For those who don’t already know, DRAFT has opened up a Best Ball Championship contest. Twenty-five dollars to enter, one MILLION dollars in total prizes, and a sweet 100 grand to the winner. It’s an awesome contest, and gives everyone from low to high stakes a chance at winning a major prize. Here are six tips to help you take down the grand prize.
Read the Rules
The first and most important tip I can give is to read the rules and understand the format. You will draft in a 12-team league as you normally would, and will compete against only your league for the first 12 weeks. You must score the most points out of your 12-team league to advance to Week 13. In Weeks 13, 14, and 15, you must place top three in new 12-team setups to advance each week and move on to the championship round. In Week 16, you will compete against 59 other players for the grand prize!
Focus More on Weekly Ceiling Than Floor
This applies to all best ball drafts, but every pick you make should focus more on weekly ceiling than weekly floor. Unlike a redraft league where you need to make start-and-sit decisions, DRAFT will automatically set your best lineup for you. That means you should be taking as many swings for the fences as possible.
Historical data shows point distributions are mostly random, but in a 0.5 PPR format big scores are going to come more frequently from players who make long plays and/or score touchdowns. We have a decent idea how to find players who do those things, and can use a variety of efficiency metrics to determine who the idea best ball candidates are. And of course, we will be helping you a ton with that right here at Fantasy Insiders all summer!
No, this isn’t talking about your draft position, since you have no control over that. What you do have control over is when you draft. So why early? Typically this is where you can get some extra value in later-round picks because news, injuries, and some suspensions haven’t kicked in yet.
Of course, there’s also a higher risk that those things hurt players you’ve drafted as well, but the format of the contest is such that:
Your chances of making it to the playoff rounds is the same as everyone else in your league (i.e any additional risk you incur is also incurred by your league-mates).
You need to beat other champions to make it to the final. They may not benefit from the same additional ceiling created by the variance inherent in drafting early, unless they also drafted early.
This is backed up by data. This is only the second year that DRAFT has done best ball contests, but we can use MFL10s as a proxy here (MFL10s are full PPR, but the impact on this exercise should be minimal). Gentan Schulteis (@GentanSchulteis on Twitter) was kind enough to pull up the breakdown for top 10 scorers from the last three years in MFL10’s by month. Here is how it looks for July and August (MFL10’s start in February, but this contest opened in July).
% of Drafts
% of Top 10
There has been more equity gained drafting in July versus August over the last three years in terms of being able to achieve a top score. Use this to your advantage and draft your teams early in this contest.
Use a Strategy That Embraces Variance
Along the same lines as the previous tip, you want to build a team that has a ceiling to not only win your league, but win the contest. Of course, you will need the right players to do this, but that isn’t something we can rely on heading into a draft. Instead, we should look to build a strategy that puts us in the best position to win when we do have exposure to the biggest best ball league-winners. Because we want to hit a high ceiling, that strategy should embrace variance.
The two preeminent strategies fitting this bill are Zero RB and Hyper-fragile RB. Zero RB is a great strategy because it is built to take advantage of the speed bumps that players will run into throughout the year. It also lets you buy variance in elite players at the receiver and tight end positions.
Hyper-fragile is effective in the opposite way. Here you want to lead off your draft with a string of running backs (I’d say four), but then take no more. You will be more susceptible to injuries at the position, but will have elite production there when healthy. This will also free up additional roster space for receivers. The idea is to make up the points you’d lose with a lack of elite options in the aggregate. Having more options should give you more chances for guys to "pop" each week. Again, the floor of an injury matters a lot less to us in a format where we're shooting for first in our leagues, and features a huge grand prize.
Take One Elite QB or TE
I typically lean more toward the tight end side of this, but I definitely think you want to select one top-end quarterback or tight end in your draft. The reason here is two-fold. For starters, having an elite player at one of those positions allows you to select less of them, since you are expecting a lot of points to come from one player. So instead of drafting three quarterbacks or tight ends, you can take two.
Because the draft is only 18 rounds in length, I wouldn’t want more than five total quarterbacks or tight ends on my roster. Why? Because it keeps you from taking running backs and wide receivers, who make up a lot more of your roster and scoring. If you take six total quarterbacks and tight ends, that leaves you with just 12 other roster spots to fill five every week (and likely six if a tight end isn’t good enough to flex).
Taking an elite quarterback or tight end also allows you to buy some upside at those positions you may not otherwise get. At quarterback, more players can crack the top-end from late draft positions, but there is still something to be said for buying the upside of someone like Cam Newton, who has the most 30-point games at the position since 2013.
One parameter of the Championship that I did not mention earlier is that the contest allows for up to 150 entries from one player. This brings up player diversification, and how to best go about it. The best way to diversify players will change with the number of entries you have in the competition.
If you are playing a low number of entries, let’s say 20 or less, you probably don’t need to worry about diversifying your players at all. The drafts will naturally give you a little bit of diversity, and you can otherwise hammer your core players. This leaves you exposed to coming up completely empty, but also gives you a great chance to win the whole thing if your core guys hit. We always want to attack ceiling.
Past 20 entries, you should try to have a mixed core for each strategy you invoke. How many players you should mix in will increase as you add more entries. Should you decide to max-enter the competition, 30 percent exposure to any one player is a good limit to have a really unique player pool built around one or two high-upside strategies.