The Biggest Mistakes I’m Seeing in Best Ball Drafts (Fantasy Football)

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At this point in the offseason, I’ve completed more best ball drafts than I’d like to admit. However, in completing so many drafts, it allows me to do two things:

  1. Build a portfolio of drafts using a strategy that allows me to not get locked in on player takes because inherently, we’re going to be wrong about some of these players, like we are every year.
  2. Identify where my opponents are making mistakes so that I can continue to draft confidently using an optimal strategy that Kyle and I have discussed in detail on the DFS Podcast.

In one of my recent Best Ball Mania drafts on Underdog Fantasy, I noticed three or four absolutely egregious mistakes by my opponents, and it sparked the inspiration for this article. Of course, no strategy should be followed as the only way to draft – there are many ways to created +EV (expected value), but there areĀ severalĀ ways to tank your team in the first several rounds. In best ball formats, especially tournaments, we want to achieve the top 1% of outcomes to take home the money. By making mistakes in best ball drafts early, we’re essentially forfeiting a chance at that possibility. Avoid the following mistakes, and you’re sure to be better than a handful of other drafters in the room.

Editor’s Note: Looking for more best ball content? Be sure to check out our 2021 Best Ball Rankings and the Best Ball Primer, The Fantasy Footballers’ premium best ball resource, exclusive for Ultimate Draft Kit+ subscribers.

Mistake #1: Reaching For the Sake of Completing Stacks

Stacking is critical to winning in best ball. At this point, the vast majority of the field knows this, and the data strongly supports stacking as a way to achieve a ceiling outcome that we’re looking for in best-ball formats. However, if you’re throwing average draft position (ADP) out the window for the sake of completing a stack, you’re likely lighting your money on fire. Establish the Run’s Michael Leone published some compelling research that has shown that when you’re completing a team stack considered positive ADP value, win rates in best ball reach 9.14%. Conversely, when the stack is completed with ‘negative ADP value’ (i.e. when players are taken ahead of ADP), the win rate drops to 7%. It’s actually more beneficial to not stack at all than to reach on a stack.

As of late June, Matthew Stafford‘s ADP on Underdog Fantasy is 103.6 overall in the 9th round as the QB12. Can Matthew Stafford have a great year? Of course. He’s now with a creative head coach with a high upside scheme, has two rock-solid wideouts in Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, and he’s got a great pass-catching back in Cam Akers. Building Rams stacks could be fantastic for best ball, but taking Stafford in the 6th round? Couldn’t be me.

The manager who selected Stafford 65th overall as the QB6 overall did have Robert Woods on his roster, so it makes all the sense in the world for this person to select Stafford if he thinks the Rams can be great for fantasy, but taking Stafford at this ADP is egregious. This isn’t to say Stafford can’t finish as the QB6 – he absolutely could, but the opportunity cost of selecting a QB this early to complete a stack when his ADP is a full 38 spots later is a significant hit to this team’s upside as this drafter is passing on proven WRs and high upside RBs just to get Stafford. For this reach to pay off, this manager had better hope Stafford finishes as the QB1…I’ll take the over.

Take Home: Reaching to complete a stack by more than one round is correlated with reduced win rates in best ball. Don’t reach simply for the sake of creating a team stack.

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