By Willis Cannon
Best Ball is a different animal than other Fantasy Football leagues. If you haven’t played Best Ball before, I will try to break it down as succinctly as possible.
You draft a team of usually around 20 players. Once drafted, you’re done. There are no waivers and no deciding who to start or flex. The players who score the most points at their respective positions will be automatically placed into the starting lineup. Typical rosters consist of 2-3 QBs, 2-3 TEs, and 2 DSTs. The rest is all RB/WR, with WR usually more due to having to start three or four depending on your flex.
I love being able to extend my fantasy football season as long as I can and Best Ball allows me to do that. I start drafting as soon as the actual draft is over and I’ll do drafts all the way until preseason is over. Winning one or two leagues gives you enough cash to carry over to the following season for entry fees.
If you have played before, I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, “Boom or bust players are the most important players in Best Ball.” It’s a great blanket statement because you absolutely do need some of those guys to help you win weeks. Still, I have a new favorite target: Handcuffs with standalone value. Catchy, right? What kind of player am I talking about?
The best example is Kareem Hunt. He was suspended for the first nine weeks of the season last year, but after returning, he was the RB19 from weeks 10 through 17. Hunt was clearly second-fiddle to Nick Chubb. I love going out of my way to draft him if I have Chubb on my roster.
So why should we be targeting him in Best Ball? Obviously, if Chubb gets hurt, Hunt would project as a top ten, possibly top five RB for the rest of the season. And there will definitely be weeks where both guys are inserted as starters because of how volatile the position is and how good of an offense the Browns (should) have.
Another excellent example of this is Latavius Murray. He won me some leagues last year because I cuffed Alvin Kamara with him, and he went off when Kamara got hurt. The Saints always have a prolific rush offense, and Murray has standalone value even when Kamara is healthy.
Alexander Mattison would fit here if not for the potential Dalvin Cook holdout, which is driving up his price. If you’re still taking Cook you should look at Mattison but be prepared to pay up.
This brings me to the next point: Handcuffing isn’t only for running backs. For wide receivers this may be considered “stacking” instead of handcuffing, but the thought process remains the same. Some of my favorite values lie in midrange wide receiver tiers.
If you draft a guy like Kenny Golladay, you should look at Marvin Jones as a late stack. Stacking Keenan Allen and Mike Williams is appealing based on draft price. My current favorite is picking up both Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks because they’re both really cheap and they both fit the criteria of this article as well as the boom/bust criteria.
Now keep in mind, almost every player/cuff I have posted are on teams where the offense is projected to be above average. That is on purpose. Getting multiple pieces of a top offense is an excellent way to have a high floor and a nearly-limitless ceiling on your weekly production.
My last idea is one I have not tried, but have seen a few times since drafts opened back up. Draft Zach Ertz early and follow up with Dallas Goedert a few rounds later. If your draft plan is knowing that you want three tight ends, then this is a possible way of getting a stud week in and week out. Simply take another in the last round just for the Eagles bye. The only thing that keeps me from doing this is spending two of my first 10-11 picks on a position where you only need one guy each week. The positives of this are; either guy could fill in as the tight end, and the other has enough upside to potentially making it in at flex each week. Ertz was TE5 and Goedert was TE10 last year and I expect the Eagles to lead the league in 12 personnel for a second year in a row.
This may seem obvious, but I have seen it happen: Don’t stack or handcuff quarterbacks. Same as with the tight end argument earlier, you only need one to perform each week. The position is too deep. Having two quarterbacks on the same team forces you to draft a third meaning you might be passing up on a third tight end or some other value pieces.
What we may lose in upside, we gain in stability. It’s extremely easy to lose a league when one or two players get hurt early. This strategy protects you while also having guys that can still give you weekly production.
Willis Cannon – Redraft/BestBall
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