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Best Ball Draft Strategy

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Mon, 20 May 2024 . 1:23 PM EDT
  1. Start Your Path to WinningThese basics will lay the base for your best ball run
  2. Core Strategies for Best Ball SuccessLearn these essentials before your next draft
  3. Step Up Your Game with Advanced TechniquesWanna win? Then you can't draft like everyone else
  4. Put Your Knowledge & Tools to WorkGet ready to crush your best ball draft


Best Ball Boom Presents You Huge Opportunity

Best Ball drafts are firing right now on Underdog Fantasy, FFPC, and other sites.

You can leverage this unique format to outsmart your competition. And win a bunch of money for teams you simply draft and never touch again.

The first thing you need to understand might be obvious: Drafting best ball teams is far different than regular fantasy football drafts.

"Draft and forget" is super simple. But you've got to strategize a lot more about how you draft your team.

And if you're entering big tournaments, the way you draft changes even more dramatically. 

That’s why we made this guide for Best Ball to help you beat the competition in any draft you enter.

Plus, at the end, there's info on easy-to-use tools that help you draft smarter and faster… using every Best Bell strategy and tip you've learned.


1. Some Basics for Winning in Best Ball

Fantasy football always comes down to building the best team. And there will always be multiple ways to do that.

But when you:

  • don’t have a waiver wire
  • can’t make trades
  • don’t set a weekly lineup

… you need to build differently. You need to think differently. You need to draft differently.

And you MUST keep in mind the specifics of your format.

Tailoring Your Draft Strategy to Best Ball Formats

Are you drafting a Best Ball tournament team or playing in a standalone league

It’s makes a difference to how you’ll draft …

Both will share many of the core strategies we’ll dig into in a minute. A single league, however, can more closely align with the kind of fantasy football drafting you’re used to.

You’ll still want to stack teammates. You’ll still want to hunt for spike weeks. But you can more easily get away with imperfect roster construction.

Your Tournament Team Needs to Chase Perfection

By comparison – your tournament team needs to be damn near perfect. The more competitors you’re facing, the better your entry needs to be.

That’s where finding edges, taking chances, and getting unique become especially important. And we’ll get into all those areas.

But no matter your best ball format, you should always do this …

The Best Ball Edge: Choose Upside Over Consistency

That’s the biggest key to best ball success. A player like WR Gabe Davis will infuriate you when you need to set a weekly lineup – forcing you to either guess when to use him or just eat his bad weeks.

The Best Ball format allows you to benefit from Davis’ spike weeks and have someone automatically take his spot when he posts a goose egg.

That doesn’t mean you should only target boom/bust types. But you don’t need to worry about balancing such players with more consistent producers. You do need to keep this next factor in mind …

Drafting vs. Building: Strategic Approaches In Best Ball

If it’s a standalone best ball league, then you need only focus on that team. Build the best team to win that league.

This approach changes dramatically if you are participating in a tournament, where you’re likely submitting multiple – perhaps numerous – entries.

The more entries you have, the more you’re building a best ball portfolio.

Avoid Common Mistakes in Your Best Ball Portfolio

Every team in your best ball portfolio is independently chasing the same prize pool, but they also share a certain level of collective strategy.

To avoid the most common tournament-killing mistakes, you’ll have to consider factors such as:

  • Player exposures: the percentage of your total rosters that include a certain player
  • Varying your roster structure: how and when you address each position
  • How to get unique: can’t just beat thousands of teams by “picking the best players”

We’ll dig into how you can mistake-proof that portfolio in the Advanced Draft Techniques section.

For now, let’s turn to …


2. Core Strategies for Best Ball Success

No matter what kind of Best Ball draft you’re heading into, the following essential strategies will set a strong base.

And just like everything we teach at Draft Sharks University, it all starts with value …

Leverage the Value Your Draft Presents

While projections guide the drafting process, they aren't the only factor influencing player rankings. Each player’s rank/valuation also hinges on:

  • How his projected fantasy points stack up against the average for that position.
  • The relative value of his position compared to other positions (adjusted for your league's settings/scoring rules)
  • And how your particular draft unfolds.

Capitalize on Draft Value

You’ll probably have a pretty good idea of how to value players heading into your draft, based on your pre-draft rankings, ADP, and draft practice.

Maybe you’re ready to go heavy on WRs early. Maybe you’re sure you want to wait on a QB.

That’s fine. A plan is good. But drafting by a rigid plan with no flexibility will keep you from taking advantage of your specific draft.

What if everyone goes WR-heavy? What if Josh Allen slips a round past ADP?

You have to be ready and able to adjust on the fly if you want to take full advantage of every draft – and of every pick.

Recognizing value when it presents itself will deliver a key boost to your Best Ball drafting.

And it boils down to good drafting strategies by position...

Mastering QB Strategy in Best Ball Drafts

You’ll want to finish your Best Ball draft with two or three QBs (assuming it’s not superflex). Whether you go two or three can depend on when you draft them.

Taking an early QB as your first is a fine move. The top guys tend to be reliable scorers. But the earlier you draft your first, the more you need from him.

So treat that early QB as though he’s going to start for you most weeks. Wait for your second QB. And unless you take that second very late, you should probably stop at two QBs.

Waiting for your QB changes the plan.

It’s also fine to wait on the position – even to take a QB just outside the top 12 QBs as your first.

But if you go that path, you should select your second QB sooner after your first. In this case, you’re not betting as heavily on that starter.

And in this scenario, consider taking a third QB late in your draft – depending on the strength/upside of the first two.

Unlocking Tight End Strategy in Best Ball

How you approach tight end should be similar to your QB plan. Like at QB, you only need one starting TE per week.

So the earlier you draft your first, the more you need to expect him to pay off – and the longer you should generally wait on your second.

One key difference: You’ll most often want a third TE. They don’t score as reliably as QBs. And if you do get two starter-level performances in a week, one could slot into your flex position.


A TE-premium format such as FFPC will alter how early you need to target the position. It also adds value to drafting three of them – and you might even want to consider a fourth TE late in your draft.

How Will You Know When to Target QB and TE?

That will depend on your format, how you’re building your team, and even how your specific draft proceeds.

A high-level draft assistant will make your life easier … and give you a huge edge over the competition.

Make Your RB Strategy Work

Some analysts will tell you there’s only one way to handle RBs in best ball drafting. That’s BS.

Recent results say you should not follow a “Robust RB” strategy, which is starting your draft with at least three RB picks in a row.

The truth is – that tactic has NOT produced good results in best ball tournaments. Otherwise, though, it’s more about how you apply your chosen draft strategy.

How to Win Drafting Hero-RB

“Hero RB” means taking a RB with one of your first two draft picks. But then you wait a while before adding any more at the position.

That first RB is your “hero” at the position. You’re drafting that guy early to put up big numbers and anchor the position. So you’ll get more value by collecting lower-level RBs behind him.

Finish your draft with 5, 6, maybe even 7 RBs. You’ll rake in the big weeks from your non-hero RBs while avoiding being hurt by their down weeks.

How to Win Drafting Zero-RB

You’ve probably heard of the “Zero-RB” method, which typically refers to waiting until at least Round 7 before selecting your first RB. You’ll want to finish your draft with 6-7 RBs.

This strategy gains value if those you’re drafting with are not following the same path. The more fellow drafters looking to load up on WRs early, the tougher it’ll be for you to find value there.

Whenever you draft Zero-RB, target a mix of RBs with strong receiving roles and those with paths to big workloads. Kyren Williams in 2023 became the poster boy for what’s possible.

Can I Win with Other RB Draft Strategies?

Of course. You can build a good team that includes drafting two RBs among your first 4-5 picks. Just pay attention to how you do it.

If you select two early RBs, lean away from the position for a while to fortify your other areas.

At the same time, watch how your draft is going. If everyone else is letting RB value fall, then you can differentiate with a high-level RB3. Let him vault your RB scoring upside and/or rack up points in a flex spot.

Don’t Let WR Greed Control Your Draft

Best ball drafters have pushed WRs way up the board in recent seasons – and for good reason. 

WRs are generally valued for their high scoring potential and consistency, offering stable points each week, especially in PPR (points per reception) leagues.

In best ball, drafting WRs early can capitalize on their high-ceiling performances, since you're automatically getting the highest scoring players each week. This strategy leverages the positional depth and potential for explosive weekly scores from top-tier WRs, providing a competitive edge.

What’s that mean for your draft? You can still go Zero-RB, Hero-RB, or any other draft plan that favors wideouts early.

But pay attention to your positional tiers and the players available at other positions. If you’re simply taking whoever’s next when your turn comes up, then you’re not differentiating your roster.

Chase Stud WRs Early in Best Ball

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in any best ball draft is spending an early pick on a player coming off a flimsy “breakout” season.

  • Did he score way more TDs than expected for his reception total?
  • Was his catch rate or yards per catch way out of line with other seasons?
  • Has something significantly changed with his situation vs. last year?

If you answer “yes” to any of those, be wary of his newly early ADP.

And if someone else drafts that flimsy player ahead of a WR who’s been gobbling targets for several years, smile and enjoy your stud wideout.

Look for Breakout Potential in Middle Rounds

If you land 2-3 high-level WRs early, then it gets easier to take chances – chase some upside – through the middle rounds of your draft.

Target some younger WRs who have signaled breakout potential. Be willing to overlook that lone area of uncertainty. If he were a sure thing to break out, then he’d be going earlier.

Be careful, though. The more areas of uncertainty he sports, the more risk he presents.


How will you know which potential breakouts to target in this range? Our new Best Ball Draft War Room switches to Upside Mode earlier for just that reason. We’re hunting for breakouts in that range just like you are.

Want more WR draft tips?

The further you get into your draft, the more stacking matters. And the more interesting rookies get. Let’s dig into that … and more.

Build Stacks … But Don’t Reach for Them

Unless you’re new to best ball, you probably already know about stacking – and that it’s important. Pretty easy to understand why.

Stacking pairs teammates together on a fantasy football roster, most commonly a QB with pass catchers. Every time that QB completes a throw, gains passing yards, or tosses a TD, someone’s on the other end.

If you can rack up points on both ends of a single play instead of needing two separate plays, then you’re in good shape.

Basic Stacking Delivers Points in Bundles

If you’re deciding between two QBs or a pair of WRs at a certain turn, pay attention to whether you already have the other half of that potential stack on your roster.

That should be enough to break the tie in your decision-making. You’ll get a bigger boost from completing that stack than banking on the unrelated QB and WR both hitting.

But don’t reach too far to complete that stack. Doing so undercuts the value of the stack by placing a worse player on your roster.

Look for Stacking Opportunities as You Draft

As soon as you have any players on your roster, you should be looking for stack opportunities. But you should also know the different levels of potential stacks.

The Draft Sharks Best Ball Draft War Room helps by applying green highlights to teammates of players you’ve already rostered. And it’ll vary by importance.

The link between QBs and WRs and TEs, for example, shows darker green – to make sure you don’t miss out. RBs, on the other hand, show lighter to signal lower importance.

Next-Level Stacking Presents a Bigger Edge

Everyone in your best ball draft will know about stacking QBs and pass catchers. That’s why you need to dig a little deeper.

Combine that QB with multiple pass catchers to deepen your bet on his season and take full advantage if he balls out.

And even if you don’t land that QB, stacking pass catchers from offenses that you believe in can multiply the starter weeks you derive from that high-ceiling offense.

Pay attention to game-stacking for playoff weeks

If you’re drafting in a tournament that follows a regular season with 2-3 playoff weeks, then pay attention to the NFL matchups in those final weeks.

Already have a QB-WR stack on your roster? Consider drafting a WR, RB, or TE playing against that team in Week 17.

If your roster makes it to the final round, that grouping will give you a chance to load up on fantasy points from a high-scoring game.

Don’t overdo your playoff stacking

Beware of a few things on this front:

  1. Other drafters will be game stacking as well. So look for some less-popular groupings to differentiate your Week 17 lineup.
  2. None of us really knows how these NFL teams will look by the end of the year. Don’t be too sure about which Week 17 matchups make the best targets.
  3. Focusing too much on building these playoff-week stacks can lead to overlooking the regular season. Don’t target worse players just for the Week 17 stack.


3. Advanced Draft Techniques

Each year means more best ball drafting, more people drafting teams, and more experience for those best ball drafters. That makes it tougher to find and maintain your edge in best ball drafts.

And isn’t that why you’re here? Why you’ve read this far?

We’re constantly hunting for new edges, drawing from our own drafts – reviewing what worked … and what didn’t – and presenting those edges to enhance your draft.

Here are some techniques we’re putting into action …

Leverage ADP Fluctuations to Steal Value

You can now draft all year. But drafting in March is very different from drafting in August.

Incoming rookies, for example, will commonly stay on the board much longer before April’s NFL Draft than they will after. That means opportunity to maximize your rookie exposures in early drafting, before many of their ADPs climb.

And it’s not just rookies. You can get …

  • Good early values on veterans headed for free agency
  • Good June values on players with potential to create buzz during training camp and preseason.
  • Good August values on guys who slide down the ADP board simply because of negative reports or perhaps a minor injury.

Stay on Top of ADP All Year

The Draft War Room pulls direct ADP feeds from actual Underdog Fantasy and FFPC best ball drafting. So you’ll always know where each player is commonly going.

Even for the guys who aren’t moving up or down the ADP rankings, that info can be vital for highlighting draft day targets.

Take Advantage of Recency Bias

Recency bias is when you weigh recent results or factors more heavily than previous data. And you’ll see plenty of it in your best ball drafts.

Last year’s top scorers, they’re going MUCH earlier this year. And the guys who disappointed? They’ll cost less now … often to a shocking degree.

Working out projections early for the coming season is a great way to know who the market is too high or too low on. (Check out our 2024 Best Ball Rankings.)

Scoring a Late-Round “Lottery” Winner

Kyren Williams. Puka Nacua. Trey McBride. All three went very late in 2023 drafts … when they were picked at all.

And then all three turned into difference-makers for the best ball rosters they did land on.

Knowing what to look for over those final few rounds can mean the difference between a throwaway pick and a tournament winner.

Target Rookie WRs

Wideouts historically start slowly in their first NFL seasons but improve over the second half.

It makes sense. There’s a lot to learn and get used to. And the QB and coaches need to learn about you. More experience, more comfort.

Just look at Rashee Rice’s 2023. A quiet start gave way to a huge finish, right at the time of year you’re hoping to advance your best ball roster through the playoff rounds.

Look for Players with Non-Obvious Opportunity

No one knew last August that Kyren Williams was about to take over the Rams’ backfield. But we did know that Cam Akers had yet to prove himself over a full season – and had a strained relationship with Sean McVay.

Trey McBride had only a rehabbing Zach Ertz ahead of him. Puka Nacua joined a Rams WR corps with little beyond Cooper Kupp.

Seek out players with talent and other upside signals who just need something to break their way to provide opportunity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Unique

The larger the field you’re trying to beat, the more upside to getting unique with your roster build.

One easy trick: At the end of your draft, scroll through players with ADPs beyond draft range.

Stash a player with some intrigue from that area as your RB6-7 or WR9-10. And if he hits – at all – you’re getting points everyone else missed. If he doesn’t … what’d you really lose?


4. Time to Draft: Leveraging Advanced Tools & Technology

If you’ve made it all the way to this section, then you’re clearly serious about your best ball drafting.

You want to do it right.
You want an edge.
You want to win.

That’s where advanced technology and tools can level up your best ball drafting prowess by providing data-driven insights, projections, and optimization algorithms. 

Here's a quick-hitting overview of some types of advanced technology and tools that can assist with best ball drafting:

1. Explosive Player Potential 

  • Purpose: Explosive Player Potential (EPP) gauges the consistency of a player's performance throughout the fantasy football season. A lower EPP signifies a player who delivers stable and predictable performance scores, making them reliable picks for fantasy rosters. Conversely, a higher EPP points to a player with fluctuating performance levels, capable of scoring significantly high in some weeks and underperforming in others.
  • Features: In Best Ball, where a player’s highest scores are automatically counted each week, those with higher variance in their scoring can become strategic assets. Their occasional peak performances can significantly impact weekly matchups, potentially giving you an edge.

2. Projection Systems and Models

  • Purpose: Uses historical data and statistical models to project player performance for the upcoming season.
  • Features: Adjustments for player situations (team changes, injuries, etc.), strength of schedule, and other variables. Some models offer high-ceiling and high-floor projections to identify potential breakout players or consistent performers.

3. Optimization Algorithms

  • Purpose: Helps in constructing the optimal roster composition based on projected points and player variability.
  • Features: Algorithms that balance risk and reward by evaluating the projected points distribution of players. Useful for identifying when to draft players at each position and finding value picks in later rounds.

4. Player News Aggregators and Alert Systems

  • Purpose: Provides real-time updates on player injuries, trades, and other news that could impact player value.
  • Features: Customizable alerts for specific players or teams, integration with drafting tools to adjust player rankings in real-time.

5. Advanced Metrics and Analytics Platforms

  • Purpose: Offers in-depth analysis using advanced metrics not typically found in standard stat sheets.
  • Features: Metrics such as target share, air yards, and opportunity share for skill-position players. Visualization tools to analyze trends and performance outliers.

6. Machine-Learning Models for Trend Analysis

  • Purpose: Identifies patterns and trends that may not be obvious through traditional analysis.
  • Features: Prediction models for player breakout seasons, injury-risk assessment, and performance regression or improvement.

7. Community and Expert Consensus Rankings

  • Purpose: Aggregates rankings from a wide range of experts and the fantasy football community to provide a consensus view.
  • Features: Comparison tools to see where your evaluations differ from the consensus, helping to identify potential sleeper picks or overvalued players.

8. Live-Sync Drafting Tools Tailored to Best Ball

  • Purpose: Allows for drafting using updated player rankings in real-time. More advanced sync tools integrate most or all of the aforementioned features. 
  • Features: Syncing with Best Ball platforms, live draft assistance, and in-app access to news and analysis.

Selecting the right tech for your Best Ball draft isn't just a step in the process. It's about crafting your drafting edge, making sure every feature aligns with your strategic vision.

That's where our Best Ball Tool comes into play, your very own “Best Ball Draft War Room.” It's packed with all 8 features we just mentioned, plus it's hardwired with every best ball strategy we walked you through... 

Ready to level up? See for yourself how it works.

Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

Draft using the best dynamic tool in the industry. Our fantasy player valuations (3D Values) change during your draft in response to...

  1. Exact league settings - direct sync
  2. Opponent and Team Needs
  3. Positional scarcity & available players
  4. Ceiling, injury risk, ADP, and more!

You need a dynamic cheat sheet that easily live-syncs with your draft board and adapts throughout your draft using 17 crucial indicators.

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