and additionally suffers drastic per-snap regression, he would still be well within reach of the TE1 distinction. Unfortunately, I only have one Andrews share to this point. In addition to Andrews and Ertz, my third target among the more expensive tight ends is probably Tyler Higbee (83.9 ADP). I think Higbee is the real deal and if he falls into the late seventh I will usually strike there, even if he ends up my TE2 in the process.

Somewhere in between Higbee and Jarwin for me is T.J. Hockenson, who I only have one share of to this point but would like to acquire more. I'm convinced Hockenson will break out in 2020, and it's probably only because of Jarwin that I don't have more Hockenson shares. That's not because I take Jarwin over Hockenson, but because I probably punted on the opportunity to take Hockenson because I thought I could get Jarwin later. I much prefer Hockenson (119.2 ADP) over former Iowa teammate Noah Fant (97.0 ADP), for whatever that's worth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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