Best Ball Strategy 

Wed Aug 7 11:43am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Cooper capable of huge game


If you haven’t heard, best ball fantasy leagues are all the rage these days. These are the fastest growing leagues on our site. Drafts are going off every night (click here). We are here to help you win your best ball league. This column will focus on the strategy of a best ball format, giving you some tips to help you win big. 

If you aren’t familiar, here is a quick rundown of the best ball format. The best ball format means you don’t have to set a weekly lineup. Your best possible roster will be automatically selected after the games are completed for the week. There are no free agent moves during the season. All you do is draft. After the draft is complete, you can sit back and watch the rest of the season. It is all the fun of drafting but without the daily management. 

The best ball leagues normally start nine players: a quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, flex, defense and kicker. Drafts are anywhere between 20 and 25 rounds long, making rosters deeper because of the inability to make free agent moves during the season. 

So now that you know the rules, here is a look at some tips for having a successful best ball draft. First off, you are going to take more quarterbacks and tight ends than in a normal draft. Taking three quarterbacks and three tight ends is a smart move in best ball leagues. You just need one player to hit each week, so having more to choose from will help you optimize your chances for that big week. Grabbing three players at each position is the way to go in best ball formats. 

In a best ball league, going with boom or best players is a good idea. Getting players with a high weekly ceiling is a smart move. You need those big weekly games to advance in best ball formats. Guys like Amari Cooper and DeSean Jackson are ranked a little higher for me in this format. These are guys that can drive you a little crazy in standard leagues because of their erratic play, but you can live with that in best ball leagues. There are options on your bench that can makeup for the bad games from Cooper and Jackson. You start just two receivers on a weekly basis and likely have three or four options on your bench. There is a good chance one of your bench options hits any given week, which can makeup for the erratic play of a guy like Cooper if he busts. 

So taking three quarterbacks is a good idea, but grabbing one in the early rounds isn’t. If you think about it, you just need one quarterback to hit each week with a big number. If you take three in the middle to later rounds of your draft, can one of those guys post an elite fantasy number each week? Your answer is likely a big yes. You are better served in a best ball format loading up on running backs and receivers early in your draft. These positions are a little more uncertain, so getting quality running backs and receivers early in your draft is a good plan come draft day. Don’t waste early picks on the quarterback spot. The quarterback position also is crazy deep this year.

The tight end spot is a little different this year. Normally, approaching the tight end position is similar to the quarterback position. Get three in the middle to later rounds of your draft and hope one hits each week. We still suggest getting three tight ends but going early on one of the three elite options this year might give you an advantage. There are three players that stick out head and shoulders above the rest: Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and George Kittle. Taking one of those three players in the second or third round of a best ball draft might give you an advantage over the rest of your league-mates. The lesser tight end options aren’t as likely to score big when they have their good games. This is something to keep in mind come draft day. Going early on one of the three elite tight ends could set you apart this year. They are worth an early-round pick.

There is some debate with this next suggestion, but we think getting two kickers and two defenses is the way to go in best ball. The big reason is that if you take just one at each position, you are going to be giving up six or seven points in one game because of bye weeks. Can you afford to lose those points when every game matters so much in fantasy? We just aren’t sure it is worth risking, especially since rosters are so deep anyway. Every game matters so much in fantasy that giving away just one game could be the difference between making or missing the playoffs. So go ahead and grab two kickers and defenses in the last few rounds of your draft to make sure you are maximizing your points each week of the season.

In closing, use your early picks wisely, getting a lot of talent at running back and receiver. These positions are a little more uncertain, so getting plenty of options at those spots is a good move in this format. And don’t be afraid to go deep at any position, especially if you have some questions marks for your projected top point getter at the position. You also have to take some chances late in the draft, trying to find a player that might emerge later in the season or something along those lines. This is the format to take more risks. You have the roster space, so don’t be afraid to take some chances along the way. There are going to be players selected in this format that you would never consider taking in a standard league. 

Good luck and happy drafting! 

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
John Ross Aug 12 12:20pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III has left camp to be with his son after both his son and his son's mother tested positive for COVID-19. Ross missed Tuesday's practice and has no timetable for a return. The speedy wideout is clearly prioritizing his family over football, rightfully so, at this point of the preseason. Ross will be placed on the Reserve/COVID list while he is away from the team.

From RotoBaller

Tavon Austin Aug 12 12:20pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers are bringing free-agent wide receiver Tavon Austin in for a workout. The team is hoping to sign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver if the workout goes well. San Francisco is looking to bolster their pass-catching corps after speedy wideout Travis Benjamin opted out of the 2020 season last week. Austin caught 13 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown in 14 games with the Cowboys last season.

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Antonio Gibson Aug 12 12:10pm ET

Washington running back Antonio Gibson has been doing all he can to learn an NFL playbook amid the coronavirus pandemic, which includes sitting in on wide receiver meetings in the early part of camp. Gibson played receiver in college, but also had 33 carries and is expected to primarily be a running back in the NFL, especially with the team releasing Derrius Guice following his arrest. Last season at Memphis, Gibson scored eight receiving touchdowns and added four on the ground so the "Swiss Army Knife" player will be a matchup nightmare for defenses. It will take Gibson time to learn everything about the RB position, but he is electric with the ball in his hands so expect Washington to get creative finding ways to get him involved. Gibson is a high-upside sleeper to target late in fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Aug 12 11:40am ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will look to take a step forward in his second NFL season, and will be doing so with a new offensive coordinator in former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. In his first public comments since being hired in January, Garrett raved about the sophomore-signal caller's work ethic and the work Jones put in to learn the offense without the two being able to meet face-to-face due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jones showed huge upside last season with five-300 yard passing games and three games with four-plus touchdowns. His main issue was turnovers as he threw 12 picks and fumbled a league-leading 18 times. Garrett had great success with Dak Prescott, so expect him to help Jones improve in year two making him a good QB to target if waiting on the position in drafts.

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Kenjon Barner Aug 12 11:03am ET

Free-agent RB Kenjon Barner (Falcons) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday, Aug. 12.

From TheHuddle

Nick Chubb Aug 12 11:00am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb told reporters during a Zoom session on Tuesday that he is "ready to share work with (Kareem) Hunt and play alongside him in the same backfield." Chubb and Hunt played eight games together in 2019 after Hunt served an eight-game suspension to begin the season. Chubb told reporters, "Last year, it was just half a season (with Hunt), and this year, he's here and ready. I look forward to it." While Hunt's presence in the backfield will affect Chubb in the passing game, the Browns figure to skew run-heavy under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. That, along with a revamped offensive line, should lead to more than enough fantasy production for both Chubb and Hunt in 2020. Draft Chubb as a low-end RB1 in all formats this season.

From RotoBaller

Vic Beasley Aug 12 10:53am ET

Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley (undisclosed) failed his physical and was placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

From TheHuddle

T Y Hilton Aug 12 9:33am ET

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 12, and was activated from the active/Non-Football Injury list.

Fantasy Spin: Hilton has been plagued by soft-tissue injuries, and this hamstring injury adds more trepidation. He's a WR3 that you need a backup plan for, but he has upside there as well.

From TheHuddle

Matthew Stafford Aug 12 12:30am ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been cleared to play football after a COVID-19 test resulted in a false positive. Stafford commented, "I want to play football. I want to be out there", in addressing a situation he referred to as "scary". The veteran quarterback was on his way to one of the best seasons of his professional career last year, passing for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in only eight games. But a fractured back ended his season Stafford and his fantasy value will be weighed down by the specter of that injury heading into fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Equanimeous St. Brown Aug 11 11:23pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Equanimeous St. Brown (ankle) will be ready for the first practice Saturday, Aug. 15, according to general manager Brian Gutekunst.

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Evan Engram Aug 11 11:13pm ET

New York Giants TE Evan Engram (foot) said he is ready for training camp thanks to 'a very strong and aggressive rehab' this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: Engram has delivered TE1 production when on the field, but he has played just 19 games over the past two seasons because of various injuries. He could be a Top 5 player at his position, but you need to have a quality backup plan in place.

From TheHuddle

Boston Scott Aug 11 11:03pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles RB Boston Scott is 'positioned to be the No. 2 running back' in 2020, according to Zach Berman of The Athletic, and Berman said he expects Scott to have a Darren Sproles-like role in the backfield.

Fantasy Spin: Scott flashed his upside late last season, piling up 151 rushing yards, 199 receiving yards and scoring four times over the final four games. Miles Sanders is the lead back in Philadelphia, but his owners may want to grab Scott as a handcuff.

From TheHuddle

Malik Turner Aug 11 11:00pm ET

For the second day in a row, the Green Bay Packers have added a wide receiver. This time, it's former Seahawks wideout Malik Turner, who had 15 catches for 245 yards last season. Turner's much more likely to play a role on this team than the other addition, Travis Fulgham, but he still faces an uphill battle to be a fantasy-relevant part of this roster in 2020. Still, Green Bay is fairly shallow at receiver, so Turner could end up as the team's No. 3 wide receiver by the time the regular season rolls around.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Aug 11 9:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is no longer wearing a knee brace in practice this year.

Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo had previously said his knee is back to 100 percent following his 2018 injury, and shedding the brace is further confirmation. A more mobile Garoppolo could lead to a few more big plays, but he should probably still be viewed as more of a high-end QB2 than a every-week fantasy starter.

From TheHuddle

Mike Daniels Aug 11 8:03pm ET

Updating a previous story, free-agent DT Mike Daniels (Lions) agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth up to $2.7 million with the Cincinnati Bengals Tuesday, Aug. 11, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Aug 11 7:23pm ET

Updating a previous story, free-agent CB Ross Cockrell (Panthers) will remain a free agent after failing to come to terms on a contract with the New York Giants.

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Aug 11 6:33pm ET

Free-agent DT Darius Kilgo (Lions) signed with the New England Patriots Tuesday, Aug. 11. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

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P.J. Hall Aug 11 6:13pm ET

Free-agent DT P.J. Hall (Raiders) visited the Houston Texans Tuesday, Aug. 11.

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Xavien Howard Aug 11 4:23pm ET

Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 11.

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Vic Beasley Aug 11 4:13pm ET

Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley (undisclosed) was placed on the Non-Football Injury list Tuesday, Aug. 11. LB Reggie Gilbert was waived.

From TheHuddle