Best Ball Strategy Series: Ownership in Best Ball

In my strategy articles over the last few weeks I have discussed fades in best ball and exposure in best ball. Now let’s talk best ball ownership. This one is tricky and nuanced.

We are all used to DFS ownership projections, which have gotten really accurate by the market over the years. We know the projected ownership going into the upcoming slate and we make our decisions on underweight/overweight or fade based on ownership projections and our projections for that player.

That’s NOT how ownership for playoffs or Finals works in best ball. Most of the players we draft will be 100% owned or close to it during the season. So the players that are high owned or “chalky” in the best ball playoffs (playoff advance rate) are simply the players that outperformed their ADP and outperformed players at that position drafted around them. Example, if Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill and Austin Ekeler are the highest scoring fantasy players from round 1, they’ll have a very high advance rate to best ball playoffs. That’s ok, chalk in best ball just means you were right or correct to draft them.

The players that are low-owned in the playoffs are guys that were either injured for part of the season or underperformed their ADP or players drafted around them.

The same goes for Finals and advance rate through best ball playoffs. If Justin Jefferson was high-owned in the playoffs but lays an egg Weeks 15 and 16, he’s probably going to be relatively low-owned in the Finals. Why? Because it’s all based on performance and if he has a bad quarter and semi-finals then he likely killed off most of his playoff teams as the team’s first-round (likely first overall pick).

The bottom line, you cannot project playoff ownership and Finals ownership. No one at this point is chalky or low-owned (a few exceptions below). It’s impossible to project because we don’t have the Delorean or a time machine to tell us the future. I say this because I see people reference chalk a lot in best ball, and we don’t know what chalk will actually be in the best ball playoffs and Finals.

So how do we get low-owned players through to the best ball playoffs and more importantly the best ball Finals? There’s no true way to build for that without being careless, but there are some ideas to consider below.

 

OWNERSHIP NUANCES:

-Undrafted Players:

Don’t go overboard with this. But there are some players that’s % drafted will be lower than others. Because they are not close to 100% owned, they may be lower owned in playoffs depending on their season performance. Note, if they have a spike week in weeks 15 or 16 in playoffs they will then have a high advance rate to Finals. Again, don’t draft a lot of these players or then you’ll likely have too many dead roster spots (which I wrote about here). Too many dead roster spots will crush your chances to even make playoffs. So I would just take a couple of late round shots. Some of my favorites are WR Josh Reynolds and Mack Hollins and TE Cole Turner. But find your favorite late-round fliers that go undrafted a lot and just mix in one or two in a draft.

-Unique Combos:

If you draft from certain spots of the draft, you’ll notice it is easy to get a particular stack or players drafted with that player. For instance, if you have the #1 pick and pick Justin Jefferson, you likely can get Tee Higgins and maybe even DeVonta Smith at the 2/3 turn. Jefferson/Higgins is going to be a popular combo. Those will likely be paired with Joe Burrow, Kirk Cousins or both. There’s nothing wrong with that, just know if all those guys do well this season, that combination will be high owned. I have plenty of those combos and stacks when I draft Justin Jefferson.

But maybe diversify some builds and take a hero/elite QB and a RB at the 2/3 turn. That will be a more unique combo. Or especially Jefferson and two RBs will be very unique I’m guessing. Again, you don’t have to overdo this strategy but its something you can mix in.

-Pushing Through Low-Owned Players in Playoffs:

One strategy I’ve been leaning on more is sometimes (again not all the time) with elite QBs or TEs, I’ll still stack 2 other QBs or TEs. I’ve talked about reasons why I like having 3 stacks. Example:  Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce have a poor week 15 and 16 (unlikely I know). If you have two stacks, perhaps you can push a low-owned Mahomes/Kelce lineup through to playoffs. Then if they pop off for a big game week 17, you have massive leverage on the field. Again, you can’t plan or predict it. But you can build for it.

Another strategy is if you’re high on a team, I like stacking the team at different positions – QB/RB/WR/TE. Especially if you can get those positions at various positions throughout the draft and spread out your draft capital. The QB/RB can ping pong its team through the season, meaning some weeks the QB may anchor the team, and some weeks the RB may anchor the team. But in playoffs, they can also help ping pong (again if you have other stacks built out). Example:  A team with Josh Allen, Damien Harris, Gabe Davis and Dalton Kincaid. Allen and the passing game really struggles week 15, but Harris scores 2 TDs and has a massive game. He may help push the Allen stack through. Or vice versa.

Last year on my BBM3 Finals team, I had a Dallas stack with Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott, Michael Gallup, and Dalton Schultz. Since Schultz was injured for part of the year, he was lower owned in playoffs and only 4% owned in the Finals. He scored 2 TDs in week 17! Imagine if my receivers didn’t absolutely stink that week! It was a hell of a start (to the BBM3 Finals) and a good example of how a spread out team stack at different positions can push lower-owned players though.

 

SUMMARY:

Don’t worry about ownership in best ball like you do DFS. Just like DFS, you don’t need an entirely contrarian lineup. You’ll likely naturally get a few low-owned pieces of your roster through to the playoffs and Finals with 18 to 20 roster spots. So consider some of the nuances and ideas above, but don’t overthink it. Focus more on building strong teams that have a chance to make it to the dance!

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