Best Ball Roster Construction
In Best Ball Leagues, your roster setup is crucial for your fantasy football success. You have 18 spots to fill, and how you draft strategically is going to make a big difference. The 2022 advance rates in Underdog leagues show that the optimal roster construction is two quarterbacks, six running backs, seven wide receivers, and three tight ends (2-6-7-3). But drafting isn’t always smooth, and sometimes you need to adapt when things go sideways. It’s important to know when to abandon the optimal strategy and add depth to positions you might have missed earlier in the draft.
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Let’s kick off with the quarterback position. Given our aim to secure two quarterbacks, the pressing question becomes when to nab our QB1. The answer hinges on whether you prefer snagging an elite quarterback early or waiting it out and grabbing two mid-tier QBs in the middle rounds. Personally, I lean towards taking a QB in Round 3. By then, Patrick Mahomes will likely be off the board, but you might still have a shot at Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, or Lamar Jackson, considering their current ADP. Quarterbacks have proven to be consistently reliable over the years, which gives me the confidence to select one this early. As for my second QB, I typically aim for rounds 10-12, where promising options like Daniel Jones, Geno Smith, Aaron Rodgers, or Jared Goff can be found.
If you elected not to draft an early-round QB and a mid-round run on the position caused you to miss out on the QBs mentioned above, it might be time to carry three QBs on your roster. You can still find value in Round 14 with Kyler Murray and in Round 15 with Brock Purdy. Murray carries a lot of upside with him but will probably miss the first half of the season. Purdy is reliable but lacks much of a ceiling. I would suggest complementing Murray/Brock with Bryce Young or CJ Stroud in the 16th round.
Running backs tend to be more volatile than other positions, and choosing one too early can spell disaster if they underperform or succumb to a season-ending injury. Unlike in redraft leagues, you can’t rely on trades or waiver wire pickups to rectify the situation in Best Ball. Therefore, I prefer to wait until the 5th round to select a running back. At that point, you should find viable options like Kenneth Walker, Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon, and JK Dobbins, who offer RB1 potential at a reasonable cost. Often, I opt for back-to-back RB picks in Rounds 5 and 6, considering players like Miles Sanders or Dameon Pierce with their 6th round ADP. There is still considerable value to be found between the 7th and 10th rounds, and even after waiting until the 5th round for my initial RB, I strive to have four on my roster by the 10th round.
If I don’t like any of the RBs that fall to me, I’ll punt the position after grabbing my first two anchor RBs between rounds 5-7. After Round 10, I’ll load up on high-upside options like Jamall Williams, Tyler Allgeier, and Roschon Johnson, and handcuffs like Gus Edwards, Jerome Ford, and Zamir White. Because of the volatility of the late-round RBs, if I’m having to rely on them, I want between 7-9 of them to increase my odds of one of them hitting.
As previously established, drafting seven wide receivers optimizes Best Ball rosters, and I prefer to kick off my selections right away by taking one with my first pick in Round 1. According to ADP, ten of the first 14 picks are wide receivers, so it’s crucial not to neglect this position in the early rounds. Most of the time, I begin with a WR-WR start. I may consider a QB in Round 3 and possibly a TE in Round 4, depending on availability. However, my goal is to enter Round 10 with four wide receivers secured.
With all the WR hype, however, I have seen some drafts where the WRs go so early that you’re left with poor values at your turn. In cases like that, sometimes it’s advantageous to select the best RB or TE available. Even the sharpest drafters are sometimes only able to grab one stud WR before all the value runs out of the position until Round 8 or so. In that case, it’s best to go hard on the position and get at least nine WRs. You should be set at RB and TE if you missed out on WR in the middle rounds, so it’s okay to cut back at other positions to add the extra receivers.
When selecting my final three WRs, I prioritize deep-ball threats and receivers with high touchdown rates. Additionally, it’s important to keep stacking in mind when choosing receivers and quarterbacks. Stacking is essential, particularly in large field tournaments. However, it’s crucial not to reach for a player solely to create a stack.
In terms of tight ends, according to advance rates, carrying three on your roster is ideal. Two viable strategies exist when contemplating when to draft them. The first option involves selecting an elite TE early. While Travis Kelce is too early for my taste, I might consider Mark Andrews in the late 2nd round, depending on my draft position. If I do opt for an early TE pick, I’ll only draft two and add another wide receiver. As for my second TE, I’ll start looking around the 12th round.
Personally, I find drafting an elite TE to be too costly. I’d rather wait until the 7th round and hope to land Darren Waller. Solid options can still be found between rounds 8-10. In this scenario, I would draft two more TEs, with my second one also entering the picture around round 12. A player I particularly like in the 15th round is Taysom Hill.
Even though the data shows three TEs have the highest advance rates, the margin is not so great as to be married to the idea of it. Personally, I’d rather draft two TEs and add another WR or RB instead.
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Constructing an optimal Best Ball roster in fantasy football demands a well-thought-out strategy and the flexibility to adapt during the draft. While the recommended roster construction (2-6-7-3) provides a strong foundation, it is essential to gauge the flow of the draft and make informed decisions at each stage. Adding depth to positions you missed out on earlier in the draft is essential to increase your upside and provided greater odds of a late-round pick having a breakout season.
- Quarterback Rankings
- Running Back Rankings
- Wide Receiver Rankings
- Tight End Rankings
- NFL Depth Charts
Doug Burrell finished 2022 as Fantasy Nerd’s Most Accurate Expert in NFL Picks and Tallysight’s #1 ranked expert Against the Spread Expert out of 200+ experts. He is a veteran, a runner and an avid fantasy sports enthusiast since 1999. You can reach him on Twitter @dougwburrell.
Doug is a veteran, an avid runner, and works as a copywriter. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and three dogs. You can reach him on Twitter @dougwburrell.