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Best Ball NFL Fantasy Playoff Strategy (Updated 2022)

Fantasy football doesn't have to end with the regular season. What is the optimal strategy for best ball NFL fantasy playoff leagues?

The NFL regular season may be over, but that doesn’t mean fantasy football has to stop. We still have four weeks of postseason action. Playoff fantasy football certainly doesn’t carry the same pizzazz as the regular season version, but it can be a ton of fun nonetheless. There are several formats you can use. Today, we will discuss a specific version of best ball NFL playoff fantasy football and what strategy to use to succeed.

What is this version of best ball NFL playoff fantasy football?

Regular season best ball leagues involve drafting a full roster of players before the season and then letting the season play out. The platform will automatically insert the top scoring players into your lineup, but you cannot make moves or set a lineup.

Here is how this version of best ball NFL playoff fantasy football works. You select your roster before the first game kicks off. In my particular league, we select a total of 18 players. That is your roster for the entirety of the playoffs. You cannot change it for any reason.

How does this differ from traditional best ball?

The distinction between this format and traditional best ball is that you do set a lineup each round. In my league, we start the following positions: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, FLEX, FLEX. We have 9 starting roster spots and 9 bench players…at least to start. The team with the most total points at the end of the playoffs wins.

You can start a player as many or as few times as you want. The challenge is in constructing a roster that both maximizes points in the early rounds and has the potential to keep your starting lineup at full capacity or close to it deep into the playoffs.

What is the optimal strategy in this version of best ball NFL fantasy playoffs?

I will do my best to provide as general of an explanation as I can. In full transparency, there is a lack of uniformity in NFL fantasy playoff leagues. Your version of this league could be “pure” best ball where you don’t have to set a lineup each week. It could have a different-sized roster or different-sized starting lineups.

Regardless of what your league’s tweak on the best ball format may be, the strategy for lineup building should carry over.

Choose players that are likely to play multiple games

Prior to the 2020-2021 NFL season, there were four teams on bye and eight teams in action on Wild Card Weekend to begin the playoffs. It was easy to build a roster of eight players playing in the first round and eight players on bye.

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With just two teams on bye, the circumstances have changed. It is crucial to set yourself up to have a full lineup for as long as possible.

Predict the game results

The league I’m in has over 100 teams. Some people put together rosters that just make you shake your head. One of the most important strategical components of constructing a best ball fantasy playoff roster in this format is having conviction.

There are 14 teams in the NFL playoffs. If you have players from all 14 teams, you are doing it wrong. Once your player’s team loses, that’s it for him. He’s out. Your roster size shrinks.

Almost everyone will inevitably get to a point where they can no longer field a full starting lineup. That’s okay. You can still win that way. However, you are spreading yourself too thin if you take a couple of players from many teams.

Look at the matchups. Use Vegas odds to help determine who is likely to win. Or just go with your own gut. It doesn’t really matter how you predict the outcome of games as long as you do so and trust it. Construct a lineup with players consolidated across a handful of teams. Set yourself up to field a full lineup if you correctly predict at least three of the four teams in the 2021-2022 Conference Championships.

Pick the best players on the teams you believe will win

The first thing you should do is figure out what teams you think will make the Super Bowl. It doesn’t have to be just two. Once you have that figured out, you want to go heavy on players on those teams.

For example, if you’re predicting a Chiefs-Packers Super Bowl and think the Bucs have a great shot, you should roster Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Davante Adams, AJ Dillon, Aaron Jones, Cooper Kupp, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, and Rob Gronkowski. You should also grab an ancillary receiver from one or two of these teams — someone like Cyril Grayson, Allen Lazard, or Byron Pringle. Give yourself the opportunity to differentiate from everyone else.

Wait…you left out quarterbacks?

Yes. Yes, I did. That’s because quarterback is an entirely separate strategy. I don’t think there is value in picking more than two quarterbacks. I’d rather pick one guy and go all-in than three. Going with three quarterbacks costs you a position player. You can only start one. It’s not worth it.

Let’s say you think the Super Bowl will be Packers-Chiefs. You might think selecting Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers is optimal. That’s actually not the case. Always select two quarterbacks from the same conference. Ideally, you end up with your two quarterbacks facing off in the Conference Championships, guaranteeing you have one in the Super Bowl — because you only need one.

Try to go against the grain where you can

This is less about the specific players you pick and more about the teams you pick. Assume most people are going to be heavy on the No. 1 seeds. If you build a roster centered around both top seeds in the Super Bowl, you’re probably not going to win.

Last year, I built a Bucs-heavy roster. They were a Wild Card team, and even though they had Tom Brady, not many people expected them to make a Super Bowl run. I whiffed the AFC side, but simply getting the Bucs correct allowed me to cash in my league.

The chalk this year will likely be Packers-Chiefs. You need to accept that if that’s the Super Bowl, you’re probably going to lose. Pick at least one other team to put your chips in. The Rams, Cardinals, Cowboys, Bengals, and Bills all feel like solid contrarian plays. If you get one of them correct, you will have an edge on the competition.

Another area you can be different is in the early rounds. There are elite fantasy assets on teams that will be first-round underdogs. Those players, despite their greatness, will be rostered less due to the likelihood of their team losing. If you’re willing to accept losing a player early, you can take a shot at getting a big opening-round performance. Jonathan Taylor is one that comes to mind this season. He can easily drop 30 in a loss.

How can I win my best ball NFL fantasy playoff league?

To sum it up, you need to do three things successfully to win.

1) Predict at least one Wild Card team to make it to the Conference Championship
2) Correctly predict at least one Super Bowl team
3) Start the optimal players during the early rounds where you actually have decisions to make

I hope this primer helps you with strategy in your best ball fantasy playoff league. Feel free to reach out to @PFNFantasy if you have any questions regarding specific players as you build your lineups now that the playoff picture is set.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here. Don’t forget to listen to the PFN Fantasy Football podcast and check out our free fantasy newsletter.

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