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What is Best Ball Fantasy Football? How to play, draft tips, and strategy

As the best ball fantasy format continues to rise in popularity, here are some tips and strategies to build a championship-caliber roster.

What is Best Ball Fantasy Football? How to play, draft tips, and strategy
TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks to throw during the third quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

One of the quickest and easiest ways to play fantasy football, best ball formats change 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.

What is a best ball fantasy football league?

Before we even get into the nuances, tips, and strategy, we need to at least get on the same page. Best ball leagues focus on depth, upside, and the draft.

One thing we can all agree on is that draft day is the best day of the year. Honestly, it should be a national holiday. And that is what best ball fantasy football is all about — the draft.

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Rather than worrying about trades or lineups, you draft your team and let the season play out. Your lineup will be set for you each week 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.

Since the draft is the only time you control your team, crushing it has never been at more of a premium. Make the right picks, and your team is set. Miss, and well, let’s hope your league mates take it easy on the punishment for the last-place finish. 

Fantasy football best ball draft tips and strategy

Quarterback drafting strategy

As with any other position in best ball, you want depth. The difference with quarterbacks, similar with tight ends, how many you draft depends on how soon you addressed the position.

A typical rule of thumb is to have two to three quarterbacks on your roster, assuming you have a 20-22 person roster. Usually, the strategy would be to wait on the QB in best ball, nothing dissimilar to how a standard redraft league is played.

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It’s a matter of preference if you want to do early QB or not. Every pick comes with its own opportunity cost. Take Patrick Mahomes in Round 3, or take your WR1? The best tip would be to take the value and walk away with two or three QBs by the time your best ball fantasy draft is over.

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. 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.

You can never really draft enough depth at the position regardless of the strategy you choose to follow. Given the massive decline in production, make sure to get at least two inside the top 20 of your rankings. From that point on, look for value but don’t overvalue the position. Landing rookies could be a viable strategy so long as you hit on the Jonathan Taylor, Antonio Gibson, or James Robinson of this year’s class.

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The heavier you go on the position, the best tip would be to space them out a bit later in your best ball drafts. Walking away with four to seven RBs is a great middle ground. Best ball fantasy is all about balance and changing your strategy mid-draft based on how it is going around you.

It’s also a good tip to handcuff your earlier bell-cow RBs with who would be the next man up in best ball. You are not relying on them for weekly production, but you have them just in case. With no waivers during the season, the draft is the only time to secure them.

Wide receiver drafting strategy in best ball fantasy leagues

Shoot for the moon with your receivers. Normally, you love steady targets, but the difference between a possession guy’s steady work or a deep threat is massive in best ball. There is no concern about setting the proper lineup, so take the upside play.

We want the receivers with the highest chances of explosive games on our best ball rosters. This is the position where you should draft the most players. It’s like playing darts when you have to hit the bullseye. Do you want four chances at nailing it or 10?

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When researching, look at target share and the players’ air yards on his team. If they are getting volume or deep looks, odds are they will connect at least a few times. Stacking your receiver with their QB is another common strategy in best ball formats. It’s very likely that if your QB or WR had a big game, the other did as well. 

How to approach the tight end position

Anyone who has played fantasy for more than a season knows how hit and miss tight ends can be. The benefit of drafting a Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, or George Kittle cannot be understated. 

Trying to only go with late-round tight end sleepers thinking that at least two will be startable will not be a repeatable strategy. Sure, there is no better feeling than drafting Mark Andrews or George Kittle the year they become Mark Andrews or George Kittle. However, nailing it is a difficult task.

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If you invest early in a fantasy tight end in your best ball draft, the best strategy would be to wait until later in the draft to take another. The odds of them outperforming that player outside of an injury or bye week is slim. 

Take Kelce for an example. While playing in 15 games, he was a startable TE (top 12) in 14 of those games. He had eight finishes inside the top three of the position — that’s a 93.3% start percentage. The next closest was Waller at 68.75% (11 of 16), followed by Robert Tonyan and Logan Thomas tied at 56.25% (9 of 16). 

With how shallow the tight end position is, I will be walking out of every fantasy draft, best ball or not, with a top-three tight end. 

Want more fantasy football analysis and news?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay current with all things around the NFL and the upcoming 2021 fantasy football season. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

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