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The Value of Participating in Early Best Ball Drafts (Fantasy Football)

by Sam Hoppen | @samhoppen | Featured Writer
Apr 17, 2020

Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Cheat Sheet Creator – which allows you to combine rankings from 100+ experts into one cheat sheet – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.

In the middle of spring, participating in best ball drafts is a common practice among fantasy football enthusiasts. Best ball is unique because you can participate in an unlimited number of drafts without worrying about managing dozens of leagues throughout the season.

Best ball is a fairly low-risk and potentially high-reward fantasy football format that requires a fraction of the time commitment relative to other league types. These are just a couple of the reasons why Best Ball is popular year-round in fantasy football.

But best ball drafts don’t solely provide a fun outlet to fill the fantasy football void in your life – they can also offer value in a couple of other ways. Allow me to walk you through how participating in Best Ball drafts early in the offseason will provide value when the actual fantasy football draft season kicks off.

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Understanding Player Value

First, participating in best ball drafts helps you understand players’ Average Draft Position (ADP) and the underlying trends that occur throughout the offseason. Unfortunately, not many websites have reliable ADP data in the spring and early summer months of the offseason because of how few drafts have been completed in redraft leagues.

A best ball draft, though, will give you an accurate snapshot of players’ current value. Furthermore, as you participate in more and more Best Ball drafts throughout the offseason, those changes in player value will start coming to form.

Recording the values of the players you’re taking is a great best practice to have as it will help with identifying player ADP trends and understanding player values. If by mid-July you’ve drafted a player multiple times in the double-digit rounds of your draft and he becomes a round-eight value because of coach speak or industry player hype, he may not be worth the new price he’s been given.

Another similar scenario in which best ball drafts can be of use is understanding how player values shift after a major injury or trade occurs. Say the lead running back on a team tears his ACL and is ruled out for the season, do the second- and third-string running backs shoot up draft boards, or is it just one of them?

This can help prepare you for these eventual scenarios that will occur throughout the preseason, as you may only have a day or two to react to the news before your draft happens. Tracking the impact of these actions that occur throughout the offseason by doing more best ball drafts will prepare you for potential uncertainty come draft day so that you can react accordingly.

Lastly, suppose you think that a team’s third-string running back has a shot to have a breakout season, then you can draft him with little risk, knowing that the payoff could be big. If you’re confident in your ability to identify and exploit situations like this, an early Best Ball draft offers you the opportunity to get in on that player at the ground floor before his draft stock rises too much.

Testing Various Draft Strategies

In that same vein, best ball drafts allow you to practice and test out various drafting strategies such as zero RB, drafting an elite tight end early, or waiting until your very last pick to draft a quarterback. With practice, you may find through your drafts that there isn’t as much value at tight end after round eight, so you can go into draft day knowing you’ll want to have your starting tight end secured before by round six or seven.

Your strategy might change depending on your draft position, too, so make sure you draft from as many positions as possible. For example, a zero RB strategy may not be ideal from the first or second spot in your draft, but it may be the only option you have if drafting at the turn of the end of the first round. It won’t just impact your early draft strategy, either, as it will have a domino effect throughout the rest of your draft and will influence how you approach filling out your bench in the late rounds.

There’s no perfect strategy with best ball drafts since so much can change between now and the start of the season. But, if you’re familiar with how each draft strategy influences the overall outcome of your draft, then you’ll be all the more prepared when it’s your turn to make that sixth-round pick.

Learning From Your Practice

As you go through your best ball drafts, don’t just leave the draft with a team that you’ll never look at again. It’s important to reflect on the results and how you felt leaving the draft so you know what you prefer when you’re on the clock in your league of record. To help collect your thoughts, consider answering each of these questions after the draft is done:

  • Which draft strategy, if any, were you employing?
  • Did your draft position influence how you approached the draft?
  • What went well and what didn’t go well?
  • Which players did you get at a value? Are you confident he’ll last that long in future drafts?
  • Which players did you have to reach for? Do you regret reaching for them?

Similarly, while you’re in the draft, take notes of the major decisions you made so that you can remember how you reacted after each of them. For instance, if you were debating between your fourth running back or second wide receiver, what influenced your decision and did the rest of your draft work out the way you hoped it would?

Going through the motions of multiple best ball drafts may be fun, but you’re not going to become a better fantasy football player without learning something from them. Also, be sure to reflect on the past couple of drafts you did before you start your next draft so that you can employ some of the tactics you learned from

Closing Thoughts

You might be thinking to yourself, “why can’t I just do mock drafts to figure all of this out instead of participating in and paying for more leagues?” Mock drafts can be useful, but the difference between a mock draft and a best ball draft are the stakes involved. We’ve all been in live mock drafts when someone drafts a kicker and defense with their first two picks only to drop out of the lobby by round four – it completely skews the results of the draft and you’ve just wasted several minutes of your potential prep time when you could be spending it more effectively.

In a mock draft, there’s nothing on the line, so the people you’re drafting against can be complete wild cards. But when drafters have something on the line they’re much more likely to draft as if it’s the real deal, and that includes yourself. If you’re not willing to draft the top quarterback with your first overall pick in a Best Ball draft, then what makes you think you’ll want to do it in your actual draft?

In closing, take the time to participate in best ball drafts to learn about player values while having some skin in the game – you’ll be all the better of a fantasy football player for it!

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Sam Hoppen is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @SamHoppen.

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