Best Ball Draft Strategy: A Guide, Not the Gospel
Your best ball draft strategy should serve as a guide for building your team. A sound strategy can be broken down into a few elements:
- Core Concept – what you’re trying to accomplish
- Overall Roster Construction – what your completed roster should look like
- Specific Players Targeted– players at their projected volume and ADP that fit the concept
The concept is the basic idea behind a particular best ball draft strategy. Fortunately for us, the names of each best ball draft strategy give away what the strategy is working toward. Names like ‘Late-Round QB’ and ‘ZeroRB’ don’t leave much to the imagination.
Overall roster construction lays out the number of assets you’ll typically acquire at each position. It can play a huge role in determining your win rate and each strategy slightly differs in this aspect.
Specific players targeted is pretty self-explanatory.
Current best ball ADP, situation, and past production are all telltale signs of which best-ball draft strategy might best suit a player.
“Because of his expected role in the offense, C.J. Anderson is a great ZeroRB target.”
“Marcus Mariota’s expected positive regression makes him the late-round quarterback of 2018.”
But, here’s the problem. The drafting community as a whole fixates on these strategies. We assume because we’ve seen them perfectly executed via Twitter screenshots we can do the same. Again, these strategies are only a guide. Drafters should enter the first round only hunting for value. Not looking to adhere to an overarching concept that spans 20 rounds. The real decisions normally come after the fourth round when the decision on a best ball draft strategy can truly be made.
Here, we’ll look at a couple of examples. Some good. Some bad. But what’s most important is the strategy that led to the picks. Hopefully, these are thoughts that you can use to tweak your own process when looking at your best ball draft strategy in 2018.
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Best Ball Draft Strategy Examples
Mike Beers (@beerswater) of the Bestball Command Center wrote about this strategy in 2016. The core concept is the answer to ZeroRB. If drafters are picking WRs early and RBs late, then you should grab RBs early and WRs late. Zig while they zag. Overall roster construction in this best ball draft strategy means taking three RBs within the first 15 off the board. The running backs are expected to be high weekly producers allowing for more variance at the wide receiver position.
For Anti-Fragility rosters, the player names are important because of the constraint on the number of players meeting our criteria. There are only so many running backs that could reasonably be taken within the top 15 at the position. This best ball draft strategy typically requires a high starting draft slot to access one of the top-tier backs. Again, it’s just a strategy. If these players fall and are considered value at their cost, give it a try in your next draft.
The ZeroRB concept has seemingly been around forever. Wide receiver value has been inflated by the shift to PPR scoring causing more to be drafted early. The assumption here is that if more WRs go early, then more RBs will be available later. The core concept looks to capitalize on this phenomenon and find value at the RB position later. The overall roster construction typically allocates more to the RB position than other strategies as those selected are projected for fewer points.
For ZeroRB rosters, the specific players aren’t necessarily important when compared to how the players produce on a weekly basis. The consistency vs high ceiling discussion can play a role in your team composition. In the case above, would Golden Tate have been a better selection than Marvin Jones to offer a weekly floor if Adams or Hopkins has a down week? Perhaps. Comparing production paths is never a bad mental exercise. But, the overall goal with this strategy is to lock in a solid core of receivers with a bevy of RBs behind them to balance out your roster.
Do These Strategies Always Work?
Absolutely not. Anti-fragility in best-ball leagues hinges on three running backs staying healthy and producing RB1 numbers for the majority of an NFL season. If one goes down, you’ve essentially set your roster on fire.
ZeroRB assumes your wide receivers can outpace any running back selected in the early rounds. It also assumes that backup running backs you picked in the late rounds actually produces. No best ball draft strategy works every time, but both strategies have a ton of research behind them with associated win rates that speak to their efficacy.
In each example, there was never the idea going into the draft that these strategies would be used. I know this because I drafted these teams. But as my roster took shape, a plan began to form as the top two tiers at each position started to dry out. The direction of each team was based on what was still on the board and what I currently had on my team. After a general strategy was selected, the roster was filled out based on what gaps were identified in my roster.
In best ball leagues, I really like paring a stud QB in a quality passing game with the number #2 wide receiver.
I drafted D. Watson and just acquired W. Fuller in the eighth round: Love not having to predict the home runs.#FantasyFootball pic.twitter.com/WD8OIXIXKz
— John Laub (@GridironSchol91) June 17, 2018
“Zig while everyone else zags” is a common drafting phrase that’s often misinterpreted. It doesn’t mean you’re only going to zig or zag once in a draft. It doesn’t mean that if you see RBs taken early you must adhere to the tenants of best ball ZeroRB for the next 18 rounds.
Drafters must constantly assess their roster before each pick to ensure they’re not forcing players onto their roster just because the ADP number is less than or equal to their current pick. ADP only reflects how everyone else values a player. How do you value them? Where have you seen them drafted in your other drafts? What have the high volume drafters been saying about them? All of this information can be useful when determining whether or not a reach on a player is justifiable.
Each best ball draft strategy is just a guide. Not gospel. Drafts will test an owner’s ability to stay flexible and properly react to someone else’s decision. If a player you want is drafted ahead of ADP, that just means another player will be available to you later. Approach each selection with a similar mindset and you’ll make optimal decisions in each of your leagues.
Ready to put your own best ball draft strategy into play? Head on over to the Fantrax Game Lobby and get in a league today.
Chris Allen just talked about the ZeroRB strategy. Check out Full 60 Fantasy Football, where Joe Pisapia, Scott Bogman, and The Welsh broach the idea of a ZeroWR strategy.