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3 Tips for Drafting a Winning Best-Ball Roster (Fantasy Football)

by Jim Colombo | @WideRightNBlue | Featured Writer
Mar 13, 2020

Drafting players who play in high-scoring divisions could pay off nicely in best-ball leagues

Do you live to draft? Same here. For people like us, fantasy football never stops.

That’s what makes best-ball fantasy leagues so great. You gear up for a draft, get the guys you want, and then ride the wave to glory. What’s the best way to get there? Start with these three tips for drafting a winning Bestball10 roster.

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1. Research!

In my home league of unlovable drunks, one of our favorite things to scream at each other on draft day, regardless of context, is “Research!” 

Who is the official WR1 in Minnesota? Research!

Where should we get pizza, Bocce’s or Besta? Research!

Is Mike’s sister-in-law still single? Research!

The same idea, more or less, goes for fantasy football. When prepping for your best-ball draft, consider these recommendations, rationales, and resources.

Research Best-Ball Player Rankings
You’ve come to FantasyPros for a reason, right? Check out our best-ball rankings and filter them by consensus rank or ADP rank to get an immediate, “by-the-book” recommendation of who to draft and when.

Resource: Best Ball ADP Rankings

Create Your Own Cheat Sheet
We appreciate fantasy football managers who can think for themselves. Do you like a player more or less than we do? No problem. Use our player rankings as a guide to craft your own cheat sheet so you can draft your must-own players.

Resource: Cheat Sheet Creator

Customize a Mock Draft with Best-Ball Settings.
Practice makes perfect, so run as many mock drafts as you can. With a good idea of where players are being drafted, you’ll be able to anticipate moves and react to others more efficiently. Before you mock, enter the scoring and roster settings of your best-ball league.

Resource: Custom Mock Draft Configuration

Play in the League that Gives You the Best Chance to Win
There’s no shortage of fantasy sites out there, but some popular best ball sites are DRAFT, Bestball10, and RTSports. To determine which league will give you the best opportunity to draft well and ultimately win, ask yourself, “Which scoring and roster settings am I most comfortable with?” Next, pick the league that caters best to your fantasy football sensibilities.

To maximize your draft strategy, here are some important roster and scoring settings to know about in DRAFT, Bestball10, and RTSports best-ball leagues.

Settings DRAFT Bestball10 RTSports
Type of Draft Fast or Slow Various Snake
Teams per League Various 12 Teams 10 Teams
Players per Team 18 Players 20 Players 22 Players
Starting Lineups 1 QB
2 RBs
3 WRs
1 TE
1 RB/WR/TE
1 QB
2 RBs
3 WRs
1 TE
1 RB/WR/TE
1 D/ST
1 QB
2 RBs
2 WRs
1 TE
1 RB/WR/TE
1 D/ST
1 K
PPR 0.5 PPR 1 PPR 1 PPR
Passing TDs 4 points 4 points 4 points
Complete Rules DRAFT Bestball10 RTSports

 
Here’s the point: If you’ve played in nothing but 12-man PPR snake leagues for the past decade, you’ll probably want to draft a team at RTSports. If you’re used to quarterbacks scoring six points per passing touchdown in your annual redraft league, you’ll need to readjust your quarterback rankings to accommodate four-point scoring settings.

2. Draft Players in High-Scoring Divisions 

Conventional fantasy football wisdom says to stockpile players who play for teams with incredible offenses and terrible defenses. Why? There are three reasons: points, points, and points. While it’s relatively easy to pinpoint individual teams or players who score a ton of points, I like to take the idea one step further and determine which NFL division scores a ton of points.

As I point out in my “Way-Too-Early 2020 Fantasy Football Mock Draft,” the NFC South scored the second-most points in the NFL in 2019. Assuming this trend continues in 2020, you’ll want to put even more of a premium on players like Alvin Kamara, Matt Ryan, and Mike Evans entering your draft. 

Sure, a lot will change for teams this year, so we have to take these numbers with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, here’s how each NFL division ranked on average in overall offense and defense in 2019

2019 Stats (Average): Points Scored + Points Allowed = Total Points Per Game

Division Offense
Avg. PPG
Defense
Avg. PA PPG
Total
Avg. PPG Total
AFC North 22.4 21.8 44.2
AFC South 22.5 23.2 45.7
AFC East 20.5 20.9 41.4
AFC West 21.6 21.7 43.3
NFC North 21.9 20.8 42.7
NFC South 25.6 26 51.6
NFC East 22.3 24.4 46.7
NFC West 25.6 23.7 49.3

 
Admittedly, this is simple math that does not acknowledge any number of different scoring scenarios, calculations, or permutations (I’m not a math guy, okay?). However, if the logic here is to draft as many players on teams in divisions with statistically good offenses and bad defenses, then we must rank each division from best to worst in terms of points scored per game. To do so, all we need to do is add up the total of average points per game in each division and go from there. Here’s what that looks like …

2019 NFL Division Rank: Average PPG 

Rank NFL Division Avg. Total PPG
1 NFC South 51.6
2 NFC West 49.3
3 NFC East 46.7
4 AFC South 45.7
5 AFC North  44.2
6 AFC West 43.3
7 NFC North 42.7
8 AFC East 41.4

 
Why is this valuable best-ball draft information? Imagine you’re torn between two high-ceiling players like David Montgomery and Kenyan Drake. If you prefer to pick the player in the higher-scoring division (and I am suggesting that you should) then Drake’s your guy. 

No, this isn’t the be-all and end-all strategy for your draft, but it’s an interesting element to consider when you’re assembling your squad. In best ball, you want players with the most potential to pop, and that means drafting players on teams that put up big points. In short, consider stocking up on players in the NFC South and West to win your best-ball leagues. 

3. Look at Last Year’s Playoff Performers

There’s something to be said about recency bias in fantasy football, but that’s an article for another time. For now, try to think about lesser-known football players who could go off on any given Sunday. After all, that’s who you want on your best-ball team, right?

Check out these postseason stats from NFL.com and see if any typically under-the-radar players had any big games or perhaps more targets/touches than usual. Why are these guys worth targeting in best-ball drafts? It’s because their 2019 playoff usage could indicate more playing time in 2020.

Position Resource “Low Key” Players to Target (ADP)
Quarterback 2019 Postseason Passing Leaders Josh Allen (QB7)
Ryan Tannehill (QB17)
Taysom Hill (QB37)
Running Back 2019 Postseason Rushing Leaders Raheem Mostert (RB26)
Latavius Murray (RB41)
Boston Scott (RB47)

Gus Edwards (RB60)
Kyle Juszczyk (RB – N/A)
Wide Receiver 2019 Postseason Receiving Leaders Marquise Brown (WR36)
Mecole Hardman (WR44)
Sammy Watkins (WR58)
Cole Beasley (WR62)
Kendrick Bourne (WR90)
Tight End 2019 Postseason Receiving Leaders Dallas Goedert (TE12)
Jonnu Smith (TE15)
Jacob Hollister (TE34)

 
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Jim Colombo is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jim, check out his archive and follow him @WideRightNBlue.

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