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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 2
New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead saw plenty of chances in the Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was the primary receiving back with James White (personal) inactive for this game. Burkhead rushed six times for two yards and caught four of six targets for 47 yards through the air. It was a nice uptick for Burkhead, but he won't be on the fantasy radar going forward. James White is expected to be back for their matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was doing everything he could versus the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. He caught eight of 11 targets for 179 receiving yards in the loss. He has been held scoreless through the first two games, but this performance was a step in the right direction. The Patriots don't have many weapons, so they will likely continue to lean on Edelman going forward. He should be considered a high-end WR3 versus the Las Vegas Raiders next week.
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry is looking like he is primed for a breakout campaign in 2020. He hauled in eight of his 12 targets for 72 yards during the Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Harry saw the most targets on the team and tied with Julian Edelman for the most receptions. He should continue to be heavily involved in this offense going forward. Fantasy owners should be able to count on him as a flex option for next week against the Las Vegas Raiders.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton continued his positive play versus the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. He completed 30 of 44 passing attempts for 397 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Newton also rushed 11 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. He was almost able to lead his team to a comeback victory, but was stopped on the goal line. Newton has looked sharp during the first two games of the season. He'll get a favorable matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3. Fantasy owners should be able to continue to lean on Newton for that one.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel was unable to get anything going on the ground versus the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. He rushed seven times for 19 yards in the loss. The Patriots basically abandoned the running game in the second half, so Michel didn't see many chances after the second quarter. He'll get a matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3, but fantasy owners should consider Michel a touchdown dependent RB3 right now.
Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins played efficiently for the second straight week in a loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. Haskins completed 19-of-33 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown and didn't throw an interception for the second consecutive week. He did lose a fumble, but Haskins has just one turnover through two games which was an issue for him as a rookie. He won't put up the flashiest stats, but Haskins seems to be a quality QB2 in fantasy. He'll have a good matchup with Cleveland in Week 3 where he should be started in two-quarterback leagues.
The Carolina Panthers Defense allowed 31 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 2 loss. To make matters worse, Carolina didn't record a sack, but they did manage to pick up a fumble recovery and an interception. There may not be many promising days with this unit this year in fantasy, though there may be some weeks where they could be streamed. Perhaps they could be streamed in Week 3 against the Chargers, depending upon who they declare as their starting quarterback.
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye made his lone field-goal attempt and both his extra-points in a Week 2 loss. Slye made the most of his opportunities, considering the limited amount of chances in the red zone. The 24-year-old has been efficient so far, making all four field-goals and missing just one extra-point. Slye should continue to be a solid, starting option for fantasy managers when he takes on the Chargers in Week 3.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson handled 13 carried for 55 yards and his first career touchdown in a loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. Gibson only had one catch for minus-three yards in the passing game, but it was good to see the rookie more involved than Week 1. Gibson's 13 carries were five more than anyone on the team and he was the one handling the red zone touches. Gibson is in a great spot to break out next week against a Browns Defense that's been gashed thus far in 2020.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas wasn't targeted in a Week 2 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thomas has sleeper potential but completely disappeared in the gameplan, as he inexplicably didn't see a pass thrown his way. This comes a week after he saw two targets in the first game of the season. He could be a streamer down the line, but there's no way to justify using him in any format for fantasy football right now.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Keelan Cole posted six catches for 58 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans on seven targets.
Fantasy Spin: Cole averaged just 9.7 yards per reception, but he was still very productive. He is worth a look as a WR5 in most fantasy leagues, with a little more value in PPR formats, heading into Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel was targeted just twice against the Buccaneers, though he also had four carries for 26 rushing yards. Samuel did see eight targets in Week 1, but other than that, he has been disappointing so far. One positive to take from this game is that the Panthers utilized him more as a runner, which is something that could add a lot of diversity to their offense. That's a role Samuel could play if Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is forced to miss time. Unfortunately, Samuel will be hard to trust in fantasy lineups until he proves he can produce with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
New York Jets WR Braxton Berrios caught six of his eight targets for 59 yards and a touchdown in a 31-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: Jamison Crowder was inactive for the contest, and Breshad Perriman and Chris Hogan both suffered injuries. Berrios could have flex value as the best receiver still standing for the Jets, especially if Crowder remains sidelined.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. registered four receptions for a game-high 84 yards on four targets in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans.
Fantasy Spin: Chark was unable to find the end zone like in Week 1, but his fantasy production was about the same with the big bump in receiving yardage. He remains a solid WR3 or flex fantasy option in leagues of 12 or more teams heading into Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
New York Jets TE Chris Herndon caught one of his four targets for five yards in a 31-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: After catching six passes in the opener, Herndon was almost blanked in Week 2, and he is averaging just 6.0 yards per reception so far this season. Outside of dynasty formats, Herndon doesn't need to be rostered.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson looked great for the second consecutive game. Anderson caught nine of 10 targets for 109 receiving yards in a loss to Tampa Bay. The 27-year-old has been targeted an impressive 18 times in two games and has been very efficient with his looks. Anderson comes with some weekly risk because of how deep he's usually targeted. However, if he continues to see this kind of volume, he'll have no trouble smashing his ADP. Up next is a matchup with the Chargers, who struggled to contain Chiefs' deep-threat Tyreek Hill.
New York Jets RB Frank Gore became the oldest running back in NFL history to record at least 20 carries, rushing 21 times for 63 yards in a 31-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: With Le'Veon Bell sidelined, Gore assumed a workhorse role. He should remain the lead back while Bell is out, but he only has so much upside in the Jets' struggling offense. At best, he is a volume-based flex option.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis caught all eight of his targets for 74 receiving yards against Tampa Bay in Week 2. Davis did his best Christian McCaffrey (ankle) impression after the star back left with an ankle injury and was pretty convincing as a receiver out of the backfield. Eight targets is nothing to sneeze at- if McCaffrey's injury is more serious than the team believes, Davis could be a nice waiver wire pickup, particularly in PPR formats.
New York Jets QB Sam Darnold completed 21 of his 32 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in a 31-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.
Fantasy Spin: The Jets have been a mess on offense to start the year, and Darnold is averaging under 200 yards passing through two games. He isn't even a QB2 candidate at this point.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey carried the ball 18 times for 59 yards with two touchdowns and caught four of five targets for 29 receiving yards in a Week 2 loss to the Buccaneers. McCaffrey left the game with an ankle injury and will have an MRI on Monday, though the team is optimistic that it's not too serious. If McCaffrey is able to suit up against the Chargers, he'll obviously be in fantasy lineups. However, backups Mike Davis and Trenton Cannon would pick up the slack in the event that he's unable to play. Stay tuned for the results of his MRI.