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Best Ball Strategy 

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Boston Scott Sep 18 6:20pm ET

The Philadelphia Eagles are having free-agent running back Devonta Freeman in for a visit on Friday, according to the league transaction wire. It doesn't sound like a signing is imminent, but it's worth watching after lead-back Miles Sanders missed the season opener with an injury. Sanders says he's fully healthy heading into Week 2 against the Rams, though, so a Freeman signing would just provide depth to this backfield alongside Boston Scott and Corey Clement. Philadelphia didn't get much production out of either Scott or Clement against Washington, so perhaps they view Freeman as a backup upgrade. Freeman, still only 28, has been bothered by injuries in recent seasons, but he was a Pro Bowler in 2015 and 2016 with 1,000-yard rushing campaigns in both years and 22 total rushing touchdowns in that span.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Sep 18 6:10pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods received a four-year, $68 million extension on Friday with $32 million guaranteed, according to a source. Woods' previous contract was due to expire after the 2021 season. It comes after the team just signed teammate Cooper Kupp to a three-year, $48 million extension, putting both wideouts together for even longer. Quarterback Jared Goff will be happy. Woods had eight targets and 119 total yards in the Week 1 win over the Cowboys and should once again see a steady diet of targets against a sketchy Eagles secondary in Week 2. The one concern is that Eagles cornerback Darius Slay may stick with Woods for most of this contest. You should still fire Woods up as a strong WR2 in this matchup. He's seen 88 targets in his last eight games, making him a must-start at this point.

From RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton Sep 18 5:00pm ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (shoulder) was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Steelers. Sutton is expected to be a game-time decision for Sunday after he missed the season-opening loss to the Titans. If Sutton winds up playing, he probably won't be 100 percent and could have his snaps limited, which makes him an extremely risky flex option against a stingy Steelers Defense. Quarterback Drew Lock would certainly benefit from the return of his top wideout, but even then we can't recommend the second-year QB in standard leagues. Without Sutton last week, tight end Noah Fant led the team in receiving and scored their lone aerial touchdown.

From RotoBaller

Jerry Jeudy Sep 18 5:00pm ET

Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver K.J. Hamler (hamstring) practiced in full all week and was taken off the final injury report for Week 2, meaning he's poised to make his NFL debut against the Steelers. The second-round speedster is an explosive playmaker at just 5-foot-9, 176 pounds, but he should remain out of fantasy lineups in his NFL debut, even if Courtland Sutton (shoulder) misses his second straight game. Hamler is certainly intriguing in dynasty/keeper leagues in this up-and-coming offense out of the slot with fellow rookie Jerry Jeudy and Sutton on the outside when everyone is healthy, but he's unlikely to see enough targets to make him relevant in standard-sized leagues.

From RotoBaller

George Kittle Sep 18 4:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (knee) has been ruled out for Week 2 against the Jets. Kittle suffered a knee sprain in the Week 1 loss to the Cardinals and will rest up for a week. The All-Pro tight end is a must-start each and every week, but his fantasy managers will have to pivot and go in another direction in Week 2. Jordan Reed could be an intriguing name to monitor as a one-week play at the position in DFS and deeper leagues, especially with Deebo Samuel (foot) still out. In the passing game, Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis, rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Trent Taylor could all benefit against New York, while running back Jerick McKinnon is also worth a look in deep PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Phillip Lindsay Sep 18 4:50pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) missed practice all week and has been ruled out for Week 2 against the Steelers. Lindsay hurt his toe in the first half of the Week 1 loss to the Steelers and was diagnosed with turf toe. He's listed as week-to-week for now, but the good news is that he had a near-even split of the workload with Melvin Gordon III before he went down with his injury. Gordon will be more of a low-end RB2 this Sunday with Lindsay out, despite the tough matchup against Pittsburgh's defense. Expect Royce Freeman to spell Gordon when he needs a breather, but he won't have any standalone fantasy value in this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Calais Campbell Sep 18 4:23pm ET

Baltimore Ravens DT Justin Madubuike (knee) and WR Chris Moore (finger) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 2 against the Houston Texans. CB Jimmy Smith (hip) was limited in practice for a second straight day Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as questionable. OT Ronnie Stanley (hip) and RB Justice Hill (thigh) were upgraded to a full practice Friday but are also listed as questionable. DE Calais Campbell (non-injury) and DT Brandon Williams (non-injury) were not given practice designations Friday while LB Pernell McPhee (non-injury) did not practice, but all three are expected to play.

From TheHuddle

Melvin Gordon Sep 18 4:10pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III has more upside as an RB2 this weekend against the Steelers with teammate Phillip Lindsay (toe) week-to-week with turf toe. The matchup is a daunting one, though, as the Steelers Defense held Saquon Barkley in check (15 carries for six yards) in Week 1. But the extra touches that Gordon should receive on Sunday push him from a flex play to more of a low-end RB2. Royce Freeman should help spell Gordon when he needs a breather. In his first game with Denver, the 27-year-old had 86 total yards and a touchdown on 18 touches, but he also had a costly lost fumble in the first half. Gordon had 18 yards in eight carries against Pittsburgh last year while with the Chargers.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Sep 18 4:10pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) has been officially ruled out for Week 2 against the Packers. Golladay will miss his second straight game to open the season, but hopefully his fantasy managers will be able to put him into their lineups for Week 3. The Lions will use three-wide sets of Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and rookie Quintez Cephus against their division rivals on Sunday. Jones will be a high-end WR3 and Amendola will be in flex consideration in DFS and deeper leagues. Tight end T.J. Hockenson will be intriguing with some TE1 upside with Golladay out again.

From RotoBaller

DeVante Parker Sep 18 4:03pm ET

Miami Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts (concussion) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday, Sept. 18, but has been ruled out for Week 2 versus the Buffalo Bills. DB Clayton Fejedelem (pectoral) was limited in practice all week and is listed as doubtful. WR DeVante Parker (hamstring) was also limited in practice all week but is listed as questionable. CB Xavien Howard (knee), CB Byron Jones (Achilles), LB Kyle Van Noy (hand) and WR Preston Williams (knee) practiced in full Friday, Sept. 18, and have been removed from the injury report. WR Jakeem Grant (calf) was not given a practice designation for a second straight day Friday but is also expected to play.

From TheHuddle

Drew Lock Sep 18 4:00pm ET

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock faces a stiff test in Week 2 on the road against the Steelers Defense. The 23-year-old second-year signal-caller had his ups and downs in the Week 1 Monday night loss to the Titans. His mobility and arm strength were on display, but he was hurt by some drops and overthrows and he also fumbled the ball twice but recovered. His final line was 22-for-33 for 216 yards and one touchdown. Lock should get both Courtland Sutton (shoulder) and rookie K.J. Hamler (hamstring) back for this one, but the matchup is too tough to consider him as anything more than a low-end QB2 in leagues that start two quarterbacks.

From RotoBaller

Alex Okafor Sep 18 3:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (hamstring), DT Khalen Saunders (elbow) and CB Charvarius Ward (hand) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers. C Austin Reiter (knee), DT Derrick Nnadi (ankle), OG Kelechi Osemele (knee), S Juan Thornhill (knee) and RB Darrel Williams (hamstring) practiced in full all week and no longer appear on the injury report.

From TheHuddle

Tyrod Taylor Sep 18 3:53pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers RB Justin Jackson (quad) did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful for Week 2 versus the Kansas City Chiefs. TE Donald Parham (illness) returned to a full practice Friday, Sept. 18, and has been removed from the injury report. DE Joey Bosa (triceps), CB Casey Hayward (knee), OG Trai Turner (knee), WR Mike Williams (shoulder) and QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs) also practiced in full Friday and no longer appear on the injury report.

From TheHuddle

Michael Thomas Sep 18 3:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) was not present at practice on Friday for the second straight day. There were reports that Thomas "felt fantastic" at practice on Thursday, and there is a "glimmer of hope" that he can play in Week 2 on Monday night against the Raiders, but it's a long shot, at best. The All-Pro receiver is dealing with a high ankle sprain, which can keep players out up to a month or more. The 27-year-old is known as a quick healer and wants to get back out there as soon as possible, but fantasy managers need to keep realistic expectations. You should be planning to be without Thomas this week. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook should have heavy target shares with Thomas likely out.

From RotoBaller

Chicago Bears Sep 18 3:50pm ET

Chicago Bears linebackers Khalil Mack (knee) and Robert Quinn (ankle) are both questionable to play in Week 2 against the Giants. Mack was also questionable for the season opener against the Lions, but he played and was quiet with just four combined tackles. Quinn missed Week 1 with Chicago after a big season with the Cowboys. The Bears are counting on the combination of Mack and Quinn to be a big pass-rushing force this year, so if they both sit out, it'll be excellent news for Daniel Jones and the Giants passing attack. Chicago's defense/special teams should be considered a midrange starting unit in fantasy, but they'll lose a little luster if one or both of Mack and Quinn are ruled out.

From RotoBaller

Ndamukong Suh Sep 18 3:43pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Antony Auclair (calf) did not practice for a second straight day Friday, Sept. 18, and has been ruled out for Week 2 versus the Carolina Panthers. WR Chris Godwin (concussion) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday and is listed as doubtful. DL Ndamukong Suh (non-injury) did not practice Friday but was removed from the injury report. WR Mike Evans (hamstring), OT Donovan Smith (knee) and S Jordan Whitehead (elbow) practiced in full Friday and no longer appear on the injury report. LB Jason Pierre-Paul (non-injury) was not given a practice designation Friday but is also expected to play.

From TheHuddle

James Conner Sep 18 3:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (ankle) practiced in full the last two days and was taken off the Week 2 injury report. Conner will be active this Sunday against the Broncos, but he might play second fiddle to Benny Snell Jr. after Snell replaced the injured Conner in Week 1 against the Giants and ran for over 100 yards on the ground. Conner couldn't stay healthy last year as the team's lead back, so perhaps this will become more of a backfield committee in 2020 to preserve Conner's health. Snell is probably the more attractive RB3/flex this week, but both running backs are hard to trust because of the uncertain playing time split.

From RotoBaller

Golden Tate Sep 18 3:40pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Bears. Tate sat out in Week 1 against the Steelers, but he was much more active in practice on Friday than he was last week. Even if the 32-year-old plays this weekend, there are likely better flex options you can plug into your fantasy lineups. If he doesn't play for the second straight week, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram would all stand to benefit from extra targets in the passing game. Slayton was the biggest beneficiary in Week 1, hauling in two touchdowns.

From RotoBaller

Carolina Panthers Sep 18 3:30pm ET

The Carolina Panthers Defense has ruled out defensive tackle Kawann Short (foot) and rookie defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (concussion) for Week 2 against the Buccaneers. A shaky Panthers defense that allowed over 30 points to the Raiders in Week 1 will be hoping that rookie defensive tackle Derrick Brown can step up against their division rivals on Sunday. Already at the bottom of the pile for fantasy defenses, Carolina should be avoided like the plague this weekend against Tom Brady and the Bucs, who are looking for their first win of the season.

From RotoBaller

Mike Evans Sep 18 3:30pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) practiced in full on Friday and was taken off the Week 2 injury report. Evans will be good to go against the division-rival Panthers. The 27-year-old should draw the coverage of cornerback Donte Jackson, but he's good enough to put up points, and he should be targeted even more by cornerback Tom Brady with Chris Godwin (concussion) doubtful to play. Evans had a quiet Week 1 but still managed to find the end zone to salvage his day. With Godwin likely out, Evans will be a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 this Sunday.

From RotoBaller