Fantasy sports provide additional entertainment to the viewing experience. You’re able to build rosters and watch your favorite players rack up stats, accumulating points for your teams. There’s often money involved, which offers another incentive to win. However, there’s one issue: it can be a time-consuming task.
This is because you need to adjust your roster through trades and free-agent pickups. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you have to be active on the waiver wire and that takes a lot of effort. There’s also a requirement to set your lineups each week, starting and benching players based on their recent performance and upcoming matchup.
If you’re the type of player who wants a more efficient format while still enjoying the fantasy sports experience, you’re in luck. There’s a new style of play that has picked up steam and spread throughout the industry, known as Best Ball. You won’t have to worry about spending too much time on your lineups anymore.
What Is Best Ball?
Best Ball takes your highest scorers each week at a fixed number of positions. You won’t have to stress over whether you made the right lineup decision, only to watch your player go off on your bench. This is a set it and forget it type of game, where you don’t need to do anything to your team following the draft, including trades and pickups.
While it’s great to be able to have a stress-free experience without worrying about any additional moves, this also means that you’re stuck with injured players for the entire year. This makes it even more important to consider your roster construction and ensure that you have adequate depth at each position. Best Ball is a battle of attrition.
Formats can vary across different platforms, with some offering smaller leagues and others featuring large-field tournaments. Best Ball is primarily a fantasy football format, but we’re seeing some sites incorporate other sports as well. It’s a fun game to play, especially when there are cash prizes to be won.
What Is a Best Ball Tournament?
Best Ball tournaments are when you are competing within a massive player pool. How it usually works is you’re separated into smaller leagues, where cash prizes are awarded to first place, but then additional prizes for the top scorers in the tournament. It may even be structured in a way where you advance multiple rounds up until the finals.
The appeal here is that you’ll often see huge prizes for the overall winner. Underdog Fantasy offers $2 million to first place in their Best Ball Mania tournament. The National Fantasy Championship (NFC) and The Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) have thousands of dollars up for grabs at varying entry fees. We have even seen major operators like DraftKings enter the fold.
The best part about Best Ball tournaments is that you’re able to win money if you finish first in your league along with an opportunity to hit that huge payout if you do even better within the large field. While sites take more rake and your win probability decreases depending on the size of the player pool, it’s still the optimal way to play Best Ball.
Best Best Ball Draft Sites
DraftKings is a popular operator that offers daily fantasy and sports betting. It provides a user-friendly experience with an accessible platform and useful promotions. You can always feel at ease putting money into your account of such a reputable brand.
DraftKings DFS has now dived into Best Ball, offering a variety of 3-12 player leagues along with tournaments at entry fees ranging from $1 to $2,120. This is great because it caters to the needs of both high-stakes and casual players.
You can draft on the fly with 30-second clocks or take your time with the eight-hour timer. The millionaire tournament offers a $1 million cash prize for first place with a $5 entry fee and over 800,000 entrants. You are currently only able to play fantasy football Best Ball contests at this time. You’ll find full point-per-reception (PPR) scoring for these leagues.
Underdog Fantasy is one of the breakout stars of the fantasy industry, famed for offering the largest prize pool in a Best Ball tournament with $10 million in prizes this season. There are also Pick ‘Em contests, where you can make Same Game Parlays of player props.
Their Best Ball Mania fantasy football tournament is so enticing because there are huge cash prizes up for grabs. The overall winner gets $2 million, while the team with the most points during the season (Weeks 1-14) receives $1 million. There are more cash prizes as well, depending on where you finish.
Best Ball Mania has a $25 entry fee, but there are smaller-scale tournaments like The Puppy, which has a $5 buy-in. There are also contests available for baseball, basketball, hockey, and golf. Underdog is a leader in Best Ball for its massive selection. It offers half-PPR scoring for fantasy football.
Yahoo! is a web services provider that has been a major player in fantasy sports for years. It has been one of the most popular platforms for season-long fantasy leagues but has now entered the fray in both daily and Best Ball formats.
This is the place to go if you want to keep it a bit more simple and join tournaments with smaller player pools. You’ll find various 10-team leagues with entry fees ranging from $1 to $500 and prizes going from as low as $9 to as high as 4,500.
At this time, Yahoo! is offering only fantasy football contests with half-point PPR scoring. This is a great choice if you want to stick to leagues where you have a greater chance at cashing.
The NFC has been offering high-stakes fantasy contests in football, baseball, basketball, and hockey since 2004, providing both online and live drafts throughout the country. Entry fees range from as low as $1 to as high as $1,750. There are reputable fantasy sites partnered with NFC, offering their own tournaments, such as RotoWire’s Online Championship.
You’ll find Best Ball contests for each of the sports on the site, including the $150 Diamond Challenge for baseball. NFC offers the Cutline championship, which awards $100,000 to the winning team. This is a contest where teams are eliminated after a specified date within the season. It’s a nice twist on the conventional Best Ball format.
While NFC caters more to the mid-to-high-stakes player, there are still lower-priced contests available. You’ll also get the perk of competing against some notable names throughout the fantasy industry.
The FFPC has been around since 2008, offering pay-to-play fantasy football contests at varying entry fees. It’s a growing platform that has become a reputable name in the fantasy industry, even holding live drafts throughout the country.
There are various Best Ball fantasy football contests at the site, starting at $35 entry fees and going up to $1,250. They even have a $125 tournament with over 9,000 entries and more than $1 million in prizes.
The site has a unique scoring format with full-PPR and a tight-end premium. While running backs and wide receivers will get one point for each catch, tight ends will get 1.5, which adds some more strategy.
Drafters is a relatively new platform that emerged in 2016. It offers both daily fantasy and Best Ball contests in NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and PGA. You can enjoy participating in snake drafts for cash prizes.
They have an awesome Best Ball tournament for fantasy football which has a $20 entry fee and awards $250,000 to first place with a $1 million prize pool.
The site uses a full-PPR scoring setup for fantasy football, so be sure to target running backs that rack up receptions.
Are There Any Differences Between Best Ball Sites?
There are several differences between sites for Best Ball, such as:
- Payout Structures: You may find top-heavy prizes along with more spread-out rewards.
- Available Sports: Some sites only offer NFL, while others have more variety.
- Entry Fees: Most platforms have low entry fees available, but some have higher buy-ins than others.
- Scoring Systems: Scoring can change depending on the contest.
- Positional Breakdowns: The number of positions taken in your optimal lineup can vary.
- Contest Style: Some award the highest-scoring teams, while others have elimination styles, like NFC Cutline.
Be sure to read the ‘Rules’ section when joining your Best Ball league or tournament. You need to be fully aware of the format in order to be successful. What may work well on one platform might not be as beneficial on another. Adjust your strategy based on the contest structure.
How Are Payouts Calculated?
Payouts are calculated by the price of entry along with the size of the player pool. Each site takes a percentage of the prize pool for running the contest. This is known as the rake.
Let’s take a look at Underdog’s Best Ball Mania tournament as an example.
- Buy-in: $25
- Entrants: 451.2 thousand
- Rake: 11.3%
- Prize Pool: $10 million
In this case, 25 multiplied by 451,200 would equal $11.28 million. If we find 11.3 percent of that number, it tells us that Underdog is taking in approximately $1.27 million in rake to run this contest.
This is the trade-off that you encounter when joining a tournament with such a large player pool. The benefit is that you have a chance to win a massive cash prize, while the drawback is that the rake is higher.
If you prefer not to join a contest with such a high rake, it’s recommended that you stick to smaller leagues rather than larger tournaments. It’s the latter that always takes a higher percentage of the prize pool.
What Sports Are Offered?
Best Ball is primarily a fantasy football contest, but we’re seeing other sports emerge with this format on some platforms.
Here is a list of sports that you’ll find along with the stats used in scoring:
- Football: receptions, yards, touchdowns, interceptions, fumbles
- Baseball: runs, home runs, RBI, stolen bases, wins, walks, strikeouts, runs allowed
- Basketball: points, rebounds, assists, three-pointers, steals, blocks, turnovers
- Hockey: shots on goal, goals, assists, points, shots blocked, hits, wins, saves, shutouts
- Golf: birdies, pars, bogeys, eagles
Each sport follows the same basic principle: you draft players and your best scores are used. There aren’t any roster moves such as trades or pickups. You don’t start or sit your players, you just sit back and enjoy the show.
Basic Best Ball Strategy
There are a variety of strategies to deploy in Best Ball with some differences in each sport. The main principles remain the same across all sports, including the following:
- Build your rosters to account for injury risk. You can’t make any changes after the draft, so you’re going to be stuck with players if they get hurt. Be sure that you have an adequate number of players at each position to help safeguard against this risk.
- Understand the scoring system because they can differ across platforms. For example, in fantasy football, if it’s a tight-end premium league, that means they’re more valuable, so you’ll have to use a higher pick to draft them. If you don’t adapt to your scoring, it’ll be hard to be successful.
- Adjust your play style depending on the size of the player pool. If you’re in a smaller league, you can try to play it safe by targeting players with higher floors. However, if you’re in a large-field tournament, you need to prioritize upside over everything. Your goal is to shoot for the moon to try to take home the big prize.
- Try to put in more than one entry when playing in tournaments. It’s difficult to win a large prize as it is, so don’t make it even more challenging by only entering one team. Try to put in at least five teams with big tournaments. You want to give yourself more of a chance.
Best Ball vs Other Tournaments
Best Ball is similar to other tournaments in the sense that you are competing against thousands of other players for a chance at a huge payout. It has the same setup as tournaments in leagues with adjustable rosters in that you are separated into smaller leagues and if you finish first there, you still win money.
However, there are a few differences to consider. For one, Best Ball differs from daily fantasy in that it’s a season-long contest instead of taking place on a day or week’s slate of games. Secondly, Best Ball is done in a draft format as opposed to a salary cap in DFS. You get to pick your players in a safe draft instead of trying to fit them in on a budget. While there are still duplicate players across rosters, it’s not as pronounced as in DFS.
The similarity that Best Ball shares with DFS is that you don’t need to worry about starting or sitting players as you would in leagues with adjustable rosters. Furthermore, Best Ball lineups can’t be changed once the games have started, just as we see in DFS.
Why Should I Play Best Ball?
You should absolutely play Best Ball because it’s a combination of daily fantasy and traditional formats. You get the perk of taking your optimal score while also enjoying a draft as opposed to building within salary cap constraints. While yes, injuries can absolutely kill your team’s chances, that’s also the case in any fantasy contest.
It’s great to be able to enjoy fantasy sports without spending time on trade offers or free agent pickups. You also don’t need to stress over lineup decisions in that pivotal fantasy football matchup. Your best scores will count towards your total, instead of the top performances from players who you decided to start.
Best Ball tournaments offer exorbitant cash prizes. Imagine becoming a millionaire by playing fantasy sports? Now to take it further, you don’t have to worry about competing against sharks that use lineup optimizers as you see in DFS. It’s harder to make accurate projections over the course of an entire season than it is for one specific game.
You’re still going to be facing challenging competition along with players who put in up to 150 entries, you won’t have the same feeling of being outmatched as you sometimes may feel in DFS. There are also contests available for each type of player, whether you like to risk more money or just play at a casual level.
Having said that, it’s important that you research your format because there is a bit of a learning curve in Best Ball. This isn’t the same as drafting a team where you can make trades and free-agent pickups. You have to build your roster in a way that optimizes your potential scoring. For example, pairing a quarterback with his wide receiver in football. If the passer goes off, there’s a great chance that your wideout is as well.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of roster construction in Best Ball, you’re likely to become hooked. Drafts are fun and most of these providers have terrific mobile apps that allow you to draft while on the go. Join Best Ball today to have a chance at winning thousands and even millions of dollars in fantasy sports!