News & Analysis

Best ball fantasy football: Why play it, how it can help

Sep 16, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) celebrates as he scores a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

[Editor's Note: All PFF EDGE & ELITE subscribers have access to DraftMaster. If you're not an EDGE or ELITE subscriber, you can join today for 25% off with promo code BESTBALL.]

Best ball fantasy football isn’t a new format. Draft-only leagues have been around for a better part of the last decade. But this unique format of fantasy football has really started to gain steam over the last couple years, and for good reason. One of the best parts of season-long fantasy football is drafting, and that’s all you do in best ball.

If you’re new to best ball, the concept is relatively simple. You draft your roster and the highest-scoring players will be automatically selected as your starters each week. At the end of the season, the team with the most points wins.

Of course, this is fantasy football we’re talking about, so nothing is ever that simple. In season-long fantasy football, there’s ultimately a cap on the number of teams you can manage. Even the craziest of season-long players have a max. I’ve been in as many as 15 season-long leagues at one time in the past, but five leagues is where I’ve settled out over the last few years. And I do this for a living. For most casual players, three might be the most season-long leagues you can get away with before fantasy starts consuming every spare second you have.

(Want to start practicing your best ball fantasy football savvy? Check out DraftMaster now!)

So let’s consider fantasy drafts for a moment. There’s really nothing better than a live fantasy draft. Getting together with your league on a warm summers day to place multicolored stickers on an oversized board is what it’s all about. But it isn’t just the camaraderie that separates live drafts from their virtual counterpart. Online drafts tend to eliminate the advantage of preparation thanks to the ever-present site rankings and ADP. If a person doesn’t do their homework in an online draft, they can still likely draft a decent enough team. But fail to prep in a live draft and you’re screwed.

However, there’s a problem with live drafts as well. Let’s say you’re in three leagues that all draft live. Those three leagues are essentially your only opportunities to draft every year. Sure, you can do mock drafts, but they’re never quite the same as the real thing. You’re either mocking against a computer or other human beings with nothing on the line. So it’s really difficult to practice for the real thing.

Here’s where best ball comes into play. People playing in best ball leagues have something on the line monetarily, which means they’re not going to bail on the draft after a few rounds like people tend to do in mocks. This means you can get significantly more experience in drafting than you ever could in your live drafts.

Think about it. You could easily do 30 best ball drafts between now and early September. That’s as many drafts in six months as it would have taken you 10 years to complete in your live drafts. Now, it should be noted that best ball-drafts aren’t exactly the same thing as live drafts in terms of strategy, but all of this practice is absolutely critical in developing the decision-making skills that will help you dominate your live drafts.

That’s what it’s all about right there. As you go through best ball drafts, you’re going to have to make tough decisions, just like you would in any fantasy draft. You aren’t going to make the right decision every time, and that’s fine. The key is learning from the mistakes you make in each draft and applying that going forward. By the time your live drafts roll around at the end of the summer, all that experience is going to set you up for success. Better you, you’ll be in tune with all the trends and overall draft strategy for the year.

So why talk about this now? Because it’s best ball season. In fact, the next two months are really the best time of year to play best ball. Sure, there are a lot of sharks in the waters, but March and April drafts offer the potential to get significant exposure to rookie running backs on the cheap along with several other veteran players who are currently being undervalued by the masses.

And the best part is that you don’t have to fly blind in best ball drafts. The team here at PFF has worked hard behind the scenes to add best ball capabilities to our existing tools suite. DraftMaster now has best ball functionality so you can run through scenarios and explore different roster constructions. Better yet, you can pick the personalities of your opponents so they aren’t just drafting based on ADP or rankings. You’ll also have the ability to produce cheat sheets and draft boards for best ball leagues.

In addition to our expanded tool offerings, you’re going to see significantly more best ball content at PFF in 2019 and beyond. And, of course, our fantasy analysts will provide you with our best ball rankings and tiers to help you set up your own best ball draft board. The best ball era is officially here in fantasy football, and PFF is your ultimate best-ball resource.

[All PFF EDGE & ELITE subscribers have access to DraftMaster. If you're not an EDGE or ELITE subscriber, you can join today for 25% off with promo code BESTBALL.]

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