The fantasy football format of Best Ball has exploded in recent years. A lot of the popularity can be attributed to Underdog Fantasy. The format had been used in other places, but in 2020 when Underdog was launched, it was thrust into the mainstream.
What is Best Ball Fantasy Football?
Best Ball is similar to other fantasy formats. The big difference is that you do not have to manage your Best Ball roster actively. In the best ball fantasy football format, the highest scoring player(s) at each position on your roster automatically count towards your score for the week. Another key feature of the best ball fantasy football format is that rosters are set at the draft, with no drops or adds allowed during the season. The team you draft is the pool of players you have every week to rack up fantasy points for you. Injuries and bye weeks are things a savvy best ball manager needs to incorporate into their roster construction. While drafting a best ball fantasy football team is very similar to the standard redraft leagues many are used to, you can gain an advantage by thinking about your draft in a different way. Understanding roster construction, spike weeks, and matchups can help you get that edge to win some serious money. Underdog and DraftKings have prize pools of seven figures in their main best-ball contests, so there is some serious money to be had.
Best Ball Roster Construction
Every Best Ball contest is not the same. Therefore, understanding your league’s rules is important to take advantage of different roster constructions. Most best ball fantasy football leagues require you to start one quarterback per week, one tight end, and some combination or 2-4 running backs and wide receivers weekly. Most of them also have a spot for a flex play, which can be any position but a QB. You may have that option in a Superflex Best Ball draft, but none of the major ones most people play in have that as an option. Therefore the flex spot tends to be a RB, WR, or second TE that outscored all of the other options available.
Most NFL teams have one main running back and maybe one or two other guys that see a lesser workload each week. That means you have 20 to 30 solid running backs to draft and another 25 to 35 that are in some kind of timeshare. Every team starts at least two wide receivers and some teams will give three or four guys a high percentage of snaps, depending on their personnel packages. Each NFL team tends to play only one quarterback per game, so you have 32 starters to take advantage of in that department. Tight ends are plentiful, but the number of guys seeing consistent targets and who have high weekly floors is pretty limited. Understanding the pool of potential players available is key to Best Ball success, as you know when and where to prioritize taking certain position groups.
You can only start one quarterback per week, so taking two high-end guys early in a draft is not the ideal strategy, as at least one of them will end up on your bench every week. Waiting too long on a tight end will leave you picking and choosing from a group of guys who barely see a handful of targets per game. While many draftable wide receiver options exist, the number of guys who consistently see a big target share and produce big numbers is also limited. The league has just a handful of guys with upside at the WR position, and you do not want to be the manager who has none of those elite options on your roster, as it puts you at a disadvantage to your competition every week.
Quarterback Strategy for Best Ball
When it comes to quarterback strategy, you have two options. If you are lucky enough to grab one of the elite-level guys, your second quarterback should be drafted from the remaining pool of players available toward the end of the draft. If you get Patrick Mahomes early, you would expect him to put up high scores almost every week. Therefore you do not need another high-end option. At best, your second QB will only play during Mahomes’ bye week. You may have a week or two during the season where your QB2 outscores your elite option, but if that happens often, you will probably not win many games anyway. If you get one of the top-tier guys, your second QB should be a late round guy that is more of an insurance policy than a guy you need to prioritize in drafts.
Sometimes a run of good top-tier quarterbacks happens before you can lock one down. If that is the case, you likely need to grab more than just two. If you miss out on the elite options, the key to the game is trying to attack the position with volume. Remember, only the best score counts for the QB position, so you only need some of these guys to have consistently great scores. You just need one per week to pop for a top-tier score to keep pace with the truly elite options. If you miss out on the top 5-8 guys, you are better off grabbing three guys in the middle to lower tier and giving yourself more chances to have one of them pop for a big week. In the option with the elite QB, you expect that guy to be on your top-scoring roster almost every week. If you have to attack the position with volume, you want multiple guys that could all have a spike week that lands them in the top five at the position a couple of times. While none of them might end up on your roster in 12 or more weeks like an elite option can, if each of those guys ends up there a handful of times you can match or approximate the production of the high end guys by giving yourself more chances. These second-tier guys will not end up popping off for big weeks as often, but your production can be about the same if you can get a few big weeks from each of them. Either spend the draft capital early on a stud or understand that you must spend multiple mid to late-round picks to cobble together a stable of solid options. Anything else is a losing strategy.
Running Back Strategy For Best Ball
Many of the draft strategies discussed in this guide are still viable in the running back department. Most leagues require a minimum number of backs per week. It tends to be between 2-3 in most best ball fantasy football formats. You also can add one more via the flex spot. Therefore, you want to have a stable of 4-7 guys at this position on your roster.
I have seen people win by drafting multiple stud running backs early. I have seen people successfully use the hero RB strategy of drafting one stud, and then a bunch of questionable guys while hoping one of them hits. I have also seen people go zero RB and win with a slew of middle to late-round picks. These strategies outlined in the 4deep fantasy football draft guide all have some merit. Any of them can be used successfully in this best ball fantasy football format. Remember to pay careful attention to the bye weeks of your players. You want to avoid drafting three or more guys with the same bye week at one position. Running backs can get injured or have bad games, so you want to spread out the bye weeks as best you can to give your team multiple options that could end up on your best roster. If too many have the same bye week, you may have to use a low number or even a zero if your roster gets hit with a rash of injuries.
Wide Receiver Strategy For Best Ball
The production at the wide receiver spot is the toughest to predict. Wide receivers tend to have some of the higher spike weeks when they play well and some of the least consistent floors when they do not. Many formats also require more WR options weekly than running back options, and that means this is the position you want to load up on. Even a bad week for a good starting running back is likely useable in most fantasy formats. The same can not always be said of the WR position. The truly elite ones will likely always end up in your lineup, but you will be surprised how many unusable 2/20 or 3/30-type weeks even some of the better receivers in the NFL tend to have. Therefore it makes sense to draft 7-10 guys at the WR position and hope that group produces three or four weekly that score double-digit fantasy points.
The number of WR options that can put up those monster 25 or more fantasy point showings is slim. Most of those guys have been going in the first few rounds of any Best Ball draft you are in. There are second-tier, third-tier, and longshot options as well. The drop in each tier of player corresponds to the likelihood of them putting up a big week that ends up being used on your roster. This is why the volume at the position is critical. You have to pick and choose which guys you want to play each week in redraft formats. In Best Ball, concentrate more on the potential for those secondary options to have big games. While they may not always be in your roster, guys with deep threat ability that can rack up 10-15 fantasy points with one long touchdown catch are far more valuable in Best Ball when you do not have to predict which week those spikes will come. Think of guys like Gabriel Davis of the Bills or Rashid Shaheed of the Saints. These guys may not consistently see 6-10 targets per game but will have multiple games where they catch a home run ball that could put them on your Best Ball roster as one of the higher-scoring players of the week when they do. This is especially true on Underdog, where
the half-point PPR is less help for some of the higher volume guys than it is on a site like DraftKings that does offer full PPR.
Tight End Strategy For Best Ball
The tight-end position in fantasy football has always been skewed. You have a small handful of guys each year that see consistent work in their respective offenses and a ton of other guys that are more touchdown or bust on a small number of targets. Guys like Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and TJ Hockenson are very valuable because the difference in opportunity means they will consistently end up near the top of the fantasy point scorers for the position each week. Much like the QB position, if you grab one of the elite options, you do not need to spend multiple other picks on the position, as those studs will be in your best roster most weeks.
Also like the quarterback position, if you miss out on the studs it makes sense to attack the position with volume and grab three or more players. The same thinking applies here. If you have three or four middle-round options that have a few weeks to rival a Kelce or Andrews, then you give yourself a chance to keep pace with the guys who do have those studs. If you miss out and only draft two guys with low target shares, you will end up with multiple weeks where you fall behind the teams who drafted the elite options.
The difference between TE and QB is that you can have multiple tight ends in a lineup on any given week. Even though TE and QB only require one spot, you can use a second TE as a flex play if you end up with two guys at the position going off on the same week. This is why it makes more sense to draft multiple players at tight end than at quarterback. You are still better off with some of the more elite options, but having multiple players means the ability to have multiple scores and not wasting one of them if two guys have the same spike week. If two QBs have the same spike week you will only be allowed to have one of them on your best roster. That means you could waste a big game from the lower-scoring one, unlike at the TE position where both could be usable.