Having a good set of fantasy football rankings to work off of is only half the battle. And that’s especially true in best ball formats. Of course, it’s important to have some dependable rankings to keep you grounded – especially tiered rankings like we offer in our 2024 Best Ball Cheat Sheet. Otherwise, you can get wrapped up in ADP and lose sight of what’s important. 

But you also need a little more strategy than that if you want to win the big bucks in best ball tournaments like Underdog Fantasy’s Best Mall Mania V. Armed with that cheat sheet and a couple of tips from this article, you’ll have the quarterback position on lock so that you can focus on the breakout running backs and wide receivers that win leagues!

Now, best ball is different from your typical hometown redraft leagues because there is no waiver wire, trades or even lineups. Lineups are automatically set and pulled from a pool of bigger rosters that you draft. Because of that, you’ll need to pick two or three quarterbacks in each draft to cover you throughout the season. Here are some tips in terms of player type, balance and schedule for you to keep in mind.




QB Upside Is Key

The name of the game in best ball is upside. You get those “spike weeks” without any of the down weeks. And upside becomes even more crucial in the big tournaments where you need to beat thousands of other competitors in the last few playoff weeks. So, you want to have at least one quarterback on your roster that is not only capable of big individual weeks, but of having a potentially all-time great fantasy football season.

And we really only get that via two paths. One is legendary: ~50 touchdown passing seasons. It doesn’t happen every year but guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes have cracked 50. Dan Marino, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees also had seasons with 45+. 

In a 17-game season, don’t be shocked when that 50-TD mark is hit again within the next few years. The other path, one that is becoming increasingly more obvious to fantasy gamers, is mobile upside. Rushing QBs can put up high totals fairly effortlessly with a couple of rushing TDs. And they are becoming increasingly more common.




Don't Forget Balance

For anyone who has played best ball before, the upside part is fairly obvious. It’s the name of the game. The mistake I see many gamers make is completely ignoring any sort of balance in pursuit of upside. 

One version I see from time to time is gamers spending too much on the position early on. Yes, it looks nice to have Josh Allen AND Jalen Hurts, but only one can crack your lineup each week. That’s a lot of points on the bench. The same goes for drafting three quarterbacks from the top half of the QB pool – you are not only leaving those points on your bench many weeks, but you are bleeding value at running back, wide receiver and tight end by spending so much draft capital on quarterback.

And mistakes are made on the other side as well, the high-risk side. In theory, pairing Drake Maye with Justin Fields gives you a lot of mobile upside – if/when those guys start. But you need to actually make the playoffs in order to win these big tournaments. That means finishing top two in a 12-team league from weeks 1-14. Taking the discounts on rookie QBs or guys like Aaron Rodgers/Kirk Cousins is a good idea, as long as you are accounting for that risk with some balance.

For that, you have a couple of options. One is to target another quarterback that offers a nice level of weekly floor, even if they aren’t super exciting. Pairing Anthony Richardson with a guy like Brock Purdy or Jared Goff gives you some exciting upside in Richardson with weekly consistency in the other QB. Plus, Purdy and Goff are plenty capable of upside weeks and possibly even one of those 40-50 TD seasons – who knows? 

The other move is simply to draft three quarterbacks. That gives you an extra look each week and the luxury to wait on someone like Drake Maye to earn the starting job. Just know that the rates at which teams advance to the playoff rounds with four quarterbacks on the roster isn’t that great (just like only having one is a bad idea). It’s possible, but try to keep it to three. 

I’ve done quite a few drafts with our Best Ball Cheat Sheet so far and here is what I have found: if I get two quarterbacks from Tiers 1-13B, I generally stop there unless there is tremendous value left somewhere on the board. If I find myself with only one QB or none by the time I hit round 14, I generally end up taking three. Not only are the QBs less reliable in that range, but the value saved by waiting on QB up to that point justifies the third.  




Know Your QB's Schedules

It’s a tale as old as time. You take two quarterbacks that you are really excited for (let’s say, Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa). You think you’re all set. Then in the 15th round, you realize the mistake you’ve made – they have the same bye week. You now have to scramble for a third QB and you’re spending even more on the position than you hoped. Either that or you are eating a week with zero points at quarterback.

But there’s another hidden concern with this pairing that might not be readily apparent: the matchups. Take those same two QBs in Mahomes and Tua. Weeks 15, 16 and 17 are playoff weeks and the weeks where the big money is made. Over those three weeks, Kansas City plays Cleveland, Houston and Pittsburgh. The Dolphins play Houston, San Francisco,and Cleveland (and those games are sandwiched between two games against the Jets). 

On top of having the same bye weeks, that’s a pretty rough combo of playoff defenses. After you pick your first quarterback off the board, do yourself a favor and take a quick peek at his bye week AND his playoff schedule. That could help save you from a grave mistake.




Guided Chaos

Obviously, these drafts are crazy – especially ones with a 30-second clock. But, with some helpful tips, our Best Ball Cheat Sheet as your value guide and the right amount of luck, you could hit it big! 

Just keep in mind that collecting value based on the tiered rankings with the right combo of upside, balance and scheduling could be the difference between you winning a million dollars; or not.

Good luck out there!