Best Ball Strategy

Underdog’s Best Ball Mania IV–the largest season-long fantasy football contest of all time–is already over 5% full. 37,000+ entries have already been drafted in the contest as best ball sickos chase the massive $3,000,000 top prize

Throughout the offseason, the specific edges we can attack in this tournament are going to change. Right now we still do not have the NFL schedule, which means we currently can’t worry about optimizing for the fantasy playoffs.

That said, there are still edges we can attack. The current edge in this contest is targeting the players whose ADP (average draft position) is likely to rise between now and when the contest fills closer to the start of the season. 

You can jump on these players TODAY by signing up for Underdog Fantasy and take advantage of a 100% deposit match of up to $100. Click below to get started!

Today, I’m going to explain why accumulating value in drafts is paramount, some current players to target, and when to pump the brakes on chasing players up the board. 

ICYMI: last week we dissected the structure of the BBMIV tournament and things you should know before drafting.

ADP Value: Real Time & Closing Line

Every player in the pool has an ADP that is set by the market. This data is very efficient because it is an average of where a player is drafted across thousands and thousands of drafts. If we assume a wisdom-of-the-crowds philosophy, we can trust that the market is generally pricing these players in an efficient manner. 

Any time we select a player after their ADP, we are getting a player at a value. 

The more value we accumulate in a draft, the better chance we have at building a truly special team. To emphasize how important this is, Mike Leone’s research discovered that the teams last year who accumulated the most ADP value in their drafts increased their advance rates by 50%. That is a staggering number and something we clearly need to prioritize in drafts.

There are two ways to capture ADP value: real-time value and closing line value.

Real time value is the value you get in the specific draft room. For example, the other day I got Tyler Higbee at pick 192 despite his ADP being 35 picks higher:

Best Ball Strategy

That’s nearly three rounds of real-time ADP value. This specific roster likely features combos of players with Higbee that other drafters in most rooms won’t have access to because he went at such a different portion of the draft than normal. 

The other type of ADP value is the closing line value (CLV). CLV in best ball represents the difference in ADP between when you select that player and when the contest closes. This is important for contests like Best Ball Mania that span multiple months.

Last year Pat Kerrane, who won the $2 million top prize in Best Ball Mania III, selected Rhamondre Stevenson at pick 111 on July 18th. When the contest filled in early September, he was going 31 picks earlier.

Drafter ELB240812, who won the $1 million regular-season top prize in Best Ball Mania III, selected Dameon Pierce at pick 135 (coincidentally on July 18th, as well). Over the subsequent six weeks, Pierce rocketed up 75 spots. 

dissected both of these million dollar lineups in a recent video if you want to see the secret sauce (in addition to closing line value) that vaulted their teams to the top of the leaderboard.

By locking in massive closing line value on two RBs who went on to be league winners, Pat and ELB essentially added an “extra” 6th/7th round pick to the team.

TLDR: The earlier you draft, the better chance you have at locking in big time values.

2023 Targets: Rookies

Once training camp hits, we might be able to get out in front of a big backfield shift like Kerrane did with Stevenson and the Patriots, but right now, the single best bet we can make is on rookies

Year after year, rookies are the biggest ADP risers (remember Skyy Moore last year?!). Because they often land in ambiguous situations, the market is hesitant to target them in drafts. But as we get more information via training camp, coach speak, and the preseason, the market will become increasingly more confident in pulling the trigger on these players in drafts and they inevitably get pushed up.

That means our edge right now is getting ahead of that movement by betting on talent and landing spots (ideally both) that we have conviction in. Here are a few of my favorite targets currently:

RB Kendre Miller (ADP: 137.9) - I wrote about the Saints new RB in the newsletter on Monday and explained why he has so many “outs” to hitting. 

WR Marvin Mims (ADP: 181.1) - I asked Dwain about Mims the other day during a Discord office hours, and here’s what he said:

“Mims is one of my favorites -- he has a tougher WR room to overcome, but the Super Model LOVES him and we know the Broncos have shopped Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Tim Patrick is returning from injury, but Sean Peyton made Mims his first pick despite having all of these names. He is a beast on deep crossers -- the same route that Russ/Lockett made a living on. I think Mims will challenge for a starting role and provide big play upside.”

WR Jayden Reed (ADP: 184.8) - Reed was somewhat of a surprise selection in the 2nd round, so I think drafters are still warming up to him. But he could immediately challenge for a starting role in Green Bay, and he’s essentially free in drafts. I would not be surprised to see him climb 3-4 rounds over the next couple of months.

These are three of my personal favorites, but a lot of this analysis can be applied to rookies across the board. 

You can start drafting these rookies today and double your first deposit of up to $100 as a new Underdog player. Sign up below and start drafting today!

When The Hype Goes Too Far

Not all rookies are going overlooked, though. In fact, Colts new QB Anthony Richardson is one of the buzziest players in all of fantasy right now. He’s now rocketed from pick 150 all the way up to pick 86…and he’s still climbing.

I am already regretting not scooping a few early shares of him when he was going after pick 100, but he’s an extremely tough click for me right now over guys like Dak Prescott and Tua Tagovailoa

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him climb another round or two higher. 

It’s very likely he settles in at the 6/7 turn–a similar range to where drafters were selecting Jalen Hurts and Trey Lance last year. Those two names, coincidentally, do a great job highlighting the range of outcomes for a player like Richardson. 

He could certainly pay off that price tag thanks to his big rushing upside–he was one of my 5 rookies set to dominate in fantasy–but every spot he climbs up in ADP will make it harder for him to massively outperform his ADP. 

Next time we dive into Best Ball Mania IV strategy, we should have the NFL schedule at our fingertips. See ya then.