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Best Ball

How to Dominate in NFL Best Ball Fantasy Football: Alex Baker’s Secrets to Winning on Yahoo

Alex Baker

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We all want to a win money in NFL best ball fantasy football, but it is not an easy task like it is with traditional NFL fantasy football. With tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of entries, you have to have the draft of a lifetime to get the win. So to help you get there, we here at Awesemo have developed the top best ball fantasy football rankings and advice to help you take down Yahoo leagues.

Dominate 2021 Best Ball Fantasy Football on Yahoo

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NFL best ball is mathematically fascinating with the dynamic of how only the best performers at each position count towards your overall score. The resulting differences between season-long, where you have to choose the starters each week, and best ball fantasy football cannot be overstated. If you are taking traditional fantasy football rankings and applying them to best ball, it is not a disaster, but you are going to be missing the extra edge you can get from the new format on the block.

To rank players for best ball fantasy football, I ran simulations of how every player affects your overall season projection on an average roster. We know that your roster is going to have a mix of at least two quarterbacks, six wide receivers, four running backs and two tight ends. Assuming those building blocks are present, we can calculate how each player would contribute to the team using a simulation. These simulations are the basis of our NFL best ball rankings. By creating a projection for each player in the context of an average best ball roster, we specifically tailored our season-long fantasy football projections to best ball.

In 2021 it is fairly easy to either rank all the players in the NFL from best to worst fantasy potential or find a set of competent rankings that do so. Even if you just draft the players with the lowest ADP each round, you are going to have a pretty solid lineup. Traditional player rankings have not been perfected, but they are pretty solid compared to just going into a draft blind. But one piece that most people have not figured out yet is how to incorporate a player’s schedule to figure out their value for each specific tournament. Traditional fantasy football rankings correlate well to a best ball Sit ‘n Go where each week counts equally. But we know they are not all equal — you could have a rough Week 5 and make the playoffs but if you have a rough, Week 15 that’s game over. Since the stakes vary so much from week to week in the big NFL best ball tournaments, an extra point in Week 5 is not the same as a point in Week 16. When you factor in that you have three must-win weeks, that starts to dramatically skew the importance away from regular season performances to those playoff weeks.

I found it very difficult to use intuition to figure out the best way to quantify this; most of my initial thoughts turned out to be misguided once I determined the best way to solve this problem by simulation. At first, it made sense to me that Weeks 1 trough 14 have about one-fourteenth of the importance of Weeks 15 to 17. But the margin of victory usually is not 14 times higher in a 14-week best ball round, so those regular season points are still relatively valuable even though there are a lot more of them to go around.

Using simulations, I was able to figure out the value of an extra point in each round. But you have to actually make it to that round to realize the advantage, so I multiplied by the percentage of participants remaining at that point. We are all used to using points per dollar to find the best plays in DFS but for this I created a dollar-per-point metric. This represents the expected value added to your entry with each marginal change in projected points.

Since our rankings on Awesemo are powered by weekly projections, we can easily account for the likelihood of success in any individual week. When people think strength of schedule usually they are thinking of the defensive matchup. Of course you would rather have your player against the New York Jets defense than the LA Rams, but the venue is extremely important late in the season. The inherent disadvantage of passing in winter conditions in New York may negate any advantage of facing a weak defense for a receiver. We are accounting for all of these factors on the back end so you don’t have to.

NFL Best Ball Fantasy Football Tips on Yahoo

Now that you have your rankings optimized, draft strategy is the remaining piece you have to worry about. Here are the biggest takeaways I have made from drafting best ball teams:

  1. The field undervalues the quarterback position. Mathematically, it pays to have a third quarterback on your team compared to a sixth running back, ninth wide receiver or third The points added calculation in our NFL best ball Rankings projects the average amount of points each player will contribute to your team performance over a season. The assumptions we are making are that you are drafting an optimally allocated team. From our research, that is three quarterbacks, five or six running backs, eight or nine wide receivers and two or three tight ends. You can deviate accordingly from this if you are particularly strong or weak in a position.
    • The reason people do not want to draft three quarterbacks is mostly because in redraft leagues you only typically draft one and they are afraid that if you have two quarterbacks have huge weeks on your team, you are missing out on points from one, which is not the case with any other position. Let’s think about that a second. If you have two quarterbacks that have monster weeks, you are going to be set up for success regardless.
    • One of my favorite late-round quarterbacks last year was Jared Goff. He stacked really easily because if you drafted Kupp or Woods he would always be available to complete your stack. And he ended up contributing a significant number of points last year depending on who your other quarterbacks were, despite having a very mediocre year overall.
      wdt_ID 2020 Week Lamar Jackson Tom Brady Jared Goff LJPts TBPts JGPts
      1 1 27.50 22.46 11.50 5.04 0.00 0.00
      2 2 17.56 9.68 23.98 0.00 0.00 6.42
      3 3 14.18 23.88 26.24 0.00 0.00 2.36
      4 4 26.02 33.46 11.70 0.00 7.44 0.00
      5 5 14.50 14.12 25.36 0.00 0.00 10.86
      6 6 28.24 14.64 15.92 12.32 0.00 0.00
      7 7 0.00 36.86 16.90 0.00 19.96 0.00
      8 8 16.82 19.06 12.20 0.00 2.24 0.00
      9 9 18.60 5.36 0.00 13.24 0.00 0.00
      10 10 22.46 31.84 10.48 0.00 9.38 0.00
    • Because most of the time people are only grabbing two quarterbacks, that opens up some great value options later in the draft. One final consideration is the four-legged setup of these huge tourneys. Rosters are going to get more similar each week of playoffs as lineups with the boom players from each week move on. If you have three quarterbacks, you are guaranteed to have at least one quarterback that is not overly represented in the final round.
    • We only have one/two years of data on best ball tournaments so it is difficult to have definitive roster construction takeaways at this point from a results-based approach. It is similar to trying to determine the optimal DFS strategy from 1-2 slates — that’s why simulations are preferable.
  2. Don’t be afraid to let guys drop. This works best from the middle draft spots where you have to wait a moderate number of spots between each pick. But if you think there is a good chance you can get a guy in the next round even though they are the best pick now, then it can be a worthwhile gamble. The differential between your draft pick and ranking is a good proxy for the value you are getting out of that pick.
  3. You can wait on wide receiver’s and quarterbacks until towards the end of the draft but running back and tight end can be riskier to wait on. wide receiver has a lot of viable players that go undrafted every time just because there are so many – three per team is 96, which is eight per roster. Since you only need 3 of 8 to have good performances, you can make up for quality with quantity to some extent. quarterback is just being neglected in drafts a lot right now as well, so I do not mind letting them fall and getting the ones who do.
  4. Know the scoring settings of your draft. Yahoo is half-PPR, so wide receivers and tight ends are significantly nerfed compared to a full-PPR system. If you are using our rankings as a reference, then these differences are already going to be fully accounted for when you draft.
  5. It pays to draft balanced between positions early. If you take the top-ranked player every time, you are going to be running out of roster spots for one or two position. This can be a disadvantage strategically because you are not going to be able to take advantage of other players at that position when they drop later in the draft.
  6. Stacking is more important for certain players than others. quarterbacks that can add a lot of fantasy scoring rushing I am not worried at all about stacking. People tend to overdraft receivers from teams like Baltimore and Philadelphia so it is tough to pull off the stack, but I still like Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts. But if you do not have receivers with a quarterback that does not rush, you are in a tough spot. Guys like Jared Goff or Tom Brady are unlikely to have a league-winning week without at least one receiver if not two crushing. Those QB2 and QB3 picks you should be able to match with your receivers easily. I am willing to draft guys a round ahead of their ADP to make sure someone else doesn’t ruin my draft.
  7. Know the draft dynamics and logistics of the site that your draft is on. Yahoo defaults to ordering players by ADP, which is why certain players may pop more on one site than another. I upload my rankings as a CSV, but I do not believe you can also sort by ADP and see your rankings concurrently. Because it is difficult to reference the rankings while doing multiple drafts, the best way for me to sort is by ranking, and then I will just factor in the ADP when I am making picks.

If you apply these strategies and utilize our rankings combined with your intuition, you are going to be competitive with every lineup you draft. For more information on best ball, make sure to head over to our Fantasy Football home page, and our Fantasy Football YouTube channel.


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Check out our fantasy football draft rankings, our NFL fantasy football draft cheatsheet, our NFL fantasy football sleepers and our NFL player profiles. We've also got a brand new Fantasy Football YouTube Channel where you can tune in every day for the best fantasy videos in the business. Want more fantasy football news and analysis? If all that free content isn't enough for you to dominate your Fantasy Football draft this year, check out the Awesemo Fantasy Football Draft Kit, which includes sophisticated tools and proprietary fantasy data that you can only get from us.

A self-proclaimed U.S. history buff, stats enthusiast, and rabid fan of anything Detroit (yes, even the Lions), Alex started playing daily fantasy sports in 2013 and never looked back. After graduating with a degree in mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008, he began developing advanced statistical models and applied his unique skill-set first to poker, then as a full-time DFS player. He has since dominated DFS, becoming a fixture on leaderboards and cementing his position as the top-ranked overall player according to RotoGrinders. Competing in most guaranteed prize pool tournaments, he has ranked in the top 3 across major sports, including NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA, and MLB. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of fantasy sports with new and experienced players alike. Career Highlights: No. 1 Overall Ranking; 14x FanDuel $100k winner, 11x DraftKings Hundred-Thousandaire; 20x Live Final qualifier. You can contact him on Twitter @awesemodfs or by emailing [email protected].

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