Yahoo Best Ball Introduction

by DFSx42
2020 NFL Week 17 DFS H2H

This year Yahoo has added best ball (receive $10 worth of points when you sign up with this link). I wanted to give you a quick Yahoo Best Ball Introduction so you can step in right away and succeed.

In prior years best ball was relegated to niche sites but we can now celebrate it being adopted by the industry leader. This article is written with purpose of introducing the format and delving into some strategy.  There will be follow up articles that delve into player rankings and specific drafting strategies.

Here are the links to Fantasy Six Pack's official best ball rankings, and our regular fantasy football rankings.

Click here to read my Best Ball Tiers. And here is a positional guide for best ball.

Yahoo Best Ball Introduction

Free five-minute mock drafts against industry experts and custom analysis for your team with the FantasyPros Draft Wizard.

What Is Best Ball

In essence, best ball is fantasy football the way the late and great Ron Popeil would have envisioned it.  You set it and forget it.  There are no trades, you can't utilize waivers.  You literally can't make any changes to your team at all.  You also don't set your lineup. Yahoo will automatically adjust it after the fact.  It will always use the highest-scoring combo of your roster automatically.

For this reason, it's all about the draft.  Nothing else matters.  For regular season-long fantasy, you can wing the draft or even miss it and still make up ground through trades and waivers - this is not possible here.  If your player is out for the season, tough cookies.  If he unexpectedly loses a position battle then you're out of luck.  You can't replace underperforming guys so you need to have contingency plans in place as you draft them.

Yahoo's Best Ball Format

  • 10 player leagues
  • 20 player rosters
  • Public only, no private leagues yet (hopefully this will change)
  • Free leagues & paid leagues from $1 to $100
  • Payouts are
    • 2.5x to the winner
    • 1.5x to 2nd
    • 1x to 3rd
    • .25x for the highest weekly score.
      • If it's a $1 league & you finish 2nd ($1.50) while leading in scoring 3 weeks ($.75) then you'll earn out $2.25 from that dollar.
  • 50 max entries (they are considering removing this limit)

This is a great payout structure compared to the top-heavy payouts we typically associate with fantasy leagues.  This rewards victory but keeps the money in the community rather than funneling it all to an individual player.

But, the absolute best thing about it is Yahoo puts in limits to prevent one from doing multiple drafts at once.  This makes doing heavy volume in a time-efficient manner impossible.  It is therefore not worth it from a DFS pro's perspective.  In the couple dozen drafts I've taken part in, only once did I see a familiar face from the DFS streets and I haven't seen him since.

Yahoo did it perfectly, they added money to make it more interesting but in a manner that keeps the playing field level.

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Roster Construction

  • QB
  • RB x2
  • WR x3
  • TE
  • DEF
  • Bench x11

It's standard scoring with half a point per reception.

If you don't draft at least 2x QB, TE, & DEF then you'll have a horrendous scoring output on their bye weeks.  I've seen a few teams do this and it's not recommended.

Most teams typically have 2-3 QB, 5-6 RB, 6-8 WR, 2-3 TE, 2-3 DEF

So... What's Different about Best Ball

Boom or bust players tend to thrive in this format because you'll always take advantage of their good weeks without worrying about getting a 0 from them when they fail.  Essentially, when in doubt between two 800 yard receivers, pick the deep threat over the slot receiver.  You'd rather have someone who scores in bunches than gives steady output.

At the same time, job security is more valuable.  In normal fantasy, you can make speculative draft picks and if he doesn't carve out a role you can drop him and find someone with a role.  You don't have that luxury here.  So players in unclear situations are extremely risky and probably not worth it unless it's at the very end of the draft and you can comfortably afford zeros from that player.

Best Ball Bye Weeks

You need to factor in bye weeks when picking the bench players for your starters much more than normal fantasy.  If you draft two QBs with overlapping bye weeks then you just wasted a pick and will have an awful result unless you now take a 3rd QB with a different bye week.

For QB/TE/DEF this is pretty straightforward, but this gets somewhat complicated at times for WR and RB, especially given they'll also be sharing duties at the flex spot as well.  All too often people notice after the fact that many of their players share bye weeks and they'll need to scramble the rest of the draft to plug those holes.  If you have 3 elite WRs with different bye weeks then you don't need nearly as strong a WR bench as if 2 or 3 of the starters had the same bye.

For this reason, I always try to diversify bye weeks among my first couple picks unless it's just way too much value available.  For example, if I take Saquon Barkley with bye week 11, then I'm going to avoid taking Henry or Jones as RB2 as they share the same bye.  But, if I land McCaffrey at pick #3 and then James Conner is somehow still available for me at pick #18 then I'll accept the consequences of needing a much deeper RB bench and grab that huge value.

Reciprocal Pairings

Most people just draft the best players available to them and try to make sure they have a deep bench and the backups have different bye weeks than the starters.  This is standard and fine.

And then there is option 2, which is the road less traveled, so rarely traveled that it's possible I'm the only one upon it.

Essentially, the idea is that your starters are the ones who are going to be putting up the best performances most weeks.  Therefore, the most likely times for your bench to emerge and perform are during bye weeks and tough matchups for your starters.   So you should be less concerned with who the better player is but rather who has the best matchups when your presumed starter is going to need his backup the most.

Look out for the upcoming article and data on ideal reciprocal pairs in best ball, aka Mario Bros draft strategy.
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Best Ball Impact on Player Rankings

The truth is, for the most part, it doesn't change all that much until you already have your starters in place.

WR Boom/Bust Facade

However, sometimes people make pretty reactive adjustments to player rankings because best ball is a new format and they thus believe there should be new rankings as well.  For example, Chris Godwin and Calvin Ridley are going very early in best ball leagues because last year they were feast or famine.  Yet that's only one year, not at all a reliable sample.  Furthermore, looking at the data, they didn't have as many huge outpourings as we seem to remember.

We simply don't have much reliable evidence to reasonably label those as boom or bust at this point.  It's much more likely those guys aren't boom or bust players and just had normal variance.  In fact, look at any slot or possession receiver and you'll see they too had ups and downs.  The simple fact that all the big "boom or bust" names being tossed around are second or 3rd-year players has more to do with the fact that older players have large enough sample sizes for us to avoid this mistake.

In general, I still tend to rate possession receivers lower than deep threats, but in practice still end up with possession receivers because others value deep threats even more.

RB Security

For running backs, job security is paramount to their rankings.  You simply can't afford to have anyone lose their role in best ball.  This is why someone like Chris Carson, who was very good last year, suffers heavily in my rankings.

However, after the top options are gone and we get deeper in the draft, I prefer low floor backs who could get a dominant role for half a season like Carlos Hyde over the much more popularly drafted Jerrick McKinnon.  This is despite that I fully believe McKinnon will likely have more fantasy points for the year.  McKinnon is part of a 3 headed monster and even if one of them gets hurt, I think he has a very difficult pathway towards racking up lots of fantasy points in an individual game.  In contrast, Hyde at least has the chance to put up big single-game scores if he gets somehow gets the lead role.

We here at Fantasy Six Pack have our own rankings here.  I also have my own personal tiers edition (which is heavily influenced from the official one) which can be found here!

More Draft Strategy

One feature you absolutely need to take advantage of is Yahoo's Draft Results tab.  Once you click on that, click on "Positions Drafted Grid" underneath.  You'll see a screen similar to this right below.

This is absolutely essential later on in the drafts.  Using this screen, you can very reliably guess which positions are going to have runs and which are already tapped out.  Once you get past round 10 or so it's pretty helpful to take regular peeks.

For example, it's round 16 and you need another TE and there are four viable options remaining.  You can take a look to see if others still need TEs as well.  This is a good way to estimate how safe it is to ignore your need and hoard other positions of higher draft equity.

Draft awareness is more important than anything else. You can't go in with a set plan and follow it strictly.  Pay attention to what is developing in the draft and react to it. In all honesty, anyone declaring they know a WR30 is going to be significantly better than WR33 is either an idiot or a liar.  Don't get caught up on thoughts that x player should be drafted in y round.  If you gotta take a TE early so be it.  Draft dynamics can change and if you follow your rankings strictly, you can end up with 7 amazing WRs but not a single starting RB.

If there is a run on a position then it can be equally viable punting some draft equity and taking part in the latter half of that run to ensure you catch a piece of it before it's gone as it can be to ignore the run and collect players at other positions at a nice discount.  Just be willing to adapt and you'll be fine.

Do's and Don'ts

Pay attention to who will likely be playing the most.  If you have a Kelce or Ertz then your second TE probably won't matter much.  In that case, investing another early pick on a TE will be very wasteful.  Likewise, if your first TE is Kyle Rudolph, you may want to grab another one pretty soon.  You'll want some decent insurance for the weeks when he fails to produce.

Consider taking your defense once any real impact players are no longer available.  It's pretty standard to save last picks for defense in traditional fantasy football.  In best ball it may make a little sense to get one you really like.  I often take DEF1 around pick 13 or 14 and then DEF2 around pick 17 or 18.  By the 13th round you're getting your WR5 or RB4 who is unlikely to contribute most weeks.  In contrast, your DEF1 will be relied upon most weeks.  It may not score a lot, but it's going to be scoring nonetheless.
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DK is doing enough reaching on his own already

Don't get carried away chasing upside. I've seen DK Metcalf drafted as early as the 12th round. This is despite that he's typically undrafted.

Yes, he could be really good. But, the chances are that he's going to be a top 200 player are pretty slim. By taking Metcalf, you're passing up getting a proven starter you can bank on for 800 yards.

For reference, I often close out my draft with Devante Parker, Adam Humphries or Mohamed Sanu for my final pick. Those are all starters with strong floors and decent upside.

Is chasing an extra hundred yards upside with Metcalf really worth a chance at a 300-yard season?  If it is, then is it worth a 12th round pick? Metcalf may indeed be worth drafting... just never in the middle rounds.

Good luck everyone and enjoy the best ball leagues.

Here's hoping Yahoo opens it up for private leagues, we here at F6P are dying to have an internal best ball league on Yahoo.

Hope you enjoy best ball as much as I am

Make sure to visit the F6P Fantasy Football Page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2019 season.

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