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Underdog Best Ball Strategy: Way-Too-Early Contests (Fantasy Football)

Underdog Best Ball Strategy: Way-Too-Early Contests (Fantasy Football)

Best ball season moved up another gear this week with Underdog launching their first best ball offering of the year. Best Ball drafters can now get drafting on both Underdog and FFPC, with Drafters and DraftKings likely following suit around the time of the draft. Underdog’s first contest is The Big Board costing $10 per entry, and there will be plenty more contests on the way, with entries from $3 all the way up to high stakes and maximum entries ranging from one to 150.

If you haven’t played best ball on Underdog before, there are key differences to be aware of, and these will apply to all best ball tournaments on Underdog when they launch other contests through the offseason.

2023 Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Advice

Underdog Best Ball Strategy: Way-Too-Early Contests

You can find our expert consensus best ball rankings here. And here’s our best ball ADP.

Roster Size and Requirements

Underdog use rosters with 18 spaces typically unless it’s a Superflex contest, which makes those final selections really matter compared to FFPC and DraftKings’ 20-person rosters. On Underdog, drafters often lean towards only taking two QB/TE if they have elected to choose one early because in part of the reduced rosters. Embracing fragility can often be the key to winning finals, and we should willing to embrace those builds.

Starting lineups are a total of eight players:

  • Quarterback – 1
  • Running backs – 2
  • Wide receivers – 3
  • Tight ends – 1
  • Flex (WR/RB/TE) – 1

Historically wide receivers have out-scored running backs, particularly when starting in the flex. Combined with the need to start three of them even in half-PPR makes wide receivers very important on Underdog but not as important as on full PPR sites.

Scoring Format

Like all platforms, Underdog likes to have its own tweaks to fantasy scoring, and it differs largely from Draftkings full-point PPR and FFPC’s tight-end premium. Underdog use half-point PPR, which inherently flattens the positional advantages

Tournament Structure

Like many common best-ball tournament structures, Underdog starts with a 12-person draft, either fast or slow, and for the first fourteen weeks, you will compete against those twelve people. The top two teams in points scored will typically progress onto the first round of the playoffs, where the playoff structure is generally like this;

  • Round 1 – Weeks 1-14 (top two advances)
  • Round 2 – Week 15 (first place advances)
  • Round 3 – Week 16 (first place advances)
  • Round 4 – Week 17 (final)

Advancing out of your initial group will secure profit relative to one single entry, but the real prize money only comes in the final. If you’re planning on entering a reasonable quantity, the final should always be your goal. Leaving the tournament during the playoff rounds will sting as the payouts in the finals jump dramatically.

In 2022 Underdog’s main contest, Best Ball Mania III, featured a final of over 400 people, which looked large on initial release until DraftKings announced theirs had a 969-person final. Making it to the final of any best ball contest will be a tough ask on its own, but winning it all will require a great team and a slice of luck.

Strategies

Like many forms of fantasy football, there is no one true way to win. Best ball is still a very young game, and it can be quite difficult to predict what will be the most successful strategy year after year. However, what remains true is that drafting with strategy in mind tends to be more successful. The list below includes many popular fantasy strategies, links to longer articles in our Best Ball Guide where we dive into more detail, and thoughts on if they will work for this contest.

Roster Construction

Roster construction, like any best-ball contest, matters greatly. Taking too many quarterbacks will leave a lot of points on your bench each week and leave you weaker elsewhere. Ideally, you will have:

  • QB – 2-3
  • RB – 4-7
  • WR – 6-8
  • TE – 2-3

For more on roster construction, check out this articlepartner-arrow

Being open to different draft strategies

Underdog attracts a lot of casual users to the platform, in part because of its user-friendly experience and the large range of contests. With this comes many users who are less experienced with best ball and will often askew best-ball strategies in favor of picking the players they like in the balance they want. Every year different strategies shine through, and by being open to various strategies, we can give ourselves more possible avenues to winning. When playing against more of a casual field, embracing extreme and fragile strategies can help us to make our rosters stand out. Both ‘Zero RB’ and ‘Hyper Fragile RB’ are very viable in this format. For more on strategies, including historical win rates and best implementations, check out the complete best ball guide.

Stacking

Stacking is fairly commonplace in best ball these days, and for good reason. Many studies have shown that stacking leads to an increase in the likelihood of progressing. We can stack in a variety of ways, but the simplest is aiming for a quarterback with two pass-catchers unless they’re particularly run-heavy, in which case a quarterback plus a single pass-catcher is a more typical option. We can increase our chances of winning in the playoff weeks by looking for correlated stacks that involve players playing our main stack in weeks 15-17. The NFL Schedule hasn’t been released yet, but when it is, we’ll have more content on what stacks to target.

Be mindful of player exposures.

Underdog has built-in features to track your exposure to certain players, and it is well worth spending time becoming familiar with this section of the app. If we become too reliant on a few players, our rosters could all be destroyed quickly if those players’ circumstances were to change. For more on tracking player exposure and the benefits of spreading your exposures out, check out this article.

Best Ball: Spreading out exposure in late-round pickspartner-arrow

Consider the tournament settings.

If you’re entering the $3 contest, it’s worth considering that this will be the most appealing contest to casual and inexperienced players due to the low price point. It’s still a large field that we have to beat, and having a unique lineup in the final will require some thought. The field will underutilize extreme strategies like ‘Zero RB,’ and they become even more worth considering, particularly if you plan to enter the contest several times or more. To win a large contest like Best Ball Mania, it might take a stack of four or five players from one game; typically, the smaller-field contests have slightly lower scoring, and the edges are in player selection. Aim to draft multiple correlated players from week 17 matchups, and you will have a better shot at a unique lineup.

Rankings

Handily, Underdog allows you to upload your own rankings or drop in rankings from anywhere you’ve got access to them. I recommend using the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) here on FantasyPros, which is based on a collection of fantasy analysts’ rankings. Using rankings can allow you to be ahead of ADP on certain players and hoover up bargains when they fall past their ranking and ADP. Rankings are never concrete but instead a guide to help you understand how certain players are valued.

Have a plan

This doesn’t mean predetermining your strategy before starting a draft; instead, it means considering your overall plan for this contest. Will you be entering once, twice, fifty times, or possibly max entering the bigger contest with 150 entries? Suppose you plan on entering a large number of entries. In that case, it’s worth considering when you’d like the majority of your entries to be, now when ADP is still fluctuating wildly, or perhaps closer to the season when more information is on the table. Ultimately, the most critical thing with best ball is playing within your budget and enjoying it. With more and more best-ball contests launching, having a budget is imperative. When you’re done drafting, don’t forget to post those rosters in the FantasyPros Discord to hear what others think of them. You can always reach out to me on Twitter if you have any questions @NFL_Tstrack.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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