10 Rookies to Target in Best Ball Before the NFL Draft

Mar 31, 2022
10 Rookies to Target in Best Ball Before the NFL Draft

Hitting on a profitable rookie before their landing spot is determined can be highly beneficial in best ball formats. However, in a study by 4for4’s Justin Edwards, the time frame weeks before the NFL Draft is the lowest-scoring period during the draft season, most likely due to managers' over-excitement and possible premature drafting of this new crop of players, even before they've found an NFL home.

We know plenty of you out there are going to draft teams this time of year, regardless of odds and prior studies, so maximizing your edge on these rookies is one way to take advantage.

Looking at FFPC data from the past two seasons, I found that there were 25 rookies whose ADP spiked more than 12 spots, or one round, from before the NFL Draft in March to August.

Rookies Who Climbed 12+ ADP Spots from March to August, 2020 & 2021
Year Player Position March POS ADP March ADP August POS ADP August ADP Diff POS Diff ADP
2020 Antonio Gibson RB RB78 279 RB35 94 43 185
2020 Brandon Aiyuk WR WR88 294 WR54 159 34 135
2020 Michael Pittman WR WR101 303 WR63 184 38 119
2021 Zach Wilson QB QB26 194 QB25 78 22 116
2020 Ke'Shawn Vaughn RB RB68 243 RB51 133 17 110
2021 Elijah Moore WR WR72 205 WR50 111 22 94
2020 Jalen Reagor WR WR66 214 WR44 128 22 86
2021 Trey Lance QB QB28 211 QB13 127 15 84
2021 Trey Sermon RB RB52 145 RB29 67 23 78
2020 Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB RB35 80 RB7 8 28 72
2020 A.J. Dillon RB RB59 201 RB53 146 6 55
2021 Michael Carter RB RB46 134 RB32 80 17 54
2021 Terrace Marshall WR WR70 194 WR59 143 11 51
2020 Justin Jefferson WR WR65 212 WR56 164 9 48
2021 Rhamondre Stevenson RB RB73 214 RB60 167 13 47
2021 Kyle Pitts TE TE8 79 TE4 33 4 46
2021 Justin Fields QB QB23 183 QB15 142 8 41
2020 Zack Moss RB RB46 128 RB40 99 6 29
2020 Laviska Shenault WR WR71 226 WR65 201 6 25
2021 Ja'Marr Chase WR WR30 79 WR25 57 5 21
2021 DeVonta Smith WR WR39 101 WR36 82 3 19
2021 Najee Harris RB RB20 36 RB12 18 8 18
2021 Rondale Moore WR WR57 149 WR57 131 0 18
2020 Cam Akers RB RB31 68 RB26 51 5 17
2020 Henry Ruggs WR WR51 150 WR46 137 5 13

Using this info along with Anthony Stagg’s mock drafts, we can try to parse out some players whose ADP is likely to rise after the draft chips fall in the hopes of combating the early-draft lull in scoring.

Pre-Draft Rookie Targets

Garrett Wilson, WR

After an impressive combine and exceptional career at Ohio State, Garrett Wilson is among the top tier of WRs in this rookie class. Depending on who you ask, it’s between Wilson and Treylon Burks for the honors of the first wideout selected in this year’s draft. Staggs has him mocked to the Eagles at spot 15, but he’s also been linked to the Jets in the 10th spot. There’s value to be had right now, as the projected Top-20 pick’s Underdog ADP is currently a full round cheaper than Burks, at spot 81.5.

Malik Willis, QB

While rookie QBs are rarely fantasy relevant in redraft formats, taking a chance on Willis this early could pay off this year in best ball leagues. QB mobility is something the fantasy community chases, and the Liberty product’s legs could provide some spike fantasy weeks if given a chance. At a current Underdog ADP of 170.2 as QB24, we may not see a cheaper price tag, especially if he lands on a team where he has a shot at playing. Staggs currently has Willis going to Atlanta at pick No. 8, where he could compete with Marcus Mariota for the starting gig.

Isaiah Spiller, RB

The former Aggie is not mocked within the first two rounds but is the type of rookie RB we like to target. He’s an all-around back with vision, burst, and patience, plus the receiving prowess coveted in points per reception formats. Isaiah Spiller is currently being drafted in the ninth round in early Underdog drafts but could get more expensive if he were to land on an RB-needy team.

Drake London, WR

Another wideout who’s projected to be drafted on night one, Drake London’s ADP could soar if he ends up as a high pick in a great spot. He’s slotted at 10 to the Jets in Stagg’s mock draft, and is also a nice fit for the Commanders who have the following selection. Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith climbed 21, 10, and 19 spots respectively last year after being the first three WRs off the board, so snagging London now at his 89.2 ADP could prove to be a bargain.

Jameson Williams, WR

Considered the strongest field-stretching WR in this rookie class, Williams has been linked to both the Cardinals and Packers in the NFL Draft. Staggs has the Alabama WR being drafted 23rd to Arizona, adding another weapon for Kyler Murray on the inside or out. Williams was on track to be the top wideout in this year’s class before suffering a torn ACL in the CFB National Championship game. Currently an early 11th-rounder as WR54, we could see Williams jump in ADP after learning where he’ll be playing in 2022.

Tyler Allgeier, RB

The BYU standout is a physical runner who put up solid numbers last year, rushing 249 times for 1,417 yards and a whopping 20 touchdowns, along with an additional 26-of-30 catches for 187 yards. He’s not an early-round NFL draft guy but has the potential to be fantasy relevant in the right spot.

Right now, he’s the 55th RB off the board in Underdog drafts (the 7th rookie) at an ADP of 186.3. Allgeier’s pricetag has the potential to climb if he lands on a team with some wiggle room in the RB department.

Jahan Dotson, WR

Coming off a productive 91-1182-12 season for Penn State, Jahan Dotson is a WR who’s not mentioned among the top tier but has the capacity for fantasy goodness. He performed well at his Pro Day workout and was seen meeting at length with members of the Patriots’ staff afterward. Kansas City is mocked to take Dotson at pick 29 in 4for4’s latest version, which could elevate his current 14th-round ADP. Several teams are WR needy heading into this draft, and Dotson is someone who comes with a cheaper price tag outside of the first tier of rookies. Taking him now may benefit your best ball teams long-term.

Zamir White, RB

Zamir White is a speedy, big-bodied back who finished with the top broad jump (10’8”) among RBs. He’s a guy whose college numbers may not stand out due to a crowded Georgia backfield with ample opportunities for all. However, the talent is there, and for now, we are getting an injury discount, as he suffered ACL tears in both 2017 and 2018. White is leaving Underdog boards as RB67 at pick 223.3 and could experience an ADP spike if he lands in a great spot and shows out in training camp.

Christian Watson, WR

At 6’4”, 208 lbs, Christian Watson turned in a scorching 40-yard dash time of 4.36 and was also a standout during the Senior Bowl. Right now, his ADP does not match his ascension, and early drafters can cash in on the disproportion. Staggs has him being selected at pick 39 by the Bears, whose WR depth chart consists of tumbleweeds personified, and if he does end up leaving the board that high, will probably skyrocket from his current 202.1 ADP.

Trey McBride, TE

You usually won’t see rookie TEs on any of my lists, but for best ball purposes, Trey McBride could be worth a stab this early on in the season. Last year we saw both Kyle Pitts and Pat Freiermuth finish among the top 13 in total half-PPR points, and with a current 14th-round ADP, McBride could provide those inexpensive spike weeks we need for an edge in Underdog leagues.

McBride was not only statistically the best TE in the country last year, but his production was near the top for all pass catchers. With the position so murky in real-life football and fantasy, McBride could find himself with starting potential depending on the landing spot. With several top-30 visits on tap, his NFL stock could rise along with his ADP.

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