Best Ball: Fantasy Football

By now you’ve probably heard about a relatively new Fantasy format called ‘Best ball’. This format is exploding in popularity because all you need to be able to do is draft a team. The rest of the season is taken care of by an automated function that automatically starts your best possible lineup. Leagues are popping up all over the Fantasy sports landscape with prominent names like Yahoo, Draftkings, Fanduel and Underdog Fantasy offering options for players of all skill levels. You can play for small stakes or big money, allowing players from reaches to compete at their own level!

Who is Best Ball for?

  • Everyone looking to join their first fantasy league
  • Anyone looking to add another fantasy league without any significant time commitment
  • Someone looking for a league to play out the direct effect of a specific draft strategy
  • Fantasy Managers who love drafting more than grinding through the fantasy season!

Roster Settings

A typical Best Ball Roster will consist of:

  • 1 QB
  • 2 RB
  • 2 or 3 WR
  • 1 TE
  • 1-3 FLEX positions – more commonly including W/R/T

Kickers and DST are less frequently included but some options exist which cater to a more traditional group.

Draft

  • Snake draft
  • Deep rosters
  • Plenty of opportunity to deploy common strategies like:
    • Zero RB
    • Early TE
    • QB/WR or QB/TE pairings
  • Deep rosters present the opportunity to select:
    • Handcuffs
    • Veterans well past their prime
    • Rookies
    • UDFA’s in hopes of finding the 2021 version of James Robinson
  • 20+ round drafts create plenty of opportunities to draft your deepest sleepers in hopes they can pay off for you with low risk

Strategy

Best Ball formats are wide open in terms of strategy. Depending on you’re level of Fantasy Football experience, you have the opportunity to make this as simple or as complicated as you realistically want it to be.

Here are a few of the basic points to take into consideration going into a Best Ball draft:

  1. Draft depth at every position
    • No in-season management allows injuries to make a big impact in your lineup
  2. Draft “high-ceiling” players
    • The main thing that matters in best ball is above-average performances
  3. Draft some Rookies!
    • Rookies are largely unpredictable in their outcomes and can range from performances like we saw in 2020 from booming hits like Justin Jefferson to high expectation busts like Jaylen Reagor
    • Rookies have that low floor and high ceiling baked in and its largely dependent on factors outside their skill level such as opportunity and in-season usage
  4. Take shots on your guys!
    • If you love the upside for a certain player this year, don’t be afraid to reach by a round or two to grab them

Here are some positional tips that I can offer for you to use as a draft guide:

Quarterbacks

  • Unlike traditional Fantasy Leagues the option of steaming QB’s is not possible. So you really need to leave you Bestball draft with a few QB’s to ensure that you have enough to withstand injuries.
  • One strategy that I recommend is to capture a high end QB somewhere between rounds 3-5. If you’re confident in your abilities to select high ceiling RB’s and WR’s then that high end QB gives you higher projected weekly point totals. This also reduces your dependence on a group mentality at the position.
  • On the other side of the coin consider drafting 3 mid-low end QB’s from losing teams. The goal here is to hit your highest scoring total by attacking from a positive game script narrative every week. Realistically only 1 of 3 QB’s needs to hit on a given week and your set. Relative to their ECR the ADP of these QB’s come at an extreme discount.
  • Value above replacement is historically low at this position, most Fantasy GM’s know that. You’re wise to capitalize on that point and focus on getting as many WR’s and RB’s as you can instead of loading up with 4-5QB’s.
  • A 2020 comparison between QB1 Patrick Mahomes and 2 QB’s typically drafted between >QB15 reveals that for 9 of 17 weeks the value pick QB’s would have outscored Mahomes. Other players selected in the same rounds as a player such as Derek Carr are often irrelevant for much of the fantasy season.

Running Backs

  • This position either needs to be heavily focused on or faded in a “Zero RB” strategy. I recommend focusing on drafting your RB’s early!
  • Useful Running Backs are much less common than Wide Receivers in Fantasy Football. That is even more true in Best Ball where combinations of WR2/3 level players can often bolster your point total for the week knowing that nearly half of your ~8 WR’s can hit double digits.
  • Elite RB’s like Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey speak for themselves in projected value. These are stock first round picks with a consistent point total barring injury. No change in strategy is necessary with these players.
  • Lets take a look at some helpful PPR totals from 2020 to help you evaluate how the values of RB’s shake down:
    • Alvin Kamara was the RB1 with 377.8 pts
    • Kareem Hunt was the RB10 with 218.5 pts
    • Ronald Jones was the RB20 with 186.3 pts
    • Giovani Bernard was the RB30 with 158.1 pts
    • Adrian Peterson was the RB40 with 124.5 pts
    • Boston Scott was the RB50 with 95.6 pts
  • Knowing that Running backs drop off in point totals faster than Wide Receivers its prudent to think about attacking the RB position early in Best Ball drafts

Wide Receivers

  • This position is a lot deeper in terms of point totals than Running backs and offers plenty of ways to find players who can be fantastic Bestball assets
  • Elite WR’s again speak for themselves in terms of projected value. Names like Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs need very little in terms of context to tell you where they fit into draft strategy
  • Beyond the top tier of WR’s we see a much slower decline in terms of point totals from WR10 – WR 50. This is going to allow you to be less aggressive at the WR position in your draft strategy. Knowing that using data from 2020 the WR40 can perform very similarly to the RB25.
  • In PPR formats in 2020:
    • Davante Adams was the WR1 with 358.4 pts
    • Adam Thielen was the WR10 with 254.0 pts
    • Terry McLaurin was the WR20 with 223.8 pts
    • Corey Davis was the WR30 with 191.4 pts
    • DeVante Parker was the WR40 with 166.3 pts
    • Darnell Mooney was the WR50 with 152.1 pts
  • Filling out your roster with late round WR’s is a great way to maintain double digit point totals from each of your WR + FLEX positions all season long. WR4’s – WR6’s are still able to provide weeks with double digit point totals enough to land in your weekly lineups. These guys have upside in Bestball Formats!

Tight Ends

  • The tight end position is much like QB in the sense that we have a more limited amount of Fantasy relevant options to choose from when compared to the RB or even WR position
  • Stud TE’s have an extreme value above replacement in season long formats and that holds true in Best Ball as well
  • Drafting early at the TE spot is a great way to separate yourself from the pack in Best ball formats:
    • Travis Kelce was TE1 in 2020 with a 20.9 PPG AVG in PPR
    • Hayden Hurst was TE10 in 2020 with a 9.3 PPG AVG in PPR
  • The difference between TE1 and TE10 is more than double the average points and total points, this is the only position where such a disparity exists
  • My recommendation is to go after an elite TE inside of your first two rounds of Best Ball drafts looking to capitalize on irreplaceable values at the position. Barring injury, you’re likely to gain ~5pts per week on the average competitor just by using this strategy.
  • Fill in a mid round selection with a TE like Dallas Goedert who is one of the top receiving targets on his team.
  • Add a deeper TE selection who has boom/bust potential week to week like Anthony Firsker. This will give you multiple options per week through player bye weeks and injuries.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to play in a Bestball league before get out there are try your hand in one of the most exciting season long formats around. Your time will be well spent enjoying the results of your drafting strategy!

If you’re looking for a great place to try your hand, at very reasonable prices, check out Underdog Fantasy. This is quickly becoming one of the best places for Best Ball formats out there.

David Carey – May 28th, 2021

Follow me on Twitter @87_Carey and @fantasymarksmen

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