August 22, 2022, 6:11 pm
What is Best Ball?
Unlike traditional season-long leagues where you draft a team and have to set your lineup every week, drafting is the only thing to worry about in best ball formats. There are no weekly lineup worries, no waiver wire additions and no trades in best ball. There are no defenses nor kickers, so you are strictly drafting QB, RB, WR and TE. The key is to attempt to draft a team that stays relatively healthy and scores many touchdowns throughout the season. Best ball drafts last 20 rounds on DraftKings, while on Underdog they are only 18 rounds. Throughout the season, the drafted team who scores the most total points wins the contest. Your lineup will automatically start your highest scoring players every week on its own. A lineup will feature one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end and one non-QB flex spot, with a handful of bench players. You can draft however you want and could even take eight quarterbacks if you wanted, but there are some optimal ways to draft which enhance your chances to win some money. Spike weeks are substantially more beneficial in comparison to how much a bad week will hurt your squad, so by stacking players on the same team, you are aiming for the highest possible weekly outcome and if your main stack has an off-week, you have other players that will automatically fill in your starting lineup.
What is Stacking & Why is it Important?
When drafting a best ball team, you want to shoot your shot and go for the highest possible scoring squad by selecting multiple players on the same NFL team that features a high-scoring offense. Stacking is when you correlate your roster by drafting a Quarterback and one, two or three pass catchers from that team. If a quarterback throws a touchdown, someone has to catch the ball and when you have both the QB and WR or TE, you double dip on that single touchdown. If you were to draft a QB from Team A and a WR from Team B, you would need two touchdowns to equal those points and another player in your league will be getting points as well. By stacking a QB with a pass catcher, you need to get less things correct and if that QB has a huge game, the likelihood of one or two of those stacked WR/TEs will also have a huge game is substantially increased. Very rarely does a running back make sense to stack with a QB, as a rushing touchdown only helps the running back and lowers the scoring ceiling of the QB. Other than a couple of the most elite pass-catching running backs, it is best to avoid stacking a QB and RB on the same team. Outside of Austin Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey, very few backs will catch more than two or three touchdowns. It’s better to take a contrarian approach when drafting your running backs as rushing touchdowns drastically limit the potential for scoring games from your QB WR/TE stacks.
Do Not Reach to Force Stacks
It can be incredibly tempting to reach on a player a round or two early to complete a stack, but unfortunately that is not the best strategy, especially if you are playing in massive tournaments like DraftKings’ Milly Maker or Best Ball Mania on Underdog. In those tournaments with hundreds of thousands of players you have to be very patient to get the absolute best draft outcome possible. Sometimes your stacks will miss, but forcing a stack by reaching severely limits your tournament-winning upside. For example, if you are aiming for a Vikings stack because, like myself, you think their offense is going to be exceptional this year. You are able to get Justin Jefferson in the middle of the first round, but now you are waiting until the sixth to grab Adam Thielen and Kirk Cousins in Round 10. If you reach on Thielen in the fifth, you are taking away another player from your roster who has a fifth round ADP (otherwise known as opportunity cost), while another team in these massive tournaments was likely able to get him in the sixth and maybe seventh round. Don’t pass on ‘superior’ players with higher ADPs just to force a stack. If Thielen was to get sniped right before your pick, simply take another great option in the sixth and pivot to K.J. Osborn or Irv Smith Jr. in the later rounds if you are bullish on the Vikings. In some drafts the stacks will fall beautifully into place, but other times you will miss and have to pivot. Be willing to adjust on the fly and let the stacks fall to you. The gigantic best ball tournaments favor the bold with their payout structures and reward the drafters who have patience to let the stacks fall to them, allowing those teams to advance further into the big money rounds.
Top-3 Stacks to Target:
The Bengals are one of the few teams that a triple stack should be considered, but they may also be one of the hardest to build. In order to execute this stack to its fullest extent, a middle of the first round pick is needed in order to secure Ja’Marr Chase (6 ADP, WR3). With Joe Borrow (67 ADP, QB6) at the helm, this stack has massive potential upside with Chase, Tee Higgins (29 ADP, WR11), Tyler Boyd (114 ADP, WR50) and maybe even Hayden Hurst (176 ADP, TE23). These pass-catchers have tremendous week-to-week upside in a high-flying offense, but in order to lock in this stack you will need to spend three of your first six picks. If you can add a workhorse running back in the second round, this stack could be a money maker. Chase and Higgins are capable of finishing as the WR1 on any given week, while Boyd and Hurst are great ancillary pieces on this offense which do not cost early-round draft capital. One thing to always make note of while drafting is what teams are your stacks playing against in the best ball playoffs (Weeks 15, 16 and 17). The further a team advances through these rounds, the more money is being won. Unfortunately, the Bengals do not have the most favorable playoff matchups, but they are far from the worst. The Bengals matchup with the Bucs in Week 15, the Patriots in Week 16 and in the final round they play the Bills. When trying to absolutely maximize your outcomes, these three weeks need to be considered when drafting a best ball team.
Los Angeles Chargers
Another squad that may require an early first-round pick to execute a great stack is the Chargers. They may require an early round pick if drafters want to stack Austin Ekeler (5 ADP, RB3), who is coming off the board very early. He is one of the few backs to consider stacking with a QB, as he is an incredible pass-catching RB. If you decide to skip on Ekeler, you will need to invest your third and fourth round picks on the dynamic duo of Keenan Allen (28 ADP, WR12) and Mike Williams (35 ADP, WR14). The tricky part of the Chargers stack is that QB Justin Herbert (40 ADP, QB2) is also coming off the board in that range and, if lucky, he could fall to the fifth round. A decision will likely need to be made between drafting Allen vs. Williams, in order to also grab Herbert. Williams has a history of higher-ceiling games, which favors him in the best ball format. Other players to add to the Chargers stack in the late rounds are Joshua Palmer (149 ADP, WR65) and Gerald Everett (155 ADP, TE18). Palmer is a great addition if you miss on grabbing either Allen or Williams. The Chargers square off with a trio of tough defenses in the best ball playoffs, with matchups against the Titans in Week 15, the Colts in Week 16 and Rams in Week 17.
The Denver Broncos round out the top-3 stacks to target in 2022 and to make this stack even more enticing, they have playoff matchups with the Cardinals, Rams and Chiefs. This trio of matchups is arguably one of the most favorable in the best ball playoffs. With future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson (76 ADP, QB10) now in town, the pass catchers all receive a massive boost in expectations. After grabbing a pair of running backs in the first two rounds, Courtland Sutton (37 ADP, WR17) is a great place to start building your wide receiver core, regardless of doing a Broncos stack. A couple rounds later you will need to target Jerry Jeudy (56 ADP, WR27) and then Wilson. The rest of the Broncos stack is not coming off the board until the double-digit rounds where Albert Okwuegbunam (137 ADP, TE14) would make a great TE1 or TE2 on a best ball team and K.J. Hamler (182 ADP, WR78) is a great deep-ball WR that will likely hit on a couple weeks throughout the season with massive 50-plus yard touchdowns.