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You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: Why Now Is The Perfect Time to Deploy This Dominant Best Ball Strategy

A couple of days ago we used the Roster Construction Explorer to find the best time to use Zero RB in best ball drafts. As our level of information changes, it can have an impact on some of our draft strategies. Zero RB is one such approach. It’s been dominant during one half of draft season and flutters out of bounds like a Brady Quinn Hail Mary during the other. By contrast, some of the safer draft strategies are more consistent over the entire year but also offer less upside throughout.

In Best Ball Workshop No. 11, we recommended one simple-yet-flashy approach that has dominated fantasy football in recent years. And that approach is at its absolute best in July with an 11% win rate.

You Can Have It Both Ways – The Cake and Eat It Too Approach

We learned in Lesson 7 that Zero RB has utterly destroyed RB-heavy approaches since 2015, and that, far from relying on the RB Apocalypse to make that case, this trend has actually accelerated over the last two seasons.

We also learned in Lesson 13 that Zero RB has been better than a balanced approach during the heart of draft season.1

But what if we try to have our cake and eat it too? Why not draft one of the uber-backs in the first round and then hammer WR and TE in Rounds 2 through 5?

RB1 in Round 1, RB2 After Round 5 – July (2015-2018)

If we follow the intelligence gleaned from the TE Lesson, Travis Kelce Wants You to Stop Hemorrhaging Points at TE, and use one of those picks at TE, then our win rates jump again.

1 Elite RB With an Early TE – July (2015-2018)

Selecting a stud TE early has a number of secondary benefits, including roster management. It’s much easier to use the preferred DEF tactics2 and maximize the ‘onesie’ positions with an early TE pick.

1 Elite RB Dominates – Other Fun Facts

  • While selecting your RB1 in the first round and waiting until Round 6 or later for your RB2 has been extremely successful in July, it’s also consistently successful throughout the year. July is one of two months with a win rate of 11% or better,3 but it returns an above average win rate in every month.
  • Despite its success, the strategy isn’t that popular. Across 2016 and 2017, it had a 9.9% win rate in July. It was deployed by 8.8% of drafters. In 2018 the conditions were perfect for the approach, and the win rate jumped to 14.7%. Unfortunately, adoption fell to only 5.5%.
  • For a sense of how big the advantage was in 2018 and how consistent it was across time frames, the TE version of this approach had a win rate above 14% in every month except September.

How Do Late-Season Drafts Compare to Early-Season for Popular Approaches?

We know from the previous lesson that Zero RB really improves as draft season progresses. The implication is that RB-heavy strategies suffer a subsequent decline. We might want to confirm that and compare those techniques with 1 Elite RB.

Win Rates 2015-2018
Approach Feb-May Popularity June-Sept Popularity
RB-RB 9.1 12,103 8.3 39,264
Balanced 9.0 10,619 8.5 37,613
Zero RB 7.0 4,688 8.8 14,070
1 Elite RB 10.7 3,230 10.8 11,316
RB-Heavy 6.6 2,394 4.7 8,261
  • 1 Elite RB is the dominant approach across the calendar year.
  • RB-RB is a very strong approach through the early part of the calendar when we have the least clarity about RB depth charts. It becomes less attractive as our information improves.
  • The Balanced4 approach is a safe build throughout the season, but the upside becomes less attractive as it’s bypassed by WR-heavy constructions.
  • Zero RB has been a disaster in the early going, but it becomes preferable to RB-oriented approaches over the second half.
  • Even combined, Zero RB and 1 Elite RB haven’t been particularly popular despite their success. If we open it up to a slightly less restrictive definition of a WR-heavy build (4-WR within the first five rounds), the post-May win rate is 9.6% with 18,895 teams using the approach. There’s a clear opportunity here with owners failing to take advantage of the most successful constructions.

Start from the Beginning With the Best Ball Workshop

As always, I recommend you explore the Roster Construction Explorer on your own. It’s the best way to verify which trends are consistent year-to-year and which may be overly influenced by injuries or flukes. Test your own theories and discover whether your approach is a winning one. Many of the best strategies are unpopular, and this provides a sizable competitive advantage.

If you have some free time over this festive week, try out the Best Ball Workshop for yourself. Combine the intelligence from the various lessons and turn your drafts into a money machine.

Lesson 1: Owners Are Taking the Wrong Lesson from 2018 Player Win Rates
Lesson 2: Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz Want You to Stop Giving Away This Big TE Advantage
Lesson 3: QB Is More Important Than You Realize and Easy to Exploit
Lesson 4: Best Ball Owners Are Abandoning the Dominant Defense Approach in Record Numbers
Lesson 5: You Really Can Ride These Simple ‘Onesie’ Tactics to a Best Ball Title
Lesson 6: Deploy These 8 Players to Execute Our Tactical Plan So Far
Lesson 7: Zero RB or RB-Heavy? Shocking Results from the Roster Construction Explorer
Lesson 8: RB-Heavy Will Kill Your Best Ball Results, But There Is an Early Round Perfect for RBs
Lesson 9: MFL10 of Death: Building an Elite Early-Round Foundation With the RCE and the RotoViz Screener
Lesson 10: 20 Rounds of Death: Using the Best Ball Workshop To Supercharge Player Selection
Lesson 11: The Roster Construction Explorer Wants You To Load Up Early at WR
Lesson 12: 7 Best Ball Hacks From the Roster Construction Explore That Will Juice Your Win Rates
Lesson 13: You Have Entered the Zero RB Zone – Why July Is the Time to Go WR-Heavy

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. 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: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Alvin Kamara.

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  1. June-September.  (back)
  2. Your win rate jumps over 15% if you use the recommended DEF approach.  (back)
  3. Not counting the extremely limited September drafts which are above 12%.  (back)
  4. In examining the different builds, anything with a 3-RB, 3-WR start through six rounds is considered balanced. There would naturally be overlap with some RB-RB builds, in the same way that some RB-RB builds would overlap with RB-heavy, which is defined for our purposes as any start with 4-RB through five rounds. These definitions are chosen to fit with the broad strokes of Lesson 7 on RB-Heavy and Lesson 8 on RB-RB.  (back)

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