featured Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

    Chris Durell

    NFL Best Ball Strategy for DraftKings - 2021 Season

    Welcome back football fans. It feels like ages ago we were betting on Super Bowl props and watching Tom Brady add to his legendary career.

    For the first time in years, I have actually found time to start my NFL research in July. I have also made a huge shift in what kind of fantasy football I am playing in 2021. I used to play 15+ season long leagues on Yahoo but with my full-time career doing DFS content that has dramatically fallen off.

    Over the last couple of years specifically, I have transitioned most of my Yahoo bankroll allocation to Best Ball leagues. They are a perfect fit for people who play DFS each and every week on DraftKings, FanDuel, PrizePicks, and others. You draft your team of players pre-season and that's it. No in-season roster moves or start/sit decision or remembering to set said lineup(this happened alot with how busy DFS Sunday am is).

    I will be playing almost exclusively on DraftKings so all of my references will refer to that throughout the article. Let's start by looking at the draft, your roster requirements, scoring, and then get into some strategy.

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    Draft Types

    You have two choices when first getting started. You can sign up for a Slow Draft(8 hour time limit to pick) or Fast Draft(30 seconds per pick). While I have exposure to both formats, I much prefer the Slow Draft as it gives me more time to analyze everything and make a more informed decision with each pick, which is crucial in best-ball format as you don't get any transactions throughout the season.

    Contest Types

    There are also two types of contests you can enter on DraftKings, as well.

    Sit & Go's

    These contests run the entire NFL regular season(Week 1-17) and leagues are made up of anywhere from 3-12 teams.


    These are larger prize pool contests that consist of multiple 12-team leagues and are split up into four rounds:

    → Round 1(Week 1-14) - you play within your 12-team league and the Top 2 teams move on to Round
    → Round 2(Week 15) - You are randomly placed against another advancing team(they will avoid putting you up against yourself if you have multiple teams advance). Win and move on!
    → Round 3(Week 16) - You are randomly placed against another advancing team(they will avoid putting you up against yourself if you have multiple teams advance). Win and move on!
    → Round 4(Week 17) - Just win baby!

     DraftKings Scoring


    Know the Difference between Best Ball & Regular Season Long

    You draft a team of 20 players and then have zero roster adjustments throughout the season. Each week you end up with scoring for your Top QB, Top 2 RB, Top 3 WR, Top TE, and your next best RB, WR or TE(Flex).

    Draft with Upside
    This first means that we need to be drafting with upside in mind, especially if playing the large GPP's where you need to not only win your league but then face three other teams who won their leagues if you want to sniff the big money.

    This also means you need to make every pick count. Even those final picks of the draft when the player pool has dwindled. I am not looking to simply fill my roster with a meh player but would rather take someone, who in the right situation, could find a larger role mid-late season.

    Stack Teammates

    Much like DFS, stacking can pay off big time in Best Ball. An optimal stacked build would have your top QB stacked with at least one of his pass-catchers(WR/TE) and a pass-catching running back can also lead to huge correlated points.

    Don't Overdraft Quarterback or Tight End

    You only start one at each of these positions so don't waste bench spots. MAKE SURE that your 2nd QB and 2nd TE have different BYE weeks from your starters. Use these spots to load up on RB/WR.


    Quarterback Drafting

    How I draft my QB's is totally reliant on what pick I get and how the draft goes. I am much more inclined to draft a QB early in best ball vs. a regular re-draft league where I almost always wait on QB.

    For example, on one of my teams I drafted DeAndrew Hopkins as my top WR in the 2nd round and when the 4th round came around I wasn't too high on the RB/WR's available after already having 2 RB and  WR so I reached a few spots for Kyler Murray knowing he would be gone my next pick. To take that strategy further, I also drafted Chase Edmonds a few rounds later as a 3rd/4th RB on my team. He averaged over 4 targets per game in 2020 and also got 18% target share in the RedZone for the Cards.

    On another team, I loaded up with two elite RB's in rounds 1 and 2 then drafted three WR and another RB before taking my first QB in the round. 

    One rule I will use for QB's is if I draft an elite QB(Top 5-8), I will not draft my second QB until very late in the draft. You are counting on your elite guy to give you 16 of 17 weeks so stashing two elite QB's is kind of pointless IMO.

    Running Backs & Wide Receivers

    I generally want to have a minimum of five RB's and six WR's on every team. These are the money positions as you can score up to six of them each week(2 RB, 3 WR, 1 FLEX).

    In today's NFL with so many committees, it is very important to get one, if not two Top 10-15 backs. When looking at those RBBC(running back by committee) situations, I am also generally looking for the cheapest of the two options.

    For wideouts, there are usually about 35-40 who get 100+ targets in a season and I want as many as possible. This takes us pretty deep into the draft around Round 7 or 8 before those 100+ target guys are off the board. This is why my favorite build is top-end running backs early and then round 3-7/8 loading up on WR depth.

    My optimal build in the first eight rounds of the draft would be in priority sequence:
    → 3-4 RB(2 Top 20)
    → 3-4 WR/TE
    → 1 QB
    Be Flexible

    The worst thing you can do is have a set draft plan and do everything possible to follow it. It forces you into bad decisions just to fit the plan while you pass up on other optimal plays. This is especially true in the Fast Drafts as things go super fast with just 30 seconds.

    One example would be a player you expected to be gone falls to you but isn't at a position you were targeting that round. Or having a plan to wait on QB but seeing an elite one fall outside the Top 4 rounds.

    Late Round Upside Shots

    ADP generally starts getting messy after rounds 10-12 making this a great spot to reach on some players you have researched and feel like can out perform their value by a ton.

    Don't take the boring RB3 that gets 3 targets a game and 2 rushing attempts. Sure he scored two long touchdowns during the year but that doesn't even guarantee he out-scores your better players in those random weeks. Instead, take a player like an RB2 who has a nice floor but could be an RB1 if the top guy goes down.

    A great example of this is the decision between Nyheim Hines and Alexander Mattison who are very close in a lot of rankings. Hines has a nice PPR floor as he gets 4-5 targets a game but he almost has zero chance of becoming the RB1 and getting 15-20 touches a game. Mattison most definitely has a path to RB1 if anything happens to Dalvin Cook(knock on wood as a Vikes fan). In his one start for Cook last year he rushed 20 times for 112 yards and caught all three targets for another 24 yards. This is likely a decision for RB 5/6 on your team so take the swing for huge upside.
    Use as Much Data & Resources as Possible

    I am a spreadsheet nerd so I started a sheet for this season's Best ball research and to track my teams. It is something that is available to Patrons to track or use for their own research. I like to track the players on a sheet as it more clearly shows my team, pre-season ranks, I color code positions, keep tallies on stacks, make notes, etc.

    If you are just in it for fun then go ahead and do so. If you want to both have fun and treat it like an investment, just do more research and be more prepared than your competition. It won't guarantee success but it will give you a much greater shot at it!


    image sources

    • Cowboys Panthers Football: (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)




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