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The ULTIMATE Guide To DRAFT Best Ball Leagues

The ULTIMATE Guide To DRAFT Best Ball Leagues premium
Davis Mattek May 21, 2019 10:28AM EDT

The RotoExperts ULTIMATE Guide To DRAFT Best Ball Leagues

Introduction To PlayDRAFT Best Ball Leagues

There is almost no better experience in fantasy football than playing in DRAFT Best Ball Leagues. A large part of why we launched the NFL365 package was that everyone involved with the SportsGrid fantasy football product genuinely loves to play in DRAFT Best Ball leagues. The format is simple with loads of exploitable nuances for players armed with the proper tools and projections. A large part of the value added from your NFL365 subscription comes from our Best Ball fantasy football tools and this Ultimate Guide to Draft Best Ball Leagues.

This Article Contains:

  • Intro To DRAFT Best Ball Leagues
  • General Strategy For DRAFT Best Ball Leagues
  • DRAFT Best Ball Tools Explained
  • Systemic Draft & Hybrid Zero-RB Drafting Analysis
  • Stacking In DRAFT Best Ball Leagues
  • DRAFT Early & Often… And Why
  • Putting It All Together: Round-By-Round DRAFT Best Ball Targets
  • Overview Of Drafting In Smaller DRAFT Best Ball Leagues

Put simply, DRAFT Best Ball leagues are fantasy football leagues where you snake draft an 18-man roster and each week, your rosters best scores are submitted into the starting lineup. The draft is done the same way your other season-long fantasy football drafts go, with a different twist after the draft is over. Every week, your lineup consists of one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, and one flex which can be a running back, wide receiver or tight end. Best Ball leagues have no roster management, no trades, and no waivers. Once your draft has been completed, that it is. The most points at the end of 16 weeks wins the league. DRAFT has three, six, ten and 12-team formats with the 12-team being by far the most popular.

DRAFT also runs several large contests wherein you draft for your specific 12-team league and then at the end of the fantasy football regular season, your team has the ability to advance to a larger pool of teams that also won their individual leagues. Last season, they ran several massive tournaments with over 50,000 participants

Join The Best Ball Festivities at Draft.Com

The easiest way to join PlayDRAFT is to download the app on iOS or Android in the App Store on Google Play.

Clicking on Draft.com will bring you to the app and should open up on your computer or mobile device.

Once you have the app downloaded, you will be prompted to create an account. There are free contests to play on the app that do not require a deposit but in order to play for-money contests, you will need to use the deposit feature on the app.

Like most daily fantasy sports websites and fantasy football league hosts, the lobby contains all of the available contests. There are usually leagues open for 3/6/10/12-team leagues from dollar amounts ranging from $1 all the way to $2,500. They will be titled “12 Person Slow Draft” or “6 Person Fast Draft” while displaying the total prize money and the entry fee on the right hand side of the app. To join a league, you simply click on the league you want to enter and select the green ENTER button on the next page.

As the NFL season gets closer, DRAFT will announce their large-field tournaments where users draft into small leagues and then advance to the larger pool. Those leagues are likely to have as much as one million guaranteed in the total prize pool.

Entry fees are taken at the time of entering a contest. When the draft you have selected to enter fills, the draft will begin. A large majority of the pre-season DRAFT Best Balls are “slow drafts” which means you have eight hours on the clock to make each selection. Most users will make their picks faster than that, but it is really set up to not have to be glued to your phone in order to participate. For Best Ball leagues, payouts are processed after the league has been decided after Week 16 of the NFL season.

When you are registered for your first draft and it is filled with 11 other entrants, you will be able to see your randomly generated draft order. There are several new features on DRAFT this year that have made it even easier to participate in Best Ball leagues. One of the best new features is the ability to set your own Best Ball Rankings.

This feature, which is available both on the desktop and mobile version of PlayDRAFT, allows you to set customized rankings for all of your Best Ball leagues. This is helpful while you are in drafts during a busy period or if you are afraid of being auto-drafted (another helpful addition is that the system will not auto-draft any of your teams more than three quarterbacks).

The ULTIMATE Guide To DRAFT Best Ball Leagues 8

This image displays the “your rankings” screen on the DRAFT desktop site. We believe that it is helpful to adjust your rankings around using the RotoExperts projections and rankings to make drafting Best Ball leagues even easier. After you have started to draft a few different Best Ball fantasy football drafts, you will see how nice it is to have the players show up in the order that you want them ranked.

Now that you are familiar with DRAFT, how to get an account set up on the app and how to get in a Best Ball Draft, it is time to talk about general strategy before getting into the more micro-aspects of how to win in Best Ball Leagues.

DRAFT Best Ball General Winning Strategy

There are as many approaches to drafting Best Ball as there are in normal weekly management season-long fantasy football leagues but thanks to the static nature of rosters after drafting, we actually have a surplus of data on what types of rosters are most likely to best ball leagues. The short explanation is that the best teams wait on quarterbacks, get an elite running back early, stock up on wide receivers in the middle rounds. Elite tight end play (Kelce/Kittle/Ertz) is a big plus and are likely to appear on the strongest teams. In 2018, teams that drafted one Travis Kelce, George Kittle or Zach Ertz had at least a 12% win equity compared to the average of 8.3% on PlayDRAFT.

The largest key to our overall philosophy is to embrace the Late Round Quarterback.

This strategy provides the foundation for almost everything else you will be doing in your draft.

The largest advantages you will find in Best Ball leagues are systemic in roster constructions. Many teams you are drafting against will dedicate their 18 roster spots in a sub-optimal way including allocating draft capital and roster spots for quarterbacks. The advantage of taking quarterbacks later in your drafts are twofold. First, because quarterback scoring is relatively flat compared to the other positions, you won’t be in a massive per-game hole because the QB18 can lose to the QB1 by 5 points on a given week. Secondly, because players are not burdened with start/sit selections for quarterbacks, the scoring for the position becomes even flatter. A platoon of Sam Darnold and Marcus Mariota is not likely to be absolutely flattened by Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers when adjusting for where they are selected and what the rosters around them will look like. Avoiding selecting quarterbacks early is the first systemic advantage in DRAFT Best Balls. There are also more nuances with regard to how many quarterbacks the optimal roster should be selecting and we will delve into that later.

Perhaps the largest market inefficiency, however, is how most users value the running back position. We will have a more in-depth look at Zero RB roster construction at a later on in this guide but the broad strokes can be covered here. A mistake that many DRAFT users make is over-valuing game-script dependent running backs that don’t have pass-catching upside. Jordan Howard, Derrick Henry, and these sort of running backs that will be in fairly strict timeshares and lose out on PPR upside are worse value propositions than most higher-upside wide receivers in the middle rounds. For example, the ceiling projection for a player like Chris Godwin is higher than Chris Carson. Wide receivers score long touchdowns and have more “spiked weeks”  than touchdown-reliant running backs. In general, your opponents will be overvaluing middling running backs just because they are running backs over mid-tier wide receivers.

Wide receivers and tight ends are really the core parts of our strategy. Building a solid core of seven wide receivers is likely the best way to build winning lineups in DRAFT Best Balls. Wide receivers are more likely to provide spiked weeks, less likely to be injured than running backs and require more starting spaces than running backs in the DRAFT set up. While most fantasy analysts and coverage dictate resources into running backs, it really is wide receivers that make the largest difference.

These are the macro lessons that guide roster construction (which will be dug into further on in this guide). Simply following that guide is enough to begin making winning rosters. Of course, any strategy can work if you pick the right players and following proper roster construction with the right players is the goal of what we are trying to do. The largest edges are in the allocation of positions across QB/RB/WR/TE but there are are more micro-edges relating to player projections versus ADP.

At RotoExperts, we have a consensus ranking made from the ranks of Davis Mattek, Anthony Amico and the detailed projections from the RotoExperts projection model. Comparing the outputs of that model to Average Draft Position is a great building block for player selection. There will be some players are who mispriced by a few rounds or even a tier inside of their own position when comparing the tools to Draft ADP.

Using our combined rankings page, there are exploitable inefficiencies in the market, no matter when you are drafting. The earlier that you are drafting in your DRAFT Best Balls, the more inefficient the market will be but all the way up until the start of the 2019 NFL season, there are going to be small edges.

One of the best examples is Sammy Watkins and the Kansas City Chiefs. Our team level, granular projections have Sammy Watkins as a value in the fourth or fifth round of drafts at close to WR17. However, the market as of May has Watkins as closer to WR25. Of course, there is a lot of variance in Average Draft Position (that is why it is an average of all selections) but focusing on players that project better than similarly drafted players is clearly the point of the whole exercise. Focusing on players like Watkins or Jameis Winston, who our very thorough projections like more than the market, is an ideal way to combine superior projections with superior roster construction. While these edges seem small, i.e the difference between WR17 and WR25 might only be 25 total fantasy points, when you add them up over the course of the draft they become meaningful. Making intelligent player and roster allocation decisions for 18 picks will increase your win rate compared to your opponents.

The largest strategy element that you need to keep in mind as you read this strategy guide is simple: Aim for higher upside players with your late round selections. Take two teammates for the Buffalo Bills: Cole Beasley and Robert Foster. It is quite likely that over the course of the season, Beasley will outproduce Foster in terms of targets and yards. However, because Best Ball is played as a weekly game, Foster is the more valuable player. Three catches for 44 yards is not inherently valuable in DRAFT Best Ball Leagues. Two catches for 74 yards and a touchdown (even if it only happens twice in a season) is more valuable in this format due to what we have termed “spiked week production”. In Best Ball, we do not want evenly distributed production. We would prefer scoring to come in bunches so that when a player is contributing to the lineup, they are contributing in a big way.

This goes for quarterbacks and running backs as well. Tight ends are so flat once the first two tiers have been drafted that really finding draftable tight ends is more of a micro-exercise as opposed to a macro element of drafting. Quarterbacks that offer some rushing upside (Josh Allen/Lamar Jackson) make better selections than boring, pocket QB’s (like Derek Carr or Joe Flacco). Ideally, late round running backs should be players who get weekly touches and not strict handcuffs though players like Chase Edmonds and Justice Hill are the best targets. Backup running backs who get a few weekly touches but stand to post RB1 numbers if the starter gets injured are preferred late round running back targets.

Now that we have tackled some general strategy points, understanding the DRAFT Best Ball Tools that we have on RotoExperts will help you understand the Best Ball market a bit more and aid in building winning rosters.

The RotoExperts DRAFT Best Ball Tools Explained

Draft Best Ball Rankings And Last 10 ADP

One of the keys to building winning lineups over the timeframe of an offseason of drafting in DRAFT Best Balls is understanding and tracking ADP. It is especially helpful to have rankings and projections to correspond with ADP. We have built a DRAFT Best Ball Average Draft Position App that displays rankings from Davis Mattek, Anthony Amico and the RX Projections with Average Draft Position from the last 10 days of drafts on the DRAFT app. In addition, there is also the ability to compare ADP to the consensus ranking on the website.

This is what the first round looks like on our ADP tool.

The ULTIMATE Guide To DRAFT Best Ball Leagues

In this image you can see the first-round players listed, the DailyRoto/RotoExperts projection model ranking, Davis Mattek’s ranking, Anthony Amico’s ranking, the overall consensus ranking, Average Draft Position from the last 10 days and the most important: the Discount/Premium per pick.

Red arrows are used to indicate that a player is ranked lower than their average draft position. It is not all that unusual for there to be a hoard of red arrows for the first-round draft picks as there is less deviation in the distance between one and nine then there is between 50 and 100 (the middle rounds).

As of May 20th, 2019, here is a screenshot of the tool sorted by positive Discount/Premium.
The ULTIMATE Guide To DRAFT Best Ball Leagues 1

Without delving too much into the individual projections/rankings displayed above, this shows the basic function of the tool. The idea behind displaying the rankings and their corresponding average draft positions is to point out players who are being over or under drafted at a current frame in time.

By consistently drafting players who project well and are being ignored by the DRAFT Best Ball community, you are able to build rosters that gain expected value over the course of the season. Thinking about Best Balls in terms of investing, or as a portfolio, is the best way to understand this tool. As a drafter, you are trying to accumulate as many undervalued assets as possible while avoiding buying into overvalued assets. The Discount/Premium tool allows you to see which fantasy players are most over and undervalued and use that in your decision making.

For a more comprehensive look at the movement of Average Draft Position on DRAFT over the course of the offseason, we also have a Best Ball ADP Movement App. This page displays Last 10 ADP, Last 10 days minimum and maximum draft position, Last 30 days ADP with last 30 days minimum and maximum draft slots and a movement column to display total movement over the last 30 days.

The ULTIMATE Guide To DRAFT Best Ball Leagues 2

For example, if you wanted to know the lastest that Todd Gurley has been drafted, that information would be available under Last 10 MIN. The Last 10 MIN and last 10 MAX are useful in showing some of the vagaries of how individual drafts are likely to go. Not all drafts will ever be identical so gaining some information on the ranges of players is useful when planning your portfolio of planned rosters.

The movement display column will show players who have dramatically risen and fallen over the last 30 days in DRAFT ADP. Most of the fallers will have fairly logical reasons attached to why their ADP has taken a hit and if you disagree with the logic from the crowds, you are presented with a buying opportunity. On the other hand, when sorting the Movement column in the other direction, you are able to view players who have started to rise in ADP. Generally, these players will be individuals who have gotten some positive news buzz or had a path to playing time open up in front of them. Overall, these ADP tools will help you leverage your Best Ball rosters in an easier fashion. Instead of tracking ADP in your head and managing your portfolio, these tools allow you to see the direction that the market is moving and create buying opportunities.

Systemic Drafting And Zero-RB Hybrid Best Ball Roster Construction

Systemic drafting is the concept that roster construction and understanding the variance of each individual position contributes to the whole. The combination of Late Round Quarterback drafting, hybrid Zero-RB, and understanding of the micro-differences between projections and ADP is systemic drafting. In order to determine the best strategies and roster constructions, we have undergone a thorough examination of the various strategies being used for DRAFT Best Ball leagues at the current time. What follows is the results of that analysis and a guide to using the results to draft your Best Ball rosters.

To read the rest of this article, along with more award-winning content from RotoExperts, please check out our NFL365 package. When you're fighting for a championship, RotoExperts can help take you to that Fantasy Promised Land.

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