Best Ball

The QB in BestBall10s: One Key Mistake Dooms a Flood of Owners, Plus An Unusual Tactic Pays Big Dividends

The Fanball Roster Construction Explorer allows you to pull back the curtain and experiment with the most and least successful roster constructions over the past four years. Quarterback tactics are often overlooked in best ball, but that oversight has led many owners into a critical mistake. Shawn Siegele also demonstrates an unusual tactic to boost your win rate and improve your structural edge as he continues the Best Ball Workshop. 

The RotoViz best ball tools from guru Mike Beers include dashboards for the FFPC, Fanball, and Fantrax that help you chart ADP and view personal exposures. They also include Roster Construction Explorers for the FFPC, Fanball, and DRAFT.1 When I pull up the RCE for any of these great formats, I often come up for air minutes later only to discover hours have passed. In the Best Ball Workshop, I use the Fanball RCE to find key insights for boosting your BestBall10 win rates.2 In Lesson 1, we used player win rates to avoid a huge mistake drafters are making in the early rounds. In Lesson 2, we discovered the two separate strategies to dominate tight end. Today we examine a quarterback position that’s much more important than commonly believed.

2-QB or 3-QB?

Unlike in traditional redraft formats, my instincts tell me to grab as many QBs as possible, within reason. With our BestBall10 roster requirements, that means three signal-callers. Taking three QBs improves your odds of hitting on that year’s Patrick Mahomes,3 gives you protection against injury,4 and allows you to take advantage of optimized starting lineups at fantasy’s highest-scoring position.

We can quickly test whether this instinct is correct at the most basic level by grabbing every draft in the last four years with the Roster Construction Explorer.

2 QB or 3 QB RCE

Unless we discover some particularly valuable caveats later in our analysis, my instincts appear to be wrong. The 2-QB construction is not only more popular, but it’s considerably more successful than it’s 3-QB counterpart.

How Early Should You Select Your QB1?

It’s been a long time since fantasy owners used early-round picks at QB, so it would be a surprise if we saw much volume or much success with that type of roster.

QB1 Selected in Rounds 1-4

Early QB RCE

The historical results confirm our suspicions. Drafting your QB1 in any of the first four rounds gives a very low win rate.

However, the numbers then shift quickly and perhaps surprisingly in favor of springing for QB earlier than is trendy. A 2-QB roster construction provides a win rate above 9.0 percent if your first QB comes off the board in any individual round between 6 and 11. Taking these rounds as a group, 2-QB drafters have averaged 2,212 points.

QB1 Selected in Rounds 6-11

QB1 R6 to R11 RCE

With So Many Options at QB, You Should Wait for Your QB2, Right?

You might expect this to be the case, but selecting your QB2 shortly after your QB1 has been a more successful tactic. The win rates are well above average for 2-QB roster constructions when you select your QB2 in any individual stanza between Rounds 8 and 12. The overall results look like this:

QB2 Selected in Rounds 8-12

QB2 Sweet Spot RCE

Those are your results when the QB1 is drafted at any point, but if you also restrict the QB1 to Round 6 or later – putting both of your first two QBs in the sweet spot – the results are even better.

QB1 and QB2 in Window

QB Sweet Spot 2 or 3 QB

If That’s the QB2 Sweet Spot, What If I Draft a Third?

When you consider that our 2-QB constructions are more successful than 3-QB constructions overall, it may be surprising to discover a 3-QB trick that allows you to reap the structural benefits that come from rostering a third QB and still maintain solid win rates at the same time. Simply be sure to draft all three of your QBs in the QB window. When you draft three QBs between Round 6 and 12,5 historical win rates and point totals have been even better than when owners stick to two in the window.

QB1-QB3 in the WindowQB3 in window RCE

The Importance of Being Earnest

As we found in the tight end lesson, it’s extremely important to select your QBs from the pool of reliable players. Waiting for signal-callers who are at risk for in-season benching wreaks havoc on your win rate. You want to use your true late-round picks on defenses and fliers at running back and wide receiver.

Quarterback feels like a throwaway position in best ball leagues, but it’s an easy place to gain an advantage since so many drafters make poor choices. Over the last four years almost 105,000 owners have selected their QB2 in Round 13 or later and settled for a 7.4 percent win rate as a result. The QB position continues to get deeper, creating the sense that this trend may not continue, but the win rate for those who waited on their QB2 was worse in 2018 than for the four-year average.

  1. And DRAFT has now provided their 2018 numbers!  (back)
  2. We have writers with extensive experience in FFPC and DRAFT who are doing the same for those formats.  (back)
  3. As I was lucky enough to do in last year’s MFL10 of Death.  (back)
  4. Last year, I lost to J.J. Zachariason on a long touchdown from Kalen Ballage in the semifinals of Ben Gretch’s dynasty best ball league. I started the season with Jimmy Garoppolo, Andy Dalton, and Alex Smith but finished the year taking goose eggs.  (back)
  5. This is obviously a much smaller sample, but the 3-QB/2-TE construction in this window has returned a win rate above 9.0 percent in each of the four individual seasons. If you add Round 13 for the QB3, then the sample doubles and the win rates actually jump slightly.  (back)
By Shawn Siegele | @ff_contrarian | Archive