What is Best Ball Fantasy Football? How to play, draft tips, and strategy
One of the quickest and easiest ways to play fantasy football, best ball changes the way the game is played. Here are some tips and strategies for your best ball fantasy leagues for those new to the format or needing a refresher.
Before we dive into how to play best ball, we need to understand the format. It is a significant departure from your “standard” league. In best ball fantasy football leagues, you draft your team, and that’s it. Okay, that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s not totally off.
For anyone who has played fantasy football before, you probably share the same mindset as most — draft day is the best day of the season. If you ask me, it should be a national holiday. And that is what best ball fantasy football is all about — the draft.
Rather than worrying about trades or lineups, you draft your team and let the season play out. Each week, your lineup will be set for you based on whoever on your roster had the best day. Roster formats will remain the same, but the players in those slots are fluid. Have a player that went off in their NFL game? They’re in your starting lineup — no more points left on your bench.
While this sounds ridiculously easy, it’s also brutally unforgiving should you bomb your draft. Midseason waivers and savvy roster decisions can save even the worst drafts in a redraft league. You don’t have that opportunity here — you will go into battle with whoever is left from your draft.
Best ball draft tips and strategy | QBs and RBs
Let’s look at some of the advantages you can get over your league mates.
Quarterback drafting strategy
As with any other fantasy format, you need a high-upside quarterback if you want to find success in best ball. But it all depends on how early you want to address the position. Every pick comes with its own opportunity cost. Should you take Bills QB Josh Allen in Round 3 or select your WR2 or RB1?
A term you will hear a lot is “stacking.” That’s when you select multiple players from the same team. An example would be pairing QB Jalen Hurts with WRs A.J. Brown and/or DeVonta Smith. When one does well, typically, the others find similar success. I never try to force stacks, but I recommend being cognizant of who you could pair together when selecting your quarterback or No. 1 wide receiver. Not all stacks are created equal or worth the slight reach to pull off.
If you did select a QB early in your best ball draft (Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, Dak Prescott), there’s no rush to draft your QB2. The odds of them being outscored in any given week by a QB in the 18+ range is unlikely, barring injury. One tip could be to target upside at the QB2 position in the later rounds.
For example, you could select Deshaun Watson and then perhaps Derek Carr or Tua Tagovailoa later in the draft. Watson should be a QB1 and, if not for his current legal case, would be a top-six quarterback. However, many feel he could miss time in 2022. In best ball, those risks can be mitigated as, in this example, Carr or Tua would play in the games Watson is out. Once he’s back, your upside as a team shoots up.
Tips when drafting running backs in best ball
How you draft running backs in fantasy, let alone best ball, is one of the most widely debated topics in the game. RB-heavy? Mid-round gems? Two in the first three rounds? Are you a zero RB kind of person? The latter I refer to as the “Crossfitters of Fantasy.” You know who they are because they always tell you how amazing it is without ever asking.
As a heavy RB man myself, I’ve lived by the notion you can never have enough depth at running back. Locking in as many in those upper tiers has your team set for success. Given the massive decline in production, getting at least two inside the top 20 of your rankings makes sense.
From that point on, look for value, but don’t overvalue the position. Landing rookies could be a viable strategy if you hit on the Najee Harris, Elijah Mitchell, or James Robinson of this year’s class. Spoiler alert — there likely aren’t any this year.
But here’s the thing. You know how you scoff at something, then try it and find out you kind of like it but don’t want to tell anyone?
Yeah, so about that zero RB thing. I’m not saying I’ve gone off the rails, but I can get behind this strategy in best ball. If your league has PPR scoring, there’s an advantage to having multiple top-tier wide receivers. Last season, the majority of my teams that did well were ones where I added receivers earlier in the draft. Given this is a passing league, it’s a trend I expect to continue this year.
As for the running backs, there are mid-round gems like Leonard Fournette (78.4 ADP), AJ Dillon (83.9), James Conner (93.3), Kenneth Walker III (94.9), Miles Sanders (102.4), Melvin Gordon (119), Chase Edmonds (125.4), and Dameon Pierce (224.7). The best tip is to remain flexible. Best ball drafts can quickly send you off-script and needing to adjust your strategy.
Best ball draft tips and strategy | WRs and TEs
What are some of the best strategies for drafting pass catchers in best ball leagues?
Wide receiver drafting strategy in best ball fantasy leagues
If there’s a position you can wait to draft, it’s wide receiver. As we are all painfully aware, WR is as deep as it’s ever been. NFL teams usually have one RB that is expected to put up relevant fantasy numbers in any given week. In contrast, almost any offense in the NFL could have three wideouts that might go off. Take Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati, for example. Each of those teams has three receivers with weekly top-36 upside.
When it comes to receivers in best ball, more is better. I try to walk away with seven to nine receivers on my roster in most drafts.
Especially in PPR formats, I have no issue going heavy early at the position and selecting three in my first four to five picks. Then, I shoot for upside in the middle rounds. Guys like Michael Pittman Jr. (57.6), Mike Williams (59.1), Darnell Mooney (63.3), Treylon Burks (68.1), Allen Robinson (88.6), Drake London (89.2), Courtland Sutton (96.4), and Christian Kirk (105.5) fit the bill.
When researching, look at target share and the players’ air yards. If they’re getting volume or deep looks, odds are they will connect at least a few times.
It’s worth remembering that when targeting a stack, you don’t always have to go after the WR1. An example of this would be selecting Matthew Stafford and following up with Robinson and Van Jefferson. Keeping it in LA, Herbert with Williams and Josh Palmer or Jalen Guyton could also bring some success, as could Allen along with Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox in Buffalo.
How to approach the tight end position
Anyone who has played fantasy for more than a season knows how erratic tight end production can be. The benefit of drafting Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, or George Kittle cannot be understated. You can go further down the list to include Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller, and even Dallas Goedert. We will be shocked if five of these six don’t finish inside the top six at the position, barring injury.
I am reaching for an early tight end in every draft, and more times than not, it’s inside the first three to four rounds. With that said, the number of elite TEs is limited. But that does not mean your chances of winning are as well, should you miss out.
If I select Kelce or Waller, I would only take a second TE late in the draft. However, if you target two to three TEs in those mid-round ranges, several guys could go off in any given week with TE1 performances. Examples would be Dalton Schultz (98.2) Zach Ertz (124.3), Mike Gesicki (109.7), Albert Okwuegbunam (234.3), and Pat Freiermuth (118). My strategy would be to lock in two to three tight ends should I miss out on the early run.
As with everything, it depends on how early you select your starter at each position to know when to round out depth. A general rule of thumb would be to come out of your best ball draft with two to three quarterbacks, five to six running backs, seven to eight wide receivers, and two to three tight ends. If you stay within those parameters, you should have a balanced roster. Upside and success? Well, that part is up to you.