Best Ball Strategy (PlayDraft)

Alright everyone, so for those of you who are unfamiliar with Best Ball leagues, it is a format with an expanded draft consisting of 18 man rosters. You do not utilize a waiver wire, make trades, or have to deal with setting a lineup each week. Your starters are automatically your best performing players at each position to maximize your points scored. There are no weekly matchups, you just aim to score the most points any and every given week. At the end of the season, the players with the highest total points scored wins.  Your starting lineup consists of:

  • 1 QB
  • 3 WR
  • 2 RB
  • 1 TE
  • 1 Flex

With all the emphasis being on the draft, roster construction is extremely important. You want to establish a solid floor, while maximizing your upside, thus, allowing you to take a chance on those more volatile players you wouldn’t gamble on in redraft. You automatically get the boom weeks. You do have to pay attention to your bye weeks at each position to ensure you never take a 0 at any position any given week.

So, let’s break it down.

 Ideal Roster Construction

  • QB: 2–3
  • RB: 5–7
  • WR: 6–8
  • TE: 2–3

QB: You want a solid floor each week, but you also want the upside. I like to target mobile QB’s because in this format, 40 rushing yards equates to another thrown TD. So, I like going after players like Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, and Dak Prescott. It’s also a viable strategy to stack your QB’s with some of their offensive weapons (pass catching RBs, WRs, and TEs). If you have snagged 2 solid quarterbacks, then you absolutely do not need to take a third. However, if you forfeit the upper echelon of QBs to build other positions, taking 3 is necessary in the later rounds if you’re running Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota out in deeper leagues.

RB: So, you really have two options when building your team depending on your draft position–The “Zero RB” approach, or draft them early and often so you don’t have to worry about them later and hammer upside receivers. If you have the privilege of drafting in the top half of the draft, you can take your workhorse back (Saquon, CMC, AK), but given the recent news of Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon, we really don’t know how ‘safe’ any of these guys are. Once you dip beyond these guys, RBs like Mixon, Connor, Gurley, and Bell you assume a lot of risk, so it’s usually optimal to lock in a stud WR like DeAndre Hopkins or Davante Adams in that 6-10 range and grab Julio, OBJ, or Michael Thomas on the comeback or opt to pair them with Travis Kelce or Dalvin Cook for a more balanced approach.

You then want to look to hammer guys in the 4th round and beyond who have workhorse potential, but may be in a timeshare like Chris Carson, Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram, Sony Michel, Devonta Freeman, Miles Sanders, Latavius Murray, Derrius Guice or Royce Freeman. While Guice is coming off an ACL tear and is sharing a backfield with Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, the talent is undeniable; however, he may be a better bet for 2020. Still, I’ve seen him drop way too far in some drafts and I’m willing to buy at the right price. 

You then want to look for those satellite + backs who offer some stand alone value, but if given the opportunity due to injury (or holdout, thanks Lev) could win you your league. If you are confident in your backs with guaranteed volume that you invested in early, then you may be set at 5, but I like the idea of grabbing a 6th upside guy if you are only taking 2 QBs and TEs. However, if you go Zero RB you will want to opt for a 6th, possibly even 7th guy to increase your odds of hitting on one of these guys if you’re really strong at other positions.

Guys I like: Chase Edmonds, Austin Ekeler, Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattisson, Justice Hill, Jaylen Samuels, Devin Singletary

WR: This is the position with the most volatility so you want to maximize your upside and swing for the fences in the middle to late rounds of drafts. There are a ton of guys I love this year in the middle to late rounds that you can get for free. In the mid rounds I love ’em all, which is why I tend to take my RBs early and one of the elite TEs then just hammer WRs. Guys in this range include: DJ Moore, Chris Godwin, Mike Williams, Calvin Ridley, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Lockett, Christian Kirk, Courtland Sutton, Jarvis Landry, and Kenny Golladay. As you get later into the draft, look for those splash play guys like Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, Albert Wilson, Hollywood Brown, John Brown, DaeSean Hamilton, Donte Moncrief, Dede Westbrook, Rashard Higgins, and Desean Jackson or a floor play in those #3 guys who have the slot work locked up, like Trey Quinn, Justin Watson, Adam Humphries and now Jalen Hurd, the former Vols RB turned Baylor WR. This guy could be a real weapon for Kyle Shannahan as he creates a mismatch for anyone on the field trying to guard him. He looked great in the limited action we saw in the preseason opener. 

*Bear in mind, these slot guys are safer, floor plays and the upside is limited in Half PPR, so look elsewhere if you want a homerun.

Other late round guys: DJ Chark, Terry McLaurin, Andy Isabella, AJ Brown, Deebo Samuel, Tyrell Williams, Michael Gallup, Kenny Stills, Mecole Hardman, David Moore, Travis Benjamin

*While I love McLaurin’s talent, he will be playing on perhaps the worst offense in the league with a rookie QB (albeit one he has chemistry with from college) or Case Keenum, but Haskins has a high football IQ and could surprise some people.

TE: Finally we’ve reached Tight Ends. So there’s really only two ways to play this. You either take Travis Kelce at the back of the first/early second and count your money or reach too early for Ertz and Kittle, which I don’t particularly like doing. We saw an incredible, but unsustainable YAC for George Kittle last year and with the emergence of Dallas Goedert and other offensive weapons added in Philly, I’m personally fading Ertz at his ADP. You could reach for those Tier 2 guys like Evan Engram, OJ Howard, and Hunter Henry (all of whom I like, if you can snag them later). OR you punt the position and look for the value. I really like David Njoku this year and I feel he’s being overlooked with the addition of Odell Beckham, but look for Njoku to make some noise over the middle and in the red zone this year. Austin Hooper and Vance McDonald are some other guys I like later on, but if you’re deep in the tank I’m targeting Mark Andrews, Mike Gesicki, Jordan Reed, Jack Doyle, Dallas Goedert, TJ Hockensen, Noah Fant, and Cameron Brate. 

I know historically rookie TEs take a few years to develop, but Fant and Hockensen aren’t your typical tight end prospects. These two guys cannibalized each other at Iowa and are SPARQ freak. Fant is more of a “move” tight end, while I believe Hockensen is the superior blocker and can play on all 3 downs,it’s hard to knock either one. Both project to be the starter for their teams with arguably thin WR corps, so could be the exceptions to the rule. Don’t mind taking a shot on either one as your second or third TE with upside in deeper leagues.

Finally, similar to QBs, if you take two upper tier guys, you do not need a third. But if you kick the can too far down the road, you may need the third guy for insurance. Remember, this is the toughest and most injury prone position in football, so there’s a real premium placed on the upper tier guys. Another solid approach in years past-if you’re at the 2/3 turn, lock up 2 of the elite guys like Gronk, Kelce, Ertz, Kittle and you create a huge positional advantage over everyone else in your league in your TE and Flex spot. Although, with me personally fading Ertz and Kittle’s historic seasons, it’s Kelce or bust for me this year. A final note, be fluid in your drafts and take them as they come. Be able to adjust to the climate of the room and be sure to avoid take-lock. Any given round, a player you hate at their current ADP could become a screaming value later in drafts if they fall. You will not always need 3 QBs or TEs, and it’s important to diversify your portfolio where you can, due to the nature of the format, because if you lose a player to injury, they’re gone for the year (RIP to all my Hunter Henry shares last year). There is no secret formula to these things, we just try to put ourselves in the best possible situations to be successful then pray to the football gods. Look good, feel good, run good boys.