In theory, you want that Earl Campbell running back, the guy who’s going to crash through linebackers and deliver the maximum amount of punishment per carry. In practice, you want your running back with a little bit of Franco Harris in him, dashing out of bounds to save the body for the long term.
To minimize the pain and the sorrow that can happen when selecting your starting lineups in a standard fantasy football league, try a different tactic. Go with a best ball fantasy football league.
Best ball is a type of fantasy league in which you draft and forget it. You don’t completely forget it, as you receive weekly emails detailing your progress. It’s the no-muss, no-fuss league, allowing you the joy of drafting without the sorrow of benching Eric Decker when he scores 49 points in a critical game. Here are five ways to take advantage of this type of league:
1. Be flexible: The first round is a great example. If I get a top-four pick, I’m taking one of the “big four” (McCoy/Charles/Forte/Adrian Peterson). If I get a pick that’s #5 or later, I’m looking at one of the stud wideouts or Jimmy Graham. That first pick informs how you’re going to draft the rest of the way. If you go into a draft with a plan to take RB-RB “no matter what”, you are going to miss out on some bargains. You can’t account for what other people are going to do in a draft.
2. Take chances: In a league with weekly lineups, you’re looking for consistency. Think about a player like Antonio Brown, who caught at least five passes every week last year. He’s your binky. In a best-ball league, you can take the “crazy girlfriend from college” picks, the players who can get you two points one week and 32 the next (think T.Y. Hilton) because your top-scoring players automatically get in the starting lineup.
3. Live the stream: What is a stream? Check out this podcast by J.J. Zachariason and Denny Carter. The concept is that you can “stream” your one-starter, or “onsie” positions like quarterback, tight end, and especially kicker and team defense. In a standard league, this means finding starters on the waiver wire and playing matchups, like when Carson Palmer is facing the 32nd-ranked pass defense. In a best-ball league, this means taking two or three quarterbacks with relatively late picks. You can end up with a trio like Jay Cutler, Geno Smith, and Jake Locker without burning a pick in the first ten rounds. That makes your RB and WR positions that much stronger.
4. Face your fears: The hardest thing to do in a fantasy draft is be objective. I’ll use myself as an example. Trent Richardson destroyed my soul last year with his horrific performance. From my point of view, he made it his personal mission to sink my team single-handedly, and job well done. Enter this year. His only competition for the starting gig is Ahmad Bradshaw, with feet like Jello. I’m not saying that I’d take T-Rich, or T-Pain, but if he’s dropping a round or two past his current ADP, I have to consider him if I want my best chance of winning a league. Situation, talent, and not your personal feelings should determine your picks.
5. Enjoy the experience: In a best-ball league, the draft is all you get. Make the most out of it. Find your league mates on Twitter and send some well-timed smack talk. Write 1000-word reviews of all your picks, or do my favorite, type in “top guy on my board” for every pick. You can play for money, but most of us just play for pride.
Bonus Content: Check out Matt Rittle’s MFL10 reviews with fantasy experts. He’s not in every MFL10 (best-ball league with 12 folks, pay $10, top team gets $100), but it’s close.
1.04: Matt Forte — Last of the Big Four, sure to be a monster this year in Trestman’s offense.
2.09: Jordy Nelson — He’s just outside of the top WR tier, and he’s Aaron Rodgers’ best bud.
3.04: Zac Stacy — I ain’t worried about no Tre Mason. Fisher’s going to run Stacy into the ground.
4.09: Michael Floyd — On his way to being WR1 in Arizona, an underrated offense.
5.04: Toby Gerhart — Two starts against my Titans and could lead the NFL in carries.
6.09: Mike Wallace — He couldn’t possibly be as bad as 2013 again.
7.04: Lamar Miller — I bought two tickets to the Lazor show. Locking up 4 RBs early means I can ignore the position for a while.
8.09: Nick Foles — Hearing not great things about him in camp, but come in, Chip Kelly QB.
9.04: Jordan Matthews — He’s one of the best bets in this stellar rookie WR class to perform, plus with the Eagles spreading the ball around I don’t have to worry about inconsistency in this format.
10.09: Zach Ertz — I felt OK waiting on TE, and second-year TEs make the biggest strides.
11.04: Danny Amendola — Brady peppered him with targets early in 2013, so I can get a few good weeks out of him before he breaks.
12.09: Antonio Gates — Gates had a crazy split last year, 49 catches in the first half and 28 in the second. Some veterans refuse to die, and that makes a good TE2 pick.
13.04: Aaron Dobson — The foot issue isn’t great, but note his great numbers when he did play last year.
14.09: Rams D — I hate defenses.
15.04: Johnny Manziel — You won’t be able to get him this late soon. Running QBs give you a nice fantasy “floor”.
16.09: Ka’Deem Carey — Didn’t realize that Taz was nice enough to eliminate the kicker, so I handcuffed with Forte.