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Best Ball Roster Construction Strategies & Advice (2024 Fantasy Football)

Best Ball Roster Construction Strategies & Advice (2024 Fantasy Football)

Perhaps no fantasy format has a greater need to be cognizant of roster construction than in best ball leagues, where the draft is the only part that matters. Decisions about this player or that should be taken in the wider context of ‘if I pick this player here, what does that mean for the rest of my picks?’

At the heart of all fantasy decisions, we still need to hit on the right kind of players, but in recent years many successful Best Ball teams have succeeded without the obvious players you’d expect to carry such teams. Typically when this happens it’s as a result of constructing a roster optimally.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Best Ball Roster Construction Strategies & Advice (2024 Fantasy Football)

Basic Overview

Roster construction starts with the allocation of your picks to different positions. Underdog Fantasy typically has 18-player rosters, while most other sites use 20 players per team. On the back of last year’s quarterback-injury-fest, it could be tempting to overdraft the position. But two to three is the most optimal attack, and it’s the same at the tight end position. At running back, go with four to six unless you go ZeroRB and attack the position later, in which case you might go as high as seven, and then the rest of your picks are for wide receivers. The less high draft capital you invest in a position, the more you should look to draft that particular position. Essentially you are making up for a lack of quality with quantity.

In simple terms that means if you miss out on one of the elite quarterbacks in the first few rounds of the drafts then you’re likely better off going with a three-quarterback build. This will help make up for lower ceiling outcomes with more chances of hitting higher points than if you rostered only two.

Quarterbacks

This past year was the year where elite quarterbacks got pushed up draft boards like never before with Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes all going inside the first three rounds, with Lamar Jackson found not far behind them. Meanwhile in the final round of Best Ball Mania, Jared Goff, Dak Prescott, Brock Purdy and Derek Carr were the most commonly rostered quarterbacks. There are more ways than one to find quarterback points and it can pay off to take a mixed approach across your portfolio of drafts.

This has played out in previous years as well, with mid-tier quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford amongst the best in advance rate for Best Ball tournaments in 2021. And that continued in 2022 with Kirk Cousins, Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa boasting the top advance rates from the middle tier. This range of quarterbacks are also always easier to stack with their pass catchers than the elite options at the top of a draft.

The approach I lean towards most often is trying to have at least one quarterback by Round 8 or so (and ideally, two by Round 12) or things get pretty thin pretty quickly. As we mentioned already, QBs in the range outside the top 100 picks have been successful in recent years so we shouldn’t ignore this range of the draft.

The final quarterback taken on your roster is one you need to consider carefully. If you have two safe quarterbacks already you might want to shoot for upside and take a dart throw on a player like Sam Howell who was in this range during the 2023 drafts. He turned out to encapsulate the late-round quarterback perfectly with more value for fantasy than real life and offering some ceiling output games. If you’re unable to find a quarterback with plenty of upside, instead lean towards a quarterback that will allow you another stack on your roster and hope that the pass-catchers you can pair him with produce better than expected.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

Running Backs

Early ADP has eight running backs going inside the first two rounds, with five of those inside the first round. This is despite a bad year for early-round running backs in 2023 with only Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley being drafted in the first two rounds and finishing inside the top 12 at the position. But we know that this is the range where legendary running back seasons come from and unless you feel strongly about a player in this range, there’s no need to ignore them going forward.

When you select your first running back greatly impacts when you should take your second. We either double-tap the position in the first three rounds, creating a Dual-RB build, or take one and go with a HeroRB approach. The benefit of the HeroRB approach is that it allows you to still select elite quarterbacks, wide receivers or tight ends in this range without putting all your draft capital in the running back basket.

An ideal running back room involves having players with guaranteed volume as well as those with high-ceiling outcomes, whether that’s relying on a change of circumstances or perhaps rookies who will grow into their roles. Players who have guaranteed touches in September might be facing a different fate in December. As such we can look to build around that. In 2023 that might have looked like pairing Raheem Mostert with Alvin Kamara. Mostert was expected to see a majority of touches early with concerns about De’Von Achane in training camp, and Kamara was suspended for the early portion of the season. As it turned out this would have been a dynamite combination. Being thoughtful about your picks and player combinations will always set you up for success.

If you’re drafting early in the offseason, there’s a good chance the running back landscape will look very different to late August, so don’t be afraid to take some speculative shots on rookies and free agents in particular.

Wide Receivers

Wide receivers are the lifeblood of best ball rosters, whatever the format. If you intend on leaning towards the lower end of the six to eight wide receivers recommended per roster, then you need to allocate elite draft capital to the position. If you find yourself through three rounds with only one WR then it’s probably time to consider drafting seven to eight. In 2023 I found that 48% of best ball rosters in the DK Milly Maker contest had five wide receivers through nine rounds and only 1.5% of teams had zero wide receivers before Round 5.

Stacking has become commonplace in best ball drafts now, with Mike Leone finding 10.5 teams out of every 12-team league had at least some form of recognizable stack on their team. Each quarterback should be stacked if possible and having one to three players stacked with each quarterback is optimal. Wide receivers are an essential part of that, so be aggressive drafting stacking partners.

Whereas the running backs in Rounds 1 and 2 floundered in 2023, six of the top-12 wide receivers in PPR points per game, were drafted in Rounds 1 and 2. Elite players in this range consistently produce and we want exposure to them. Eleven of the top-24 wide receivers were drafted in the first 50 picks of 2023 and 15 in 2022. Time and time again this is an area we need to draft a lot of wide receivers.

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Tight Ends

This past season was an unfortunate year for the elite tight ends with T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews suffering serious injuries, Travis Kelce slowing down and George Kittle being as volatile as ever. Current ADP has no tight end being drafted in the first three rounds, but then Sam LaPorta, Kelce and Andrews all go between picks 37-55. Elite tight end production has long been worth paying for, primarily because of their ability to deliver nuclear weeks during the playoffs.

Two tight-end builds have been viable over the years, but it relies on your elite option hitting in a very good way, which in turn has led to people wondering if late-round tight-end builds are a better choice instead. Much like quarterbacks, we need to adhere to the process of if you spend up early, you only spend a little, if you wait for the bargains, you’d better take a lot of shots in the hope any of them can deliver good weeks.

Correlating your tight ends with quarterbacks or as part of playoff or team stacks is a great way to increase their potential worth. If you are counting on one player to have a good game, there’s a good chance others on their team do too.

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