Best Ball is one of the more niche forms of fantasy sports, but it has been around for quite some time and can still be found online at certain sites. It is a form of season-long fantasy, but offers players a more hands-off approach that requires less time investment compared to traditional season-long leagues.
Recommended Best Ball Fantasy Site:
The basic concept behind best ball is to set your team and forget it. Each week, only the top-scoring players on your team count toward your season total. This means you’re not constantly swapping players in and out, not stressing over trades every week and can free up more of your time to do other things or play in other leagues.
The particulars can vary from league to league of course, but the gist of it is to draft a team and let it run. The biggest mainstream fantasy site with Best Ball is Draft, so we’ll go with their Best Ball NFL rules to further explain how it all works.
Draft Best Ball contests have you draft a team of 18 players who will go on to score points from Weeks 1 through 16. The lineup each week will consist of:
- 1 QB
- 2 RB
- 3 WR
- 1 TE
- 1 FLEX
The highest-scoring players on your roster each week fill in for the above positions. So, if you have two quarterbacks on your roster, the one with the highest points total will count towards your QB fantasy points total that week. The same would go for your running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. The flex position at Draft is filled by your highest-earning running back, wide receiver or tight end who isn’t already earning points that week in a different position.
Best Ball fantasy leagues begin and end with the draft as far as your involvement goes. After you have made your picks, all that’s left is to wait and watch. The scoring system handles who goes in and out each week based on points accumulated that week. Your position is relegated to that as a spectator after the draft is complete, for better or worse.
RTSports.com also offers Best Ball fantasy. They host contests with buyins of $19.95, $49.95 and $99.95. This is more of an old-school way to play without a fancy interface, but RTSports has been around for a long time and is a reputable fantasy platform. You can read more about their rules here.
My preference is Draft.com, however, because it hosts more contests and offers more flexibility as far as choosing your drafting style and how much you want to risk on entry fees. Draft offers two different draft formats.
One is a fast draft with a 30-second pick clock. You’ll need to be present and pencil in time to be there when it happens. The other option is an 8-hour pick clock with drafts that can drag on for days. It helps to have pre-draft rankings ready to go in both cases, but the 8-hour clock gives you much more time to plan your strategy.
Why You May or May Not Like Best Ball Fantasy
Best ball fantasy has some important pros and cons. The biggest downside is also its greatest upside: there is much less involvement. Whether this is a good or a bad thing depends, of course, on you.
Do you like to tinker and invest significant time into your fantasy contests looking to exploit every possible edge in order to win at almost any cost? If that sounds like you, Best Ball isn’t for you. Best Ball requires fewer decisions, and that means fewer opportunities for you to exploit your edge over your opponents. It may also be less interesting to your active mind. It’s true you can just play in more Best Ball leagues, but even then, your decisions are done for the most part once you draft your team.
Some people absolutely loathe this form of fantasy sports because it does away with strategy once the teams have been set. These players obviously prefer a more hands-on approach and should stick to traditional season-long leagues or DFS.
Is fantasy sports just a hobby to you, something that you do for fun just to have a little money on the game to make the season more interesting? In that case, Best Ball might be a nice fit for you. It gives you a chance to get involved and have some skin in the game, but it won’t have you constantly scouring ESPN for news articles and gathering in your friend’s basement twice a week at night.
Is the draft your favorite part of fantasy sports? If you love the drafting portion but not so much the ongoing management and time commitment of fantasy leagues, Best Ball is right up your alley. The initial draft is of utmost importance as that is the only time you can implement strategy and wield your edge over the competition. If you are naturally drawn to drafting because you love it, you’re more likely to perform better as a result because researching, thinking ahead and jockeying for position will be less of a slag for you.
Some of you may also feel a little emotional comfort knowing that only your top performers count toward your point total each week. This reduces stress if you’re prone to getting overly anxious over the prospect of non-performers ruining your week. However, you’ll still need to plan ahead for bye weeks and such to ensure you don’t end up with a big goose egg and ensure you have enough depth to cover for injured players.
This advantage is purely psychological, however. Your opponents in any Best Ball fantasy contest receive the same benefits as you in having only their best players’ scores count each week. Even so, it does make for a less stressful experience for people who just aren’t as hardcore about fantasy sports.
Best Ball allows you to experiment with different types of players that you might not consider otherwise. Many other articles on the internet have discussed this point in greater detail, but sporadic players gain value in the Best Ball format. Running backs and wide receivers who tend to either blow up or have low-scoring days are more valuable in this format because they only show up in your lineup when they have huge days.