How to build a list

In the past, the months immediately following the NFL Draft were a dead time for fantasy football. The draft takes place at the end of April, and the fantasy football drafts don’t really start to heat up until mid-August. In recent years, best-ball has become more important and provides a way for fantasy managers to write rosters throughout the offseason. For those new to the format, here is a basic primer on how to build a list of the best fantasy footballs.

Before we get into the details of building the list, here is a brief explanation of what the best fantasy football is and how it differs in the season.

Best-Ball is much the same as Seasonal Fantasy Football in starting positions and scoring, except there are no kickers or defenses. Where it differs is in the overall list size and composition handling.

The best fantasy football rosters are usually 18 players, which is really four or five more than a seasonal roster since there are no kickers or defenses. The main difference is the lack of range management.

In the best ball, the computer will automatically throw your top performers at each position each week. There is no queue management or waiver thread. Once you’ve drafted your team, that’s it. The season is the same length as regular fantasy football leagues (17 weeks) and the top performing teams win (usually the top three get paid).

Much like seasonal fantasy football, there are different strategies and approaches that fantasy managers can take when building their best ball rosters. But unlike seasonal leagues, strategies based on streaming positions or determining as the season progresses are not possible.

Perhaps the most popular best ball rig right now is underdog fantasy. On Underdog, a starting roster consists of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, and 8 bench spots.

Since fantasy managers need to max out their weekly points, you can’t select a quarterback or tight end. Weeks off exist. Injuries will happen. Players will burst to the point where they have no fantasy value. You need enough depth at each position to account for all of this.

As you approach your base, you should start to know that you’re going to be drafting at least two quarterbacks, four running backs, five wide receivers, and two tight ends. These are the minimums you should have at each position. However, you still need five more players to complete your roster. This is where the crux of the best fantasy football draft strategy comes in – how to get those five spots on the roster.

Never draft more than 3 quarterbacks in the best ball

Of the four positions you must draft, QB is the only position where a player can only enter your lineup at one position. The RB, WR, and TE can all enter your lineup at their respective positions, as well as flex. A quarterback can only play quarterback.

If you take more than three QBs, you’re sacrificing way too much upside for minimal gain. Of course, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you only have a weak QB, but you can’t take injuries into account. Most quarterbacks start every game. Certainly at a higher rate than any other position. You need to maximize your ability to field running backs and wide receivers by cutting quarterbacks.

Whether you draft two or three QBs really depends on who the quarterbacks are. If you’re drafting a QB who averages 20 points per game, you should do your best to only draft two. Take your second quarterback later in the draft and trust that your QB1 will come into your lineup the vast majority of weeks.

If your first quarterback is a QB2 midfielder or worse — maybe one with the potential to be benched — then you probably need three. None of your three quarterbacks will feel trustworthy, but each will likely put in enough usable weeks throughout the season, and in theory, you should have an advantage in other positions to make up for it.

Try to draft 4-6 running backs

I say “try” because there are scenarios where it’s okay to select seven running backs, but you should limit it to five or six if you can.

One of the benefits of best ball is that you can draft those erratic RB3s that you would never feel confident starting out in seasonal leagues. They’re satellite backs who make their hay by racking up receptions but are heavily script-dependent. Or they’re pure runners who rely on touchdowns. In best ball, you don’t have to worry about when to start them. The weeks they come out, they will be in your lineup.

Similar to QB, the number of RBs you take depends on when you start taking them. If you draft multiple running backs in the first four to five rounds, you’ll probably only need four or five.

If you go for a Hero RB or Zero RB approach, your goal is that the RB2 that enters your roster each week is the one in your subsequent running backs that will have a usable week. It’s a volume game, so you should take five or six running backs to maximize your chances of someone jumping each week.

Draft 6-9 wide receivers in best fantasy ball

This is not an “essay”, but rather a mandate. There will be fantastic managers who try to make do with just five wide receivers by loading the position early. Other fantastic managers will go extremely shallow everywhere else and take 10 wide receivers. You may experience this on occasion, but when playing to win, take six to nine wide receivers.

WR is the position where you can have the most players in your lineup – a maximum of four. You need at least three in your lineup each week. We know that weeks off and injuries are one thing. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you only have one or two reliable receivers supported by a bunch of actual WR4s that barely see the terrain.

There are many actual WR3s that you would never reliably start in seasonal leagues. These could be receivers on teams that don’t often use three-receiver sets or, more likely, they are burners. Deep threats will catch two or three passes per game, and they’ll either go for 20-30 yards or 80 yards and a TD.

If your subsequent wide receivers give you a few useful weeks, that’s all you need to potentially gain an edge over your competition.

Never draw more than 3 tight ends

Just like the QB position, it is also a mandate. The “onesie” positions (positions where you only start one player) are not where you should need to deep load.

There’s a bit more wiggle room at the tight end, because if you have two productive tight ends, it’s conceivable that your TE2 could come into your lineup occasionally in the Flex position. However, that shouldn’t be your goal.

If you draft one of the elite tight ends, you can get away with taking just two. This allows you to tack on another player upside down to RB or WR. If you’re expecting and taking more than one main TE1, then you’re probably better off taking three. Tight ends aren’t super important, but you don’t want to find yourself in a position where your TE1 is a guy you wouldn’t even bother to enroll in a seasonal league.

The great part about the best fantasy football ball blanks is that you can make a lot of them for very little money. There are drafts as cheap as $1 on some platforms. It’s a great way to have fun (because the draft is fun) and practice for your seasonal leagues.

Once your best ball draft is over, you don’t have to worry about your team anymore. You can just check back after week 17 and see how you did. By following the information in this article, you are ready to build lists of the best competitive fantasy footballs.

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