A lot of people choose not to do Best Ball drafts because they don’t know what they are.
If they do know what they are, they don’t want to draft a team they don’t get to manage.
Where’s the fun in that, right?
I know where the fun is. It’s in winning easy money.
But Phil, how can I win and make money if I can’t make roster moves all season?
I’m glad you asked. And I’ll tell you. You win in Best Ball based on your roster construction. That’s all Best Ball is. It’s drafting, which is the most fun we get to have with our little hobby.
Best Ball is basically gambling. It’s a roll of the dice. Once you let go of that team after the draft, you have no control of it the rest of the year. But if you do it right, your Best Ball drafts can be a nice way to pick up some extra money to soften the blow of losing your home league because your first-round draft pick blew out his knee in Week 1. I would never draft a standard league the way I draft Best Ball. It would be fantasy football suicide.
Before I go any further, I want you to know that if you’re expecting a scientific breakdown of different drafting strategies and win rates, then you’re reading the long article. In the immortal words of Baz Luhrmann, “The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.”
I have a home league of which I have been a member for 20 years. I love that draft. It’s as fun as the entire season, but the problem is that I only get one of those drafts.
About 2 1/2 years ago I discovered the joy of Best Ball drafting. The site I use is BestBall10s. There you can jump into any league. You can have leagues that will draft almost immediately and you only have one minute to make your pick, or you can join drafts that slowly fill up and you can take four hours to make your pick and the time stops at 10 p.m. and resumes at 6 a.m. They are 12 team PPR leagues just like most of us play, and they have no kickers. You can play a league for as little as $5. They have options so that you can choose league settings that you’re comfortable with. I go with the $5 leagues where the top three finishers win money. I choose the four hours per pick timer so I can research my pick instead of rushing and making a bad pick I’d regret. I go with the $5 leagues because it’s like eating candy. When it comes to drafting, one is never enough is it?
Now before I go any further, I’ll give you the reason that I’m writing this article. In my first year doing Best Ball drafts, I spent about $75 on 10 leagues. I won $225 back at the end of the season. Last year I spent $50 on 10 leagues and I won back $175. That’s not a bad return rate. Hypothetically, if I invested 5 or 10 times what I do, I’d be taking home a cool grand or more each year. Maybe this is the year I chance it. I will only share my draft strategy with you if you promise not to join the same leagues that I’m in. My draft strategy is simple and it doesn’t require you to do any math, except counting your winnings.
Best Ball Construction
In best ball, the idea is that you don’t set a lineup. The highest-scoring players at each position of your roster of 20 will be the players whose points count towards your total each week. It’s a league where your total points at the end of the year determine where you finish. Just like regular fantasy football, you’ll have 1 QB, 2RBs, 2WRs, 1 TE, 1 Flex, and 1 Defense. If you wanted to draft one QB and 10 WR’s, and one player at each of the other positions, you could do that. It would be stupid, but you could still do that. You start with a snake draft and your draft position is randomly decided by the computer.
The QBs are the thing: In traditional drafting, people wait on QB’s because there’s only a 10 percent difference in points between QB1 and QB12, or some such nonsense. That’s generally true. With best ball drafting, you want to win with outlier performances.
There are certain QB’s that have three or four outlier four TD games every year, right? Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and Josh Allen are your most likely candidates this year, right? Those are the top six.
What if you drafted three of those top six? Chances are that every week you’d have a four-touchdown guy as your best ball starting QB. When you draft three top QB’s in the first six rounds you are doing two things: You’re giving yourself a four-touchdown floor from that position every week, and that’s fewer high-scoring QB’s that your opponents have to try and keep up with you.
Is it even possible to draft three of those guys? Yes, because most of the other drafters are still using the tried and true “wait on QB” strategy.
Grab a Top 4 TE: The tight end landscape is littered with inconsistency. Grab Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Darren Waller, or Mark Andrews. The difference in their scoring at that one-player position will give you an edge.
WR Depth: Yes, wide receivers do catch a lot of passes, but this year there is so much depth at the position that you don’t have to go crazy on them early. If you can, try to pair at least one WR with each of your QBs. It doesn’t have to be the number one receiver, but if possible, why not? In best ball where total points are the goal, getting the double dinger from having the QB/WR combo is always helpful. This year, if you’re picking in the second half of the first round think of Davante Adams and grab Aaron Rodgers later in the sixth round. Or get Tyreek Hill in Round 1 and Mahomes in Round two.
RBs Are Not That Important: If you have one of the top three picks in the draft, sure, grab Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara because they score the points of two players. Other than those two, there isn’t another running back that gives you that value. Wait on RBs and grab the cheap backs later in the draft that will catch a lot of passes. Examples are Myles Gaskin, Nyheim Hines, JD McKissic, and maybe rookie Michael Carter.
Here is what my draft might look like through the first ten rounds:
- Best player available, but avoid one dimensional RBs. Don’t be afraid to grab Kelce/Hill here and Mahomes in Round 2.
- Best WR or Mahomes
- If Mahomes is gone, go with best QB or TE if you don’t have Kelce.
- Grab your second top QB like Josh Allen.
- Get the best pass catching back or a WR if a good one has fallen.
- Look at QBs like Dak, Russ, or Rodgers.
- Best WR or RB
- Second good TE like Tyler Higbee, Noah Fant, or Dallas Goedert
- Best WR/pass catching RB.
- Defense! Yes, this early get the best sacking defense out there, this year it’s Pittsburgh. It doesn’t hurt to have 10 points a week from a meaningless position.
It’s that simple. Follow my ridiculous plan and enjoy the return on your investment.