Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Best Ball Win Rates by Round

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Welcome back for this Fantasy Football Best Ball Win Rates by Round article! With the release of Underdog Fantasy’s tournament, The Puppy 2, it’s time to take a dive back into some Best Ball theory. There’s no better way to do so than with a look at win rates based on Best Ball Mania 1 from last year.

The focus here will be on the win rates associated with individual positions on a per-round basis. In other words, what positions outperformed others based on a particular draft round.

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, if you’re new to Underdog, be sure to use our sign-up link to receive your first draft for free.

Fantasy Football Best Ball Win Rates by Round

The Numbers

Underdog's Best Ball Mania 1 Win Rates by Round

Draft RoundPositionNumber of RostersPlayoffsPlayoffs %Round 3Round 3 %Round 4Round 4 %
1QB721013.89%11.39%00.00%
1RB28334595421.01%4471.58%430.15%
1WR5418119322.02%1462.69%70.13%
1TE1844323.37%63.26%00.00%
2QB154015610.13%120.78%10.06%
2RB13263301022.69%2031.53%200.15%
2WR10988256823.37%2452.23%130.12%
2TE5383146627.23%1402.60%160.30%
3QB407167116.48%531.30%30.07%
3RB9824197720.12%2002.04%190.19%
3WR22340448820.09%3431.54%280.13%
3TE6076410.54%40.66%00.00%
4QB2963110.47%00.00%00.00%
4RB10215182717.89%1471.44%120.12%
4WR20722497924.03%4242.05%350.17%
4TE277536313.08%291.05%30.11%
5QB131723017.46%90.68%00.00%
5RB13022285121.89%3112.39%300.23%
5WR17157378622.07%2651.54%190.11%
5TE251233313.26%150.60%10.04%
6QB4588104222.71%450.98%10.02%
6RB11548248821.54%2201.91%130.11%
6WR16194330920.43%3191.97%340.21%
6TE167836121.51%160.95%20.12%
7QB5971174529.22%1372.29%130.22%
7RB7998158019.75%1431.79%100.13%
7WR16569308218.60%2541.53%200.12%
7TE347079322.85%661.90%70.20%
8QB4317106724.72%1082.50%190.44%
8RB11330217519.20%1871.65%110.10%
8WR14928320921.50%2501.67%160.11%
8TE343374921.82%551.60%40.12%
9QB5011104520.85%781.56%110.22%
9RB13054277021.22%2421.85%190.15%
9WR11350230120.27%1651.45%170.15%
9TE4593108423.60%1152.50%30.07%
10QB528094717.94%701.33%40.08%
10RB10401221521.30%1721.65%170.16%
10WR11631241520.76%1991.71%160.14%
10TE6696162324.24%1592.37%130.19%
11QB6376141722.22%1292.02%60.09%
11RB8102164720.33%1311.62%90.11%
11WR11233229120.40%1751.56%160.14%
11TE8297184522.24%1651.99%190.23%
12QB6903148021.44%1402.03%70.10%
12RB7208152721.18%951.32%70.10%
12WR11204232820.78%2111.88%180.16%
12TE8693186521.45%1541.77%180.21%
13QB8025171321.35%1612.01%180.22%
13RB7181156021.72%1331.85%100.14%
13WR11370248321.84%2041.79%170.15%
13TE7432144419.43%1021.37%50.07%
14QB8656181720.99%1551.79%150.17%
14RB7854170321.68%1421.81%90.11%
14WR11287239121.18%2081.84%180.16%
14TE6211128920.75%951.53%80.13%
15QB7663165321.57%1532.00%90.12%
15RB8569192122.42%1361.59%80.09%
15WR12576258020.52%2271.81%310.25%
15TE5200104620.12%841.62%20.04%
16QB6132127220.74%1211.97%90.15%
16RB8441175120.74%1301.54%110.13%
16WR14329310321.66%2651.85%240.17%
16TE5106107421.03%841.65%60.12%
17QB479984817.67%721.50%40.08%
17RB8053178622.18%1541.91%120.15%
17WR15566340221.86%2711.74%260.17%
17TE5590116420.82%1031.84%80.14%
18QB343865318.99%571.66%00.00%
18RB7818168021.49%1271.62%120.15%
18WR16246360022.16%3071.89%290.18%
18TE6506126719.47%1091.68%90.14%

The Theory Behind the Numbers

Before we get started, it’s important to break down what we’re looking at here. This data is broken down into the “win rates” associated with advancing into the playoffs by making it into Round 2, as well for advancing onto Rounds 3 and 4.

For the sake of this article, I’ll be referring to the “advancement rates” as the percentage of rosters that made it into the playoffs. This will be used as a benchmark in terms of success.

In Best Ball tournaments like The Puppy and Best Ball Mania, we want to take things one step at a time. Meaning, we want to focus on getting our rosters to the playoffs in the first place.

For this data, any position posting an advancement rate above 21.17%, was above league average. So let’s break down the first half of the draft, and examine how each position performed.

Round 1

Everything is relatively even for advancement rates in the first round, with the exception of quarterback. Which, hopefully, it’s obvious at this point you shouldn’t be taking a quarterback this early.

Really there’s not too big of a difference between the win rates for running backs and wide receivers. Although, it is surprising that wide receivers did marginally better considering Michael Thomas was consistently going in the first, yet was considered a bust.

The tight end actually yielded the highest playoff advancement rate, despite Travis Kelce having a second-round ADP in 2020. So Kelce’s fantasy production was actually enough to payoff first-round draft capital last year.

Here’s the key aspect though: taking a tight end in the first round yielded a 0.00% Round 4 advancement rate. This is because many teams were able to take advantage of Kelce’s second-round ADP.

While Kelce was able to help you win your initial 12 team grouping, it was because no one else had Kelce. Once you made it into Rounds 2, 3, and 4 of the playoffs, you were facing teams that took Kelce in the second, while they managed to draft Derick Henry or Alvin Kamara in the first.

This actually sparked a great analogy for drafting Darrell Henderson:

Round 2

Whether you started with a running back, wide receiver, or tight end across the first two rounds, you’re already in an above-average advancement rate zone. As for the win rates entering Round 4, a team was much more likely to make it into the final round if they drafted a tight end compared to any other position in the second round.

This is most likely due to the massive drop-off in the weekly ceiling for a position like tight end. The numbers even show this despite teams drafting George Kittle, who had a disappointing season, in the second round as well.

While starting with a wide receiver in the first, and a tight end in the second, was the best fit case, anything can go. Overall, it boils down to how each individual strategy performed, and how well you can execute them. For more on this, check out my piece on the win rates for various builds.

Round 3

In the third round, no position actually yielded an above-average advancement rate. Although, running back and wide receiver still prevailed as the best options.

On the other hand, tight end took a drastic hit in this round. This is most likely due to George Kittle being the predominately drafted tight end in this round.

Round 4

The main thing to take away here is that wide receivers proved to be the beneficiary in this range. And by quite the margin, too.

Round 5

The trend continues with wide receivers yielding the highest advancement rate in this round. Although, running backs posted an above-average win rate as well.

Round 6

The quarterback position finally paid off at this point in the draft. In no way does this mean taking a quarterback in the 5th round won’t pay off, but last year the third quarterback wasn’t being drafted until the sixth round.

Round 7

Once again, the quarterback position prevails in this round. The tight end position also posted a solid advancement rate, thanks to Darren Waller‘s seventh-round ADP.

Round 8

The quarterback success trend continues on in this range. Last year’s data indicates that waiting until the sixth through eighth rounds for a quarterback can prove to be advantageous.

Rounds 9 and On

From here on out, the data becomes less applicable year to year. The data can be susceptible to noise such as breakout players like Justin Jefferson.

For instance, Jefferson and Robby Anderson were often only two of three or four receivers going in the 13th round. Their massive success against ADP can easily skew the data for this range.

At the end of the day, these round-by-round breakdowns aren’t to be taken as a solidified blueprint. Rather, they are more of a guide.

Other Notes

The quarterback position failed to post an above-average advancement rate until the sixth round. This is attributed in part to Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes being drafted as the QB1 and QB2, respectively.

The hype got rather out of hand last year, as both quarterbacks were being drafted at the turn of the second and third rounds. So Jackson having a rather disappointing season didn’t help the justification for paying up so much for the position.

On top of that, the QB3 wasn’t being drafted until the sixth round. In the end, Mahomes didn’t separate himself enough on a points per game basis from the other top-5 quarterbacks to justify his insanely high draft capital.



For that reason, I’m an advocate of avoiding quarterbacks in the first through fourth rounds of Best Ball drafts. There’s less of a need to target the consistent floor of Mahomes in Best Ball when you can chase the ceiling of other quarterbacks in the fifth and sixth rounds.


If you enjoyed this Fantasy Football Best Ball Win Rates by Round article, be sure to check out more 2021 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers!

About Preston White

Preston is a long time Fantasy Football player, and a big time Best Ball guy. He finds great joy in life's pleasures including data, analytics, IPAs, and #ZeroRB drafting. Feel free to give him a shout on Twitter (@FF_Engineer_) regarding anything Fantasy Football and Best Ball related.

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