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Columns - Magazine

Draft it, and forget it

by Rich Hribar
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Fantasy football is a game that is eternally growing and always adjusting to trends. Whether through unique and sometimes complex add-ons to scoring, expanding roster and starting positional requirements or just about anything we can cook up under the sun in our leagues, we’re trying to improve the way we play the game. However, with all of the ever-growing options and intricacies that occur yearly within fantasy football, the one format having the biggest surge in fantasy circles is actually one of the simplest concepts – Best Ball Leagues.

What is Best Ball?


The concept of Best Ball is as easy as it comes. You draft a fantasy football team, and that’s it.


Don’t have time to set all of your waiver moves each week?


No worries.


Can’t keep up with the player news or are just unavailable for last-minute reports on injuries, weather or the typical 11th hour inflexibilities of a Sunday morning before setting your lineups?


Forget about it.


Hate having your inbox flooded with a dozen trade offers from your friends telling you “why you need to make this trade?”


Never going to happen.


Built the highest scoring team in your league only to lose head-to-head matchups to the week’s hottest team?


Not an issue at all.


That’s because Best Ball eliminates all of the rigors and time-consuming grind that not everyone enjoys or has time for with your typical fantasy league. Check back in after Week 16 and see where the dust has settled because in these leagues, your optimal lineup is automatically plugged in and scored for you each week. No more head-scratching conundrums on whether to play this or that player, checking matchups, or even having to be around at all. You never waste a point in the season on your bench.


Draft it, and forget it.


The most popular applications in helping this format grow are through Apps supported by DRAFT, FFPC or Fanball MFL10s, but you aren’t strictly tied down to just those sites, nor do you even have to play the Best Ball format strictly in redraft. Nearly all of the major sites now host a “points only” league setting, and you can even play your Dynasty league through the Best Ball format.


Building your roster


Because you won’t be doing anything to your roster at all during the season, there are a few caveats and adjustments you’ll need to make with roster construction when drafting your team. If a player ends up on injured reserve or is on bye, he’s just a zero-point paper weight that you’re carrying, so roster size in these leagues is deeper than your typical league and adjusted for your starting requirements.  


The optimal roster construction is going to vary based on where you’re playing and the scoring, but for the most popular versions, we’re drafting 18-28 players that occupy the primary fantasy positions of QB, RB, WR, TE, K and DST. For the positions of RB and WR, you’re going to be required to play multiple players at those spots, so you’ll be devoting the bulk of your draft to those positions to cover injuries, bye weeks and weekly variance.


This is also true at the tight end position because most leagues and sites will have a flex position that is eligible for tight ends, but the position is much shallower than RB or WR, so the deepest you’ll typically go is 2-4 players at the position unless the league runs deeper and awards extra scoring to the tight end position.


The only time that you should concern yourself with bye weeks is if you are only drafting two players at a position, which should only occur at the positions in which you are required to start one player that isn’t eligible to fill any flex spots, typically the QB, K and DST positions. Every potential point matters, so we typically can’t afford to give any zeros away. Positions such as DST and K have much more variance in scoring week to week, but also lower fantasy ceilings than QB so you’re going to have to decide when and where to allocate extra resources to these positions and a take a third player. Taking a third kicker or defense can provide you an extra top week at that position, but you’ll also be required to bypass an extra dart-throw on one of your favorite RB or WR sleepers.


From personal experience, deciding whether to take a third player at these positions typically comes down to my confidence level with how I used the first two selections at those spots. If I already have a player who projects to a be a top scorer at his position locked in, then I am more willing to forego a third option at those positions, and vice versa for when I am inherently weaker at the top. If I have an Aaron Rodgers-type, then I am typically taking only two quarterbacks, but if I missed out on a run and ended up with two streaming options, I will want to add a third. Since we’re waiting on kickers and defenses more often than not, you may take a third player at those spots if you missed out on the initial major runs at those positions.

Embracing volatility

The Best Ball format not only influences the number of players we’ll want to draft at each position, but also changes how we value players based on how they score their points. We care about those high-spike scoring weeks, so players who are traditionally more “boom” while having high “bust’ potential are inherently more valuable than in a traditional league where we can’t always afford to take on the variance that may come with those players, such as in your home league. You may be someone who always avoids drafting a big-play only wide receiver such as Ted Ginn or a touchdown-dependent rusher such as LeGarrette Blount because of the trust level required to actually use those types of players in your weekly league. We’re not building a roster solely based on high-variance players because having consistent point-churning commodities still matters, but in the Best Ball format, those players gain relevancy and are less risky investments because we won’t have to take on many or any of their low points.


Volatility doesn’t always come in the form of spike-week players, but also inherently knowing that we can roster players that carry a lot of injury risk. Players such as Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert, Will Fuller and Andrew Luck are examples of players with some concern that they won’t be available for you for multiple weeks during the season, but there comes a point of every draft where one of these guys is staring you in the face and you begin to sell yourself on the value-potential being worth the risk. Well, here, you’re inherently buying some level of insurance on those commodities. The best part is, they still carry the same discount as your regular drafts.


Best Ball leagues serve a plethora of purposes. They can be an outlet for those who want to do a lot of drafting against real drafters to hone their craft for their primary leagues. They can even be a way to put a lot of skin in the game while covering the inherent variance of a football season for volume-based fantasy players. However, the main reason they exist is to provide an opportunity for those who don’t have all the resources available to participate in a weekly league on their own. Sometimes we just want to be able to draft a team and be able to forget about it.

Rich Hribar
Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer. You can find him on Twitter @LordReebs.