Most of you reading this have seen the term “MFL10” thrown around on Twitter, in fantasy football columns, and even in our player news blurbs here at Rotoworld over the last couple years. MyFantasyLeague.com hosted these best ball games for years as they gained in popularity, and the site had a bit of a stranglehold on the market. MFL has since been scooped up by Fanball. And Fanball tentatively hopes to have their MFL10s up and running sometime this month. Over at DRAFT.com, best ball leagues opened right after the 2017 regular season. Many in the fantasy community have already been diving into the action with eyes on 2018, and rookies were actually just added to the player pool today — Thursday, March 1.
Some of you may still be wondering, “What exactly is best ball?” It’s a rather simple concept, actually. No waiver claims. No adds or drops. No trades. No lineup setting. No last-minute scrambles before 1 PM ET lineup lock on Sundays. Just draft, and then it’s set it and forget it time as we watch the season play out. The cherry on top is that these leagues are drafting literally all offseason long, from the moment Week 16 ends all the way up to Week 1 the following year. All of that is the allure of best ball draft-only fantasy football leagues. Best ball has been going on for years but has enjoyed a continued rise in popularity in recent seasons. And our goal here at Rotoworld this season is to discuss it even more than we have the past couple years.
HOW IT WORKS
The scoring for best ball leagues is exactly the same as any other “normal” fantasy league. There are standard, half-PPR, and PPR options out there. At DRAFT.com, it’s the half-PPR format. Teams score points Weeks 1 through 16. Since there is no adding/dropping and trading, rosters are larger with 18 spots. You should go into your snake drafts aiming to select 2-3 QBs, a handful of RBs, 6-8 WRs, and a couple tight ends. The reason goes back to not being able to add, drop, and trade after the draft. We need options for when players have down games, bye weeks or get injured throughout the season. The “starting lineup” consists of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, and 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE). Eight players will “score” each week, and each week the system will automatically create your best starting lineup based on which one of your quarterbacks scored the most, which two running backs did the best, top three receivers, top tight end, and, after that, the best non-QB scorer for your FLEX.
When tackling a best ball draft, the start is essentially the same as any other fantasy draft. We want to hammer the RB and WR positions early. It’s generally best to wait until middle rounds to attack QB and TE unless you’re getting the Rob Gronkowski’s and Travis Kelce’s of the world. Like everything else, there are a number of different strategy pathways to travel, and we’ll have plenty of future articles that will take longer looks at those differing strategies.
The biggest difference in the best ball format is that it can change the value of some players based on how they score fantasy points. In season-long leagues where we’re constantly tinkering with rosters, it can be incredibly difficult to predict when and for how long the “boom or bust” players are worth holding onto and starting in lineups. Those types of players typically gain value in best ball leagues because it takes the guesswork out of the equation. If they “boom” a certain week, you’re absolutely benefitting, and if they “bust”, then oh well, you knew down weeks were part of the deal. This gives a boost to the home run-hitting, deep-ball wideouts with a wide range of week-to-week outcomes and high volatility. The same can be said for TD-dependent tight ends and goal-line RBs. Those players would be classified as late-round fliers in some instances in “normal” fantasy leagues, but they become more essential in best ball leagues because of their week-winning upside. Players that come to mind here are guys like Ted Ginn, J.J. Nelson, and Tyler Eifert off the top of the head. Even guys like Tyreek Hill and Julio Jones had a number of peaks and valleys in 2017 despite finishing as fantasy’s WR3 and WR5, respectively. Hill falls more into that boom-bust line of thinking.
Jonathan Stewart’s Week 14 performance against the Vikings last season really jumps off the page as one we’d love to have in best ball. He rushed 16 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns that day. Two were goal-line plunges. And let’s face it, nobody, literally NOBODY, was using Stewart in fantasy that week against the Vikings’ elite run defense when Stewart had failed to crack 50 yards rushing in seven of his previous eight games. Stewart didn’t score again after Week 14 and averaged a lousy 2.55 YPC in Weeks 15 and 16. I vividly remember Stewart being a hot start-sit question those weeks because of his monster Week 14. Best ball takes that straight-up guessing out of it all.
Once you’re ready to give best ball a try, head over to DRAFT.com where they have options for “fast” or “slow” drafts. In “fast” drafts, there is a 30-second clock to make each pick. In 12-team leagues, it takes about one hour to complete a full, 18-round draft. If choosing the “slow” draft option, owners get an eight-hour clock per pick. Drafts can span many days, but it allows more time to generate a plan on the fly and allows you to go about your normal day without having to be locked to a screen for an hour. You can also do multiple drafts at once with the “slow” format.
As mentioned earlier, we will have plenty more in-depth pieces regarding best ball leagues coming down the chute in the coming weeks and months. This was more of an elementary, Best Ball 101 introduction of sorts for those not familiar with the game. Boiled down, it’s a relatively simple thing to understand.