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Fantasy Football: How to Approach Best-Ball vs. Season-Long

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Aug 8, 2017

Sammy Watkins is among the best targets in best-ball formats.

Raise your hand if you have a hard time doing new things. I am one with you. Whether it be a new sleep schedule, new cellphone, new lawnmower, or new baseball glove. We reject change, for whatever reason. I didn’t buy a smartphone until the iPhone 3 came out because, “What the heck do I need the internet on my phone for? I have a computer.” You may not be as bad as I was, but you get the point. But once we get settled in, we have no idea how we lived without it. I can tell you right now that my wife would pay a lot of money for me NOT to have a smartphone because I’m always on it, checking Twitter and the status of my best ball leagues.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard about best-ball leagues. Some guy asked me who to draft on his best-ball team, and for the first time in my football life, I was speechless. Here I am, the guy who wins most of his fantasy leagues every year, the guy people come to for advice, the guy who can tell you who the fifth wide receiver is on every NFL team, yet I had no clue what this guy was talking about. Upon learning about it, I had to give it a shot. With most things in life, I have no idea how I went without playing them for so long.

If you haven’t played-in or heard-of a best-ball league, that’s what we’ll be discussing here today. Best-ball is a draft-only league. You will not have to manage a roster, will not check the waiver wire every week, you will not make trades, and you will not set lineups. You no longer have to agonize over which Patriots running back to start. Why? Because it’s draft-only.

How does that work? What you do is take part in one of DRAFT’s fast-drafts with 30-second timers (these drafts are done within an hour), or their slow drafts that have eight-hour timers (these drafts will typically last over a span of 1-2 weeks). It’s an 18-round draft where you’ll draft a combination of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. That’s right, no kickers or defenses. The scoring setting is 0.5 PPR and there are eight starting lineup positions to occupy: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 W/R/T. DRAFT will automatically select the highest scoring players at each position from your team to insert into your starting lineup. Each week, your team’s total points will be accumulated from Week 1 though Week 16, with the highest total score at the end of the season winning.

Get a free Best Ball entry with your 1st deposit at DRAFT! >>

How to Approach Running Backs

So, what is the difference between drafting for best-ball and your traditional season-long league? Well, to start, you can’t go with the whole, “I’ll find a running back on the waiver wire to start if I need to” approach. You’re going to want to draft a lot more upside than you do safety, especially at the running back position. If there is a player who is locked into the passing down role, but won’t get a crack at the starting job even with an injury to the starter, he doesn’t have league-winning upside. Instead, you’ll want to take your chances on some hit or miss players, like the running backs in New England. How many times have you sat in front of your computer, wondering whether or not you should start LeGarrette Blount? In DRAFT’s best-ball leagues, you will automatically get credit when he has a big week, and not suffer the downside when he doesn’t. In short, you’re able to take on much more risk in best-ball formats. Later in the draft, take players who would be the clear-cut starter, should the starting running back go down with an injury.

How to Approach Wide Receivers

As for the wide receiver position, you’re in a similar situation, as you’ll want to bump up those who are typically labeled as boom-or-bust. Think about Davante Adams, who had six games with less than 10.0 points in DRAFT’s scoring last year, but also had six games where he scored 17 or more points. Tyler Lockett is a player who had two games with more than 22 fantasy points, but also had eight games with less than five points. These are the types of players you want to target, while the boring wide receivers on bad offenses are those who should be avoided. For instance, Demaryius Thomas hasn’t reached 21 fantasy points since Week 12 of 2014. Does that mean he’s a bad wide receiver? No, but it limits his potential in best-ball. Instead of taking him, snag someone like Sammy Watkins, who despite playing in just 37 games, has had seven such performances with 21 or more fantasy points.

You do need to know that there is a fine line that you should not cross, as drafting a player like Lockett over someone like Pierre Garcon would not be wise. Garcon may not have the ceiling that Lockett does, but his floor will get you through when some of your boom-or-bust players don’t have the game you’d hoped. Pairing this article with my best-ball rankings should give you an idea as to where that line is for certain players. Click here for my best-ball rankings.

How to Approach Quarterbacks and Tight Ends

The obvious thing here is that you’ll want to grab multiple quarterbacks in best-ball, seeing how important the position is, and that you’ll have no waiver wire access. Guys who are on a leash (Trevor Siemian, Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, etc.) don’t carry much value, because if they’re benched after four weeks, you’re staring at a bunch of zeroes the remainder of the season. My approach is to snag two of the top 18 quarterbacks. If I get two guys who are typically good for 16 games, I’ll stack my roster everywhere else. If I get a mobile quarterback or someone who often misses a few games (Ben Roethlisberger), I’ll ensure I snag a third quarterback, and preferably not one who could lose his job by Week 4.

Contrary to the running backs and wide receivers, your approach to which players you draft should remain somewhat stagnant to your season-long leagues. There are a few exceptions, though, at the quarterback position. While Carson Palmer isn’t a bad streamer in season-long, he’s scored more than 25 fantasy points just once in the last four years. Meanwhile, Eli Manning is someone who is absolutely awful sometimes, but he’ll also deliver big in others, totaling six games with more than 25 fantasy points in that same time period as Palmer. Little things like that are what you should keep in mind when selecting your quarterbacks, though most of them are similar to season-long rankings.

Tight ends are so touchdown-dependent already, that their rankings are almost the exact same for me in best-ball as they are in season-long. Instead of changing my rankings, I’ll just attach a disclaimer to a few of them. For instance, if I draft Tyler Eifert, I know that I’ll want to snag a third tight end because he almost always misses some games. Considering the natural volatility at the position, it’s best to have three of them on your roster, unless you get two tight ends who are considered to be top-12 options.

Biggest Takeaways

When playing best-ball, you aren’t shooting for mediocrity or safety, because that’s what gets you third- or fourth-place in your league. You want to put together a group that is prepared for opportunity when injuries arise, and preferably in a high-scoring offense. Think about it this way – if Robert Woods were to go down with an injury, what would Cooper Kupp’s ceiling really be? On the other hand, what would Geronimo Allison’s ceiling be if something were to happen to Davante Adams or Jordy Nelson? Kupp is currently being drafted in front of Allison. We’ve all seen what DeAngelo Williams did in Le’Veon Bell’s absence, but somehow James Conner (his current backup) is going behind guys like Kenyan Drake, Devontae Booker, and Wendell Smallwood. These are the things to keep in mind in best-ball, because these are the things that could win you your league. Don’t forget to sign up with the link below to get a free best-ball entry!

Get a free Best Ball entry with your 1st deposit at DRAFT! >>

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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