Over the past five fantasy football seasons, Best Ball drafts have moved to the forefront in July and August at DFS sites. Most formats have short rosters (18 to 20 players) with no kickers or defenses. In 2022, Underdog Fantasy pushed the envelope by offering the overall winner an impressive $2 million prize. The trade-off is that a drafter needs to beat over 450,000 other entries. For a bonus, the leader in points scored after 14 weeks will take home an additional million dollars.
At first glance, climbing this mountain appears to be a tall task. Winning any 12-team fantasy league is challenging, but the reward is life-changing. The max entry for this event is 150 teams, meaning no one can draft more than 0.00033245 percent of the expected rosters.
Step one: Win your league or come in second in points after the first 14 weeks to advance to round 2. By doing so, each winning roster will secure a minimum of $35 with the right to play in Week 15.
Step two: Each surviving team gets placed in a new 10-team league. The winners in Week 15 up their minimum winnings to $75 while living another day in the event. The best part of this structure is that league setups will have a wide variety of teams rather than needing to be in the top 10 percent to move on if the best overall teams secured Week 16 appearances.
Step three: In this round, the league size remains at 10 teams. Each league winner (470) moves on to the finals in Week 17 while locking in at least $1,000.
Note: If this event doesn’t sell out, wild card teams will advance in the early round to round off each potential league.
Finals: Total points determine the winner in Week 17. Underdog has the right to adjust overall prizes if their contest doesn't fill. With a little more than a month before the NFL season's start, just over 200,000 teams have been drafted. Here’s a look at the top-end prize payoffs:
Here are some quick insights:
- Anyone drafting early gains an edge in rostering some players at a discounted price. At the same time, they have a better chance of having injured players on their roster when the lights go on in September.
- Late drafters will compete for players in a tightening pool. Drafting vs. experience people will be more challenging, but their ADPs tend to run more true. Avoiding the pitfalls of injured players is a significant plus. The biggest downside over the final week of drafts is a shorter clock for anyone signing up for eight-hour drafts.
- The straightforward balance approach is to draft three quarterbacks, six running backs, six wide receivers, and three tight ends. Many drafters will try to roster a deep wide receiving corp to capitalize on their ability to produce some impact games. A team with an elite quarterback may sacrifice their quarterback depth to increase their chances at running back and wide receiver.
- The challenge for a fantasy drafter to decide is how they want to fill their flex spot in this starting lineup. My first thought at Underdog is to be running back strong early in drafts. I want three lead runners to fill by two RB slots with the overflow building my floor at the flex position. If I have six viable running backs, I should be in good shape at three lineup slots if my team stays healthy. I then would like to draft six wide receivers to cover their lineup requirements.
- On the other hand, if I decide to focus on wide receivers early, I may want to maximize four slots in my lineup with them. With their theory, five running backs and seven wideouts may make the most sense.
- Drafting two solid tight ends help improve the overflow options at the flex position, but it comes with a price in a draft. For someone landing Travis Kelce and fading their tight end depth, another team may matchup them in tight end productive if they find the correct structure of their value options.
- Handcuffs for quarterbacks and receivers are more important in the single-round elimination weeks, but they aren’t as essential to reaching the postseason. Also, creating these hookups tends to lead to moving players around in drafts and potentially hurting your overall team development.
- Over a one-week schedule, a back-end quarterback can easily match the best players in the game. Remember, there are 32 outs at quarterback, and they have the highest floor in fantasy points scored each week.
- If you are getting ready to play in your $250 home league with a ceiling of $1,500, you may want to detour your investment into Underdog, where dreams come true. The in-season management, waiver wire, and overall trade corruption should be three possible strikes while having a much bigger sweat if you happen to advance to the finals.