This article is part of our Best Ball Strategy series.
This article will look at some of the Waste Picks in the late rounds of Underdog best ball drafts. While these players are late enough in the ADP that they won't tank your team, they're still inferior to alternative similarly priced or cheaper players. Note: I'm only calling them Waste Picks at their current ADPs, so even if a player is on this list they can be a good pick if you get them cheaper. The article will also identify preferable options to each fade entry.
Russell Gage, WR, ATL (110.9 Underdog ADP)
Gage could end up the WR2 in Atlanta this year after playing mostly as a slot specialist the last three years, and if he does he should have some sort of value in most fantasy formats. The problem is that at 110.9 he's going higher than his talent level merits, and people are really hurting their teams when they select Gage over a player like DeVante Parker (106.3 Underdog ADP). Gage's 2020 season was by far the best of his NFL career, yet he was still below the Atlanta target baseline of 67.4 percent completed at 7.6 YPA. Even while running at a low ADOT from the slot (8.4, 23rd percentile) Gage managed to catch only 66.1 percent of his targets, and for only 7.2 yards per target. If Atlanta runs more two-TE formations then Gage will be forced to run outside more than in the past, where he was even less effective. You're better off going with Parris Campbell (141.5 Underdog ADP) or Christian Kirk (156.9 Underdog ADP) if you want cheap underneath targets.
Rondale Moore, WR, ARI (129.0 Underdog ADP)
Moore is a good prospect and stands a strong chance to serve as Arizona's top slot receiver beginning in 2022, but his current ADP acts like that outcome is a given for 2021. It's very much not. Larry Fitzgerald's retirement and the signing of A.J. Green means most of the reps up for grabs between Moore and Christian Kirk exist within the slot, and Kirk is a formidable prospect in the slot. Kirk has been playing out of position for most of his career due to Fitzgerald's presence, so understand that Kirk is tougher competition for Moore than his NFL stats to this point imply. For 2021 it would be more fair to expect Moore to take the WR4 role from Andy Isabella, from which he'd serve a swing function in both the slot and as a downfield target when lined up outside. At the very least Moore shouldn't cost more than Kirk (156.9 Underdog ADP) or Green (177.2 Underdog ADP), let alone by multiple rounds in each case.
J.D. McKissic, RB, WAS (161.9 Underdog ADP)
Although McKissic was a great value in 2020, the conditions that made him so no longer exist, and with that his usefulness has likely expired. McKissic is a decent backup but if he plays a leading role the offense will suffer, and his high usage in 2020 was a blight on the Washington offense. His 110 targets yielded an obscene 80 receptions for 589 yards and two touchdowns, indicating that his usage was the result of dysfunctional quarterback play and systemic failure rather than McKissic earning that usage by merit. Washington completed 67.9 percent of their targeted passes at 6.6 YPA, meaning McKissic's 72.7 percent catch rate at 5.4 YPT was a leak in the boat. Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke are willing to throw downfield, meaning fewer futile checkdown targets for McKissic, a downward trend that will be compounded by the signing of Curtis Samuel and the continued emergence of Antonio Gibson. For the 2021 season McKissic carries a lot of risk and with minimal upside to make up for it.
Rather than spending a 15th-round pick on McKissic in the hope that he plays 640-plus snaps again, I'd rather take Alexander Mattison (150.9 Underdog ADP) a bit earlier or Phillip Lindsay (185.1 Underdog ADP) three rounds later. Mattison averaged about a yard more per snap than McKissic last year, and in the event of a Dalvin Cook absence Mattison would take a three-down role with potential RB1 returns. Lindsay, meanwhile, projects as Houston's 1B option as a pure runner behind David Johnson, who has of course had his injury issues. Both Mattison and Lindsay are risky, but Mattison has upside McKissic can't compete with, and Lindsay can match McKissic's ceiling at a substantially cheaper price.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, DET (169.9 Underdog ADP)
St. Brown is a fine prospect but this ADP is just strange. Tyrell Williams (172.4 Underdog ADP) will start opposite Breshad Perriman (160.8 Underdog ADP) in two-wide sets this year. There's no actual question on that point. The only question is how Detroit's slot snaps are distributed between not just St. Brown and Quintez Cephus (214.1 Underdog ADP), but also D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson. In other words, St. Brown is fighting with Cephus over a pie of slot snaps that's smaller than most other offenses at the outset due to the atypical slot route presences held by Swift and Hockenson. Even if St. Brown earns some sufficient number of slot snaps over Cephus, though, he's still not likely to draw targets often enough to justify the risk that he otherwise ends up as Detroit's sixth-leading pass catcher. In addition to Williams and Perriman, you'd be better off with receivers like Sammy Watkins (174.1 Underdog ADP), Van Jefferson (191.1 Underdog ADP) or D'Wayne Eskridge (197.2 Underdog ADP).
KJ Hamler, WR, DEN (200.7 Underdog ADP)
Hamler is a nice prospect who could yet turn into a strong starting NFL receiver, but in the meantime he's raw and fighting for snaps in an incredibly crowded offense. Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick will run ahead of Hamler on the wide receiver depth chart, and Noah Fant is more imposing than your average tight end. That leaves little more than a gadget/decoy role for Hamler, who flashed playmaking ability as a rookie but still produced below the Denver passing game baseline. Hamler has a good excuse for that – he's very young for his draft class and just turned 22 today (7/8) – but that excuse only reinforces the point that he needs more time to grow as a player. If you must target a peripheral piece of the Denver passing game then you can probably find better production in Patrick (215.5 Underdog ADP).
Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL (214.3 Underdog ADP)
Schultz was a helpful pickup for tight end-needy squads in 2020, and it's understandable that someone might look at the Dallas depth chart and figure some sort of competition awaits between Schultz and Blake Jarwin, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 of last year. No such competition will occur, or if one does Schultz will likely be the one who loses. Schultz's somewhat voluminous pass-catching usage in 2020 instead speaks to Jarwin's potential in the Dallas offense, because Schultz was less efficient last year than Jarwin was the two years prior. Schultz's catch rate of 70.8 percent at 6.9 yards per target is arguably baseline efficiency relative to Dallas' team average of 66.9 percent completed at 7.3 yards per attempt, but it's just as easy to argue that it's below baseline, especially considering how unsuccessful Dallas was throwing to Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, who dragged down the team baseline by averaging 4.8 yards per target over 111 targets.
Compare that outcome to Jarwin's work over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, when he caught 58 of 77 targets for 672 yards and six touchdowns (75.3 percent catch rate, 8.7 YPT). That was well above Dallas' team target baseline over that span, which registered at 68.1 percent completed at 8.0 yards per target. Although Schultz should have some sort of role in the 2021 Dallas offense, it will take a Jarwin injury for Schultz to secure more than a backup role. You'd be better off using this pick on C.J. Uzomah (215.6 Underdog ADP) or Jordan Akins (215.6 Underdog ADP).