Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


How To Draft Rookies Without Knowing Their Landing Spots: Early Fantasy Football Best Ball Strategies

Justin Jaksa breaks down his strategy in a recent early Best Ball draft.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 16: Jahmyr Gibbs #26 of the Detroit Lions runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Ford Field on December 16, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

The first ever article I wrote for nation was this time last year, talking about Best Ball fantasy football, a game that has continued to grow in popularity and that now even has its own season! In Best Ball, you draft your team, and then you are done! No in season management required, no weekly pickups or trades. Your highest-scoring players each week make up your starting lineup. Think about it like a best ball scramble in golf, where you take the best ball of the group and it plays. League standings and top finishers are typically decided by total points scored for the year, but head-to-head Best Ball is getting a bit more popular.

Now that the 2023 season is 100% over, Underdog and other Best Ball sites have opened back up, and fantasy gamers are back at the wheel drafting teams in everything from deep multi-entry tournaments to single-entry two-person heads-up leagues. Of course, classic 10 or 12-person leagues are still widely regarded as the most fun and popular format.

Want more expert NFL Draft and Fantasy Football content? Subscribe to!

Early Best Ball Fantasy Football Strategy

Get Creative With Roster Construction

The #1 thing a savvy Best Ball drafter needs to remember is to be as creative as you possibly can when it comes to roster construction! Unlimited out-of-the-box thinking is highly encouraged to differentiate yourself from the field, especially in tournaments. It’s a bit like DFS in that you really want to have lineups that nobody else has.

In Redraft, most drafters will follow a similar strategy. You draft your RBs and WRs, sprinkle in your QB, grab a TE, and take a couple of shots on a few rookies or breakout flyers. There’s no one best way to draft in Best Ball. You can incorporate any of the trendy strategies that have infiltrated the fantasy space. Sprinkle in some Zero RB, Hero RB, Robust RB, and Late-Round QB drafts, or just take the BPA and construct a well-balanced, evened-out roster equally strong at all skill positions.

Like Picasso painting a portrait, you can brush stroke early and often on WRs and wait on every other position until the middle to late rounds if you so desire. Or you can go the other direction and take four RBs in the first six rounds; in that case, you are probably done drafting at the RB position for the rest of the draft. If you take Breece Hall, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Alvin Kamara, your odds of getting production out of at least two of these guys each week to slot into your two starting RB spots are theoretically pretty good. You don’t have a need to draft more than four at the RB position and can draft more players at your other positions. You then can take nine or even 10 wide receivers, filling your WR room out with quantity instead of quality.

Underdog currently has 20 roster spots, which allows you to draft some deep teams. Taking a lot of WRs has always been a profitable approach in Best Ball. Wide receivers usually have higher weekly ceilings, so if you have a lot of them, you can get those big splash weeks to fill in your starting WR and flex spots. You should always be pushing to have five or six WRs solidified by the time you make it to the double-digit rounds of drafts.

Don’t Forget To Stack

One thing that every Best Ball player has to have in their bag is the ability to stack. Stacking is the single most important concept in Best Ball. Stacking is when you draft players with positive correlation. The most common example of this is when you pair up a QB with his pass catchers. Stacking maximizes your ability to score the most points in a given week. When a QB connects for a long TD throw to a WR, you can be on both ends of the hookup and get double the points.

Having multiple stacks on a Best Ball squads gives you more opportunities for big plays between your players, that’s how you stay at the top of your 12-team league or move up in a deep tournament field. Shoot for upside, always think ceiling! Even a running back can have correlation with his other skill position counterparts, as when a team has a big offensive output, then all of its players have probably had good games.

However, don’t go overboard with stacking. My rule of thumb is not to reach too far on a player to complete a stack. I’m willing to jump a half-round or even a round in ADP on a player to complete a stack, but typically not more than that.

Draft Some Rookies

Another strategy to hammer this time of year is drafting rookies. Rookie ADP is heavily discounted when Best Ball draft rooms open up before the NFL Draft. Sharper players who know the rookie player pool and the rooks with the best potential can grab them even before knowing their landing spots.

One of the more interesting things in Best Ball is that player ADP will rise or fall in these ongoing daily drafts based on player news, and rookies are no exception to this rule. With every play a prospect makes at the Senior Bowl or how fast they run their 40 at the combine, their ADP will rise or fall. You can piece some good-looking rosters together with a mix of veteran players and rookies, giving you both a stable floor with your vets and a nice ceiling with your rookies.

Embrace Free Agent Uncertainty

Finally, another good strategy this time of year in your Best Ball Drafts is to target both free agents and the players behind a pending free agent on the depth chart. An example is Josh Jacobs and Zamir White. Josh Jacobs’ ADP is likely slightly discounted because drafters are shying away from him, not knowing what his future situation will be. Will he return to the Raiders, where he has been a workhorse, or leave and go to a situation that isn’t as opportunistic? Jacobs is the type of player that should thrive no matter what team he signs with, so taking the discount on him is fine. However, fellow Raiders RB Zamir White is also a player to target, because if Jacobs were in fact to leave the Raiders, White would inherit a feature back role and his ADP would move up several rounds in a short period of time. Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears of the Titans are another good example of this, along with Joe Mixon and Chase Brown of the Bengals. You should draft players in these situations. Know the free agent player pool and which players will benefit if a top free agent does sign elsewhere.

Best Ball Roster Breakdown

Here is a 4-6-7-3 (this is a common way to represent Best Ball roster constructions; each number corresponds to the number of players at the QB, RB, WR, and TE positions on the roster) Best Ball Draft I recently completed on Underdog. This is for a 12-team league:

Player Team ADP Pick
Dak Prescott DAL 76.2 83
Baker Mayfield Free Agent 159.2 155
JJ McCarthy Rookie 209.8 206
Michael Penix Rookie 229.8 227
Running Backs
Jahmyr Gibbs DET 10.8 11
Tyjae Spears TEN 68 62
D’Andre Swift PHI 103.3 107
Chase Brown CIN 108.8 110
Zamir White LV 128.1 131
AJ Dillon Free Agent 214.2 230
Wide Receivers
Nico Collins HOU 16 14
DK Metcalf SEA 30.7 35
Mike Evans TB 30.4 38
Jaxon Smith-Njigba SEA 63.4 59
Ladd McConkey Rookie 127.1 134
Roman Wilson Rookie 155.2 182
Brenden Rice Rookie 209.3 203
Tight Ends
Jake Ferguson DAL 95.4 86
Cade Otton TB 160.3 158
Ja’Tavion Sanders Rookie 177.1 179

I stacked Dak Prescott with his TE Ferguson and also completed a nice Tampa Bay double-stack with Mayfield, Evans, and Otton (assuming Baker returns to the Bucs). I really like the potential opportunity that Spears, Brown, and White could get if the incumbent starters in front of them move on.

I targeted some rookies who I really like based on their Senior Bowl performances, Combine showings, and college pedigrees as a whole. Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy is a draft riser who could end up on a good offense in ATL or MIN, where he would have some spike weeks. Washington’s Michael Penix could also find himself in Round 1 of the NFL Draft after showing off his bazooka of an arm at the Combine.

The three rookie WRs I took (Ladd McConkey, Roman Wilson, and Brenden Rice) are all killing the draft process and moving up NFL Draft Boards. Texas TE Ja’Tavion Sanders didn’t run fast at the Combine, but he plays fast on the field, did really well in the on-field drills, and has some great tape. He is that type of “move TE” that the NFL is gravitating toward more and more.

The rest of my roster is simply filled with good NFL players who should have productive seasons. Sometimes, that’s all you need.