NFL Best Ball Draft Values For Each Round (2023 Fantasy Football)

Soaking up average draft position (ADP) value is an excellent way to advance to the playoffs in best ball tournaments and have a positive return on investment (ROI) in all best ball contests. Of course, it’s not ideal to stray too far from ADP since the wisdom of the crowd has value. Still, some players are underrated, and this piece will analyze the best value in all 18 rounds of Underdog Fantasy’s best ball drafts. The ADPs are from May 24.

Best Ball Values By Round

Rounds 1-4

Austin Ekeler’s ADP has already climbed roughly half a pick since he agreed with the Chargers on a revised contract with $1.75 million in attainable incentives. Still, he’s a steal at the end of the first round. The Chargers whiffed on complementary running backs in the middle rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft and the 2022 NFL Draft and haven’t added a meaningful fresh face to the backfield mix.

According to our Weekly Fantasy Football Leaders tool, Ekeler averaged the fourth-most half-point point-per-reception (PPR) points per game (PPG) among non-quarterbacks in 2021 and the most among non-quarterbacks in 2022. The Chargers have an exciting offense, and Ekeler’s a game-scripts-proof weapon with a nose for the end zone, despite his diminutive stature. Per our NFL red zone stats, Ekeler had 10 rush attempts and four targets inside the five-yard line in 2022 and 16 and one in 2021. His ceiling is the highest-scoring non-quarterback and is seventh in my rankings.

Amon-Ra St. Brown validated his excellent rookie season with a better sophomore campaign. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), ARSB was their third-highest-graded wideout among wide receivers targeted at least 60 times in the regular season and postseason in 2022. The Sun God was also tied for seventh in Yards per Route Run (2.40 Y/RR) and was targeted on 28.8% of his 483 routes. CeeDee Lamb, Jonathan Taylor and Garrett Wilson are players I’d bump behind Detroit’s No. 1 wide receiver.

Josh Jacobs had his breakout last year as a genuine bell-cow back. The Raiders retained his services by using the franchise tag on him this offseason, and he doesn’t have any new competition for touches in the backfield. Jacobs had a yeoman’s workload last season. Per Pro-Football-Reference, he averaged 20.0 rushes per game for an NFL-high 97.2 rushing yards per game and 12 rushing touchdowns. Jacobs was also PFF’s highest-graded rusher among all running backs.

Yet, Jacobs’ value didn’t end with his rushing contributions. Instead, he ran the ninth-most routes (341) among running backs, parlaying his participation into 64 targets, 3.1 receptions per game, 23.5 receiving yards per game and zero receiving touchdowns. Jacobs is a worthy choice six picks earlier than his ADP.

Sadly, Keenan Allen missed seven games last year. However, he was still a top-shelf receiver when he was on the gridiron. Allen averaged 6.6 receptions and 75.2 receiving yards per game, hauling in four touchdowns. The efficiency and underlying data were excellent, too. Allen’s 8.4 yards per target was his highest mark since 2018. Furthermore, his 2.08 Y/RR was 13th out of 69 receivers targeted at least 60 times last year in the regular season and postseason. Allen was also ranked 12th in PFF’s receiving grade out of that sample and earned a target on 23.3% of his routes.

There’s plenty left in the tank for Allen, and he should be chosen before earlier-drafted wideouts such as DJ Moore (45.8 ADP), Jerry Jeudy (44.2), DeAndre Hopkins (43.9) and Mike Williams (42.9).

Rounds 5-8

The fifth and sixth rounds are a sweet spot for two high-upside quarterbacks. It’s reasonable to chase the upside of Patrick Mahomes (18.9 ADP), Jalen Hurts (20.0) and Josh Allen (21.5) at or below their ADPs. However, the gap between Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence and the next tier of quarterbacks, which includes Lamar Jackson (31.5), Justin Fields (38.9) and Joe Burrow (41.9), is too large.

Herbert was hamstrung last year by a significant rib injury and injury absences for Williams and Allen and was the QB15 in PPG among quarterbacks who played more than one game. Yet, he was the QB2 in PPG in 2021. Herbert’s in a prime bounce-back position if Allen, Williams or both stay healthy this year. And the Chargers also added Quentin Johnston in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft to further bolster the pass-catching group. Los Angeles’s offense could also enjoy a shot in the arm from their new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Per Football Outsiders, the Chargers were fourth in situation-neutral pace in 2022 and sixth in 2021, and the Cowboys were second and first.

Lawrence benefited immensely from the tutelage of Doug Pederson after a wasted rookie season playing for professional clown Urban Meyer. He was the QB12 in PPG in 2022. However, Lawrence saved his best work for last. Following Jacksonville’s bye in Week 12, Lawrence was the QB5 in PPG from Week 13 through Week 16. Additionally, per PFF, Lawrence was seventh in PFF passing grade and third in big-time throws (18) among quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks from Week 13 through the Super Bowl. He is an ascending talent, and plopping Calvin Ridley into the mix could help accelerate Lawrence’s development this year.

Cam Akers and James Cook are winners of the offseason. The Rams’ most significant addition to their running backs was using a sixth-round pick on Zach Evans. The Bills signed Damien Harris to a one-year contract for less than $2 million during the early wave of free agency, didn’t draft a running back and signed veteran banger Latavius Murray to a one-year deal worth slightly over $1 million shortly after the draft. I highlighted Akers and Cook as RB3s with RB1 potential in February and remain bullish on their outlook.

Rounds 9-13

Daniel Jones was the QB10 in PPG last year in his first year playing for head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. He has growth potential now that all parties are more familiar with one another. Further, Big Blue has traded for Darren Waller, signed Parris Campbell and drafted Jalin Hyatt, adding necessary juice to a passing attack that was bereft of weapons last year.

I’ve beat the drum repeatedly for Rashaad Penny in the offseason, most recently calling him a must-have running back in the middle of March. The Eagles have since traded for D’Andre Swift. However, the Eagles parted with only a fourth-round pick in 2025 and a swap of seventh-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, hardly a sizable commitment to add a running back whose best work is through the air. Penny is a superior runner and a more attractive selection at his ADP than Swift at his earlier ADP. So, I’m thankful for the addition of Swift slowing the rise of Penny’s ADP.

Skyy Moore’s lackluster role in his rookie season is a reason for pause. Still, he has a clearer path to the field after JuJu Smith-Schuster signed with the Patriots. Moore had a challenging step up in competition last year, transitioning from a non-Power Five program to the NFL. Additionally, as Matt Harmon noted in his player profile for Moore, Andy Reid’s offense has a “massive learning curve.

Nevertheless, Moore flashed some potential. Per PFF, Moore was targeted on a rock-solid 19.7% of his routes and played nearly equally in the slot (48.7%) and wide (50.0%). And Harmon’s Reception Perception profile had encouraging grades for Moore’s success rates against man, zone and press coverage. So he has a good foundation to build on. And, obviously, being attached to Reid and Mahomes is dreamy.

Michael Gallup struggled in his first year back from a torn ACL suffered late in the 2021 season. He admitted to the knee hampering his performance last year when discussing how much better he feels this year. Gallup is only 27 years old and had stellar seasons in 2019 and 2020. In 2019, Gallup averaged 4.7 receptions per game and 79.1 receiving yards per game. He also had six touchdowns, 9.8 yards per target and 2.16 Y/RR. It’s unlikely he’ll replicate those marks, but he doesn’t have to in order to be a value at his ADP.

Tyler Higbee isn’t a sexy pick. Spoiler alert, I also like a tight end on the following table more than Higbee. Still, Higbee doesn’t cede routes to another tight end on the Rams and was tied for the TE13 in half-point PPR PPGs in 2022 and the TE15 in 2021 among tight ends who played more than one game. As a result, he’s a good pick in two-TE or three-TE builds, providing gamers a floor at the position.

Rounds 14-18

Juwan Johnson is my favorite late-round tight end. I highlighted him as a TE2 with top-five potential in March, and the Saints have since traded fellow tight end Adam Trautman to the Broncos. So, I’m even more enthusiastic about drafting Johnson now.

Admittedly, I don’t love anyone in the 15th round. So, it’s a good round to grab a handcuff running back. There’s been some buzz around veteran running back Trayveon Williams. Nevertheless, Williams was a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and has had only 47 rushes, 10 targets, eight receptions and 302 scrimmage yards in his professional career.

Cincinnati chose Chase Brown in the fifth round of this year’s draft, and Matt Waldman, the creator of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, discussed Brown as a good fit for the Bengals on the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast podcast. Brown productively closed his college career. Per PFF, he was fourth among running backs in FBS with 1,632 rushing yards in 12 games in 2022. Brown also chipped in 27 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 30 targets. I’d rather invest in the unknown of Brown than choose Williams after four seasons of being a non-factor on offense for the Bengals.

I touted Sam Howell in February, and the offseason has come up roses for him. The Commanders were bound to add competition for the second-year pro, and Jacoby Brissett will press Howell for the starting gig. Still, battling Brissett is roughly the best outcome imaginable instead of Washington trading up to draft a rookie or swinging a deal for an established starting quarterback. So, Howell is the ideal high-upside cheap quarterback in three-QB lineups.

Big Blue’s receiving corps is crowded. However, Isaiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton are unique in a position group filled with slot wideouts. According to PFF, Hodgins played 82.3% of his passing snaps for the Giants aligned wide, and Slayton aligned wide 72.0% of the time last year. Hodgins developed chemistry with Jones on the fly after the Giants claimed the big-bodied wideout off waivers from the Bills. Hodgins had five touchdowns in 10 games for the G-Men and had an excellent showing in the Wild Card Round, securing eight receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown on nine targets.

Slayton forced his way up New York’s depth chart after entering the year as an afterthought. He averaged 2.9 receptions per game, 45.3 receiving yards per game and 15.7 yards per reception in the regular season last year. Finally, reading the tea leaves, Slayton should have roster security, despite the glut of wideouts on the Giants. The veteran wideout re-signed with the Giants during the offseason, and, per Spotrac, he has the largest dead cap hit and signing bonus among New York’s wideouts. It’s fun to throw darts at young players with uncertain roles in the last round of Underdog Fantasy’s best ball drafts. Still, there is value in having lower-ceiling players likely to have a role on their team, and Slayton fits the bill.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.