The biggest season-long tournament of all time dropped on Saturday night and Pete Overzet is here to get you caught up to speed so you can dive into drafting…

Hot best ball summer is officially underway thanks to our friends over at Underdog Fantasy dropping the fourth installment of their flagship best ball contest, Best Ball Mania. 

Best Ball Mania IV features a mouth-watering $15,000,000 total prize pool and a $3,000,000 top prize, so we’ll be spilling a lot of ink around here this summer to help you compete for that life-changing top prize.

Looking to get into best ball this season? You can double your first deposit of up to $100 on Underdog Fantasy by signing up below!

If you’re new to best ball, you can also check out this piece to get caught up to speed.

Here’s everything you need to know about this behemoth of a contest before you dive in…

This is a Massive Tournament

When all is said and done, there will be 677,376 entries in this contest and 56,448 total drafts.

Each entry costs $25 (although if you use promo code LIFE when you sign up, Underdog will match your deposit up to $100 dollars and you’ll get essentially eight total entries for the price of four).

$10,000,000 of the prize pool will be distributed to the top teams in the fantasy playoffs (Week 17), while $5,000,000 will be distributed to the top teams in the regular season (Weeks 1-14).

Takeaway: This tournament will likely take the entire summer to fill, so be sure to pace yourself. There are advantages and disadvantages to drafting both early and late, so I personally prefer to sprinkle my entries evenly over the course of the entire summer. 

The advantage to drafting early is that you can lock in players (often rookies) at very nice prices before their ADP inevitably climbs throughout the offseason. For example, Texans RB Dameon Pierce vaulted from a 12th-round pick to a 7th-round pick last summer. It’s no surprise that the team that won the regular season prize in BBM3 selected Pierce in the 12th round, Kenneth Walker in the 10th, and Garrett Wilson in the 9th.

The disadvantage to drafting early is that a lot of changes between now and September 7, and you’re likely to whiff on a lot of picks and fall on some injury landmines. 

The Regular Season Now Matters

In Best Ball Mania III, 90% of the total prize pool went to the top teams in the fantasy playoffs and 10% ($1,000,000) went to one single entry in the regular season, which is how we arrived at the conclusion, “Week 17 is all that matters.

Last year, many great regular season teams walked away empty-handed after getting bounced in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. This year that will not be the case as Underdog clearly made an effort to make the regular season matter for BBM4:

33% of the prize pool will go to 10,000 teams in the regular season. 

The top 1,000 teams in BBM4 will receive prizes on a sliding scale (from $500,000 to first to $1,000 to 1,000th place) and the rest of the 10,000 teams will all receive $250–a 10x on their initial $25 entry fee.

Takeaway: I’m very excited about the re-balancing of the prize pool to make drafters really consider what they are optimizing for in each draft. Last year, you were drafting sub-optimally if you weren’t drafting with Week 17 in mind. Now, each room could feature some drafters optimizing for the regular season (more 3QB and 3TE builds, fewer rookies/injured players, etc.) while others still optimize for the top playoff prizes (Week 17 game stacks).

Still, it’s important to remember that even though the regular season now matters, you’ll still need to have a team in the Top 1.5% of the entire field to 10x your entry fee. That’s a difficult thing to optimize for, so I will personally continue to focus on playoff optimization with my builds. We’ll have more strategy pieces in subsequent weeks about how you can do that.

While you wait for the subsequent strategy pieces, you can start drafting TODAY on Underdog Fantasy with a 100% deposit match of up to $100! Simply sign up below to claim your bonus today!

The Gauntlet to $3M

There’s no point in sugarcoating this: it is going to be extremely difficult to win the $3,000,000, much less even make the Week 17 finals (Round 4). 

Here is how your team will need to perform to advance through each leg of the tournament to land in the 441-team final in Week 17…

  • Round 1 (Regular Season): 2/12 advance to Round 2
  • Round 2 (Week 15): 1/16 advance to Round 3
  • Round 3 (Week 16): 1/16 advance to Round 4
  • Round 4 (Week 17): 1/441

This is a relatively similar advancement structure to Best Ball Mania III:

  • Round 1 (Regular Season): 2/12
  • Round 2 (Week 15): 1/10
  • Round 3 (Week 16): 1/16
  • Round 4 (Week 17): 1/470

That said, the Round 2 shift from 1/10 to 1/16 is a meaningful leap, but it was a necessary evil when expanding the tournament with another 200,000-some entries.

Takeaway: There aren’t any big strategic differences with the advancement structure compared to last year. You’ll need a good team to get into the fantasy playoffs, a great team to advance to the Week 17 finals, and a generationally transcendent team to finish 1st out of 441 teams in the finals.

It is nice, though, that the finals group is actually 29 entries smaller than it was last year. If you are fortunate to squeeze a team to the finals, you’ll get to wake up on Sunday morning in Week 17 with a legitimate chance to become a millionaire. 

Early Draft Strategy

In my first two BBM4 drafts, rookies like Anthony Richardson would go 40 picks earlier in one draft compared to the other. When the dust settles on ADP in the next couple of days, the volatility on those ADPs will tighten up and we can start to review which players and teams are offering consistent value. But for now? It is truly the wild west.

If you’ve been consuming our draft coverage–including fantasy fallout for all of the skill position players–you will already have a leg up on the competition in knowing where to value these rookies relative to the veterans.

Because we won’t have the NFL schedule until May 11, it is also impossible to line up Week 17 game stacks. Until then, we can lean into a couple of things we can control and then re-adjust our strategies once the schedule is released.

Right now you should prioritize drafting structurally-sound teams and targeting players whose ADP you think will rise over the course of the summer, which is historically rookies. It’s why I took Marvin Mims over Tim Patrick in a recent draft.

We’ll be here all summer to talk strategy for Best Ball Mania IV and we will be back next week with an overview of the new ADP landscape.

BBMIV Strategy
Peter Overzet
Peter Overzet
Peter Overzet is the creative lead for Fantasy Life and voice of the newsletter, as well as a podcast host and comedian. He streams a variety of fantasy football shows on his YouTube channel covering best ball, DFS, and high stakes season-long. He is also known on Twitter as a thought leader, influencer, deposit king, and aspiring engagement farmer.