2023 IDP Football Bestball Draft

by Mitchell Blatt
2023 IDP Football Bestball Draft

Bestball is a fun and easy fantasy football format in which users draft a team and then watch as their best players fill their roster spots each week. You don't need to set your lineup. You don't need to watch the waiver wire. You can draft many teams all off-season, get good practice at drafting, and win some money. I welcome you to my article, 2023 IDP Football Bestball Draft.

I still enjoy playing in managed leagues. I like to make decisions on my lineup and play the waiver wire. But I have found that doing some bestball drafts prepares me for the big drafts in the managed leagues where I compete. I don't want to be the guy drafting the 200 best ball teams and treating my players as "shares" I'm "investing in."

I have done about six IDP bestball drafts, about half of them for money, which the IDP Show hosted. I will take you through each round of my latest IDP best ball tournament.

2023 IDP Football Bestball Draft

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The League

This draft took place for the 2023 Bestball Tourney hosted by the IDP Show, and it was league number five. The starting lineup consists of four defensive linemen, four linebackers, four defensive backs, two flex spots, and eleven spots on the bench.

As usual in bestball, the weekly matchups don't matter. The winner is determined by who scores the most combined weekly points throughout the season. Each team's starting lineup is automatically set at the end of the week to maximize team scoring.

The IDP Show's best ball leagues use Big 3 scoring, which is:

  • Solo tackle - 1.25
  • Assist - 0.75
  • Pass defense - 4
  • Interception - 6
  • Forced fumble - 4
  • Fumble recovery - 3
  • Sack - 5 (plus stacking)
  • Tackle for loss - 3
  • QB hit - 2
  • Sack yards - 0.1

The league also scores 0.1 points per kick and punt return yard.

My Strategy

Bestball strategy somewhat elevates boom-bust players because you don't have to worry about when those players will boom. You automatically get the points when they do boom. Examples of boom-bust players I targeted include the Seahawks' pass rush specialist Darrell Taylor and the Patriots' cornerback and kick returner Marcus Jones.

It would be best if you hammered linebackers, especially dual-position eligible LB/DL, in the first half of the draft. Your goal should be to create a group of quality pass rushers, amongst whom you should be able to find eight who will make one or more sacks every week.

Those with LB/DL dual eligibility are killer in the best ball because the LB and DL positions essentially work as an extra flex spot. The computer will slot them in the spots to maximize your scoring, and there will be fewer wasted points stuck on the bench if they can move between the two positions like a T-shaped Tetris piece.

I went LB or LB/DL for each of my first six picks and ten of my first twelve. In the second half of the draft, I pounded defensive backs in a (possibly failed; we shall see) attempt to maximize INT and scoring opportunities for my four DB slots during the season. I ended up with seven LB/DL, five LB only, two DL, and ten DB.

Round by Round

Alex Highsmith, LB/DL, Pittsburgh Steelers (1.6)

Highsmith is improving each year in his usage and his efficiency. Last season, the former third-round draft pick set career highs for total snaps, pass rush snaps, and snaps lined up on the defensive line (915, 117 more than the year before). That usage is more valuable for an edge rusher. And it resulted in him setting a career-high with 14.5 sacks, as his pressure rate increased from 7.6% to 10.5%.

Matt Judon, LB/DL, New England Patriots (2.7)

Since joining the Patriots, Judon has found his groove. He's made double-digit sacks in each of the past two seasons. He is third in the NFL with 28.0 sacks since 2021. He will be 31 years old this season, but edge rushers of his caliber often have productive careers extending into their early 30s.

Frankie Luvu, LB, Carolina Panthers (3.6)

Luvu's breakout 2022 season (111 combined tackles, 7.0 sacks, one forced fumble, 1 INT) was no fluke. The former undrafted free agent was graded 84.8 in 2021 and 74.8 in 2022. Luvu's value could rise again in 2023 as former Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero takes over the Panthers' defense. The Broncos ranked No. 7 in total defense last season, and LBs Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell had efficient seasons.

T.J. Edwards, LB, Chicago Bears (4.7)

Edwards has proven himself to be a tackle monster for two straight seasons. He now moves from one defense that is favorable to inside linebackers into another that is also favorable to inside linebackers. I expect him to win the role of green dot for Chicago, which means he calls the plays on defense and is on the field almost every single play, but it's possible fellow free agent addition Tremaine Edmunds could win the job. Either way, Chicago will likely play both Edwards and Edmunds for over 90% of the snaps.

Za'Darius Smith, LB/DL, Cleveland Browns (5.6)

Smith made double-digit sacks in his past three healthy seasons, and now he will rush the passer opposite Myles Garrett. Opposing offensive lines will have their hands full, and the elite pass rushers should have cleanup opportunities.

Eric Kendricks, LB, Los Angeles Chargers (6.7)

Kendricks has made over 100 tackles as the Vikings' middle linebacker every season since 2016. Lately, he has made over 130 tackles in the past two seasons. He ranks fourth in the league for most tackles since 2016. This offseason, he joined the Chargers, where Drew Tranquill made over 130 combined tackles last season despite missing 15.3% of his tackle attempts. Kendricks only missed 9.7% of his tackles last season and in his career, so he should put up even better numbers than Tranquill while playing in the same position.

Jalen Ramsey, DB, Miami Dolphins (7.6)

I was excited to see what Ramsey would do on the Vic Fangio-coached Dolphins' defense. He would have lined up opposite ballhawk Xavien Howard, so opponents would have had difficulty taking him out of the game. Unfortunately, an injury did what opponents couldn't have quickly done--took him out for most of the season.

Ramsey is optimistic he'll be back in November. More likely he'll be back in December for a playoff run. Either way, it's a big disappointment for fantasy football, especially in a bestball format where I can't make a roster move to replace him with a healthy defensive back.

Khalil Mack, LB/DL, Los Angeles Chargers (8.7)

Mack made 8.0 sacks and 50 tackles in his first season as a Charger. While a far cry from his heydey of double-digit sacks in 2017 and 2018, his 2022 season was by no means a failure.

James Houston, LB/DL, Detroit Lions (9.6)

Houston, a rookie out of Jackson State who was on the practice squad for most of last season, made the same number of sacks (8.0) in just seven games. Though he is not an every-down outside linebacker, he will get many more opportunities in pass-rush situations in 2023.

Demario Davis, LB, New Orleans Saints (10.7)

The 34-year-old shows no sign of slowing down. In his past three seasons as the Saints' middle linebacker, he was on the field for over 1,000 snaps last season. He set a career-high with 1,132. He made over 100 combined tackles again and a career-high 6.5 sacks.

Marcus Jones, DB, New England Patriots (11.6)

Jones scored touchdowns on offense, defense, and special teams last season. Even in an all-IDP league, you should get credited for receiving yards and PPR points, so the few gadget players like Jones have added value. Additionally, he scored over 100 points just on punt returns and kick returns, and he went crazy the first week he started on defense, putting up over 50 points.

Preston Smith, LB/DL, Green Bay Packers (12.7)

For the past two seasons, Smith has made over 8.0 sacks.

Darrell Taylor, LB/DL, Seattle Seahawks (13.6)

Taylor is a pass-rushing specialist. He's usually only on the field in obvious passing situations, so that he won't make many tackles--fewer than 35 in each of his past two seasons--, but he'll make 5-10 sacks.

Sauce Gardner, DB, New York Jets (14.7)

In round 14, I began to target defensive backs aggressively. My draft run began with the Jets' Gardner, who won Defensive Rookie of the Year last season. He only made two interceptions but led the league with 20 pass deflections.

Desmond King, DB, Houston Texans (15.6)

Desmond King of the Texans is always a high-end tackler, and he has also been returning punts and kicks, so he has an upside in this league.

Eddie Jackson, DB, Chicago Bears (16.7)

Jackson, who has made 80+ tackles in two of his past three seasons, has a floor as a tackler and upside as a good-handed interception threat.

Jordan Davis, DL, Philadelphia Eagles (17.6)

I took my first DL-only player, Davis, in round 17. As a rookie, Davis did not play much, but after free agency departures, Davis should get the first chance to start at defensive tackle. He is a big guy who is difficult to block.

Emmanuel Forbes, DB, Washington Commanders (18.7)

A rookie from Mississippi State, he led the SEC in interceptions and set SEC records for interception return touchdowns. Not only is he just the big-play guy you want in a bestball league, but I'm also targeting him in all of my other IDP leagues. Reportedly, he is shining in training camp.

Andrew Booth, DB, Minnesota Vikings (19.6)

I continued to try to solidify my defensive backfield in the next three rounds. Interceptions are unlikely on a week-to-week basis, so I want to get a couple of guys in there who could increase my chances. Booth takes over as starting CB in Minnesota.

Xavien Howard, DB, Miami Dolphins (20.7)

Howard has led the league in interceptions twice in his seven-year career. If I can't have Ramsey for most of the year, at least I got Howard.

Christian Gonzalez, DB, New England Patriots (21.6)

Gonzalez, a first-round pick, joins a feisty New England Patriots defense.

B.J. Hill, DL, Cincinnati Bengals (22.7)

I took another defensive tackle, B.J. Hill of the Bengals, in round 22. He has made over 3.0 sacks in his two seasons as a Bengal. These guys offer two candidates to pad the DL scoring and push adequate LB/DL into the "LB" column.

Joe Horn, DB, New Orleans Saints (23.6)

After making three interceptions in his second year, Horn could be in line for a big season in 2023. I project the Saints' defensive backs to have the fifth-best strength of schedule for defensive backs.

Byron Young, LB, Los Angeles Rams (24.7)

Trades and free-agency losses decimated the Rams' defense. Third-round pick Byron Young projects to be a starter at outside linebacker. Young was named All-SEC first team while playing for the Tennessee Volunteers. He's one of the cheaper starting LBs you can acquire and has a higher upside than veterans at the same price point.

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