Fantasy Football Best Ball Strategy: How to approach snake drafts

With the 2021 fantasy football season coming to a close, what is the most effective best ball strategy to use for snake drafts?

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. Earlier this week, I wrote about fantasy football playoff best ball leagues where you can select whatever players you want from the entire player pool. Today, we’re going to talk about how your best ball strategy needs to shift when the way you determine your roster is via a snake draft.

The general tenets of fantasy football best ball strategy apply

I encourage you to read my previous article linked above for more detail on best ball strategy. As a quick primer, you want the best players on the teams likely to advance deep into the playoffs.

A typical fantasy playoff league that utilizes a snake draft will have seven or 14 teams. The roster may look something like this: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, Flex, Flex. Playoff leagues that use snake drafts usually don’t have benches. You draft your roster, and whichever team scores the most points over the course of the playoffs wins.

How does a snake draft alter your approach?

When how you determine your roster is through a snake draft, your fantasy football playoff best ball strategy must shift. In the format where you can choose whatever players you want, you have the luxury of investing in teams you expect to make the Super Bowl. For snake drafts, you need to try and apply the same principles with far less control.

Much like in regular-season fantasy football, you will have a draft slot and make one selection per round. Where you pick will determine your roster far more than who you actually like.

Quarterbacks go first

Unlike regular-season fantasy football, where the most common tactic is to wait on a quarterback, you need to take a quarterback early in playoff formats. The unfortunate part of a snake draft is you may be forced into a QB on a team you don’t think is going to win.

In a 14-team league, six teams are going to lose their QB after the first round. That’s just the nature of the beast. If you pick toward the front end of a seven or 14-team draft, take a QB on a team likely to play multiple games.

What if you pick toward the back of your snake draft?

If you’re at the back end of a 14-team draft, you’re not getting a quarterback on a team that’s favored this week. There’s nothing you can do about it. As a result, once the top quarterbacks are gone, I would rather just wait and be the last one to take a QB.

If you’re down to the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Ben Roethlisberger, Jalen Hurts, and Mac Jones, you are better off taking a player at another position more likely to play multiple games.

Sure, you’ll probably get stuck with a one-and-done QB that won’t be particularly productive in the one game he plays, but you’ll be in better shape than if you take someone like Hurts or Garoppolo, get a quality performance, but their teams lose in the first round.

I’d rather go into battle with Tyreek Hill and Mac Jones than Hurts and a random WR3. If you’re the last one to take a quarterback, you can literally wait until the last round. You’re already at a disadvantage, so you might as well try and create an edge at the other positions.

Stacking remains essential, but more challenging

The most important part of drafting a playoff fantasy football best ball team is stacking. A surefire way to lose is having eight players spread across eight teams. Unfortunately, unlike in other formats, you don’t have much control over which teams you choose to stack. It’s also much easier to stack when you pick near the turn.

Let’s say you pick toward the middle. Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, and Tom Brady are gone. You believe the Super Bowl will involve two of those four teams. In this situation, you can’t stack those players. If those teams make the Super Bowl, you are probably going to lose. You need to create a scenario in which you can win.

The way to do that is by stacking other teams. You may not buy the Cowboys or Bengals as serious contenders, but the nature of the snake draft forces your hand. Draft with an eye toward stacking.

Don’t take Matthew Stafford because you’re never going to be able to get Cooper Kupp. Instead, take Joe Burrow or Dak Prescott. There’s a very good chance you can get Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, CeeDee Lamb, or Amari Cooper in the second round, possibly even the third. Set yourself up so that if the Bengals or Cowboys make a run, you are going to win.

What is the optimal strategy for playoff fantasy football best ball snake drafts?

I could spend far more space than I have here writing about various approaches. To sum it up into something actionable: give yourself a path to victory.

If you draft Brady, try and get Mike Evans. If you draft Kyler Murray, you should be able to get James Conner or Chase Edmonds as well as Christian Kirk or A.J. Green. The Cardinals are actually a very stackable team.

The key is to construct a roster where you can very easily answer the question, “How do I win?” Typically, the answer would be: “I win if *insert team here* reaches the Super Bowl.” Even if that team isn’t necessarily likely to get there, you definitely lose if you spread yourself thin across the entire NFL playoff pool.

Plan out your draft. Figure out what players you are likely to be able to draft from the same team. You may end up needing to forego superior players in order to load up your roster with players on the same NFL squad. Don’t be afraid to do so. Take chances. For a better idea of what you might be able to put together, check out Tommy Garrett’s full-length fantasy playoff rankings and tweet at us @PFNFantasy for more directed advice.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.