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What is Best Ball Fantasy Football? | How Does It Work?

By Jared Smola | Updated on Thu, 16 May 2024 . 2:08 PM EDT

Best Ball Fantasy Football: Draft and You’re Done!

What’s the best part about fantasy football? The draft, of course.

And that’s what makes the best ball format so enticing.

Traditional fantasy football leagues require you to draft your team and then manage it throughout the season … making adds and drops, swinging trades, and setting your starting lineup each week.

Not “best ball” fantasy football leagues.

In most best ball fantasy football formats, you draft your team and then sit back and watch it perform throughout the season.

  • No adds and drops.
  • No trades.
  • No lineup setting.

Here’s how it works:


The Draft   |   The Season   |   Where to Play

Best Ball Fantasy Football: The Draft

This is very similar to your traditional fantasy football league.

You’ll be in a draft – typically among 10 or 12 teams – and select a group of players to fill your roster.

Most best ball leagues use rosters and starting lineups similar to traditional leagues, featuring:

  • QBs
  • RBs
  • WRs
  • TEs

Some might include Ks and DSTs, but not large-field tournaments

Check out our latest best ball rankings.

One slight difference: Best ball fantasy football drafts tend to go deeper than traditional drafts.

Whereas a traditional fantasy football draft might be 14 or 16 rounds, best-ball drafts are usually at least 18 rounds – and often 20+.


You need deeper rosters to account for injuries, given that you can’t make roster moves during the season.


You often choose between a “fast” draft or a “slow” draft for best ball. A fast drive is done live with a 30- to 60-second pick clock.  A “slow” draft often allows between 2 to 8 hours to pick and pauses during sleeping hours.   


Best Ball Fantasy Football: The Season

The team you draft is your team for the entire season. No waivers. No trades. And no start/sit decisions.

A traditional fantasy football league requires you to submit a starting lineup before the start of each week’s games. Best ball leagues automatically use your optimal lineup after the games each week.

Did your QB3 out-score your QB1? You get that third QB’s points.

Late-round RB tally more points than the RB you picked in Round 2? That late-round RB is in your starting lineup.

That same process fills every spot in your starting lineup, producing the optimal score for the week.

Best ball leagues can use total-points or playoff formats.

In a "total points" setup, the team that accumulates the most points from Weeks 1 through 17 wins.

Many best ball tournaments now use that format through Week 14 before advancing the top teams to weekly playoffs. In that format, the top-scoring 2-3 teams each week advance until a champion gets crowned via Week 17 results.

You can also find best ball leagues that play head-to-head games and determine the champion based on win/loss record. 


Looking to play against thousands of teams … and win big money? Consider tournaments.

The rise in popularity of best ball tournaments has been astonishing in recent years.

Casual players can now drop less than $100 and still chase grand prizes in the millions.

Of course, if you’re interested in that play, you must compete against tens or even hundreds of thousands of fellow competitors.

Still – all you have to do is draft and watch your team.

How do mega-tournaments determine winners?

As we mentioned, some best ball fantasy football tournaments use total points. But many finish the season with playoff weeks.

In that case, the top-scoring teams advance to the next week, regrouped into new leagues (or “pods”) each time.

The top two or three teams from each new group then advance the following week, and so on.

This structure increases the importance of getting big scores in Weeks 15, 16, and 17.

That can – and should – impact your best-ball lineup-building strategy.


Where to Play Best Ball Fantasy Football

With best ball booming in popularity, you can now play the format in lots of different places.

Here are our favorites:


  • Entry fees ranging from $35 to $1,250
  • Fast and slow drafts
  • TE-premium scoring (1.5 PPR for TEs)
  • Classic format and Superflex
  • Contained 12-team leagues and tournaments with prizes up to $200,000
FFPC Best Ball

Underdog Fantasy

  • Entry fees ranging from $3 to $1,000
  • Fast and slow drafts
  • Half-PPR scoring
  • Classic format and Superflex
  • Contained leagues and tournaments, including Best Ball Mania with a $2 million top prize
Underdog Best Ball

Honorable Mentions:

Final Thought

Ready to jump into some best ball drafts? You are in luck! We are here to help you crush your drafts and build the ultimate rosters. 

Start by checking out our Best Ball Draft Strategy.

Then build your Draft War Room – a complete best ball draft tool that's been supercharged for 2024. 

It uses our 3D projections and 17 real-time value indicators to show you the best value at each moment of your draft. All in real-time with a live draft sync to your platform.

Jared Smola Author Image
Jared Smola, Lead Analyst
Jared has been with Draft Sharks since 2007. He’s now Lead Analyst, heading up the preseason and weekly projections that fuel your Draft War Room and My Team tools. He currently ranks 1st among 133 analysts in draft rankings accuracy.
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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