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Best Ball Fantasy Leagues: An Introduction

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Have you heard about the latest craze in the fantasy football community? Let’s give you an introduction to the “best ball” fantasy format!


When it comes to fantasy football, there is no lack of league types. There are redraft leagues, dynasty leagues, offense-only leagues, IDP leagues, and the list goes on! Speaking of league types — have you heard of “best ball”? This article intends to provide you with an introductory article on the fastest-growing fantasy format in the industry you might not have heard of.

The Basics of “best ball”

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While there are a variety of different kinds within the genre, the general premise of a “best ball” league is fairly simple. Instead of setting a lineup every week and having to choose which players to start or sit, your points are calculated from the best lineup that week. You compete against every other fantasy team’s “best” starting lineup, so it’s truly your best versus everyone else’s best!

Most standard “best ball” leagues ditch the traditional head-to-head matchups in favor of total points determining the league winner. Every week’s total points are added to your cumulative score, and the team with the most points at the end of the year is the winner!

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Still need clarification on how your starting lineup is determined? Let’s say your league starts one quarterback and your team has Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes. In Week 1, Burrow scores 24 fantasy points and Mahomes scores 20.

Burrow and his 24 points end up in your starting lineup since he was the “best” choice! If, in Week 2, Mahomes scores more, he would end up in your starting lineup!

Sounds great, right? Gone are the days of someone going off on your bench and not helping your team to victory! No more will you have to tinker with your starting lineup, trying to optimize it up until kickoff! You just get to sit back and know that your team’s best outcome is the one that will count towards your points total!

There is another major difference between “best ball” and standard leagues, however. Typically, once you draft your team…you’re done with roster management. That’s right! No waiver wire, no trading, no replacing injured players.

The team you draft is the team you have the entire year. Because of this, you will be drafting more players than you usually do in other leagues. This changes draft strategy quite a bit!

Strategy Overview

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As in redraft and other leagues, you still want your team to score more points than the other teams. This might sound obvious, but since the format is a little different, the way you accomplish this changes. The main difference, in my experience, is how you approach drafting your bench players.

Remember, your best lineup each week is the one that counts. All of a sudden, that home run or bust WR3 on your favorite team is someone desirable! Take Van Jefferson as an example. In a half PPR scoring system, he scored over 10 points in less than half of the games he played.

This makes it hard to know when to start Jefferson. In “best ball,” however, you do not have to worry about his inconsistencies.

When drafting your best ball team, you will want to grab dependable starters you know will produce while then drafting high-upside players late in the draft. That last player you grab might not end up in your starting lineup frequently, but if he ends up there a couple of times, that might make the difference between second place and a championship!

Where Can I play?

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Thankfully, there are plenty of sites where you can play in a “best ball” league! The top sites are Sleeper, Underdog, Yahoo, Draftkings, and FFPC. Most of the mainstay fantasy apps are adopting the format as it has gained in popularity. Each site has slightly different scoring systems, so be sure to do your research before your draft!

Since we are a website that focuses on IDP, I feel I have to mention that Sleeper is typically the go-to for IDP leagues. While the other sites are slowly catching up, Sleeper has put in a lot of time and resources to ensure IDP is not an afterthought in their app.

Closing Remarks

In summary, it’s no surprise that “best ball” leagues are becoming so popular. They are an easy sell to more casual players who want to be involved with a fantasy team but don’t want to have to manage a team. For more veteran fantasy players, it offers enough variation to the standard format that it flexes different strategy muscles.

Not only are more and more fantasy sites supporting the format, but more articles are focusing on players you should target in your drafts. Take for example an article on our site on defensive line players to target. For a more advanced strategy discussion, I highly recommend reading this article over at Fantrax that details the pros and cons of a variety of strategies.

So what are you waiting for?! Try a “best ball” league today! The time commitment is relatively small, limited to just the draft process, and it’s another fantasy format for you to master. No matter what kind of fantasy player you are, it will be a lovely addition to your league portfolio.


Thank you for reading my intro article on “best ball” leagues! You can find all my work on my IDP Guys Author page. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @mrecord21 and follow @IDPGuys to keep up to date with all the latest fantasy news! 

Matt Record

I got started in Fantasy Football over 15 years ago and have never looked back! I'm just a regular guy who loves to analyze data and watch and talk about sports. Outside of all things fantasy, I enjoy playing disc golf, playing board games, and enjoying a nice hazy IPA. I can't wait to share with you all my thoughts on Fantasy Football!
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