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7 Best Ball Hacks From The Roster Construction Explorer That Will Boost Your Win Rate

Over the course of 11 lessons in the Best Ball Workshop, we examined the key tactics at every position and used the Fanball Roster Construction Explorer to locate exploitable opportunities in all areas of your draft. Today, we’ll look at seven of the most important takeaways from the workshops.

For readers who have scoured the lessons in detail, this blueprint will help you synthesize those lessons into a coherent plan of attack. For new subscribers, these hacks offer a compelling introduction to the RCE and will hopefully whet your appetite for the more in-depth research available in the workshops.

Hack No. 1 – Attack TE Early and Just Select 2

Over the entire 228,000 team sample, a 3-TE construction has been slightly superior to a 2-TE construction, but you return the best results by selecting at least one TE early and only selecting two total.1

TE1 Selected in the First 4 Rounds (2015-2018)

Early TE RCE

If you select a second TE within the first five rounds, your win rate jumps to 10%. This aggressive approach to TE selection not only juices your win rate, it saves an all-important roster spot.

Read More: Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz Want You to Stop Choking the TE Position

Hack No. 2 – QB Is More Important Than Advertised: Why You Shouldn’t Wait on Your QB2

Player selection can be hard, but using the right number of selections at the ‘onesie’ positions and deploying those picks within the league-winning windows is easy. A lot of best ball owners don’t realize how crucial their QB2 position can be in a format with optimized starting lineups.

QB2 Selected in Rounds 8-12

QB2 Sweet Spot RCE

If you select your QB2 after Round 12, the win rate falls to 7.4%. That’s a lot of value to give away. Staying with a 2-QB approach is usually the way to attack the QB position, but I also provide a subtle 3-QB hack in the QB lesson.

Read More: One Key QB Mistake Dooms Owners, Plus an Unusual Tactic Pays Big Dividends

Hack No. 3 – Don’t Follow the Herd Off the Cliff When Selecting Defenses

In many cases, fantasy owners tend to chase the previous year’s results, often to their detriment. Of course, sometimes they fail to chase results when it would be to their benefit. In 2017, the 3-DEF construction had a 0.9% edge in win rate and a 5-point edge in average score. Then 2018 happened.

2018 Win Rates

3-DEF was much more successful again, and yet 2-DEF outnumbered it by more than 5-to-1. Grabbing a third defense provides an easy advantage that doesn’t require any player-picking prowess.

If you stayed with the recommended 2-TE/2-QB approach, then you have room to select a third defense and still stay with the preferred 7-onesie approach. I go over the win rates for all of the potential QB/TE/DEF constructions in the lesson on defense.

Read More: Why You Should Avoid the DEF Crowd; Plus, The Best Onesie Constructions

Hack No. 4 – Avoid the RB-Heavy Start that Will Kill Your Chances

In best ball it’s tempting to load up on those guaranteed RB touches early and then use volume to attack the WR position, hoping for lineup optimization to address receiver scoring. Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked as expected.

4 RBs in First 5 Rounds (2015-2018)

RB-heavy was a virtual death sentence in 2015 and 2018, while providing no advantage in 2017. It’s only been successful once in the last four seasons. That was 2016, a year where ADP was much more favorable for RB drafters and early-round injury rates were much lower than the historical average.

There is an early round, however, where you do want to select an RB, as we see in our next hack.

Read More: Zero RB Versus RB-Heavy – Why the Conventional Wisdom Will Kill You

Hack No. 5 – Take the Safe Route and Start With an RB

If you’re going to select an RB early, you want that pick to come in the first two rounds. While a WR/RB start has returned strong win rates over the years, the best and safest start is RB/WR.

RB1 Selected in Round 1 with WR in Round 2 (2015-2018)

Finishing your draft with the recommended 7- or 8-WR construction has returned a 9.6% win rate over the last four years. Those numbers jump over 10% if you look at the last three seasons and ignore the RB Apocalypse of 2015.

Hack No. 6 – Do Not Chase RBs in Rounds 3 and 4

If building the foundation of your roster with one of the uber-backs is such a good idea, why do RB-heavy teams return such poor win rates? The answer comes in Rounds 3 and 4. Many drafters see the gaudy win rates for some of the top RBs and assume they can increase their chances by loading up on possible RB league winners. Unfortunately, the opposite has been true.

The really bad news? It’s getting worse. These are the win rates during 2017 and 2018, two years that were relatively favorable for RBs.

2017-2018
Round 3 Round 4
RB1 5.5 5.8
RB2 6.6 7.1
RB3 5.4 6.2
RB4 3.6

RB has always been overdrafted in relation to scoring and importance,2 but out-of-control ADPs are making it even more dangerous to select RBs early. Stick to the superstars and then balance your roster with middle- and late-round options.

Read More: The RB Golden Age Has Brought Terrible Results for Enthusiasts But Elite Win Rates for Skeptics

Hack No. 7 – Select At Least 4 WRs Early and Roll to Victory

If loading up at RB has been an unsuccessful strategy, the opposite is true at WR where an early emphasis allows you build firepower into the position that requires the most starters.

WR4 Selected By Round 6 (2017-2018)

We look at the position from a variety of angles in the WR Lesson and break down the superb results you achieve by combining WR-heavy with a 1-Elite-RB start.

Read More: WRs Dominate the High-Leverage Rounds … But With a Twist

The Roster Construction Explorer is your best ball Rosetta Stone, helping you unlock the mysteries of the format. The future will not perfectly resemble the past, and the RCE illustrates this in graphic detail. Take it for a spin yourself. Find out which trends have been consistent year-to-year and which bounce around randomly. You’ll find that some of the ironclad “rules” for best ball have not led to winning seasons. You’ll also discover that creating a money-making draft methodology is simpler than you’ve been led to believe.

The Roster Construction Explorer is the brainchild of best ball guru Mike Beers. And he has you covered in other formats. I’ve discussed the Fanball RCE today, but we also provide an FFPC Roster Construction Explorer and one for DRAFT as well. FFPC experts Monty Phan and John Lapinski write about best ball from the perspective of defending titlists, while Michael Dubner has you covered on DRAFT.

Image Credit: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Christian McCaffrey.

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  1. This is true even though win rates when selecting a TE in the first two rounds have been poor.  (back)
  2. The format only requires two starters compared to three at WR.  (back)
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