A Beginners Guide to Best Ball Drafts

The Basics of Best Ball

The best ball format has been growing exponentially in popularity in recent years. It is easy to see why. You get all of the fun of a draft without having to spend time managing your team in-season. It is an easy way to add a league (or many leagues) without adding any extra work during the NFL season.

In this introduction to best ball, we will cover the basics of the format, why you might want to try it, and where you can play if interested.

The Basics of best ball

The draft in a best-ball league is exactly like your typical season-long league. The most popular best ball league size is 12 teams, as it is in redraft. The draft is in the snake format with whoever picks last in the 1st round (typically 1.12) getting the first pick in the 2nd round (2.01).

After drafting your team, your work is done. There are no waivers and no lineups to submit. The team you drafted competes over the course of the season with the teams your opponents drafted.

With no lineup submissions throughout the season, the best-ball league software automatically figures out your best lineup at the conclusion of the games every week. That lineup scores points exactly as in a typical redraft format. For example, let’s say you draft Cam Newton and Kirk Cousins as your quarterbacks and Newton scores 21 fantasy points in Week 1 while Cousins scores 17, Newton is automatically listed as your starter at the conclusion of the week and you get his 21 points. It is the same every week after and for every position. Your highest-scoring players each week are automatically entered into your starting lineup.

In the vast majority of these leagues, there are no head-to-head matchups.

There are no wins and losses. The winner is decided by who has the most total points at the end of the season (Week 16).

Reasons to Try a Best Ball League

1. Next Level Mock Drafting. If you are a hardcore season-long fantasy player, there is nothing more helpful than doing some mock drafts to prepare yourself for the real thing. Our Draft Dominator is a great tool for this. However, even the best artificial intelligence cannot fully capture the whims of actual drafters and how much impact the day’s news events have on ADP. There is real value in drafting against other real people before your season-long draft.

A low-stakes ($1 entry) best-ball draft is perfect for this. You don’t have to worry about someone making one pick and then leaving like you do if you hop into a mock draft. The fast drafts on DRAFT are especially useful. With 30 seconds to make your pick and some real money on the line (even if it’s just $5 for a first place finish), you can really experience the process of making the tough choices on the clock you will face in your real draft.

2. You Love Drafting. Is there anything more fun in fantasy football than doing a draft? If you think so, best ball might be just the thing for you. These things are a blast. You get to do experience the fun part of fantasy football in the offseason without sacrificing any time in the fall that you would devote to your other obligations and other fantasy teams. If you are already in one or more real fantasy leagues and tempted to join another, doing some best ball drafts can help scratch the itch without committing yourself long term to running another team.

Where to Play?

DRAFT: DRAFT is currently the largest and most popular site offering best ball leagues and tournaments. Entry fees range from $1 to $2,500 with the vast majority of contests costing $25 or less to enter. In addition to the ability to draft, online DRAFT also features an easy to use App for both iPhone and Android.

Bestball 10s: Once known as MFL10s, these contests have been rebranded under new ownership as Bestball10s or BB10s. The name comes from the fact that most of the contests cost $10 to enter, with $100 going to the winner and a $5 credit going to the runner-up. Other offerings include 50/50s, where the goal is to simply finish in the top half of the league to double your entry fee (minus 15%).

FFPC: Known primarily for its high-stakes redraft and dynasty leagues, the FFPC also offers best ball leagues with buy-ins ranging from $35 (most popular) all the way up to $1,250.

Differences between the Sites

There are two major differences between the most popular best ball sites:

  1. BB10s are full 1-point PPR scoring for all players while DRAFT is only 0.5 PPR for all players. FFPC has full-point PPR for running backs and wide receiver like BB10s do but has premium-TE scoring, with tight ends earning 1.5 PPR. The minor scoring differences make wide receivers slightly more valuable in BB10s and the FFPC than they are in DRAFT, given that they become more attractive weekly options for the flex spots compared to running backs. FFPC’s TE-Premium scoring bumps the top tight ends up half a round and the rest of the tight ends up about a round or so. The scoring changes will also have a small impact on rankings within the positions. Pass-catching running backs (think James White) have more value in BB10s than they do on DRAFT and possession wide receivers and tight ends who rack up big reception totals (players like Zach Ertz and Julian Edelman) are also more valuable comparatively in full-PPR scoring than in the 0.5 PPR format.
  2. While DRAFT is offensive position players only, BB10s have team defenses and two more roster spots. With most BB10 owners drafting two defenses, most will still roster 18 position players -- exactly the same as on DRAFT. FFPC contests are notably different because they include both kickers and team defenses. The FFPC also has 28 rounds, which makes it easier to build depth while also testing your ability to unearth very deep sleepers in the late rounds.