2024 Best Ball Tournament Strategy: Dissecting the Current Landscape and Unpacking the Importance of Week 17

A deep dive into the Underdog Chihuahua Tournament.

I drafted 25 teams in Underdog Fantasy’s Chihuahua Tournament, and through this experience, I’ve gained valuable insights into the 2024 Best Ball Tournament landscape.

Which best ball tournament strategy did I uncover, and more importantly, how can you use these insights to dominate your competition and secure a major prize? Discover the essential 2024 Best Ball Tournament strategies to take down a tournament like the Chihuahua.

The Chihuahua is a standard Best Ball tournament, similar to Best Ball Mania, but with fewer entrants and smaller prize pools. For a comprehensive overview, check out the Chihuahua Tournament Rules.

A Best Ball Analogy

If you are unfamiliar with tournament best ball, I’ve attempted to explain it using a modified poker analogy. Even if you are familiar, humor me because I think valuable lessons must be learned.

Let’s say I’m playing at a very obscure poker tournament.

Round 1

I start at a table with nine other individuals, and at the beginning, we do a snake draft to pick five cards in total. Once we have all drafted, we see how the cards unfold in the flop, turn, and river. However, we do this 14 times, and the two players who win the most hands move onto separate poker tables.

Good for me, I advanced from my first table with my drafted hand of the Ace of Spades, Jack of Hearts, 10 of Hearts, 4 of Diamonds, and 2 of Hearts.

Round 2

At the next table, I find myself with eight other competitors, but none of us get to redraft our hands. We compete to see which of us will advance to another round, but there is only one flop, turn, and river this time.

The cards are shown, two of which are hearts, and I’m the only one at the table holding three hearts in my hand pre-flop. Sweet, a much-needed flush gets me to the next round.

Round 3

This process is repeated again, but only against five other individuals. As this is the third round, I expect to play against some competitive hands. The guy beside me said he drafted with a bunch of idiots who “didn’t know cards,” he is bragging about how he has two Kings in his hand. This isn’t exactly what I was hoping to hear, but it’s just one hand, so anything can happen.

As it turns out, it’s my lucky day. Three 10s are drawn, and I’m the only one at the table with a 10; on to the final round.

The Final Round

In the final round, there were 216 other contestants and me. My instant reaction was that I was enamored by the size of this table.

Here’s the real kicker about this tournament. Each of the previous 16 flops, turns, and rivers in the first, second, and third rounds were identical across all tables. This means the 216 other contestants around me also had the same three hearts show up in round 2 and three 10s drawn in round 3.

Therefore, there is an extremely high likelihood that almost all of the other contestants have a 10 in their hand and a pretty high likelihood that a significant amount of them are holding hearts. Those who aren’t holding either come into this round with a pretty substantial edge over the other 216 of us.

Also, the payout difference between finishing in 1st and 201st-217th in this round is massive. It’s the difference between winning $30,000 and $100.

The final draw happens, and a contestant takes the $30,000 with a royal flush. A royal flush that I could’ve had too, if I had only drafted the Ace of Hearts with the first overall pick instead of the Ace of Spades.

Don’t waste your tears on me, as I didn’t come close to making it to week 17 in last year’s best ball tournament. But I also didn’t draft more than five tournament teams. I have been following the tournament’s best ball content in this space religiously for the past three years without investing any significant amount of money or time into drafting my teams.

Why Should I Care About This Analogy?

Luckily, The Chihuahua tournament conveniently has an almost identical format to my obscure poker tournament. However, in the first round, I draft 18 football players along with 11 other competitors whom I compete with for the two highest team scores in fantasy points from the first 14 Weeks of the NFL season, eight others for the highest score in Week 15, five others for the highest score in Week 16, and finally, 216 more for the grand prize of $30,000.

I feel as prepared as I could be this year, but I still need to nail the right picks to find a royal flush in Week 17. And first and foremost, I need to make it there.

Last year, holding a 10 was the same as rostering Amari Cooper, with his ridiculous stat line of 11 catches for 265 yards and 2 TDs in Week 16. As everyone predicted, Joe Flacco went absolutely nuclear to push Amari into uncharted territories.

Like the guy holding two kings, there were likely really strong teams that didn’t make it past Week 16 because they simply did not have Amari Cooper. Best Ball tournaments are cruel and disregard how great your team is.

The hearts and flushes emphasize the importance and upside of stacking players. By stacking, I mean both drafting a QB with his pass catchers and “game-stacking” opposing players in their Week 17 matchups.

Finally, Paying attention to the contest format you are playing in is imperative. It is way too easy to mindlessly go through these drafts simply picking players you think are ADP values or ‘league winners’ and feel pretty good about it and your chances of taking home a hefty cash prize.

Take your time and read through the contest details. Every edge matters in this game, so don’t put yourself at a disadvantage.

In The Chihuahua, Week 17 is legitimately all that matters. Of course, you need to make it there, but the minimum prize for this week, as I referenced above, is only $100. Finishing 151st to 200th will get you $200. Having one team claiming first place in Week 17 is roughly ten times more valuable than having all 25 teams make it to Week 17 and cashing the minimums.

Continue reading as I break down the current best ball landscape and my 2024 best ball strategy…

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