What is Underdog fantasy?

Underdog fantasy is a daily fantasy sports platform that is known for having some of the largest best ball contests in the industry—specifically the NFL best ball tournaments they offer prior to the start of every NFL season. If you’ve been introduced to or heard about the best ball fantasy format, then there’s a good chance that you’ve already heard about the Underdog fantasy name or visited their site. 

Underdog was founded in 2020 by Jeremy Levine and is now just entering its third full NFL season of offerings. They have received funding from several notable investors including a group headed by Mark Cuban, Kevin Durant, and Adam Schefter

Underdog Fantasy is not as large as some of the other major daily fantasy sites, like DraftKings or Fanduel, but as they specialize in the best ball format they also have a narrower range of focus and have built a very loyal group of supporters. Created content and popularity around the site are both growing and should be expected to remain that way going into the 2022-2023 NFL best-ball offerings.

How does Underdog fantasy differ from traditional Daily Fantasy sites?

Unlike traditional Daily Fantasy sites, Underdog’s fantasy contest offerings are almost exclusively in snake draft format. As mentioned above, best ball tournaments are their specialty, and, in 2021, they offered a $3,500,000 NFL best ball tournament which filled at 43,200 total entries, with a total of 3,600 12-person Groups.

Underdog also offers smaller daily drafts across most major sports (NHL, MLB, NBA, PGA, and more) where you compete against a set number of people.  While best ball and snake drafts remain their core offerings, Underdog fantasy is far more than just a draft-specific site. They offer the ability to wager on player props in their Pick’em-based format as well. Much like a sportsbook, Pick’em allows users to parlay player props offered by the site for big payouts. 

Underdog’s mix of prop and draft-based contests are available in a variety of sports and make them unique to the daily fantasy space.  


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What type of contests does Underdog offer?

Underdog has three core offerings: 

  • Larger tournament-based best ball: Allows for up to 150 entries (by a single user) in some contests. Original drafts occur over a lengthy period (months) of time until the contest fills/closes and games begin.  
  • Smaller nightly snake drafts: These are faster-paced, shorter drafts and payout at the end of each nightly slate. 
  • Pick’em: Player-prop-based contests where users build a card of props –similar to a sportsbook – with a specific payout attached if they win. 

Best Ball

Best ball is a unique season-long fantasy format that requires contestants to draft a team, much like someone would in a regular season-long NFL fantasy football league. The main difference though is that, in best ball, there are no roster movements done throughout the year. It’s an emerging format that offers plenty of unique strategies centered around positioning and roster formation. 

In best ball on underdog fantasy, each team is assigned a specific roster they must fill through the draft. Once the draft is complete, points will be accumulated on a game-by-game basis from specific positions.

To counteract the fact that there is no in-season movement, rosters in best-ball are unique from typical season-long redraft leagues in that they provide larger rosters–more specifically larger benches. For example, in Underdogs NFL best-ball games for 2021, the best-ball rosters for their regular season-long contests looked like this:

Every game, the highest producing players at the starting positions (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex (RB/WR/TE)) would count towards the team's score for that week. Since there is no player movement during the year, the roster drafted would be the roster used for scoring during the entire length of the contest (in the Underdog Bestball Mania II contest in 2021 for NFL, which consisted of playing from Week 1 to Week 17). 

These types of tournaments exist across most major sports on Underdog fantasy so if you’re into hockey, baseball, or basketball, there will likely be some kind of best-ball contest that catches your eye. 

Best Ball Mania III

As mentioned above, Underdog has some of the largest tournament style-offerings in the fantasy sports industry for best ball. This year the site is running back its largest offering from 2021 with Best Ball Mania III, but has increased the prize pool to a whopping $10M, with first-place paying out $2M (and second place also paying out $1M). 

With so much money at stake, a quick breakdown of the event is definitely in order. Below we’ve listed the most pertinent details for Best Ball Mania III and provided a little more information about what details to key in on and how to approach it. 

Size451,200 total entries and 37,600 initial 12-person Groups or leagues
Entry Fee$25.00 USD
Entry Limits/Max entries150 entries allowed, per person
Rounds 

Round 1 - 12 man league (top 2 advance)

Round 2 - 10 man league (winners advance)

Round 3 - 16 man league (winners advance)

Round 4 - 470 remaining teams compete for ladder style payouts (first wins $2M)

Prize Pool

$10,000,000 ($10 million dollars)

Best Ball Mania III full payout structure

First place$2,000,000 ($2 Million Dollars)
Roster1-QB, 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-TE, 1-Flex (Flex can be RB, WR or TE) 10  bench
Scoring

0.5 PPR for WRs/RBs/TEs

4.0 point passing TDs

Underdog best ball mania III scoring

In Best Ball Mania III, the top-two finishers (winners and runners-up) from each initial group advance into the next round. Wild card positions would also advance, and be allocated to the highest-scoring non-league winning lineups as well if the contest doesn’t fill. 

Round two would see you paired up against 10 new teams, where winners only would advance to round three. In round three, the odds get tougher as you’re paired against 16 teams and only the winners advance there as well. 

In the final round, the top 470-teams remaining would duke it out in a single-week league with ladder-type payouts

With an event this big, playing for maximum upside is all you need to worry about when creating teams. Not only do you want to win your initial league, but you should also be looking ahead to Weeks 14-17 to see what kinds of lineups would give you a legitimate shot at reaching Week 17 and the coveted final 470 teams. Check out our articles on structural draft methods like Zero RBAnchor RB and more, that have been data proven to give you a better shot at competing for top prizes in larger field events, like Best Ball Mania III


Best Ball strategy 

With no in-season movement and a variety of different roster formats, there are plenty of different strategies you can employ in best-ball drafts. Loading up on certain player positions early (vs. others), using players’ on-site ADP’s(average draft position) to your advantage, and stacking QBs with their wide receivers are just a few relatively simple strategies you can employ to give you a better shot at cashing in best ball tournaments on Underdog. 

Dionate_Johnson

Dec 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) carries the ball on an end around against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


Stacking

Stacking is a relatively simple strategy that involves pairing a QB with one or more of his receivers. The goal is to maximize the good weeks of your quarterback by having exposure to one or more of his receivers as well, who could also benefit from a big passing day. 

For best ball, stacking can be employed in a variety of creative ways due to the large bench sizes. Many people will look to pair their quarterback with one of his top receivers, especially those receivers attached to high ceiling passing quarterback’s/offenses. This is one of the most important strategies we can employ when drafting for NFL best ball, period. Teams that employ stacking in their lineup construction have shown to have a better advance rate in tournaments like Underdog Fantasy’s 2021 Best Ball Mania contest. 

 

While paying up early in drafts for a stack is important, you can also maximize your upside – and get leverage on competitors in your group – by using later-round picks on other less prolific wide receivers (or tight ends). These later-round picks may not be as consistent, but can provide you with good “spike weeks” and provide your QB/WR stack with a hedge if the team’s top target goes down. 


Sep 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) takes on the field prior the game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Running Back strategy - Zero RB 

Most people who have played fantasy football in any kind of season-long format know that running back tends to be the most volatile position. Prolific first-round fantasy RBs go down with injury every season (some before the season even begins) and force us to chase backups and practice squad players on waivers. For best ball, since there are no waivers or in-season management, how we approach the running back position can have a big impact on our success. 

Punting the RB position, or waiting to draft running backs until the mid to late rounds, has become associated with the Zero-RB approach. By punting on RBs in early rounds it allows us to focus on getting prolific QB/WR stacks into our lineups early – such as Dak Prescot and CeeDee Lamb – essentially beating the rush on those players. As seen below, the results can be profitable. 

If you’re following this approach, targeting later-round running backs with good receiving usage can be helpful. The PPR points they accumulate on a weekly basis can pile up quickly, especially if their team ends up in a fast-paced game with more passing opportunities than initially projected. Names like James WhiteTony Pollard, and Jamal Williams were popular 2021 RB targets with this approach. High-end backups like Alexander Mattison – who we know would step into a near every-down role if the Vikings starter (Dalvin Cook) went down – is another good target for this draft strategy. 


Running Back strategy - Zero RB 

Most people who have played fantasy football in any kind of season-long format know that running back tends to be the most volatile position. Prolific first-round fantasy RBs go down with injury every season (some before the season even begins) and force us to chase backups and practice squad players on waivers. For best ball, since there are no waivers or in-season management, how we approach the running back position can have a big impact on our success. 

Punting the RB position, or waiting to draft running backs until the mid to late rounds, has become associated with the Zero-RB approach. By punting on RBs in early rounds it allows us to focus on getting prolific QB/WR stacks into our lineups early – such as Dak Prescot and CeeDee Lamb – essentially beating the rush on those players. As seen below, the results can be profitable. 

If you’re following this approach, targeting later-round running backs with good receiving usage can be helpful. The PPR points they accumulate on a weekly basis can pile up quickly, especially if their team ends up in a fast-paced game with more passing opportunities than initially projected. Names like James WhiteTony Pollard, and Jamal Williams were popular 2021 RB targets with this approach. High-end backups like Alexander Mattison – who we know would step into a near every-down role if the Vikings starter (Dalvin Cook) went down – is another good target for this draft strategy. 


Running Back strategy - Hyperfragile RB

The Hyperfragile RB method also has you allocate your early round draft picks on the RB position.  In a Hyperfragile RB build you would most often begin drafts by taking three RBs in the first six rounds – and generally start by taking RBs on each of your first two picks. A Hyperfragile build places a large emphasis on the upside that early-round RBs can give you and gives you multiple shots at landing on a legendary type of season, from an early round RB, that could carry your squad. 

The difference between a Hyperfragile RB build and a Robust RB build is that the Hyperfragile RB approach limits the overall number of RBs on your roster (with four RBs selected being the most common approach used in this method). This makes the Hyperfragile RB method a lot more risky (in the sense we are only carrying four RBs) but also provides these lineups with better, overall, upside as the extra draft capital can be used down in the draft to spend on other positions. 


Running Back strategy - Robust RB


 On the flip side, the Robust RB strategy takes an entirely different approach. It stresses the importance of the volume that every-down RBs receive. Running backs with high snap counts who are likely to receive the bulk of the work on all downs can vastly outperform mid-round targets at their position. The Robust RB strategy aims to maximize this differential by selecting players like Dalvin Cook or Derrick Henry early on.

Since Underdog fantasy employs a 0.5 ppr scoring method for NFL it does take away some of the potential upsides from drafting top wide receivers early on – as compared to drafting in a 1.0 ppr league. That makes a robust RB strategy a decent way to construct rosters. Keep in mind though, that a lot of the general public still think this way (ie. feel like they need to draft an RB early) and construct rosters this way, so a zero-RB approach is more likely to give you a unique build.  


Positional Allocation and roster construction

It sounds simple enough, but just knowing how many players to allocate or draft at each position can be one of the biggest ways to gain an edge in Underdog’s best ball contests. There are hundreds of thousands of users entering and not all of them take the time to understand how the contest works.  

As mentioned above, Underdog’s biggest best ball contests use the following scoring and roster format:

  • half-PPR scoring (0.5 per reception) 
  • 4.0 points per passing TD
  • 6.0 points per rushing/receiving TD
  • 0.1 point per rushing/receiving yard
  • 2.0 points for two-point conversion
  • -2.0 points for fumble lost
  • -1.0 point for interception 
  • 18-man rosters with an eight man starting weekly roster: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex (RB/WR/TE).

Since we’re only starting one TE and QB every week, the optimal approach has been to draft 2-3 players at those positions. Targeting top TE’s has been very effective, as well, given the lack of depth at that position. The top TE’s (like Travis Kelece and Darren Waller) often out-perform their mid-range counterparts by wide margins. 

Quarterback scoring is often much flatter. Later round quarterbacks are often within closer ranges to the top QB scorer, compared to other positions, so loading up on three later-round quarterbacks to maximize stacking can be effective. Taking two quarterbacks is generally the consensus way to construct lineups but often grabbing a third can maximize our stacking ability and give your lineups better upside. 

While it may seem like over-drafting at RB (given the injury issues at the position) would be beneficial, staying with just five to six players at that position has worked better. Typically when you expend draft capital early on an RB, you may also want to think about staying at the lower end (i.e. five RBs) of the range. 

WR has the biggest range of outcomes in terms of what works best with allocation. Given the depth at this position, and the fact it makes up at least three of your weekly lineup positions, taking as many as eight or nine WRs has shown effective results


Best ball payouts and prizes 

In best ball, if you win your initial group, your team advances into the next round where it will again compete against a set group of players. Once players reach the final round, they compete against the rest of the winners for the top payouts. Below is an example of how a typical best ball tournament on Underdog might look in terms of structure. 

This structure is taken from Underdog’s “The Big Board” contest. As you can see, everyone who enters is placed in a 12-man group. After the initial round is complete, we’ll be left with 7,056 entries (or 588 12-man groups). Winning your initial group in this tournament also means that you’ve managed to “cash” as payouts for this event start at the top 7,056 players and move from there. Typically, to cash in most best ball tournaments on Underdog, you need to at least win or advance through your initial grouping. 


Daily Snake Drafts

Daily Snake draft offerings are on Underdog’s site, essentially year-round. These daily contests nearly all involve drafts that take place over six rounds with different positional requirements for each sport. Much like most other, larger daily fantasy sites, Underdog does offer some single-game fantasy contests as well. Below are the lineup requirements for each of these games.


Pick’em

Underdog also has a Pick’em feature, which allows users to build prop-based parlays with specific payouts attached. There are two different options to choose from under the Pick’em game with over/under and Rivals. 

The over/under bets are quite easy to explain as they are simply asking us to decide between an over or under on a specific player total. These bets can be on anything from a player’s assist total in basketball, to how many takedowns a fighter will land in a UFC match. 

The Rivals contests are different in that, instead of asking you to decide if a player will go over or under an arbitrary number (in a specific stat), it asks us to decide if they will outperform (or underperform) another player on the slate that day. Oftentimes these bets will include a handicap attached to one of the players.

In this example, we’re being asked if we think Tyson Fury (-29.5) can land at least 30 or more punches in the fight than Dillian Whyte (+29.5). 

Not every Rivals bet involves a handicap, but most do. 

Pick’em Payouts

The payout options on Pick’em are set for players beforehand and quite simple to understand and involve a ladder format (more plays = bigger payout):

  • Two play cards (pick two) = 3-1 payout
  • Three play cards (pick three) = 6-1 payout
  • Four play cards (pick four) = 10-1 payout
  • Five play cards (pick five) = 20-1 payout

Example:

  • We take two over/under plays and mix in two Rivals plays as well. That leaves us with a four play card. We then wager $10.00. The projected payout would be below:
  • $10.00 (wagered) x 10-1 odds = $100.00 return ($90.00 won + $10.00 wager return)

Currently, Pick’em payouts max out at 20-1 or five-play cards.


What states is Underdog Fantasy Legal in?

Pick’em and Best ball (drafts) eligibility

Underdog Best ball and fantasy drafts are available in 41 states (and Canada). 

As of now, 33 states (and Canada) are eligible to play in Pick’em contests on Underdog Fantasy. In the future, with sports betting and daily fantasy becoming more prevalent, expect the list of ineligible states to shrink. 

The current ineligible states are listed below.  

States, where best ball and drafts are legal (but pick’em is not), are indicated. 

Underdog Map
  • Arizona (best ball legal)
  • Colorado (best ball legal)
  • Missouri (best ball legal)
  • New Hampshire (best ball legal)
  • New Jersey (best ball legal)
  • Ohio (best ball legal)
  • Pennsylvania (best ball legal)
  • Tennessee (best ball legal)
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Washington

What Sports are available on Underdog

NFL

The National Football League remains the site's biggest sport. In 2021 Underdog’s Best Ball Mania II offered a 3.5 million dollar guaranteed payouts for a $25 entry fee.

For 2022 Underdog already has a variety of different best ball contests up. 

  • The Big Board(filled)
  • The Big Board Superflex (filled)
  • Backyard Best Ball Tournament(filled)
  • Sophomores and Juniors NFL Best Ball Tournament(filled)
  • Rookies and Sophomores 2022(filled)
  • Best Ball Mania 3
  • The Puppy(filled)
  • The Puppy but Superflex(filled)
  • The Bulldog

These contests offer a variety of different lineup constructions while maintaining the regular best ball format and schedule (Week 1 to Week 17 of the 2022-2023 NFL season). The Rookies and Sophomores contest, as an example, only requires players to draft 12 total players per entry, with six starting positions per week (as compared to eight and 18 in Underdog’s regular best ball events). 

On the other end of the spectrum, the Big Board (Superflex) event introduces the super flex as a starting position, where quarterbacks are eligible. Players can then start two quarterbacks per week on their rosters if desired. 

Weekly Snake drafts and Pick’em options (player props) will both be available once the regular season begins. 

NHL

Underdog offers daily snake drafts in NHL as well as some bigger best ball offerings. They have the Big Zamboni best ball tournament which takes place throughout the playoffs, ending with the Stanley Cup finals. The tournament has just a $5 entry fee with a $20,000 guaranteed prize pool. 

You can also make pick’em cards in NHL targeting over/unders on player props like player shots on net, goals, assists, and points. Rivals (player head-to-head matchups) are also available in NHL. 

NBA

Much like the NHL, the NBA offerings on Underdog span both nightly snake drafts, larger best ball contests, and pick’em offerings. The Waltz was one of the NBA best ball events Underdog ran throughout the NBA playoffs and had a $20,000 prize pool.  

Pick’em offerings include wagering on over/under props in player points, player assists, player rebounds, and a combination of two or more of those stats. Rivals offerings are also available in NBA

MMA

MMA is unique on Underdog as it is only available in pick’em format. We can make parlays that focus on over/unders for the number of significant strikes, takedowns, or finishes a fighter accomplishes in a match. 

Rivals is also offered in MMA and allows us to wager which fighter in a given match will land more strikes or takedowns.   

MLB

MLB is similar to all of the other major sports in that there are significant daily snake draft contests for every daily slate. The Bunt was one of their larger best ball events that offered up a $50,000 guaranteed prize pool and began with the start of the 2022 MLB season. 

On the pick’em side of things, we can target player props on nearly every significant stat that MLB tracks (hits, strikeouts, total bases, and more). 

F1 pick'em 

F1 is a sport that is picking up steam in terms of popularity, especially in the fantasy realm. Underdog has recently added single-player daily fantasy for F1 in the form of pick'em style offerings. On Underdog you can create pick’em tickets based on things like driver finishing position (so an F1 version of Rivals) and also over/under props related to the sport. 

Lewis Hamilton

One important note about F1 pick’em is how they handle drivers who don’t finish the race. In the event that multiple drivers do not finish, the driver who completed the most laps would be ranked higher. So if two drivers in a 20-man field pulled out or crashed, and one driver completed 25 laps, and the other 24 laps, the driver with more laps completed would finish 19th and the one with less would finish 20th. If they both completed the same number of laps, it would be considered a tie. 

Esports pick’em

Underdog also has pick’em offerings for Esports, as well. Props in their Esports offerings include over/unders on stats like headshots or kills (in CS:GO).

Player props for Esports on Underdog work very similarly to their NFL props. In Esports over/under props, we are simply being asked to decide whether a competitor will go over or under a specific total. In the above example, the player hardzao can be bet to go over or under 17.5 headshots. The only difference between the two sports is that in Esports we are betting on things like kills, headshots (rather than yardage or TDs) and other stats related to the specific game the players are competing in. 


Deposits/Withdrawals/Banking options

How to deposit

Underdog Fantasy deposit methods include:

  • PayPal
  • Credit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover)

How to withdraw

Withdraws or payouts by Underdog Fantasy are free. They typically take 2-3 business days to complete. Underdog has a $10.00 minimum withdrawal requirement, unless your account is less than $10.00, then you can withdraw the full amount. 

  • PayPal
  • Electronic Check 

What banking options can you use?

A credit card is available to use as a deposit option. An electronic check transfer is available for withdrawal.

What banking options cant you use?

As of now, Underdog doesn’t allow for direct bank transfers as a payment option. You can also not withdraw money back onto your credit card, even if you deposited it in that fashion. 


FAQ

  • How is Underdog different than Draftkings and Fanduel?
    • They offer options closer to sports betting through their Pick’em based contests 
    • Whereas most larger daily fantasy sites focus on fantasy offerings with salary cap restrictions, Underdog focuses on the draft and best ball format of fantasy sports. 
  • Is Underdog fantasy legit?
    • Underdog has been around since 2020. Since then they have run multiple best ball contests with $1,000,000+ guaranteed in payouts to users
    • Their user base and game offerings continue to expand and they have seen an increase in big named investors.
    • As of now, their draft games are legal to play in 41 states and their pick’em games are legal in 33 states. 
  • Is Underdog fantasy free to play?
  • Who founded Underdog fantasy?
    • Jeremy Levine founded the site in 2020 out of Brooklyn, New York. Levine had previously founded a similar best ball site (Draft). 
  • Notable investors
    • Underdog recently saw a large investment from notable investors that included Mark Cuban, Kevin Durant, Matthew Dellevadova
    • Music stars like the Chainsmokers and Future are also involved
    • Noted fantasy influencer Peter Overzet and Fantasy Life Lead Creative has also signed on for another season at Underdog. His Twitter stream can be a useful resource for new players who enjoy the draft process and want to see how someone creates a “non-conforming” best ball team.