NFL playoffs kick off this weekend and with that, Draftkings is hosting a few playoff best ball tournaments. I have a real soft-spot for these tournaments. Not only because it gives me players to root for with fantasy football season over, but I would argue it has the biggest edge out of any of the other DFS, sportsbetting, fantasy football offerings out there. (As long as you understand the proper strategy).
I was able to ship a $5-entry best ball playoff tourney 2 years ago for $15k and figured I would share some of my strategy in case any of you wanted to join me in the best ball streets.
What is Playoff Best Ball?
It’s similar to fantasy football, except you are only drafting players from playoff teams.
What is this “big edge” that you’re talking about?
With playoff best ball being a pretty new and niche product, many of your competitors do not understand proper draft strategy. Mistakes that I see a lot of drafters making are:
Cool, but can you just tell me what I should do to win all the money?
I’m not going to pretend to know the perfect strategy for drafting these teams. However, there are some strategies that we can put in place to undeniably increase the expected value of our lineups. These are all back-tested from previous years drafts.
The prize money for these contests is very heavily weighted towards the top finishers. The main Draftkings $20 contest pays $100,000 to 1st place (20% of prize pool) and $229,000 total to the top-10 (46% of prize pool). The championship round is during the Super Bowl. This means that our objective should be to draft a team that has a chance to score the most points during the Super Bowl.
To accomplish this, at a minimum, we need to make sure we have a full roster of players remaining come Super Bowl time (QB, RB, WR, WR, TE, FLEX). That is 6 different positions that we need to have covered from only 2 teams.
Thus, we need to focus on drafting players on the same team, instead of the best available. My favorite strategy is to stack 1 NFC team & 2 AFC teams or 2 NFC teams & 1 AFC teams. This allows us to fill out a full roster for the Super Bowl and gives us an out in case one of our two teams, on either the NFC or AFC side, gets eliminated.
This team stack strategy is going to feel uncomfortable. You will be taking guys like Eli Mitchell, when Najee Harris is still available. But, that's what makes the strategy effective is that many of our competitors will settle for the comfort/safety pick and it will hurt them in the long-run.
Managing the Byes
The Ravens & 49ers both have 1st round byes for the playoffs. To advance in this tournament, you need to come in 1st out of 6 teams in the 1st round. So, it's a disadvantage to take players with 1st round byes, because they score no points for you in the 1st round. “Okay, so should we just avoid drafting Ravens & 49ers then?” No.
While it’s an initial disadvantage to have Ravens/49ers, it turns into a big advantage if you are able to advance a team with these players to the next round. These players will naturally be lower-owned in later rounds of the tournament, because it was harder for teams to advance with them in their roster. Additionally, the Ravens & 49er are Super Bowl favorites, so you have better odds of these players advancing to the Super Bowl (where are all the money is won). Finally, these players are being drafted later than they should be, because of their 1st round byes, so you are getting nice value on them.
If you decide to stack one of these bye-week teams, it’s okay to shift your strategy a bit more than normal to grabbing a couple “best available” players that will be able to give you good scores at needed positions in the 1st round.
Again, these are some basic strategies that can provide a nice initial edge against the field. If you want to discuss more in-depth, come hang with us in DFS, Reignmakers, Betting, NFL
This post is based on the Draftkings contests. Underdog also runs playoff bestball contests with a slightly different format if you want to check those out too.