Best Ball Strategy: How Do You Approach 12-Team Leagues vs. Tournaments Differently?

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We get this question all the time: how do I approach tournaments vs 12-man leagues differently in Best Ball?

Andy shared about this briefly on the Fantasy Footballers Best Ball Breakdown on the My Guys Episode.

You have to play to your league format and who you are playing against. Notice that your typical 12-man league isn’t full of “shields”, which distinguish how many times 

Follow the money: the amount of money on the line should give you insight into the type of players, how big your player pool should be, and the type of game theory you need to take down essentially three DFS tournaments in a row.

12-Team Best Ball Leagues

  • You aren’t reaching on players. Let the draft fall to you.
    • We’ve found these drafts to be more RB-heavy early.
    • Some people treat them like home leagues which gives you an advantage to swing for upside and not safety. Remember, there can be only one winner.

Best Ball Mania III

The total prize pool is $10 Million. Thousands and thousands of people will fill this tournament. If you’re fortunate enough to make it to Week 17, that’s a top 1% outcome with 451,200 entrants total. For each league, two members advance but that’s when things get crazy.

Weeks 15 & 16 whittles down the pool to essentially a 1-week DFS tournament with 470 people where we can apply a lot of our familiar DFS concepts. 50% of the prizes are devoted to the outcome of Week 17. 

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Here are a few simple tips.

  • Playing to Advance, Correlating for the End
  • High Floor Team (2 from each BBM league advances to playoffs)
  • You Need a Structure That Withstands Injuries & Injects Volatility
    • Best ball is all about chasing the top-end outcomes – not only for our roster but for each player individually. In most 12-team leagues, only the top 3 spots get paid out. In other words, if you come in 4th place, you might as well come in 12th. In Best Ball Mania, being in the top 10 % of teams is nice but you won’t be able to frame that bad boy.
    • Reminder: Doubling an average WR’s standard deviation (while keeping their scoring constant) increases the Top 6 probability of a roster by about 14%. For more on the subject, read Matt DiSorbo & Matthew Betz’s Embracing Volatility article.
  • Week 17 is everything. 
    • Correlating your Week 17 matchups is needed to take down a tournament. Don’t overvalue it because you have to advance to the playoffs for this to matter. But find cheaper options to correlate for maximizing upside.
    • KC/DEN, BUF/CIN, … and sneaky ones SF/LV, ARI/ATL
    • Andy covered this in early June in the Best Ball Breakdown segment.
  • Getting Unique Matters- Back in June, we discussed players to take with your last pick.
    • In BBM, you are wanting a super team in the playoffs (Wks 15-17) 
    • You want players the field doesn’t have. Feel free to get weird with Round 17 & 18.

It can be easy to make boring late picks in ADP just to fill a spot. Instead, finding players outside of the top 210 of ADP ensures the field isn’t necessarily on this player either.

  • Late WR? Why go to sleep drafting AJ Green at 197th overall? Instead,  rookies like Titans’ Kyle Phillips or Chicago’s Velus Jones have ambiguous wide receiver groups with room for them to carve out a meaningful role.
  • Late RB? Imagine going with broken down Sony Michel at 213th. Why not try Chargers backup Joshua Kelley who might actually be the No. 2 instead of Isaiah Spiller? Seattle’s Travis Homer is another name who could find room for play amongst a backfield dealing with injuries.

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