Michael Dubner continues the DRAFT Best Ball article series where we will now focus our attention on the DRAFT Best Ball Championship and improve our chances of taking down the $1 Million first-place prize.
Since the NFL DRAFT Best Ball Championship opened this offseason, over 13,000 teams have already entered the contest, with some owners perhaps drafting over $1,000 worth of entries. This leads us to the question: What is the optimal draft month to enter the NFL DRAFT Best Ball Championship?
Why Does Draft Month Even Matter?
In traditional 12-man best ball leagues, you are only competing against the other 11 owners in the league. Since owners have the ability to acquire the same information as their competitors, there should theoretically be no information advantage between drafters.1 Besides staying up-to-date on news, the edges gained in traditional Best Ball leagues is mainly via Roster Construction and drafting the “right” players.
However, in the DRAFT Best Ball Championship we are competing against over 150,000 other entrants with teams being drafted all throughout the offseason. In addition to roster construction and player evaluation, we have a third category that affects win rates – draft month.
While the regular season in Weeks 1-12 are similar to traditional best ball leagues since you are only competing with the other 11 owners you draft against, the playoffs in Weeks 13-16 consists of teams that drafted at different points throughout the offseason. Information available to drafters will greatly differ between those drafting in May compared to those drafting in August.
So, what is the best month to draft your DRAFT Best Ball Championship teams?
The RotoViz DRAFT Roster Construction Explorer provides invaluable information regarding win rates for Best Ball roster constructions. But unique to the MFL10 Roster Construction Explorer, we can split out the win rates and average scores by Draft Month.
While MFL10 is full-PPR and starting rosters require a D/ST, there is still significant enough overlap between MFL10 and DRAFT that we can extract the general principles from MFL10 and apply them to DRAFT.
Scoring Output By Draft Month
The following are the average MFL10 Best Ball scores broken out by Draft Month and Year
We want to focus on the differences between months within a given year.
Over the last four seasons, teams score more points (on average) in the months closer to Week 1 of the NFL Season than those drafted earlier in the offseason. No prior month outscored a later month – i.e. April always outscored March, but April never outscored May/June/July/Aug.
Not only does scoring progressively increase from March to August, but we see the biggest change is the transition from July to August, with a 23.8 point difference in favor of August.
Change in MFL10 Average Score
Simply waiting to draft until August (2,209 average score) has yielded a plus-52 score differential compared to March (2,157).
Save Your Best Ball Championship Bankroll for August
There are compelling arguments that favor drafting earlier in the offseason, with the most enticing being the glaring ADP inefficiencies earlier in the offseason.
However, RotoViz’s Roster Construction Explorer exposes the upside to delayed gratification when you wait to draft until closer to the start of the NFL Season. This simple hack — waiting to draft until August — can dramatically increase your average score, and thus boost your odds of winning the NFL DRAFT Best Ball Championship’s $1 Million first-place prize.
If you’re closely following news, you can certainly have an information advantage early in the offseason to exploit the inefficient ADP. I find that in early drafts you are more likely to have opponents who take egregious risks, such as not adequately accounting for expected suspensions or understanding depth chart battles.
However, for every ADP value you find early in the offseason, you also run the risk of drafting landmines like 2018 Le’Veon Bell, Jerick McKinnon, or Hunter Henry, which instantly sinks your win probability before the season even starts. While we can’t avoid in-season injuries, offseason injuries are so detrimental to Best Ball Championship teams since they immediately mean you will be drawing zero’s from those players. The thousands of owners (and thus your competitors) who simply decide to draft closer to Week 1 are able to avoid these would-be landmines.
Additionally, the later rounds of drafts can be littered with non-contributors who waste space on best ball starting rosters. At least in August we can make better-informed decisions with our late round picks to increase the percentage of start-able weeks from these dart throws.
While I can continue to write narratives that may explain these findings, the fact remains that we observe higher average scores among teams who draft in August than those earlier in the NFL offseason.
What’s Missing From This Story?
While we are able to observe the average best ball score increases from March to August, we are not able to see how the top percentile scores from each month differ. Since we are interested in first place, we are mostly concerned with the outlier scores that can win the championship. Nevertheless, the average score is still a good proxy for how we can expect the top scores to change.
Additionally, while the average score increase will help us earn the highest scores during the regular season of the DRAFT Best Ball Championship, it’s possible that it’s easier to win your 12-person league earlier in the offseason than in August, because your opponents’ scores are low. Even though your team scores less points overall, you might have more of an edge earlier in the offseason, which will allow you to at least get more teams through the regular season into the postseason. There’s something to be said for just trying to get as many teams into the playoffs and hoping your teams can win from there.
Stay tuned for the next DRAFT Best Ball Championship article where we will look at whether it makes sense to enter teams now in order to take advantage of your opponents’ lower scores.
Image Credit: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Saquon Barkley.
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- Of course, there will always be an information gap between the ill-informed and the well-informed drafters. (back)