Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Seven Tips for Dominating Your Best Ball Leagues

If you’ve never drafted a best ball team, there’s no time like the present! 
Jan 14, 2024; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) reacts after a
Jan 14, 2024; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) reacts after a / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve never drafted a fantasy football best ball team, there’s no time like the present! 

Best ball league drafts are a fun way to get in early practice for your home leagues and high-stakes drafts in late August and early September and familiarize yourself with player ADP (average draft position). Best ball drafts are also a great way to practice your build, whether it’s zero RB,  hero RB,  or simply figuring out how long you can wait to draft a QB.  

The best part about a best ball team is that there is no in-season management. Just draft, and you’re done! You don’t have to worry about who to start or sit every Sunday morning because the software automatically selects your highest-scoring lineup for the week after the games are played.  

It’s pretty fun not to have to worry about accidentally leaving a player with a three-touchdown game on the bench. If a bench player you didn’t trust to start in a traditional league has a huge week, it counts!

As you have guessed by now, a few players have more value in best ball than they might in a regular seasonal league, and there are also a few different strategies for drafting.

Here are a few winning tips to consider as you head into your best ball drafts:

1. Depth, depth, and ... more depth

Unlike traditional leagues, there will be no opportunity to pick up players on the waiver wire. That means if a player gets injured early in the season, you could be in trouble unless you have plenty of depth available. My preferred depth is 3QB, 5 RB, 6WR, and 3TE. Some may be willing to go even lighter at TE as that position tends to return less value outside of the few elite players. Whatever you do, don’t skip depth at the QB position. 

2.  Pay attention to bye weeks

This is something that doesn’t need a lot of consideration when doing traditional drafts. Generally, you can successfully stream from the waiver wire when your starters have a bye in conventional leagues, but you won’t have that luxury for a best ball team (see No. 1 above—depth, depth, ... and more depth).

For example, if you’re picking three quarterbacks, try to ensure that two of them don’t have the same bye week.

3. Go with the flow

Fewer and fewer players are waiting to draft quarterbacks in their best ball leagues. Since quarterback is the highest-scoring position, don’t be afraid to grab them early. Remember, you need depth. However, if your group is waiting on quarterback, wait, too. Remember always to read the room. Think of this as a blueprint for what could happen in your traditional leagues this fall. You’ll show up more prepared than your league-mates if you’ve drafted in a few different scenarios. 

4. Start the draft with a solid floor

This isn’t too much of a change from a traditional draft, but it’s good to ensure you have at least a decent floor of starters each week of the season. Don’t make too many risky picks early in this format. You have plenty of chances for that later.

5. Pivot to high upside later in the draft

As you move through the rounds, think about players who are hard to start every week in a traditional league but have the potential to go off in a big way during any given week. Think Chiefs or Packers receivers. See where I am going with this?

6. Don’t forget about rookies or players on the PUP list

Try to think one step ahead. Remember, no trades, no waivers. Don’t be afraid to draft rookies in later rounds, especially ones that could help you through the playoffs. 

Could Blake Corum play his way into a more significant role behind Kyren Williams? Or could Brenden Rice emerge as the receiver with the most chemistry with Justin Herbert? Think about running backs who will have fresh legs in Week 12. Players recovering from injury, such as Keaton Mitchell or Kendrick Bourne, could come back strong after a slow start to the season. These late-round picks could pay dividends down the stretch.

7. Consider stacking.

If you are looking to bring home the win, why not go all in on certain teams (assuming you remember to also cover the bye weeks, of course)? If you believe in the value of Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield, you should also consider the relative values of receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Instead, spend those early picks on players such as Christian McCaffrey, CeeDee Lamb, or Justin Jefferson. 

The most important thing about drafting in a best ball league is to have fun because so many things will change between now and the end of the season. I like to think of it as the best way to prepare for drafts, but with the potential to also pay out at the end of the season. After all, who doesn’t like being paid to practice? 

Jennifer Piacenti


In addition to being a fantasy sports and betting analyst at Sports Illustrated, Jennifer is a radio host for Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, and she hosts her own podcast, “Waiver Wired” on the Extra Points podcast network. Jennifer has been nominated for multiple FSWA awards for her NFL DFS video series. She’s a Scott Fish Bowl Finalist, and she finished third overall in the 2021 NFFC post-season mini. Jennifer is also a featured expert on MLB Network’s “Bettor’s Eye,” and a member of the esteemed Tout Wars, the fantasy baseball battle of the experts.