Best Ball.  Maybe you’ve only heard of it in passing or maybe you’ve done 50 drafts by now.  But one thing is for sure - it’s the hottest format in fantasy football.  And that’s especially true in June/July when dynasty drafts are done but it’s too soon to do full redraft leagues with waivers, trades, etc..  So now is as good a time as ever to give you all the info you need to dominate in best ball. 


What is it?

First of all, what in tarnation is “best ball”.  The name comes from the idea that you don’t actually set your lineup each week but your highest scoring players are automatically slotted into your lineup.  But the differences from redraft don’t end there - here are some other aspects to keep in mind.  Not every league is set up exactly the same, but these rules are typical for these type leagues.

  • As we mentioned, your best players automatically slot in to your starting lineup
  • No waivers
  • No trades
  • Large rosters - as you are just doing the draft with no waivers or trades, you typically do drafts upwards of 20-30 rounds to make sure you have a sufficient number of players to last the season
  • “Roto” scoring - always check your league settings but, on popular sites like BB10s and Underdog, the scoring is Roto.  Meaning you don’t have head to head matchups but the points are accumulated all year and the person with the most points at the end wins.

The beauty of this format is that it’s super low maintenance.  You basically do your draft and that’s it - that’s your team.  If you are someone like me that is in “too many leagues” but you still want to draft this time of year, it’s a great way to get involved with current friends or make new friends doing a draft together.  If you are a Fantasy Alarm member, check the FA Discord chat because we will almost certainly be setting up some best balls with members where you can test your skills against people like me, Howard Bender, Jon Impemba, Colby Conway etc.  But anyway, let’s get into some strategy. First we’ll do a couple general tips then we’ll get into positions.  

General Tips

Count.  By the nature of this format, most viable players are going to be drafted.  And there are no waivers to bail you out so you need to have enough players on your team at the end of the draft to fill the positions.  For instance, you need to be counting how many viable QBs are remaining to make sure that you get at least two decent ones before they are gone.  You also want to count how many players around you have drafted a position or not.  If you are picking at 10 and the guys at 11 and 12 each have three QBs already, there is a good chance they aren’t taking another one and a QB might come back to you.

Bye Weeks.  You don’t always need to pay attention to this.  But, if your plan is to draft just two quarterbacks and two tight ends, it’s worth it to at least take a peek.  Again, there are no waivers so, if you only draft two QBs and they have the same bye week, that’s a guaranteed zero for that week at the position.

Place Your Bets. One thing I use best ball draft for at this time of the year is to place some bets.  You can tweet all you want about Aaron Rodgers going to the Broncos but, if that does happen, you can’t take that tweet to the bank and cash it in for money.  Here you can take that hunch and bet on it so you have that ticket in your back pocket.  Think Zach Ertz gets traded to a great landing spot?  Think DeShaun Watson gets off with a slap on the wrist? Bet on it by taking them at current ADP!

Mock. This is another thing I use these for.  I think all of us have joined a free mock draft only to have someone take Tim Tebow in the first round as a joke or draft 4 QBs in a row because he or she is “trying something out”.  Or they make three picks and stop drafting.  Ruins the whole exercise.  With these, you can put $5-$10 down and people will actually take it seriously for 20+ rounds.  A little bit of money can be a big incentive.  Just remember that best ball ADP isn’t necessarily going to be the same as redraft ADP for your hometown league.  But we’ll get into that below. 


Quarterback needs to be treated differently in this format than redraft because you can’t just draft one QB and then add one off waivers for your bye week.  Because of the large roster sizes for these leagues, every viable quarterback will likely be drafted in your league as well so it’s key to not miss the boat. Not just bye weeks but, if one of your QBs gets hurt, you are pretty much toast unless you have at least one more viable one. 

At quarterback I have a fairly simple strategy.  If I take one of the better QBs that I’m really comfortable with, I might only draft one other quarterback.  For instance, if I take Patrick Mahomes in the 3rd round, I might wait a little and take a guy who I’m confident won’t lose his job but also isn’t super flashy like maybe a Ben Roerthlisburger or Derek Carr.  Unless it’s a superflex league, only one quarterback can slot into your lineup each week so you will be wasting a lot of good weeks and high end draft capital by taking two high end quarterbacks.  If you go this route, also be weary of bye weeks - if you take Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray, not only are you wasting the capital and the good weeks but they have the same bye week.

If I don’t take a high end QB, I try to get three viable QBs.  One of my favorite moves is to wait a bit on quarterback then take two I trust (say, Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan) and then one low floor but high ceiling play (like a Trey Lance or Justin Fields).  Even if the rookies start the year on the bench (or don’t play at all) you are covered for those weeks with your top two.  This is a way to limit your exposure to risk while also having a shot at this year’s Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray if the rookies blow up.

Current Best Values at ADP based on Best Ball 10 data: Dak Prescott (49), Russell Wilson (65), Aaron Rodgers (98), Matthew Stafford (137), Ben Roethlisburger (194), Zach Wilson (216), Cam Newton (230)

Running back

In the early part of your best ball draft, running back is actually going to be treated just like any other fantasy draft.  The bell cows that are locked in for a major workload go first.  So the early ADP is going to see guys like Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Zeke Elliott, etc. come off the board just like they would in any redraft league and it’s smart to get your hands on as many of those type guys as you can.  After that is where the strategy diverges from redraft.

Home Run Hitters

In a typical redraft league you are looking for the “safe” guys that you can feel comfortable slotting into your lineup that won’t get you a zero.  Here you don’t need to make those start/sit decisions - it’s done automatically on your behalf.  You don’t need to fear the zero.  So in Best Ball you actually want to look for guys that can potentially hit home runs even if they do have down weeks from time to time.  For a deeper dive on that check out this article I wrote specifically on identifying Best Ball running backs.  To give you an example of the kind of thing to look for, one of my key metrics is speed.  Look at guys like Raheem Mostert and Kenyan Drake who recorded the three fastest plays in the NFL last year per NFL Next Gen Stats.  If you notice, those plays are often recorded on 60-70+ yard runs.  Even if that player puts up a zero the following week, a 70 yard touchdown alone is worth 13 points so they are almost certainly going to crack your lineup that week while you likely won’t get burned by the zero point week because you’ll have 5-7 RBs on your roster.  A player like JK Dobbins in a timeshare offense like the Ravens could be frustrating for redraft leagues but, in best ball, his speed and ability to score from 20+ yards out is coveted.  Some of these guys will have reduced ADPs because of opinions carried over from redraft leagues and that’s where you can find value.

Handcuffs and Vultures

At the very end of drafts when the pickings are slim, I like to target two types of guys.  One is the “handcuff plus”.  This is a player that has some stand alone value but could see a huge increase in production if the starter were to get hurt (Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattison, Jamaal Williams are examples).  These guys like Tony Pollard will break off random touchdown runs from time to time while giving the starter a breather - in redraft you would never start them because you have no idea when it’s coming but in best ball you get those points.  The other guy I target is a type of player largely forgotten about in fantasy because they are so hit or miss that they can’t be trusted in regular leagues.  The touchdown vulture.  When we are talking about the very last round of a 20-30 round draft, all you are looking for is a guy who can score a touchdown every once in awhile and sneak into your lineup.  Big plodders fall in these drafts because of our preconceived notions from redraft but guys like Gus Edwards, Jeff Wilson, Rhamondre Stevenson, AJ Dillon etc. could find themselves in best ball lineups a lot of weeks simply by being the biggest body in the running back group.  The big boys are BACK in best ball.

Current Best Values at ADP based on Best Ball 10 data: Ezekiel Elliott (9), Joe Mixon (24), JK Dobbins (58), Chris Carson (105), Raheem Moster (139), Kenyan Drake (162), Gus Edwards (167), Alexander Mattison (186), Todd Gurley (236), Sony Michel (238), Le’Veon Bell (240)

Wide Receiver

If there is one position you can wait on in best ball, it’s wide receiver.  And that’s because of how deep the position is based on the format.  Unlike running back or quarterback where their is typically one guy on the field at a time, most teams use at least two WRs on most plays and some teams like the Cardinals, Bengals, Cowboys, and Bills are using three or even four on most snaps.  By the nature of that, there are simply going to be more viable wide receivers available in round 20-30 of your best ball drafts.


Just like running back, I’ve done a full write up on specific types of guys to target at wide receiver in best ball.  But far and away the biggest values are going to be the boom/bust wide receiver.  Look at this chart from the previous article showing weeks for Cooper Kupp and Amari Cooper.

Kupp was INCREDIBLY safe, scoring at least six points in every game.  Cooper had some absolute duds scoring 1.5, 2.5, and 4.1 points in some weeks which killed you in redraft.  But here is the thing - those weeks don’t matter.  Someone else will be in your lineup.  On the flip side, 6 -12 points from Kupp might not be enough to crack your lineup in any given week.  So the reality is that Amari Cooper was the far better best ball player, slotting into your lineup a minimum of 10 times.  There is incredible value to be found with the field stretcher type wide receivers that are usually deemed too “risky” to be started in real leagues.  You don’t need to “start” anyone here.  So, if you owned Marquise Brown, you got all those weeks he scored a touchdown with none of the bad ones.     


When people hear stacking they often think of stacking a wide receiver with a quarterback which is a common DFS strategy.  And that’s not a bad strategy here but it’s also a good strategy in all of fantasy football so we don’t need to tell you that.  Here we are talking about a different kind of stacking that is actually a headache most times in redraft: stacking two WRs who are on the same team.

In the early part of the fantasy draft uncertainty is bad.  You want to use your high end capital on guys you can trust because a miss hurts you badly.  But, in the late parts of drafts, uncertainty is actually your friend.  Last year the Panthers had a new coach and new QB.  DJ Moore was going WR14 since everything thought he was a lock while guys like Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel were going WR60-65.  We didn’t know who the second WR was going to be after Moore so you could easily take BOTH Anderson and Samuel late knowing at least one of them should be decent.  And what happened? It was a brand new offense and the ball was spread around pretty evenly so Moore wasn’t necessarily even better than the other two.  You got a bunch of viable weeks from BOTH Samuel and Anderson.  This year there are a number of teams in a similar boat with a new coach and new QB where you can stack multiple of the WRs at the end of drafts - JAX, DET, NYJ, HOU.  How do we even know that Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence are going to like DJ Chark best?  With picks in the ~10-15th round range, you could easily stack both Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones Jr and at least get ONE guy who should be second on the team in targets - a lot of guys in that range are just going to outright stink so hedging your bets and locking in one player isn’t a bad move. 

Current Best Values at ADP based on Best Ball 10 data: Davante Adams (13), Keenan Allen (30), Amari Cooper (36), Adam Thielen (58), Tyler Lockett (65), Kenny Golladay (118), Will Fuller (131), Marquise Brown (146), Mike Williams (168), Darnell Mooney (174), Marvin Jones (176), TY Hilton (180), Nelson Agholor (195), Emmanuel Sanders (213), Allen Lazard (225), Tyrell Williams (234), DeSean Jackson (236), Nico Collins (240), Josh Palmer (240)

Tight End

Tight end is my specialty so a lot of people think I love high end tight ends like Travis Kelce - but that’s actually not the case.  I like FINDING the tight ends who could become high end.  Spending all this time researching tight ends to just draft the chalk play is a waste of time so I don’t often do it.  And you should think the same way about positions that YOU are good at.  Really good at finding late round running backs? Don’t load up on them with your first picks - you are doing yourself a disservice!  That said, there are two strategies that I like to deploy and one does revolve around high end tight ends.  


If you go with an elite tight end you should treat it the same way we talked about quarterback earlier.  A lot of people make a common mistake with tight ends where, if they draft Travis Kelce or Darren Waller, they just neglect the position moving forward.  This is a mistake.  What you should really do to maximize your value is take the high end tight end and then take a second highly trustworthy tight end.  This not only covers you for the bye weeks and down weeks (yes, even the greats have down weeks), but it lets you maximize your roster allocation.  If you take a high end tight end like George Kittle and then a “safe” tight end like Noah Fant, you can now essentially be done drafting tight end.  If you take Kittle then wait til the very end, now you feel uncomfortable with just one guy and end up piecing together multiple scrappy tight ends.  Those roster spots are better spent on WRs with higher upside.  Rather than have one really good tight end and three useless ones, the ideal configuration is one high end tight end, a solid one, and then two more roster spots for other positions.   

Yin & Yang 

Every year I write an article on this strategy for redraft - here is last year’s.  But the concept is simple really.  If you wait on tight end, you draft multiple tight ends.  You draft at least one safe tight end that might have a medium-low ceiling but has a decent floor so that you aren’t getting a zero (say, a guy like Irv Smith Jr. who isn’t a top two target on his team so has limited upside but should catch a couple passes a week at least to keep you afloat).  This is your Yin.  Then you pair him with a low floor but high upside tight who could be complete trash but also has something that gives them a path to high upside like speed or a chance to be the second target on his team (say, a guy like Evan Engram where the offense is changing but he’s still an athletic pass catcher who runs a 4.42).  This is your Yang.  If your lineup is all Yins, they are all going to score like 5-6 points each week and you’ll have one guy in your lineup scoring 6 points and 3 on your bench scoring 5.  If your lineup is all Yangs, you might have two guys put up 20 points week 1 then weeks 2 and 3 they both put up duds and you end up with a two and zero in your lineup for those weeks.  It’s about balance. 

If I wait on tight end, I like to take MULTIPLE of each.  That’s what bench spots are for - upside.  I might wait until every single team drafts a tight end then take Irv Smith and Evan Engram back to back then later take Adam Trautman and Austin Hooper.  Two Yins (Irv and Hooper), two Yangs (Engram, Trautman).  And I don’t need to use a pick in the top 12 rounds or so to do it.  In fact, last year I won a league with Evan Engram, Irv Smith, Jimmy Graham, and Jordan Akins which is the exact same configuration - people will scoff at all those tight ends but they put together enough good weeks for me and I was able to invest my early capital elsewhere which paid off.

Current Best Values at ADP based on Best Ball 10 data: TJ Hockenson (52), Dallas Goedert (96), Evan Engram (166), Hunter Henry (170), Jonnu Smith (179), Cole Kmet (197), Adam Trautman (198), Zach Ertz (200), Gerald Everett (207), Chris Herndon (231), Dawson Knox (235), Jacob Harris (240), Kylen Granson (240)