What is best ball fantasy football?

Best ball is a still relatively new format of fantasy football that revolves exclusively around the draft. In best ball, there is no in-season management, and your involvement with the team is done after completing the draft. Every week during the season, the best combo of scores from your team (based on the league’s roster settings) will be taken and added up to give you an overall score for the week. At the end, the team who accumulated the most points over the course of the season is the winner of the league. 

How do best ball drafts work?

Best ball leagues are done via snake drafts. The contests remain open until there are enough people entered to fill the league (e.g. a 12-person league needs 12 entries). The most popular league format is 12 players but there are best ball leagues with varying league sizes for fantasy football as well. Best ball fantasy contests have been growing in popularity of late and tend to begin directly after the NFL draft is complete with many traditional daily fantasy sports sites now offering best ball contests as well, like DraftKings and Yahoo.

Once there are enough people who entered, the snake draft begins. Some leagues will have scheduled starting times and some will start almost immediately after the league fills. Slow draft (six to eight hours per pick) and fast draft (approx 30 secs per pick) options are also available on many sites as well. Ensure you check the rules and regulations of any league you enter as to when and how the starting time of the draft works. 

Snake drafts

If you’re new to drafting,  a quick overview of snake drafts is in order. Once a league is full, snake drafts randomly assign people a number (i.e. between 1 to 12) and that number corresponds to the picking order of the first round. The term “snake” refers to the fact that once the first round is over, the order “snakes” back around, so the person who picked 12th in the first round, will now pick 1st in the second round (and the person who picked first, would pick 12th). 

  • 1st round:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
  • 2nd round: 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5,  4,  3, 2, 1

You will often hear the term, “picking at the turn” which refers to being in the first or last position. “The turn” allows people to pick twice in a row, which is often a powerful position to be in, although there is also a huge gap in between picks for people picking on the turn. Going in with some kind of strategy if you’re picking in those spots is often vitally important. 


Why is best ball so popular?

The main appeal of fantasy football best ball leagues is that there is no in-season management. Best ball leagues focus on the one thing that all people love to do (in our opinion at least!), and that is draft fantasy football teams. The in-season portion of the league is all automated so there are no waiver wire pickups, no trade offers, and no setting weekly lineups. 

Since there is no in-season management, best ball allows for people to enter as many leagues as they like, meaning that you can do as many as you can fit in time for drafting. If you feel like you have an edge because of your superior drafting ability – or you just like to draft fantasy football teams and hate the in-season portion of it – then best ball is a great way to get yourself exposure to more fantasy football leagues this year.

Differences between best ball and traditional redraft leagues?

The main difference between best ball and season-long redrafts league is that your involvement in best ball leagues ends after the draft. Everything done in best ball leagues after the draft is automated and your only job is to sit back and watch the performance of your team. 

Best ball is hyper-draft focused in that regard, whereas season-long redraft leagues require attention to things like waiver wires and week-to-week roster setup. 

In best ball there are:

  • No waiver wires
  • No in-season trading
  • No weekly roster setup
  • Scores are combined from the weekly high totals of your roster (based on the roster settings of your league)
    • E.g. a league with a QB - WR/WR/WR - RB/RB - TE - Flex setting would take the highest scorers for each position (top three WRs, top two RBs etc) from your roster (often 18+ players) and tally up the total.  

Below is an example of the league settings from a large best ball provider (Underdog fantasy):

As indicated above, each player will draft 18 players in an Underdog fantasy best ball entry, but only the “top performing players” at the specific roster positions will be designated as starters (and have their stats count for your team). 

Due to the fact, there is no way to adjust rosters after the draft, best ball leagues often have much larger benches than traditional redraft leagues as well. Often for a league with an eight-man starting roster, bench sizes span 10 to 12 players (making the drafts 18 to 20 rounds and much longer than most traditional redrafts). Additionally, most best ball leagues don’t feature the kicker or DST position, making them even more streamlined in that they focus only on the skill positions. 


How do you play best ball?

Participating in best ball is simple and almost easy to a  fault. You simply need to draft your team and could even, in theory, auto-draft (e.g. not be present for the draft) by setting up pre-draft ADP rankings or player queues that many of the sites offer. Since the weekly starting roster is filled out automatically to include your best performers, there’s no worry about leaving a high scorer on your bench. 

However, with no in-season waivers or trades allowed, if your draft doesn’t go well or injuries ravage your team, your best ball team can implode in a heartbeat. There are no second chances in best ball and to set yourself up for season-long success, you need to nail your draft. 

To understand how to do just that – draft a successful team – getting a solid understanding of the different site-by-site roster rules and best ball scoring methods is a must. Knowing things like roster limits (and sizes), starting roster allocations and scoring methods allows you to better understand which positions you’ll need to emphasize more in your draft, and what types of players may be “values” based on their current ADPs. 

Below we’ve outlined the basic structure of the different types of best ball leagues and tournaments offered around the industry, along with a site-by-site analysis of the largest best ball providers in fantasy football. 


How do best ball leagues work?

Best ball fantasy football leagues are offered in a variety of different formats. The most hyped best ball leagues are larger tournament-style offerings, which have grown to include massive prize-pools of up to 10 million dollars. However, for people who love the best ball format and want to compete against smaller groups, there are smaller “sitngo” style formats as well that work similar to singular redraft leagues and often involve anywhere from three to 12 people. 

Large field best ball tournaments

Larger field best ball leagues typically match you up against a smaller league for the first 13-14 weeks of the season and then regroup the winners over the final three to four weeks of the year. Below is an example of how the rounds might flow in a typical best ball tournament:

To win this tournament you will need to be victorious against your initial group, which takes place from Weeks 1-14. Then you’ll also need to win your group in Weeks 15, 16 and 17. Note that you’ll likely be up against more than just a regular 12-person league by Week 16 as the groups tend to get larger as the tournament advances (even as most of the field is eliminated). 

Large field payouts also tend to begin after the initial group. Most large best ball tournaments award cash prizes to the winners of their initial league (in the above example from Underdog fantasy’s Bestball Mania III, all the league winners from Week 1-14 would cash, with prizes getting bigger as the tournament goes on). However, every site tends to differ a little in its payout methods. 

Standard best ball leagues

While larger tournaments tend to dominate the fantasy football best ball landscape, there are also smaller best ball leagues you can enter. These are often three to 14-man leagues that operate in the same way a traditional redraft league would, just with no in-season management.

In small best ball leagues, or best ball sitngo’s, as some refer to them, you simply wait until the league fills (e.g. sit and then go once filled) and then draft. Once done, your team then competes against your initial league for the entire season. These tournaments have smaller payouts but are easier to win given the smaller player pool you are up against. 


Where can you play best ball?

Best ball offerings are expanding as the format becomes more popular. When reviewing or starting play on a new site, it’s vitally important that you review the main features (scoring, roster sizes, payout structure and entry limit). Below we’ve reviewed the largest best ball sites on the internet. 

What is Underdog fantasy?

Underdog fantasy is a non-traditional daily fantasy site that offers best ball and pick’em contests across a wide variety of sports. Their main focus though is fantasy football best ball and they’ve already unleashed a 10 million best ball tournament (Best Ball Mania III) that is available to draft in right now

We've partnered with Underdog for Hot Best Ball Summer and they will MATCH your first deposit up to $100!

All you have to do is sign up through our link, or by using promo code LIFE. 

See you in those drafts!

 

What types of contests does Underdog fantasy offer?

Large field best ball tournaments including 

Best Ball Mania III

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
Prize Pool$10,000,000 ($10 million dollars)
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 II scoring

In Best Ball Mania III, winners and runners-up from each initial group advance into the next round. Wild card positions would be allocated to the highest-scoring non-winning lineups as well if the contest doesn’t fill. In the final round, the top 470-teams remaining would duke it out in a single-week league with ladder-type payouts (see graphic for those above). 

Standard best ball leagues on Underdog

Standard-style leagues on Underdog fantasy range in size and are offered in three, six, nine and 12-person leagues

  • In a standard style or “sitngo” best ball league on Underdog there is no round advancement and you compete against the same set group of players for the entire season 
  • Payouts are distributed via a standard percentage depending on six of the league
    • E.g. a 12-person league pays the top-three finishers while in a three-man league, only the winner gets paid (100% of the prize-pool)

A quick look at the underdog standard leagues offered is below. 


FFPC

What is FFPC?

FFPC stands for the Fantasy Football Players Championship. The site is a dedicated season-long only fantasy football site that offers a wide range of leagues, including dynasty, traditional redrafts, and best ball offerings. 

What types of contests does FFPC offer?

FFPC offers a lot of different ways to play fantasy football. They have one of the largest traditional redraft contests in the industry, the FFPC Main event, which has a nearly $6M prize pool and a $1,000,000 first-place prize.

They also offer large best ball contests too, including their flagship best ball event the FFPC best ball tournament

If you're a new user of FFPC, we have a great introductory offer for you. Sign up using our link, and you'll automatically get a $25-off promo credited to your first entry of $35 or more!

FFPC best ball tournament 

Size9,072 total entries and 756 initial 12-person Groups or leagues
Entry Fee$125.00 USD
Entry Limits/Max entries150 entries allowed, per person
Prize Pool$1,000,000 ($1 million dollars)
First place$200,000 
Roster1-QB, 2-RB, 2-WR, 1-TE, 2-Flex (Flex can be RB, WR or TE) 12 bench
Scoring

1.0 PPR for WRs and RBs / 1.5 PPR for TEs

4.0 point passing TDs

Full scoring for FFPC best ball tournament

The FFPC best ball tournament uses what they refer to as FFPC slim roster rules. There is no kicker or DST spot and benches span 12 players long. One quirk with FFPC scoring is that they award TEs 1.5 points per catch, while WRs and RBs get just the regular 1.0 point per catch. This makes TEs hyper valuable in their contests. Of note is the fact that FFPC also differs from a site like Underdog in that they offer just two WR positions but do offer two flex positions as well.

Much like Underdog, on FFPC to advance out of your initial 12-man group, you only need to finish in the top two (although the sites differ in grouping and advancement metrics when you get past Week 14). 

As for payouts, all teams who advance out of their initial 12-man group will cash. The top payouts for the FFPC best ball tournament are below and a link to the full payout structure can be found here

Standard best ball leagues on FFPC

  • Range in size and are offered in three, six, nine, and 12-person leagues
  • In a standard style or “sitngo” best ball league on Underdog there is no round advancement and you compete against the same set group of players for the entire season 
  • Payouts are distributed via a standard percentage depending on six of the league
    • E.g. a 12-person league pays the top-three finishers while in a three-man league, only the winner gets paid (100% of the prize pool)

Draftkings

What is DraftKings?

DraftKings is the largest daily fantasy sports or DFS site in the world. They began offering best ball contests before the 2020 NFL season and now offer some of the largest best ball contests in the world. Their 2021 flagship best ball millionaire maker contest had 155,00 entries and featured a $1M first place prize to the champion. 

What types of contests do DraftKings offer?

DraftKings has yet to release their 2022 best ball offerings but you can expect their tournaments to be some of the largest in the industry when they get announced. 

DraftKings scoring is somewhat unique in that they feature “bonuses”. When a quarterback, receiver, or running back reaches a certain milestone, that player gets an extra 3.0 point bonus which can be very valuable, especially when added up over the course of a season.

 


Standard best ball leagues on DraftKings

As the largest daily fantasy site, DraftKings also offers some of the best selection of smaller standard best ball contests, and you likely won't have to wait long for these to fill. 

  • They range in size and are offered in three, six, nine, and 12-person leagues
  • Payouts are distributed via a standard percentage depending on six of the league
  • Some of the largest selection of best ball contests in the daily fantasy sports space, with entry fees ranging from $1.00 to $1,000 dollars


Sep 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates a first down during the second quarter against Seattle Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports


Yahoo

Yahoo has traditionally been a season-long redraft provider and was one of the go-to sites for season-long drafts prior to the daily fantasy sports boom. They now offer an entire range of DFS offerings and recently rolled out their best ball product, last season.

What types of contests does Yahoo offer?

Yahoo has yet to release their 2022 best ball contests for play but their rules and structure remain the same as last season. 

  • Contests range in size from $1.00 to $500.00
  • Yahoo uses a 10-man league structure and only has nine bench spots and 17 roster spots total
  • 17-man rosters that start: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex (RB/WR/TE) with no DST or K
  • Uses a 0.5 ppr scoring system

Overall, Yahoo’s product is more basic for the beginner player as the bench sizes aren’t as deep and there are no exotic scoring methods included. The site is still one of the more popular on the internet with fantasy football users so expect their standard and tournament offerings to be busy this year. 


Drafters

Drafters are a relatively new daily fantasy site that is making a big entry into the best ball scene in 2022. Much like FFPC and Underdog fantasy, Drafters focuses on the drafting portion of daily fantasy football and offers a wide variety of snake-draft-based daily fantasy contests on their site.

What types of contests does Drafters offer?

For 2022, Drafters has rolled out a best-ball contest with a million-dollar prize pool. Info on THE DRAFTERS MILLION NFL Best Ball Championship is below. 

Size55,008 entries and 4584 12-man leagues
Entry Fee$20.00 USD
Entry Limits/Max entries150 entries allowed, per person
Prize Pool$1,000,000 ($1 million dollars)
First place$250,000 
RosterQB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, FLEX (TE/WR/RB) 11 bench
Scoring

Traditional 1.0 ppr, 4.0 passing TDs

Full scoring for Drafters Million  tournament

Drafters also offer contests ranging in size from $1.00 to $500.00

  • 3, 6, 10, and 12-man Tournaments are offered with a range of buy-ins from $1.00 to $109.00
  • Like most other sites, these are available in slow and quick draft format

Drafters have upped the ante on their biggest site offerings for 2022 so expect there to be more traffic in their smaller offerings as the season draws closer as well. 


Bestball 10s

Bestball 10s is a rebrand of the now-defunct “my fantasy league 10s'' which was one of the first best ball sites on the market when the format took off. The site is the smallest of the ones we’ve featured in this article but that can also mean that you’re not going up against the stiffest competition either. 

What types of contests for best ball 10s offer?

The site maintains an old-school look and has also maintained its offerings to stay within a $5.00-$10.00-$25.00-$50.00-$100.00 offerings. Sticking with its name, the site's largest offering is the $10.00 entry BB10s 2022 Championship which features 4,500 entries and a $10,000 first prize.

Size3,000 entries and 250 12-man leagues
Entry Fee$10.00 USD
Entry Limits/Max entries135 entries allowed, per person
First place$10,000 
RosterQB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, FLEX (TE/WR/RB) 11 bench
Scoring

Traditional 1.0 ppr, 4.0 passing TDs

Full scoring for BB10s


 


Best Ball strategy 

Below are some foundational strategies that will help guide you to winning best ball teams.

Mind the Bye Weeks

Having multiple players with the same bye weeks in a season-long redraft league isn’t that big a deal. After all, we can just go out and use the waivers to find a fill-in if absolutely necessary. However, with no waiver wire in best ball, ensuring you don’t have bye week overlap at certain positions is important. 

While it’s generally not as big a deal at WR or RB (as long as they all don’t have the same bye) it’s important to ensure your QBs and TEs don’t have much, if any, overlap. In many cases, we’re only drafting two players at those positions so if they both have the same bye then you’re getting a zero from that position for a week, which is far from ideal. Watch the bye weeks as you build your team, and avoid serious overlap at those vital positions. 

Don’t lose track of the count in your draft

This one is fairly simple but also a step many people simply don’t take: always be aware of how many players you have allocated to every position, at all times. If you get greedy and end up with four quarterbacks your other positions will have less than optimal allocations and could suffer. Make sure you always check up on who and where you have drafted before your next selection comes up. 
 Taking that a step further, it’s never a bad idea to check in on your neighbors either. For example, if you know many players in your draft took quarterbacks early on, it might be ok for you to wait an extra round before taking yours as there won’t be much competition for that position until later rounds. 

Opt for spike weeks over safety

Best ball leagues automatically take the highest scoring positional players at each position for us on a week-to-week basis. As such, we shouldn’t be wary of choosing bench players who have more boom or bust tendencies, or don’t have defined roles yet on their respective teams, when we draft them. Deep threat receivers and running backs that need a pile of receptions to truly pay off both may give us many bust weeks. However, when they do see an uptick in targets, or catch that 80-yard TD, then the points they give us will be guaranteed not to be on the bench (as they might be in a traditional redraft league). 

Stacking 

Stacking is a relatively simple strategy that involves pairing a QB with one or more of his pass-catchers, meaning wide receiver, tight end, or even in some cases running backs.  The goal is to maximize the good weeks of your quarterback by having exposure to one or more of his pass-catchers as well, who could also benefit from a big 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 were shown to have a better advancement rate in tournaments like Underdog Fantasy’s 2021 Best Ball Mania contest.  


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Advanced best ball strategies

Below are the structural drafting concepts that are proven to be effective and successful in best ball.  Plus, a bonus strategy we think you should avoid.
 

Running Back strategy - Zero RB 

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 Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers, or Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce– essentially beating the rush on those players. 

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. 


Running Back strategy - Anchor RB

Anchor RB – also commonly referred to as hero RB or modified Zero RB strategy– is an approach that has you build around one early-round RB (taken in the first or second round), before using the rest of your early-round picks on positions like WR or TE. The idea works very similarly to the Zero RB method in that it tries to limit overspending early draft capital on RBs. 

The main difference between anchor RB and Zero RB is that Anchor RB lineups allow us to “anchor” our team to what, in theory, should be an every-down “workhorse” at the position. These workhorse backs bring such value to season-long fantasy football formats because they give us a shot at landing on a “Legendary” type of fantasy football season – one that can supercharge our team and make up for missing in other areas like our late-round RB picks or even on an early-round WR.


Running Back strategy - Hyper Fragile

A hyperfragile drafting method sees you draft for the maximum ceiling by taking three RBs in the first six rounds, and often taking RBs on each of your first two picks, but limiting you to 4 RBs overall. It places a huge emphasis on the fact that these early-round RBs will give you the best shot at landing on a legendary type of season that could carry your squad. 

The difference between a hyperfragile structure and other RB-centric draft methods (like robust RB) is that the hyper fragile method also attempts to make up for that expenditure of early-round draft capital by limiting the overall amount of RBs on your roster (often to just four). In hyperfragile lineups, you are essentially looking to spend up on RBs, but then make up for that early expenditure of draft capital by spending more draft picks down the line at other positions (mainly WR). 


Running back strategy - Robust RB

In general, we think best ball drafters should avoid the Robust RB strategy.

Robust RB differs from other methods like Zero RB and Anchor RB in that its main goal is to try and capitalize on the massive upside that early-round RBs offer while ignoring the overall volatility of the position. The method specifically asks you to target RBs heavily in the first six rounds, sometimes expending as many as four of your first six picks in a draft on the position. 

Best Ball Mania Advance rates

Of the four draft methods discussed, Robust RB had the worst success rate in best ball for 2021, performing 5.4% below expectation in terms of playoff rate in Underdog Fantasy Best Ball Mania II in 2021.

Early-round tight-end, late-round quarterback

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 a very effective draft approach in best ball, as well, mainly due to the lack of depth at that position. The top TE’s (like Travis Kelce and Darren Walleroften 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 two or 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. 

Heavy on the wide receivers 

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

Wide receiver tends to be a deep position, but also know that it’s still difficult to mine good results from wide receivers late in drafts. Often loading up on top wideouts from good teams like Tyreek Hill or Stefon Diggs, and chasing later-round running backs (aka, the zero RB approach), is the way to counteract this tendency of avoiding drafting too many late-round bust types at the wideout position.