Cassy Aite

What Is Best Ball Fantasy Football? Everything You Should Know

Dec 30
8 minutes

From flex to superflex to dynasty to PPR, fantasy football has numerous formats to challenge your fantasy prowess. But a newer format is quickly gaining traction thanks to its hands-off approach to the fantasy ranks: best ball.

But what is best ball fantasy football? You may have heard the name, but you don’t want to look like an uncultured moron in front of your fantasy brethren. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide.

If you’re interested in starting a new league, have less time due to life circumstances, or are simply curious, we’ll answer the question, “What is best ball fantasy football?” so you can get on the ball yourself.

What Is Best Ball Fantasy Football and How Does the Best Ball Format Work?

Football player diving through the air to make a catch

So, what is a best ball fantasy football league? It’s a popular fantasy football format where team owners draft their team, but the league itself has no in-season management. That’s right — the league has no waiver wire, trades, or lineup setting. It’s essentially a set-it-and-forget-it type of league.

However, best ball fantasy leagues have some major similarities and differences compared to traditional leagues or redraft leagues.

Best Ball Similarities to Other Leagues:

  • The fantasy football draft in best ball works the same as any other type of league. You can use a snake draft or an auction draft, as well as either a quick draft or a slow draft.
  • Preparation is also the same; you should use ADP to grab value picks, study mock drafts, do extra analysis for later rounds, and follow your strategy for early and late-round picks.
  • Best ball still has bye weeks. This may affect your draft strategy, but the platform will still slot the highest scorers from the previous week into your lineup, provided they aren’t on a bye. In the event of a bye, the second-highest scorer from the previous week moves into the top slot.
  • Best ball leagues start eight players, just like you’d find in a traditional fantasy football league.

Best Ball Differences from Other Leagues:

  • The major difference is that you have no in-season strategy. You set the lineup for the first week. Then, your preferred platform selects any subsequent starting lineup based on the highest-scoring players from the previous week. This continues throughout the entire season.
  • The winner of a best ball fantasy football league is determined by total points at the end of the year. The player with the most cumulative, season-long fantasy points in the standings takes home the league fantasy football trophy.
  • Because fantasy points are the only determinant of victory, best ball fantasy football doesn’t have one-on-one matchups in any given week.
  • Roster sizes for best ball teams can vary, with many leagues having 17 to 20 roster spots compared to 16 for most redraft/traditional leagues.
  • Some best ball leagues have no end-of-season tournaments or playoffs, but others offer these options. Alternatively, some leagues like FFPC (Fantasy Football Playoff Challenge) are tournaments only.
  • Payout percentages, cash prizes, and entry fees vary depending on the platform you use.

What Players Are in a Best Ball Starting Lineup?

Inside of a football huddle looking upward

The best ball starting lineup varies a bit from redraft leagues. For best ball, you still start eight players, but your bench has more depth — up to 17 to 20 players. However, you should note that the starting lineup usually contains no IDP, D/ST, or kickers.

Generally speaking, your lineup will look like this:

  • 1 quarterback
  • 2 running backs
  • 3 wide receivers
  • 1 tight end
  • 1 flex spot

Other leagues may reduce your wide receiver slots to 2 and add another flex spot. That said, superflex is a rarity in best ball, so you won’t be able to start a 2-QB tandem like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Plan accordingly.

The Pros and Cons of Best Ball Fantasy Football

Best ball fantasy football comes with various pros and cons, but how you play and what you value in a fantasy football league can help you decide if it’s the right choice for you. If you’re on the fence, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons to see whether best ball is the right option.

Pros of Best Ball Fantasy Football

  • Set it and forget it: Because your top scorers are automatically slotted into the starting lineup, you won’t have to retool anything throughout the season. You don’t have to search for sleepers, scour the waiver wire, or assemble any trade packages.
  • Deeper draft strategies: If you’re a highly motivated drafter, you may find best ball is the better option. With up to 20 rounds of drafting, your draft research can pay dividends, especially in late rounds.
  • Volatility breeds success: One of the major hurdles in fantasy football is deciding when and where to draft a sleeper or inconsistent player. Gambling on one of these players in best ball can pay dividends. If the player outperforms and puts up monster yardage and touchdowns, they stay in the lineup. If not, they’re relegated to the bench without any love lost.
  • Play with little extra time: If you have kids, a demanding job, or a demanding spouse, best ball is the perfect fit. You don’t spend any extra time retooling your lineup, giving you more time to spend on yourself, your family, or your career.
  • Great for beginners and practicing the draft: If you’re new to fantasy football, best ball is a great option because you don’t have to deal with in-season strategy. At the least, best ball gives you time to learn the basics of fantasy football, including how to draft successfully.

Cons of Best Ball Fantasy Football

  • Set it and forget it: Interestingly, the ability to draft and then let your team run its course is both a pro and a con. For players who love in-season strategy — like waiver wires, trades, or sleeper picks — best ball can feel mundane, destroying the managerial excitement of a traditional fantasy football league.
  • Poor engagement: Because you have no in-season management, users don’t interact with the league like they would. Smack-talking and discussion may lag, so make sure you at least have a great fantasy draft party to kick off the season.
  • Removal of skill: Fantasy football purists point to best ball as a lack of skill and aplomb in the fantasy ranks. The draft may require more skill and research, but the season doesn’t have the same appeal — which some see as a league for those who don’t know what they’re doing.

Best Ball Draft Strategy

A computer desk with a football, keyboard, pencil, and notepad

Without waiver wire pickups, trades, or starting lineups, your success in best ball fantasy football hinges entirely on the draft. Any lapse in research and reason or purely going on emotion may end up biting you.

The good news is that you can potentially have a few duds in your draft and come out on top, simply because of the number of players on your roster.

Nevertheless, you should add these best ball draft strategy tips to your repertoire to give yourself a shot at best ball glory.

  • Draft deep: Best ball has no waiver wire or trades, so you need to load up on the right positions. Don’t overdraft at a single position. Ideally, you’d want something like 3 QBs, 7 WRs, 5 RBs, and 5 TEs in a 20-round draft. This ensures depth at each position while blocking other players from selecting their preferred player.
  • Stacking: Stacking is a draft strategy that involves picking several players from the same team. If you have a QB high on your board, consider grabbing one or two of their top receivers as well. Where value is, other value can follow.
  • Research the PUP list: The physically unable to perform (PUP) list can be rife with talent, so keep an eye on it. Just because a player is injured at the beginning of the year doesn’t mean they’re a bust in your best ball draft. Just look at Justin Jefferson or Alvin Kamara in 2023.
  • Watch your opponents: With fewer solid RBs and TEs in the league, many drafter turn to these positions early. However, your QB is often the highest-grossing point leader in any given week. If you see one of your top QBs on the board early, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.
  • Keep an eye on bye weeks: This goes hand-in-hand with any fantasy football draft. Make sure to look at those bye weeks so you don’t dive-bomb your team when three or four of your players are on the bye.

Where Can I Play Best Ball Fantasy Football?

Now that you’ve answered the question, “What is best ball fantasy football?” you might be champing at the bit to enter a league. The good news is that you’re spoiled for choice.

Yahoo is a popular platform for new best ball players, but other websites — namely those with paid entry fees — are also common within best ball fantasy sports. These sites have NFL best ball fantasy football, but may also offer best ball and pay-to-play for other fantasy sports:

  • FFPC
  • Underdog Fantasy
  • DFS (daily fantasy sports) sites like DraftKings and FanDuel
  • Fanball

Yahoo offers a familiar interface for many fantasy football players, but if you’re in the mood for something new, give one of the other best ball contests a try.

The Best Tool for Best Ball

Now that you’ve grasped the question, “What is best ball fantasy football?” you can use various tools to enjoy a successful campaign. One of the tools on your radar should certainly be Wise Guys Edge.

Using Vegas sportsbook odds, Wise Guys Edge compiles all of the stats and information you need to draft for your best ball league, as well as who to sit and start in traditional/redraft leagues. It’s fresh, unbiased, and gives you a fighting chance to win the championship.