News & Analysis

Notes from the PFF Fantasy best ball staff rankings

By Daniel Kelley
Mar 13, 2019

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Oct 7, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) scores a touchdown as Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Adams (29) defends in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Best ball fantasy football is blowing up these days. It’s an easy code to crack, really — those of us who play fantasy football by and large love drafting, and by and large hate the dead time of the schedule. Best ball gives us more drafts and lets us have them all year long. The only real surprise is it took us this long to figure that out.

With drafts already going at full speed, it’s as good a time as any to check out our best ball offerings, including DraftMaster (including a helpful breakdown of its features) and, of course, our rankings. Here’s a quick look at some notables from our staff best ball rankings by position:

Quarterback

  • Unsurprisingly, Patrick Mahomes is our unanimous No. 1 quarterback. He comes in 24th in our consensus ranks, and all three rankers have him in the 20s.
  • The top tier (Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and Andrew Luck) are, in some order, the top four in all three rankers’ lists. Off of a very healthy bounceback year, Matt Ryan is our consensus fifth-place quarterback.
  • The biggest gap in rankings comes for Ben Roethlisberger, with a healthy dollop of question surrounding how the Pittsburgh offense will look in 2019 with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell both elsewhere. He is ranked as high as eighth and as low as 19th.
  • Baker Mayfield is a consensus top-10 quarterback, with two rankers having him ninth.
  • Lamar Jackson and his legs come in 15th in the consensus ranks, with his individual rankings ranging between 12th and 18th.

Running back

  • Again unanimously, Saquon Barkley is both our top best ball running back and top overall player. The gap between him and the next running backs obviously isn’t as big as the gap between Mahomes and his peers, but Barkley is still the season’s No. 1.
  • Even without knowing what team he’ll play for, Le’Veon Bell remained a top-10 running back, coming in at night in our staff rankings. We’ll see how things change now that we know Bell will be a Jet.
  • Derrius Guice missed his entire rookie season to a torn ACL, but our staff isn’t too scared about his outlook; he’s a solid RB2 at 17th in our rankings.
  • James White outproduced Sony Michel in 2018, but our rankers flip that for 2019, with Michel ranking 19th and White 29th.
  • Josh Jacobs is our highest-ranked impending rookie back. He was 24th or 25th on all three rankers’ lists.
  • Nerves around LeSean McCoy possibly not rebounding show up in his ranking, with the veteran barely a flex option at RB34.

Wide receiver

  • It’s not unanimous! Two of our three rankers have DeAndre Hopkins as the No. 1 receiver, while the third has Davante Adams at the top. Both guys are 1-2 in some order for everyone.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, no longer tethered to Antonio Brown, comes in barely ahead of his now-ex-teammate, ranking seventh compared to Brown’s eighth. It’s a split among the individual rankers as to the preference.
  • Our rankers are mostly betting on a return to normalcy from Doug Baldwin; he comes in 24th, a bit ahead of teammate Tyler Lockett at 27th.
  • Speaking of the Steelers a couple bullets ago, James Washington is our No. 47 receiver, with a shot at plenty of targets vacates by Brown.
  • N’Keal Harry is our top-ranked impending rookie, the No. 55 receiver. D.K. Metcalf comes in just behind, at 57th.

Tight end

  • No surprise, but our top three are unanimous (and unanimously in order) as Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle.
  • O.J. Howard is a popular 2019 breakout pick and is our No. 4 tight end, barely ahead of fellow injury returnee Hunter Henry.
  • Rob Gronkowski bounceback? “Maybe,” our rankers say, with him coming in seventh in our rankings.
  • Figuring out a slot for Eric Ebron was tough for our guys. He’s eighth overall, with a ranking as high as fourth and as low as 11th.
  • Jimmy Graham continues his slide. He comes in as our No. 18 best ball tight end, a far cry from his peak.
  • Welcome back to the NFL, Jason Witten, but we aren’t so solid in him as a fantasy option — he’s only No. 29 at the position, behind two rookies and plenty of other question marks.

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