2024 Underdog Fantasy Best Ball Strategy: 5 Tips to Catapult Your Best Ball Earnings

As the excitement of the 2024 NFL season kicks into high gear, our beloved fantasy football community is eagerly preparing to dominate their leagues. If you have enjoyed (or been scarred by) the fantasy football experience, you know better than most, that leagues require constant roster management and lineup adjustments.

Insert Best Ball! If you are new to Best Ball, these leagues offer a refreshing alternative for those seeking a more laissez-faire or hands-off approach. Savvy participants can still capitalize on their football knowledge and strategic drafting skills in these leagues without the hassle of weekly lineup decisions.

With the potential for substantial earnings on the line, here are five tips to help you maximize your success in the 2024 NFL Best Ball season:

Best Ball Tip 1: Prepare and Study the Right Resources

You Think You Know Me? The foundation of any successful Best Ball strategy begins long before the NFL season kicks off. Utilize this offseason to immerse yourself in player analysis, studying depth charts, team rosters, and offseason acquisitions. Look for potential breakout candidates, undervalued players, and emerging talents poised for a breakout season.

The Sleeper App is a great place to start, as every player active player is encompassed in a searchable database, with information such as their team, position, age, as well as historical fantasy points and yearly finishes!

RotoViz offers incredible best ball research tools, including a “Best Ball Win Rate” that allows you to study the advance rates of certain roster builds, as well as how influential specific players were too. Hayden Winks and the Underdog Team post phenomenal research findings on the Underdog Network blog.

Of course, RSJ’s own Wolf offers a FREE Top-200 Best Ball Big Board and 2024 Best Ball Rankings and Tiers, which are constantly updated, to help you navigate the field, too.

Use these tools hidden gems and sleepers early on, you can gain a significant edge over your competition when it comes time to draft your Best Ball roster. I will explore the prospects of breakouts, sleepers, and overall upside shortly.

Best Ball Tip 2: Veterans Can Breakout, too!

Fear Failure to Take Risks: In Best Ball leagues, conservative drafting strategies often lead to mediocrity. Sure, take a Christian McCaffrey, Breece Hall, Amon-Ra St. Brown, or Tyreek Hill in Round 1. That is not the point here. To truly excel and catapult your earnings, embrace risk and prioritize upside when selecting your players down the board! Don’t shy away from high-ceiling players with boom-or-bust potential, as their explosive performances can single-handedly carry your team to victory.

Something I MUST add: do NOT stereotype youthful players as the only ones who can breakout; vets can regress positively, too! Last year, one of my highest-density investments was WR Keenan Allen. In 2022, Justin Herbert lost Rashawn Slater, Corey Linsley, Mike Williams, and Allen himself, all at varying points in the season. Herbert himself, suffered broken rib cartilage in WEEK 2 of the same season! With an average draft position (ADP) of WR19 in 2023, I got Allen wherever possible.

Though injuries are always a risk with Allen, I knew the probability of this Chargers offense losing all its weapons again was extremely low. What better advantage to take than nabbing an elite receiver tied to an elite arm at a discounted price!? This paid off tremendously, as Allen had a finish of WR8 in PPR (in only 13 of 17 games played!).

As such, while everyone is overpaying for the “next big thing,” try to identify veterans whose situations have improved, but they may be going far too cheap. Examples of veterans with “unsexy upside” for 2024 include Travis Kelce, Derrick Henry, Isiah Pacheco, and Amari Cooper in the Round 4-5 Range, along with later stabs like Najee Harris, Zack Moss, Ezekiel Elliott, and Brandin Cooks.

This doesn’t mean ignore the “unknown upside” of youth, either. Simply nalance your roster with a mix of reliable veterans and dynamic young talents, and always be willing to take calculated risks in pursuit of greatness. To separate from a pack of wily fantasy vets, I strongly suggest starting with scouting second-year quarterbacks, third-year receivers and TEs, and any RBs on rookie contracts, specifically with an ADP between rounds 7-10.

Best Ball Tip 3: Tier and Prioritize Sleepers

Sleep Tight… or Let the Bed Bugs Bite: Sleepers, sleepers, sleepers! While early-round picks receive the most attention, championships are often won with savvy selections in the later rounds of the draft. In 2023, our prime examples were Puka Nacua (WR4 finish) and Raheem Mostert (RB5 finish). Rostering either player gave you over 30% chance of advancing into the playoffs in Best Ball Mania 4, absurd! My historical favorites have been 2019 Lamar Jackson and 2018 Phillip Lindsay.

In Best Ball leagues, every pick matters, and finding value in the later rounds can make or break your season. Identify players who are being overlooked or undervalued by the consensus rankings and target them aggressively in the latter stages of the draft. One of my favorite sleeper strategies is to place all of them into tiers and prioritize selecting at least 3-4 total from your top two tiers.

To complete this tier list, we want to look at anyone going in rounds 10 or later of drafts, and follow a three-step process: scan, engage and fire (SEF). We want to go to any app (Underdog for Best Ball) and scan players in rounds 10+. This is a scan, remember, so there are no right or wrong answers. Jot/Type 10-15 players that catch your eye. We then want to engage by ranking these guys into tiers according to your eye/current stance on these players. Prioritize guys who, in their best case, could absolutely explode. This often involves being within explosive offenses and/or adding improved players around you.

These hidden gems can provide significant returns on investment and serve as difference-makers when the stakes are highest. Early on, I like Chargers RB Kimani Vidal (rookie), Packers RB MarShawn Lloyd (rookie), Titans QB Will Levis, and more to come!

These later-round picks often turn out to be dropped or traded early on in this season, so we want to take advantage of the best opportunities out there! A bonus sleeper tip is to look at head coaching changes around the league, and how these coaches operate compared to past schemes (Jim Harbaugh is going to RUN RUN RUN the rock!).

Best Ball Tip 4: Watch and Analyze the Preseason

‘Tis the Preseason: As the NFL preseason unfolds, pay close attention to player performances and depth chart developments, and the dreadful reality of injuries. Last year, many were in on a 3rd-year breakout for Kyle Pitts. While some of the fire was there, Pitts was ultimately still coming off of MCL surgery and looked comparatively sluggish moving on the field. Preseason games can offer valuable insights into player roles, usage, and potential breakout candidates. Keep a watchful eye on rookies and unheralded players who shine in preseason action, as they could emerge as valuable contributors once the regular season begins. On the flip side, do not get too caught up in training camp clips of players you may or may not be interested in. As noted with Pitts, it was notably apparent that he was not fully healthy; however, lots of drafters vest high amounts of excitement and energy into one-play training camp clips of breakout players they are excited about.

Adjust your draft strategy accordingly based on preseason observations, remaining flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. Ultimately, though, we need to stay balanced and attack with our brains, and not as much with our hearts.

Resources such as Fantasy Points Data and PFF have snap counts for the preseason, and you will want to see if you can couple increased snap trends with a player’s capital invested by the team. For example, if the Carolina Panthers give increased reps/snaps to rookie RB Jonathon Brooks, who they traded up into the second round to select, you may be able to increase your confidence level in his return on investment by at least 10%.

In short, while we don’t want to overreact to preseason play, we can learn a ton to give us a leg up still. Monitoring new coaching schemes, free agent and rookie fits within new offenses, snaps and roles within the first-team offense (especially in Week 2 Dress Rehearsals!), and the health of those coming off injuries are four crucial areas to keep your eyes on.

Best Ball Tip 5: Actively Monitor and Learn In-Season

Marry the Process: Don’t call off the engagement once the ball kicks off! While Best Ball leagues require no day-to-day management like traditional fantasy formats, staying engaged throughout the NFL season is crucial for sustained success and enjoyment. By remaining proactive and attentive, you can keep tabs on your teams, analyze in-season trends, and ultimately document helpful notes for your future Best Ball years.

As you embark on your journey to dominate the 2024 NFL Best Ball season, remember that success requires dedication, strategy, and a willingness to take calculated risks. Following these five tips and approaching each draft with enthusiasm and insight, you can position yourself for a lucrative season filled with thrilling victories and substantial earnings. With the NFL season slowly coming into vision, now is the time to sharpen your skills, assemble your dream team, and embark on a quest for fantasy football glory.

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