Wed Aug 7 11:43am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Cooper capable of huge game
If you haven’t heard, best ball fantasy leagues are all the rage these days. These are the fastest growing leagues on our site. Drafts are going off every night (click here). We are here to help you win your best ball league. This column will focus on the strategy of a best ball format, giving you some tips to help you win big.
If you aren’t familiar, here is a quick rundown of the best ball format. The best ball format means you don’t have to set a weekly lineup. Your best possible roster will be automatically selected after the games are completed for the week. There are no free agent moves during the season. All you do is draft. After the draft is complete, you can sit back and watch the rest of the season. It is all the fun of drafting but without the daily management.
The best ball leagues normally start nine players: a quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, flex, defense and kicker. Drafts are anywhere between 20 and 25 rounds long, making rosters deeper because of the inability to make free agent moves during the season.
So now that you know the rules, here is a look at some tips for having a successful best ball draft. First off, you are going to take more quarterbacks and tight ends than in a normal draft. Taking three quarterbacks and three tight ends is a smart move in best ball leagues. You just need one player to hit each week, so having more to choose from will help you optimize your chances for that big week. Grabbing three players at each position is the way to go in best ball formats.
In a best ball league, going with boom or best players is a good idea. Getting players with a high weekly ceiling is a smart move. You need those big weekly games to advance in best ball formats. Guys like Amari Cooper and DeSean Jackson are ranked a little higher for me in this format. These are guys that can drive you a little crazy in standard leagues because of their erratic play, but you can live with that in best ball leagues. There are options on your bench that can makeup for the bad games from Cooper and Jackson. You start just two receivers on a weekly basis and likely have three or four options on your bench. There is a good chance one of your bench options hits any given week, which can makeup for the erratic play of a guy like Cooper if he busts.
So taking three quarterbacks is a good idea, but grabbing one in the early rounds isn’t. If you think about it, you just need one quarterback to hit each week with a big number. If you take three in the middle to later rounds of your draft, can one of those guys post an elite fantasy number each week? Your answer is likely a big yes. You are better served in a best ball format loading up on running backs and receivers early in your draft. These positions are a little more uncertain, so getting quality running backs and receivers early in your draft is a good plan come draft day. Don’t waste early picks on the quarterback spot. The quarterback position also is crazy deep this year.
The tight end spot is a little different this year. Normally, approaching the tight end position is similar to the quarterback position. Get three in the middle to later rounds of your draft and hope one hits each week. We still suggest getting three tight ends but going early on one of the three elite options this year might give you an advantage. There are three players that stick out head and shoulders above the rest: Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and George Kittle. Taking one of those three players in the second or third round of a best ball draft might give you an advantage over the rest of your league-mates. The lesser tight end options aren’t as likely to score big when they have their good games. This is something to keep in mind come draft day. Going early on one of the three elite tight ends could set you apart this year. They are worth an early-round pick.
There is some debate with this next suggestion, but we think getting two kickers and two defenses is the way to go in best ball. The big reason is that if you take just one at each position, you are going to be giving up six or seven points in one game because of bye weeks. Can you afford to lose those points when every game matters so much in fantasy? We just aren’t sure it is worth risking, especially since rosters are so deep anyway. Every game matters so much in fantasy that giving away just one game could be the difference between making or missing the playoffs. So go ahead and grab two kickers and defenses in the last few rounds of your draft to make sure you are maximizing your points each week of the season.
In closing, use your early picks wisely, getting a lot of talent at running back and receiver. These positions are a little more uncertain, so getting plenty of options at those spots is a good move in this format. And don’t be afraid to go deep at any position, especially if you have some questions marks for your projected top point getter at the position. You also have to take some chances late in the draft, trying to find a player that might emerge later in the season or something along those lines. This is the format to take more risks. You have the roster space, so don’t be afraid to take some chances along the way. There are going to be players selected in this format that you would never consider taking in a standard league.
Good luck and happy drafting!
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (calf) stands a good chance of playing in Week 4 after missing Week 3 with a calf injury, according to comments made by head coach Doug Pederson.
Fantasy Spin: Before his fantasy owners celebrate, the Eagles play Thursday night on the road against the Green Bay Packers, meaning he has less time to heal up and a difficult matchup. Nevertheless, Philadelphia needs the playmaking ability he provides, especially after losing the last two weeks. Consider him a WR3 this week if he can go.
Indianapolis Colts S Malik Hooker (knee) is expected to miss four to six weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee, according to a source via ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Updating a previous report, New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) is expected to be sidelined anywhere from four to eight weeks - with the longer timeline being the more likely of the two outcomes - with the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 3 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fantasy Spin: ESPN's Adam Schefter speculates Barkley could return after the team's Week 11 bye in order to play the last six games of the season. Wayne Gallman is the only running back on the roster at the moment, meaning he will likely see the bulk of the workload for the immediate future even in the likely event New York adds a running back in the near future. However, he'll likely be little more than a flex option most weeks.
Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay (hamstring) left the game for good early in the third quarter with a hamstring injury in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He offered only a 'we'll see' when asked if he'll be able to play in Week 4 versus the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Updating previous reports, Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will not practice due to an illness Monday, Sept. 23. A source told ESPN's Josina Anderson that Ramsey is actually sick and not trying to force the team's hand in regards to his recent trade demands.
Detroit Lions DT Mike Daniels (foot) was spotted in a walking boot following the team's Week 3 game versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) will not play in Week 4 against the Houston Texans. 'What Cam needs right now is time and rest for his foot. We want him at 100 percent when he's ready, so there's no exact timetable for his return. At this point, we're going to go forward with Kyle (Allen) as our starter,' head coach Ron Rivera said.
Fantasy Spin: Allen was brilliant in his place in Week 3, throwing for four touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals. Rivera immediately shot down any speculation Newton will not remain the starter when he's healthy, although the jury remains out on when that will be. Allen will remain on the streaming radar in Week 4.
Updating previous reports, Atlanta Falcons S Keanu Neal (Achilles) will miss the remainder of the 2019 season after tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Updating previous reports, New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) is expected to miss several weeks due to his high-ankle sprain, according to sources.
Fantasy Spin: It's not a surprise, and it's going to sting all Barkley owners. Wayne Gallman is expected to take over for Barkley, but he is not the answer in fantasy and won't be much more than a flex option in good matchups. Look for the Giants to find someone to bring in from the outside to at least share the work.
Updating an earlier report, Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will be examined by team doctors Monday, Sept. 23.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (ribs) will have more tests done, and he may have an MRI Monday, Sept. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Edelman has a positive outlook for Week 4 unless something more severe is found. He's a good WR2 universally.
Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will not practice Monday, Sept. 23, or maybe all week, due to illness.
Updating previous reports, Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) aggravated the quadriceps injury he had coming into the game Sunday, Sept. 22. Hilton re-injured it a couple of plays before he scored a touchdown, but he didn't want to leave the game before the drive was over because he knew he wasn't coming back. He'll have tests done for re-evaluation.
Fantasy Spin: If he's able to recover in time for Week 4, he'll have a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders. More will be known later in the day after tests are done.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis caught four of his five targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Sadly, all of those marks are season highs. Pettis was quiet for most of the game, but his TD catch with 1:15 remaining was the game-winner and very much a "trust throw" from Jimmy Garoppolo as he split two defenders from about five yards away. It seems likely Pettis will eventually find his way back into head coach Kyle Shanahan's good graces and be fantasy relevant again soon, but he should be on waivers in most normal-sized leagues now. He'll have a chance to prove himself again after the team's Week 4 bye.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida ran 14 times for 68 yards and hauled in two of his three targets for 20 yards in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Breida's 16 touches are a season high, but his upside is capped by sharing touches with Raheem Mostert outside the red zone and losing goal-line work to Jeff Wilson. The frustrating thing for fantasy owners is San Francisco is averaging nearly 40 rushing attempts and unable to make any one of its three backs anything more than a flex option. Breida has the most consistent role of the bunch, and he figures to remain a high-end flex when the 49ers return from their bye to meet the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.
Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt had an interception and a fumble recovery against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Watt added two tackles, two passes defensed and two quarterback hits.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly was on the right end of a reception once again as he was the chosen one for the team's final garbage-time touchdown of the game on Sunday. Dissly was targeted seven times, caught six passes, and tallied 62 yards in the game, exact copies of his season stats coming into the matchup. The rainy conditions seemed to make Dissly more appealing to quarterback Russell Wilson, and it looks like he trusts that Dissly is a solid release valve when he finds himself in trouble. Be wary of Seattle's knack for letting certain receivers go to rot quickly after they look great, but for now, Dissly could be a real part of the offense moving forward.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington accounted for 14 yards on two receptions in the team's Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fantasy Spin: With Donte Moncrief inactive there was hope that Washington would step up, but Pittsburgh's passing game flailed around outside of a pair of long TD connections. While there's still some long-term upside with Washington, he's only worth stashing in larger leagues.
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle caught six of his eight targets for 57 yards in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Kittle opened the season with consecutive 54-yard outings. It's a bit of an anomaly that a big-play threat like Kittle hasn't enjoyed a huge day or scored a touchdown yet, but his time is coming; he's had a bit of bad luck this season after having a lot of good fortune in 2018. The 49ers will go on a bye in Week 4, but he'll remain an elite TE1 option when he returns to action in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Seventy-six of Smith-Schuster's 81 receiving yards came on a long touchdown, salvaging an otherwise unimpressive first game post-Big Ben. Week 4 presents a tasty matchup with the Bengals, which means Smith-Schuster should remain in your starting lineup.