Beginner’s Guide To Best Ball Football Draft Strategy

by Davis Peng
Beginner's Guide To Best Ball Football Draft Strategy

What is Best Ball Football? If you don't know what Best Ball is, Best Ball is a draft-only league where everybody on your team plays. This means that you draft a set number of players, and each week your starting lineup will be automatically filled by your highest-scoring players at each position. The Fantasy Manager with the highest total score at the end of the season wins the league. There is no fantasy team management beyond drafting since there are no trades or waiver pickups. That means zero in-season management. This is a beginner's draft strategy guide to Best Ball Football tournaments.

My Beginner's Guide To Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Strategy will be based on the Underdog Best Ball Championship tournament rules. The rules are a Half-PPR scoring system, a snake draft, and 18 total players. The scoring lineup is 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, and 1 Flex with 10 bench players that will rotate into the starting lineup based on the position's highest-scoring person.

I will be giving my draft strategies and tips in this Beginner's Guide To Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Strategy article. These articles will be broken down from beginner to advanced. Reading all these articles will help you get ready for Best Ball season where I have consistently had over 30% advance rates and been a finalist multiple times. 

I am a big proponent of Best Ball Football tournaments and currently do all my championship drafts/tournaments on Underdog Fantasy. Underdog can be accessed via app or on their website.

Beginner's Guide To Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Strategy

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Know The Rules and Format

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As I stated above this guide will mainly focus on Underdog tournament style but I must touch on the different types of Best Ball. There is "Single Season Contest" and "Tournament Style".

Single season contest is when you draft a team and your team accumulates points through the season and the highest scorer by the final week is the winner. There is no elimination rounds. It is purely based on total end-of-season points. Companies that run this contest style are RTSPORTS and Drafters.

Tournament Style is broken into three parts, season score, elimination rounds, and showdown. Using Underdog as an example, the season-long portion last until Week 14 and is only the first round. Then the elimination rounds are Week 15 - 16 followed by the Week 17 showdown.

Although the premise in Best Ball is universally the same with the highest scorer always going forward. Each contest style does have different theories on how to win each contest. With the showdown finish leaning more towards Daily Fantasy Style and Single Season contest is leaned more on consistent points/projections.

The first thing you need to do before you enter a contest is to read the rules and format!

How To Draft Depth In Best Ball

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Unlike in re-draft leagues, Fantasy Managers need to draft depth at every position, this means using multiple picks at quarterback and tight end. For the casual "Redrafter" this is a foreign idea and borderline blasphemy. The reason you must do this is that it's the correct way to play the format. Best Ball is all about taking the highest scores "that week" and slotting them into your starting roles. That sounds simple but there is a lot of ways a line up can be built when you have 18 rounds to draft from.

You may be asking "what makes drafting depth in best ball difficult? I have 18 rounds to draft". Although this is true that you have 18 players on your team, best ball has evolved from just filling in the positions. No longer are you just putting 18 players on a roster and hoping it pans out. You need to worry about roster construction, draft capital, variance, and win conditions to even compete with the average best ball veteran.

The point of Best Ball is to ensure you have eight players at all times putting up solid to "groundbreaking numbers" every week. A low-scoring position will put you at a disadvantage and will be the main reason your team falls out in the playoffs. Therefore finding a balance between consistency and depth can be a fine line.

What is the correct type of depth player then? An example of correct depth isn't set in stone but it should be a player that has the possibility of being a starter in your line up at some point and time. Is it the deep threat player than only needs three catches a week, is it the running back who will see goal line touches, maybe it's the back up player who will see themselves in a better role the further the season goes on. At the end the day the depth should be able to threaten your starters for a role versus playing second fiddle to your starters. Consistency in your depth isn't always key.

How To Not Draft Depth In Best Ball

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Do not break from drafting depth at positions unless you acquired the elite options at the position or overspent your capital. Remember each time you take an elite player with high capital. You're inherently saying "I believe this player will live up to this pick position".  The more you draft to hedge against yourself you're showing less confidence and you are wasting your picks. Draft like you know you're right.

Capital overspending example would be people who go with the "Robust RB" strategy and instead of stopping at three RBs with their early capital they are pushing into the four or five early picks. Why this is a poor method of spending capital is because you're showing no faith in your drafted players. If you go three-running backs with your first three picks you are inherently betting that those players on average will be in your starting line up nearly every week on your team.  By continuously spending all your high-end picks on one position you're showing less faith in your first set of picks and there isn't enough space for four or more RBs to contribute on your team as only up to three RBs can contribute at any given time.

Although I have used Robust RB as an example here, this also goes for players who go the Zero-RB route but only draft WR with their early picks and don't diversify into WR or TE.

Pay Attention To Bye Weeks

Ensure you pay attention to bye weeks.  On average, in Best Ball Championships, you need to have approximately 1680 points at the end of the season to progress to round two. With teams progressing to 17 total games a season, this means your teams should average 120 points per week. Anything less means you are less likely to advance. I would give approximately -150 points for the lower-scoring leagues to advance into the playoffs. These teams will likely limp their way into advancement rounds.

Do not take bye weeks lightly. Unlike home league formats, you cannot afford to punt positions for an entire week. You cannot take a loss of points and move on. Every week you need to have a full roster playing because the highest scorers at the end of round one is the bracket winner. For every week your team drops points the more you have to score to catch up. There is no such thing as a playoff for someone who is middle of the pack. It is difficult to makeup lost points.

Know Your Opponents' Rosters

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Pay attention to everybody's roster while drafting.

It is important to know your opponent's roster while you're drafting. You must be predicting what your opponents are going to take especially when you're "on the turn". Knowing today's meta along with the opponent's current roster at each pick will prevent you from making mistakes.

An example of this is you're coming out of the 11 slot and it is the middle of the draft. You notice a RB and a WR you like are coming up. Your opponent already has three RBs and two of them are on the elite tier. Followed by only having one mid-round WR. You should take the receiver and let that running back come back around. It is a possibility your opponent does take that running back but the odds are very unlikely. 

This is standard fantasy football knowledge but the ramifications of being a draft-only format amplify these mistakes. There are many scenarios that could change the way this would go down but the premise of watching your opponent's roster is huge. You shouldn't want to assist them in building a good roster.

Draft Multiple Teams

Up your chances by drafting multiple teams. To take Best Ball tournaments seriously, you need to have numerous teams entering the contest to increase your chances.

Due to points being varied from pod to pod, your team with 1700 points in one league may not make the playoffs, but your team with 1640 points in another pod might make the playoffs because your other pod-mates scored less overall. This is also not including the playoff elimination rounds also being random on pod groupings. Not every pod is created equal and putting more teams into the contest will overall increase your odds. 

While you are drafting multiple teams, remember to diversify them up a bit. This is more applicable to the high draft capital players than the lower ones. Do not have all of your capital tied to a handful of players. The Best Ball community promotes "draft like you're right" but at the same time keep your exposures at a tolerable amount. A guideline for balance exposure for a player is 8%. That is a balance pick against the field of players. Any deviation from that is showing how much you're in or not in on a player.

Having a variance of all multiple players will give you different combinations for the playoff elimination rounds. Giving yourself a wider range of players and create inherit uniqueness that can be the key to winning the playoffs.

Draft Throughout The Offseason

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Do not do all your drafts in one sitting/time frame. Roster changes happen, injuries happen, players get in trouble with the law, and the general consensus of a player's value can change.  ADPs will constantly change through the season and so will your feelings on a team/player.

That is why I recommend doing your Best Ball drafts over a period of time rather than in one sitting. There is no option to pick up or trade for a player once the draft is completed. A prime example of previous year's mistakes is Fantasy Managers, who took Deshaun Watson before his off-field issues were discovered and left with a non-contributor for the season. Another example would be the Fantasy Managers who bought in on AJ Dillon thinking Aaron Jones would leave the Green Bay Packers.

Other reasons to draft throughout the off-season is to get value on players that you believe will be risers. Drafters that are tuned into NFL off-season are able to draft players with lesser capital, while future managers will be forced to pay a premium for them. 

Final Thoughts

If you enjoyed this beginner's guide just know that there is much more to Best Ball Football and we will be looking to cover more advanced items/metrics in the other articles. Although this is a draft-only format there is much more that goes into the game that will have a major impact if you're taking a high-end prize or paying the rake on the tournament.

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