If you haven’t noticed, there’s a season-long fantasy format growing at a break-neck pace -- it’s called best ball. I’m not sure who invented it, but depending on how much you value in-season team management, he’s either a genius or unfathomably lazy.
This is the premise of best ball: you draft your team. Finished. That’s it.
For those who enjoy playing in as many leagues as possible, this format is amazing because you don’t have to worry about weekly lineup decisions (your highest scores at each position automatically count for your score each week), waiver wires (you can’t add or drop anyone), and the general stress of maintaining your fantasy team throughout the season. Of course, with this new wrinkle in how you draft and play the season, there are variations in draft strategies that are required to be successful.
Check out these five mistakes you’ll want to avoid in your best ball drafts:
Lack of Preparation
One of the traps casual fantasy players tend to fall into is a preset draft strategy based on the 50 mock drafts they completed two days before their draft. People are terrible preparers. I’m not knocking mock drafts and I’m not making fun of the last-minute cramming strategy, but I can’t even remember 10 items on a grocery list WRITTEN ON THAT PAPER IN MY RIGHT HAND.
If you think you’re going to cobble together a last-minute game plan and remember it for a unique draft format, you might be right if your game plan is to shit all over yourself.
Good news, by the way: if you’re playing best ball, you’re playing a game that’s still relatively new and the fact you’re reading this means you’re a step ahead. There aren’t shelves dedicated to best ball draft strategies at your grocery store yet, so information isn’t oversaturated.
Follow analysts you can trust, learn the scoring settings of your league, refresh yourself on the coaching changes and free agency moves in the off-season, spend quality time mock drafting and analyzing the results, and begin forming narratives concerning players you want to avoid or target. Do that now, ahead of your best ball draft.
Using Traditional Rankings
This should be a given, and it’s a mistake closely related to my first point, but if you’re using traditional rankings as a cheat sheet in your best ball draft, you’re not living your best life. Best ball is a different creature than standard redraft leagues.
Let me example you: 99 percent of the time, I only draft one quarterback and tight end in a traditional league. I’m drafting three of each in best balls (more on that later). Traditional rankings don’t account for those variations, so by the time your draft begins, you’ll need to have trustworthy best ball specific rankings.
Overvaluing “Best Ball Guys"
There is a natural tendency to invest relatively early in best ball on players who are inconsistent on a weekly basis. We all know them -- the boom or bust guys who annoy literally every owner in a standard league. Yes, those players have more value in a best ball league than in a traditional league because you won’t be punished as severely for their bad weeks. However, investing heavily in those players can be a losing strategy. Tyrell Williams and Marquise Lee help prove this point.
Williams had two weeks with more than 22 points in 2017, a threshold Lee never reached. Williams’ big games rewarded your investment, but consider this: he had a whopping SEVEN weeks with fewer than five fantasy points. Lee had two such games. Too many bust weeks can make it difficult for a player to add enough value to your roster.
“This is the year I’m going zero RB” only works if every other person in your league isn’t thinking the same thing. Pre-determined draft strategies can create a type of tunnel vision that can burn even the sharpest players in the game, as evidenced with David Kitchen and his tight end strategy in the recent SiriusXM Independence Day draft.
Not that he’s very sharp (he’s not), so there he was, taking two tight ends in a two-TE league like a noob as 34 tight ends went off the board. A single injury at tight end would cripple his team because that waiver wire is going to be a wasteland.
You don’t want to make the same types of mistakes, so as you prepare, mock draft out of several different positions to get a good grasp on who might be available at each spot. Try different strategies from each position in your mocks to see what works best for you. Every draft requires you to be strategy-flexible and prepared to implement something new on the fly.
Flawed QB/TE Approach
Best ball drafts require a change in your approach at quarterback and tight end. There is no waiver wire, so you have to plan ahead for bye weeks and adjust for injuries.
I recommend three quarterbacks and at least two tight ends. Fantasy Insider and all around good guy @JoshADHD suggests two-and-a-half quarterbacks, so whatever. Just because you need to draft two or three of each doesn’t mean you should react like you did as a young lad, growing up with a brother and a box of Oreos with only five cookies left. Don’t immediately grab three of them.
Wait for quarterback and tight end unless one falls to you. In the middle and late rounds, grab your quarterbacks and tight ends when you’d typically be taking C.J. Anderson, grinding your teeth, selecting Jordy Nelson, and then punching yourself in the balls.
You won't miss those guys anyway. Every draft is different, but know there will be a massive quarterback run and you’re going to need at least two of them, so plan accordingly.