Which Best Ball Payout Structure Suits You?  

Best Ball drafts have been growing in popularity year after year. It’s a way for people to save time from the daily grind of waiver pickups and setting lineups while still being able to play fantasy. It is also a way for us “draft junkies” to complete hundreds of drafts a season.  

There are different forms of Best Ball drafts such as winner-take-all, top 2-3 payouts, and the recently popular double-ups — where if you come in the top-6 of your league you win an extra buy-in for the following season. While most people tend to draft every type of Best Ball the same way, there are ways you can get an advantage depending on which prize pool league you join. I will go over three types of Best Ball leagues and explain how you can gain an advantage in every kind of payout.

Winner Take All Leagues

First, let’s go over the most popular form of Best Ball league: winner-take-all. It is very popular for MFL10 and FFPC $35 leagues. As the name suggests, you must come in first place to win. In a league like this, you will need to be more aggressive. I try to avoid these leagues because if you aren’t first, you are last! You have to try and take any advantage you can, and you want to try to dominate 2-3 positions. I will go over some strategy for each position below.

While I normally like to wait at quarterback in a winner-take-all, I don’t mind grabbing an early rushing quarterback. If I’m going two quarterbacks, I love pairing a high rushing upside quarterback in the 6-8 range like Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, or Deshaun Watson. I like to pair these guys with a safer quarterback in the later rounds like Philip Rivers or Alex Smith.

In a winner-take-all, you also need to be aggressive at running back. If you do not have a good running back core, you will likely not come out on top. You want to have 2-3 featured backs in the first 5-6 rounds. When you fill out your roster at running back target mid-range PPR backs and high upside handcuffs toward the end of the draft. I tend to have 2-3 top-tier running backs in the first five rounds.

The main reason I don’t do as many winner-take-all Best Ball drafts is because of the shift at wide receiver.  I normally find a big advantage waiting at wide receiver for the safer high-floor wide receivers in the mid-rounds. When doing these drafts, you may skip over some of the safer players like Larry Fitzgerald or Demaryius Thomas for higher upside guys like Brandin Cooks or Sammy Watkins who will likely have several very big weeks! Winning these winner-take-all drafts takes some skill, but a lot of luck is involved. If you draft seven wide receivers, I would suggest drafting 1-3 safer players for a weekly floor and 4-6 upside guys.

I love grabbing a tight end from the tier of Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and Rob Gronkowski, which will give you a huge weekly advantage at tight end. Tight end, especially this year, seems to have a huge tier break early on in the rankings. These three guys will outscore some receivers and backs that get drafted in the first two rounds, especially in tight end premium leagues. You will have to give up significant draft capital for these guys, but it will increase your chances to win significantly. If I draft one of these guys, I am fine with only drafting two tight ends, but normally draft three in MFL10 and three or more in FFPC leagues, due to the premium scoring. If you do not secure a top 3 tight end, I would suggest drafting a minimum of three in any format.

These leagues are the most popular, and if you consider yourself a top-end drafter or have a big budget and want to draft a lot of Best Ball leagues, these are likely the leagues for you.

50/50 Leagues

The newest form for Best Ball drafts is 50/50, which means if you place in the top-6 (top-5 on some sites), you win an extra buy-in the following year. This is a great way to balance out your budget. If you are new to Best Ball and plan on doing 10 leagues, my suggestion would be to have five in regular Best Ball and five 50/50. If you cash in one of the five BB leagues and three 50/50 leagues you walk away with a profit. If you follow my formula for 50/50 drafts, I believe you can cash in 80-90% of them. Think of the 50/50 leagues as cash games in DFS. You want the safe plays that will get you to the money line.

The great thing about 50/50 is at least 75% of people treat them just as they do regular Best Ball leagues. You will see people still draft very high upside/low floor players, rookies, and players without clear roles. When I approach 50/50 leagues, I go with the safest picks possible and don’t mind drafting quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers early. You want to target guys you know will have a role, have a solid track record of producing, and a clear path to playing time.

When drafting quarterback, you want two that don’t have rookies breathing down their necks and have good role players around them. I also love the quarterbacks who are consistently top-12 each year like Drew Brees, Matt Stafford, and Philip Rivers who don’t have much downside.

For running back, you want guys who have clear lead roles or know what their roles are within timeshares. Stacking your running back with their handcuff is also a huge plus in this format to guarantee you have that spot and if you have that position locked up. You can grab two guys in the same backfield who have value regardless of injuries like Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. I like this approach as well.  

When drafting wide receivers think of Larry Fitzgerald as your prime example. You want wide receivers who will get you the boring seven receptions for 80 yards with a chance of a touchdown consistently over the guy who will score you 30 fantasy points one week and disappear the next. The goal is to end up top-3. If you have a consistent group of receivers like Fitzgerald, Demaryius Thomas, Golden Tate, etc., you will have a great chance of cashing.

Tight end is difficult in 50/50, but I tend to want one stud tight end, and if I can get a consistent tight end as my second one, I will reach for one. My favorite targets are Kelce and Ertz. If you do not grab a stud tight end you are comfortable with, I would draft three tight ends in MFL and possibly more in a league like FFPC where you are allotted 28 spots and tight ends get 1.5 points per reception.

For kickers in a 50/50, I tend to reach and get three that I feel comfortable with and that I am certain they will keep their jobs barring injury. If you aren’t drafting three kickers in an FFPC Best Ball, you are doing it wrong! With team defenses, my strategy doesn’t change. I always draft two defenses late.

These leagues are great for those looking to first get into Best Ball or those looking to build their bankroll.  

Top Three Payout

My favorite type of Best Ball is the top-three payout structure, which is offered for the higher stakes FFPC leagues and now available for MFL10. The reason I love this payout structure mos,t is that you can blend both the winner-take-all and double-up strategies together! My favorite strategy is to treat the first half of the draft like a 50/50 and second half as a winner-take-all and draft higher upside guys later on in the draft. An example of this last year was a team I built very heavy on guys like Larry Fitzgerald/Mark Ingram early on who gave me a high floor all season and then taking guys like Robert Woods/Javorius Allen later on in drafts who gave me several very high weeks.

While all of these payout structures are the same, you can give yourself an advantage by drafting each one differently. While there is no one way to attack each payout structure, I have given you an outline of how I attack them and have been successful doing so.  If you have any questions or need help during your Best Ball drafts feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @FFLinx.


Fantasy Football Fanatic...In approx. 30 redrafted, 15 dynos and hundreds of best ball leagues annually. In my spare time I am a police officer in NY. Have an amazing wife and daughter who thankfully support my addiction. Find me on Twitter @FFLINX

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