BEST BALL STRATEGY: AN OVERVIEW
The key things to consider before hitting that draft button
Best Ball strategy is largely defined by the league you’re taking part in. How I approach an eight-team league is vastly different to how I’d approach a twelve-team league. In an eight-team Superflex league, you know there are enough quarterbacks to go around, and even if you miss out on the elite, you can counter that by building elite options at other skill positions. This is the first key to my approach, considering the league and the competition you are in.
If you’re taking part in a standalone league your approach should vary compared to a large-field tournament as Draftkings, Underdog and Fanduel run. Those contests will require you to be the best team in your league at several stages, and then to ultimately still be the number one team in the last week of the season. Your team will need to have something special to it, to beat up to 170’000 teams, like the Draftkings Millionaire Best Ball tournament featured. These teams require embracing a certain level of risk that you might not need to entertain if you’re in a contest where the top 50% of the league receive prizes. Even in a more conventional prize structure of the top three cashing, you’re not necessarily looking to embrace too much risk.
I prefer standalone contests, and these are the type I run here on nflbestball.co.uk. For these tournaments, and others similar, the key is being aware of scoring and roster sizes. If you’re taking part in a 28 round Superflex draft, it can make sense to have four quarterbacks, including a backup or rookie who may or may not see the field. If however, you’re taking part in an eighteen round draft, we have to consider the value of players still available at WR/RB/TE. I prefer to take late-round fliers on Wide Receivers in this situation and draft a maximum of three quarterbacks. In last year's Draftkings tournaments you were drafting for a roster size of twenty. I set myself certain rules I stuck to unless the draft shifted dramatically. If I took a QB or TE within the first four rounds, I was unlikely to take more than two of each through the rest of the draft. For instance, if I took Lamar Jackson in the second or third round, I would only grab another quarterback around the 10th-12th round. I don’t believe there’s value in putting too much of your draft resources into the position when if Lamar goes down, your team probably won’t be winning much. This isn’t a rigid rule but at the tight end and quarterback position, it provides a good building block. Not many of my George Kittle teams survived his loss last season and I don’t think that would have changed if I’d drafted an extra tight end, given the scarcity of good performances at the position.
Balancing risk is a part of your roster construction, but in Best Ball, it makes so much more sense to take shots on a boom or bust player in the late rounds than middling players who will provide 5-10 points on average. These kinds of players can include wide receivers, I particularly like to target second-year receivers or rookies as we get into the mid to late teens. Remember we’re not looking for an every-week starter, we’re just hoping these players have weeks that vault them into our starting lineup when our normal starters have lesser weeks. For instance last year I took Breshad Perriman in 19% of my drafts. Perriman had an ADP of 159, putting him in the 13th round. Perriman finished the year the WR80, which is hardly impressive but he did have several weeks scoring enough to bolster your team's performance if your top WR’s had failed to pick up double-digit points. For every example like that, you may also have a situation like Devin Duvernay, who I drafted in 27% of my drafts in the very last rounds often. He failed to make double-digits at any point during the season and likely never made it into my starting lineups. Particularly at wide receiver, where scoring is so volatile, it’s fine to take these shots and landing on the right player will add huge value. Equally at running back, if you drafted Mike Davis last off-season, you likely had a very competitive team. I don’t tend to draft handcuffs to my running backs, instead, I prefer to draft other teams handcuffs. If the Zeke owner loses Zeke for a season and I’ve got Tony Pollard they’re now down a starter and a weaker team whilst my strength only grows. The space a handcuff takes up on the bench behind a starter could be another player with more immediate fantasy value.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, don’t rely on the rankings of the platform you’re drafting on. When Best Ball launched on Draftkings last summer, Damien Williams had already opted out for the season, but Edwards-Helaire’s ADP was sitting in the thirties as if Williams was still involved. It was incredibly easy to grab CEH as your second RB before the picks got close to his ADP. Whether that was a good idea in hindsight is another story. By uploading your rankings, or the ranking of a site you trust, you’ll often find plenty of draft bargains. As drafts go on I’m less tied to rankings. Once we hit the late teens' roster construction and your own opinions can matter more than the projected difference between Auden Tate and Kalif Raymond.