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Introduction to Best Ball Exposure

TodFromPa

The Best Ball format has become more and more popular each year and with good reason. Drafting is fun and Best Ball allows you to set a budget and then draft as many teams as your heart desires. In the past, I’ve done over 300 drafts. This year I will do fewer drafts but will spend more time on Best Ball teams than I ever have.

Once you get over 20 teams, it becomes very important to have a strategy for how much exposure you want to have on players. Understand that, just like in DFS, exposure is very important in Best Ball. In this article, I want to touch briefly on some of the key thoughts I believe everyone should take into consideration when building a Best Ball portfolio.

We all know players get injured more in the NFL than in any other sport. Spreading your exposure becomes crucial and the earlier a player’s ADP, the more important it becomes to balance your exposure. One of the key factors I consider as I build more rosters is the win rates of players. I could do a whole article on this alone but win rate is what percentage of winning teams a player is on. 8.5% is the break-even point for win percentage (12 teams in a league divided by 100%). The lowest win percentages each year come from the first round and it is often because your first or second-round pick gets hurt with win percentages as low as 2%!

When we project total points for a season in the first round, one player might be rated 35 fantasy points ahead of another. It seems like a lot but it is only 2 points a week. Compare that to what happens if the player you like more gets injured and, in my view, it is a no-brainer to set a maximum amount of exposure you want on any first or second-round players. For me, it is approximately 12% for first-round picks and 15% for second-round picks. My willingness to raise exposure rises slightly each round after that. Keep this in mind when you are deciding how much of one player you want and how much you are willing to risk by not having any shares of other early-round players. You might like one player more than another but that player has about the same chance of a season-ending injury as the other. If you have 30% of one player and zero of another and your guy gets hurt in a preseason game, you are in for a long season.

The last two years are a perfect example of how fading early players can hurt you like the trap I fell into with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Each of the last two years, these players had first-round ADPs. I felt and still think that it was unlikely both players would pay off such a high cost with a declining Drew Brees at QB. So, each of the last two years, I was way underweight on both players. However, in each of the last two seasons, one of the two got injured allowing the other player’s usage to skyrocket. I missed out on both of these players which greatly hurt my season as our first and second-round picks are often the players with the HIGHEST win rates. Even when you have a good reason to fade a player, keep injuries in mind when building your portfolio.

I hear some people around the industry say they are willing to have ownership as high as 50-60% on late-round players. I still think 30-35% is more than enough on any player. Players are being drafted that late for a reason and, even if they overcome the obstacles that have them being drafted so late, are still liable to injury. I try to keep my late-round picks to no more than 35%. Many years I don’t have any players over 25% and have won plenty of money doing it that way!

Most websites that give player rankings do them in tiers and I am a big proponent of not dropping a tier to chase a strategy. The reason for this is often you will give up as much if not more than what you gain by dropping a tier. Having tiers and being disciplined even in tournaments becomes very important. Late in a draft, I may chase one of these strategies a half round to a full round but, in standard Best Ball, it is just not something that I do. A way that I can keep my player exposure low is by using the below rules to mix players within a tier.

Tie-breakers

I use “tie-breakers” to help me to decide between players in a tier. Some of them are:

  • Bye weeks- Having too many players with the same bye week can cause you to have a dip in scoring during that week. Unlike season-long leagues, there are no waivers in Best Ball so it is a great way to mix up your exposure.
  • Stacking players from the same team or with their QB– This is a tried and true method in DFS. When teams have a good week, it supercharges your whole lineup. This is much more important in tournaments when you are trying to supercharge your lineups to get a one percent overall result. Don’t overdo it in regular Best Ball but it is a great tie breaker when deciding who to take.
  • Different draft positions- In the first few rounds of drafts, I am typically not using much of a strategy rather just putting the best players on my team. Your early exposure is going to be set primarily by which draft spots you have. Don’t get too cute and allow early ADP to mix up your exposures. I typically won’t jump more than 2-3 spots in either the first or second round to take a player and many drafts I won’t jump at all. 
  • Draft Strategies- Early in drafts, I let ADP come to me and try and build my best team. However, I am aware of strategies out there like Zero RB, Modified Zero RB (taking one stud RB early), and Robust RB. As I draft, I can use my knowledge of how to play these strategies into making unique teams and can use them to help me decide between players I have rated in the same tier.
  • Risk- I like to build a certain amount of risk into each team. Another term for this is floor and ceiling. Early in drafts, I am always looking for players that I think have a sound floor and a good ceiling. If not, they probably are not in the tier I am choosing from. As the draft progresses, I will start mixing in players I think have high ceilings with low floors meaning their role or their job isn’t safe but the talent is there should they get a shot. I will also balance riskier players with safer floor players at times. Keep this in mind when drafting and crafting your teams.
  • Exposure itself- If I have a few players close together and I don’t have any other tie-breaker, I will use my total ownership of the players to help me decide who to pick. I always keep my exposure handy and there are a few websites out there that can help you track your exposure. I use them to ensure I can use my exposure as a final tie-breaker in deciding who to draft

As you can see, there is a lot of meat on the bone here. I could have easily written twice as many words to explain my thoughts here. These thoughts should help you craft a Best Ball portfolio that can stand up to injuries while still giving you the best chance to win.

By The Way:

From JM ::

Re: The Underdog promo below :: Just a heads up that I’ll be doing Weekly drafts on Underdog with the OWS Fam all season. (Weekly drafts are super quick, & a ton of fun.) Very much worth checking out if you’re not yet on there!


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