Best Ball Strategy: Underdog Weekly Winners (Fantasy Football)

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Over the summer, you’ve probably received your fill of Best ball information. Why not just completely flip things on their head and introduce a brand new animal?

On the most recent Fantasy Footballers’ DFS & Betting Podcast, we discussed Underdog’s newest best ball format: Weekly Winners.

Here are five tips for attacking Underdog’s newest format taking some of our Best Ball strategy and then mixing it with some chaos.

1. No one knows what they are doing.

Ok that sounds a bit blunt but this is a new format. We can’t use last year’s data or what the previous winner did and try to copy and paste.

I’ve been doing a bit of academic research just to get my head around how the field might approach this new contest. Normally, within a game environment, we have a challenge (Best Ball Mania) which ushers a response from Twitter and different industry experts and we receive feedback of what worked and didn’t work. We utilize descriptive information and often make it prescriptive for the future. This is a constant loop in fantasy football world and certainly a valid expression of learning.

But in terms of new game theory, we are now working with a new challenge with no real intel on what worked and what didn’t work. This is what Harsayani referred to as a rational player who knows very little about how other players will function within the game set. Their “payoff functions or the way they form beliefs about other players’ payoff functions or beliefs” are not as informed because of a lack of history. Thus, rational players will perform “thought experiments”  or as Einsteins referred to ‘gedankexperiment’.

Here’s my take: get weird. Nothing is off the table and even more so, when you see people huddle around certain strategies, be willing to think outside the box. The planning and equally important fortune needed to win a GPP in DFS is not something you can just cobble together after this format was just released.

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2. Understand the Context for Every Player

Maybe you’ve seen a flood of screenshots on your Twitter timeline of people’s Weekly Winners lineups. If you like your lineup at the end of drafting, congrats! But there is a catch…

Every pick and every player is operating within the field of this specific game format. They are essentially “cloned” at a higher rate than you might realize.

Take for instance Garrett Wilson. You take him at the 1/2 turn convinced he’s ready to skyrocket to the moon in 2023. He showed so much promise last year with the most targets by a rookie WR since Anquan Boldin in 2003. Now Aaron Rodgers is in town and you’ve selected yourself a bonafide stud in the making.

Wilson goes off for 40 fantasy points in Week 1 and you already start charging everything on that credit card waiting for that sweet, sweet prize money to start flowing.

Hold up. Your 40 fantasy points might sound downright impressive but what if I told you that almost 22,000 other people have the same exact 40 points sitting in their lineup too? Yes, 8.3% of UD Weekly Winners will be holding their Wilson lottery ticket in hand but we need to break down that number even further. While 40 points is certainly impressive and clearly a needed score that week in best ball, only a third of those teams (7,315) will actually cash that week. That’s it. Even with a likely optimal 40 points from Wilson, the rest of your starting lineup is under the gun.

Less than 3% of the total field will be paid out in some manner each week. We are playing a DFS-style GPP tournament where roster percentage is even more flat than you could imagine. How do we leverage that information?

3. Throw Out Roster Construction & ADP to a Degree

Everything we’ve discussed on the DFS & Betting Podcast this year regarding roster construction can basically be thrown

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Normally, we preach how ideal roster construction for season-long best ball is key. If you draft an elite QB, generally speaking, you only need one more. 3TE builds are common if you miss out on Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews. We teach that a minimum of 6-7 WRs are required to truly compete with the rest of the field. But I’m seeing lineups routinely with 13 WRs!

For Weekly Winners… who cares! You are playing for just one week.

  • Take 4 pieces from the team… and leave out a key one. Jaguars without Trevor Lawrence? Why not. Where you could’ve taken Lawrence in that draft could give you different player and roster construction from other teams that did the same Jacksonville stack.
  • Two RBs from the same team? In DFS, we normally say this is sub-optimal. Last year, the Lions ranked #1 in total fantasy points at the RB position with Jamaal Williams (5) and D’Andre Swift (4) cracking the top-5 nine times combined.
  • Roster 4 QBs late? Why not. If some people are rostering just one, what if you snag multiple guys who might have one week for the ages? Here are some much-maligned names who finished top-3 at the QB position at some point last year: Carson Wentz, Jarrett Stidham, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson
  • Draft only with Week 13 in mind? Hey, I’m not here to judge.

4. Stacking In Multiple Ways Multiple Good Offenses

Use look-ahead lines to identify game stacks for a specific week.

Elite QBs matter much more here → Spike Weeks (Top-5)

Stacking Divisions– this gives us two instances of weekly correlation (except matchups from Week 18)

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Stacking Bye Weeks– throwing in the towel for that week, but gives you more upside for every other week.

5. Find the Archetypes

We want players who consistently have shown the ability to finish top-5 at their position. WR spike weeks usually come from the top options. We want to avoid players on bad offenses that have rarely ever shown the ability for spike weeks.

Players I’m Higher On in Weekly Winners:

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