The Z Files: NFBC Holdem Rankings and Strategies

The Z Files: NFBC Holdem Rankings and Strategies

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

The National Fantasy Baseball Championship Postseason Holdem contest is one of my favorite formats in all of fantasy sports. It combines several strategic elements while minimizing the effect of stacking select teams.

To this point, some playoff contests are designed such that a lineup that focuses on one or two teams will likely prevail if those teams advance to the World Series. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it favors those with the ability to enter multiple teams. Not everyone has the means to do this. We're getting off topic here, but this is why DFS has single-entry options.

To be fair, one is allowed to have multiple entries in the NFBC contests, and there are ways to favor different teams, but the rules require at least one player from every team in the playoffs at the start of the round. So yes, planting one's flag on a team, or teams, is a viable approach, but the advantage in entering multiple teams is lessened. As someone only entering one team, I don't feel I'm as much in the hole as with other playoff contests.

For the complete rules, please visit the NFBC site. Here's a synopsis to help frame the rest of the discussion and rankings:

  • 16 man rosters: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 4 OF, UT, 6 P
  • Points scoring (a more typical setup than the Cutline system)
  • Division Series must have one player from every team, max of three.
  • Championship Series must have two players

The National Fantasy Baseball Championship Postseason Holdem contest is one of my favorite formats in all of fantasy sports. It combines several strategic elements while minimizing the effect of stacking select teams.

To this point, some playoff contests are designed such that a lineup that focuses on one or two teams will likely prevail if those teams advance to the World Series. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it favors those with the ability to enter multiple teams. Not everyone has the means to do this. We're getting off topic here, but this is why DFS has single-entry options.

To be fair, one is allowed to have multiple entries in the NFBC contests, and there are ways to favor different teams, but the rules require at least one player from every team in the playoffs at the start of the round. So yes, planting one's flag on a team, or teams, is a viable approach, but the advantage in entering multiple teams is lessened. As someone only entering one team, I don't feel I'm as much in the hole as with other playoff contests.

For the complete rules, please visit the NFBC site. Here's a synopsis to help frame the rest of the discussion and rankings:

  • 16 man rosters: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 4 OF, UT, 6 P
  • Points scoring (a more typical setup than the Cutline system)
  • Division Series must have one player from every team, max of three.
  • Championship Series must have two players from every team, max of six.
  • World Series must have at least six players from both teams.
  • Multipliers: The first time a player is used, he's x1. All players used in two straight series are x2. Those used in all three are x3.

It's clear that choosing some teams to stack and others to fade is integral, but the setup helps lessen the influence, at least compared to other setups.

As such, deciding which teams from which to select three players is crucial. An argument can be made for riding the underdogs, since the field you're competing against will be smaller than those playing chalk. Another approach is to cede the fact you'll have to beat more teams by supporting the favorites, as there are ample means of differentiating your roster, so the overlap isn't as detrimental. Examples are the players you choose from the one-off teams and the initial players from the teams you expect to advance, since their multipliers will have more of an effect as the contests moves to the next round.

Your team, your call, but with one entry, my approach will be the latter. I am not going to purposely back a team I expect to lose. I may not ride all the favorites, but I'm not wired to support a team I think is most likely to exit quickly.

Along those lines, here are the current Divisional Series odds from Caesars:

  • Yankees -250/Guardians +200 
  • Braves -200/Phillies +165
  • Astros -260/Mariners +210 
  • Dodgers -250/Padres +200

And the World Series odds:

  • Dodgers +260
  • Astros +380
  • Yankees +525
  • Braves +550
  • Phillies +1100
  • Padres +1100
  • Mariners +1200
  • Guardians +1800

The first step is discerning which teams to back and which to fade. The extreme is to go with four teams with three players and four with one player comprising your initial 16-man roster. If there is a series for which you are less confident, two and two could be the approach.

Now comes the fun part, filling in the puzzle. Balancing positions is always necessary, but the added factors of knowing you're going to replace four players along with wanting the best players to garner the multipliers makes finding the right pieces more challenging. This is the reason the ensuing rankings are presented via position. That is, you can gauge which set is stronger and who could be available to add each subsequent round. The listings match the eligibility from the contest. That is, Marwin Gonzalez is ranked at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and OF.

Personally, I usually choose my 12 best players and hope I don't double up positions. Inevitably, there are some overlaps, so I aim for an optimal 12 with the intention of adding the others in the next round. In order to do so, the position for the soon-to-be-added player must initially be filled with someone from the four losing teams. I play around with this approach until I land on the most efficient combination of players I want to advance and openings for the next round. It is within this process that I feel I can separate myself from others backing the same teams.

With that as a backdrop, here are the positional rankings. I've made some (but not many) adjustments based on the team and their odds of advancing.

CATCHER

1Will SmithLAD
2J.T. RealmutoPHI
3Travis d'ArnaudATL
4Cal RaleighSEA
5William ContrerasATL
6Austin NolaSDP
7Jorge AlfaroSDP
8Christian VazquezHOU
9Jose TrevinoNYY
10Austin HedgesCLE
11Luis TorrensSEA
12Martin MaldonadoHOU
13Kyle HigashiokaNYY
14Curt CasaliSEA
15Luke MaileCLE
16Austin BarnesLAD
17Bo NaylorCLE
18Garrett StubbsPHI
19Luis CampusanoSDP

First Base

1Freddie FreemanLAD
2Anthony RizzoNYY
3Matt OlsonATL
4Rhys HoskinsPHI
5Ty FranceSEA
6Jake CronenworthSDP
7Alec BohmPHI
8Wil MyersSDP
9Brandon DrurySDP
10Max MuncyLAD
11Josh BellSDP
12DJ LeMahieuNYY
13Josh NaylorCLE
14Carlos SantanaSEA
15Jurickson ProfarSDP
16Yuli GurrielHOU
17Darick HallPHI
18Owen MillerCLE
19Marwin GonzalezNYY
20Brandon DixonSDP

Second Base

1Trea TurnerLAD
2Jose AltuveHOU
3Andres GimenezCLE
4Gleyber TorresNYY
5Jean SeguraPHI
6Jake CronenworthSDP
7Brandon DrurySDP
8Max MuncyLAD
9DJ LeMahieuNYY
10Ha-Seong KimSDP
11Dylan MooreSEA
12Gavin LuxLAD
13Orlando ArciaATL
14Bryson StottPHI
15Abraham ToroSEA
16Chris TaylorLAD
17Vaughn GrissomATL
18Aledmys DiazHOU
19Mauricio DubonHOU
20Marwin GonzalezNYY
21Hanser AlbertoLAD
22Nick MatonPHI
23Ozzie AlbiesATL

Third Base

1Jose RamirezCLE
2Manny MachadoSDP
3Austin RileyATL
4Alex BregmanHOU
5Eugenio SuarezSEA
6Justin TurnerLAD
7Josh DonaldsonNYY
8Brandon DrurySDP
9Max MuncyLAD
10DJ LeMahieuNYY
11Ha-Seong KimSDP
12Aledmys DiazHOU
13Miguel VargasLAD
14Marwin GonzalezNYY
15Ehire AdrianzaATL

Shortstop

Dansby SwansonATL
Jeremy PenaHOU
Amed RosarioCLE
Jake CronenworthSDP
Dylan MooreSEA
Ha-Seong KimSDP
Isiah Kiner-FalefaNYY
J.P. CrawfordSEA
Gavin LuxLAD
Chris TaylorLAD
Aledmys DiazHOU
Oswald PerazaNYY
Gabriel AriasCLE
Marwin GonzalezNYY
Nick MatonPHI
Mauricio DubonHOU
David HensleyHOU

Outfield

1Aaron JudgeNYY
2Mookie BettsLAD
3Julio RodriguezSEA
4Kyle TuckerHOU
5Yordan AlvarezHOU
6Bryce HarperPHI
7Juan SotoSDP
8Kyle SchwarberPHI
9Michael Harris IIATL
10Ronald Acuna Jr.ATL
11Giancarlo StantonNYY
12Mitch HanigerSEA
13Nick CastellanosPHI
14Dylan MooreSEA
15Brandon DrurySDP
16Oscar GonzalezCLE
17Trey ManciniHOU
18Cody BellingerLAD
19Steven KwanCLE
20Chas McCormickHOU
21Harrison BaderNYY
22Eddie RosarioATL
23Brandon MarshPHI
24Trayce ThompsonLAD
25Joey GalloLAD
26Jarred KelenicSEA
27Oswaldo CabreraNYY
28Gavin LuxLAD
29Marcell OzunaATL
30Aaron HicksNYY
31Chris TaylorLAD
32Trent GrishamSDP
33Myles StrawCLE
34Aledmys DiazHOU
35Jake MeyersHOU
36Andrew BenintendiNYY
37Taylor TrammellSEA
38Will BensonCLE
39Guillermo HerediaATL
40Will BrennanCLE
41Robbie GrossmanATL
42Matt VierlingPHI
43Marwin GonzalezNYY
44Jose AzocarSDP
45Adam FrazierSEA
46Nick MatonPHI
47Mauricio DubonHOU
48Dalton GuthriePHI

Pitcher

1Justin VerlanderHOU
2Gerrit ColeNYY
3Cristian JavierHOU
4Julio UriasLAD
5Aaron NolaPHI
6Clayton KershawLAD
7Yu DarvishSDP
8Shane BieberCLE
9Framber ValdezHOU
10Ryan PresslyHOU
11Zack WheelerPHI
12Emmanuel ClaseCLE
13Kenley JansenATL
14Luis CastilloSEA
15Spencer StriderATL
16Joe MusgroveSDP
17Max FriedATL
18Lance McCullersHOU
19Charlie MortonATL
20Josh HaderSDP
21Nestor CortesNYY
22Blake SnellSDP
23Triston McKenzieCLE
24Robbie RaySEA
25Luis SeverinoNYY
26Tony GonsolinLAD
27Andrew HeaneyLAD
28Tyler AndersonLAD
29Luis GarciaHOU
30Luis GarciaSDP
31Raisel IglesiasATL
32Logan GilbertSEA
33Paul SewaldSEA
34Kyle WrightATL
35Clay HolmesNYY
36George KirbySEA
37Dustin MayLAD
38Jameson TaillonNYY
39Evan PhillipsLAD
40Jose UrquidyHOU
41Aaron CivaleCLE
42Bailey FalterPHI
43Frankie MontasNYY
44Domingo GermanNYY
45Mike ClevingerSDP
46Bryce ElderATL
47Andres MunozSEA
48A.J. MinterATL
49Rafael MonteroHOU
50Craig KimbrelLAD
51Sean ManaeaSDP
52Ranger SuarezPHI
53Tommy KahnleLAD
54Alex VesiaLAD
55Cal QuantrillCLE
56Noah SyndergaardPHI
57Hector NerisHOU
58David RobertsonPHI
59Chris MartinLAD
60Collin McHughATL
61Diego CastilloSEA
62Erik SwansonSEA
63Matt FestaSEA
64James KarinchakCLE
65Seranthony DominguezPHI
66Steven WilsonSDP
67Blake TreinenLAD
68Robert SuarezSDP
69Will SmithHOU
70Dylan LeeATL
71Kyle GibsonPHI
72Jose AlvaradoPHI
73Lou TrivinoNYY
74Pierce JohnsonSDP
75Andrew BellattiPHI
76Ryne StanekHOU
77Caleb FergusonLAD
78Zach PlesacCLE
79Jake OdorizziATL
80Nick SandlinCLE
81Scott EffrossNYY
82Brusdar GraterolLAD
83Bryan AbreuHOU
84Trevor StephanCLE
85Connor BrogdonPHI
86Nick MartinezSDP
87Silvino BrachoATL
88Jonathan LoaisigaNYY
89David PriceLAD
90Lucas LuetgeNYY
91Brad HandPHI
92Matt BrashSEA
93Phil MatonHOU
94Tyler MatzekATL
95Sam HentgesCLE
96Eli MorganCLE
97Marco GonzalesSEA
98Zach EflinPHI
99Matthew BoydSEA
100Penn MurfeeSEA
101Adrian MorejonSDP
102Clarke SchmidtNYY
103Nabil CrismattSDP
104Craig StammenSDP
105Miguel CastroNYY
106Kirk McCartyCLE
107Yency AlmonteLAD
108Hunter BrownHOU
109Chris FlexenSEA
110Tim HillSDP
111Albert AbreuNYY
112Nick NelsonPHI
113Jackson StephensATL
114Jesse ChavezATL
115Cody MorrisCLE
116Michael PlassmeyerPHI
117Enyel De Los SantosCLE
118Kirby YatesATL
119Aroldis ChapmanNYY

Good luck and I hope to see you on the leaderboard!

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
Fantasy Impact of 2023 Rules Changes
Fantasy Impact of 2023 Rules Changes
Rookie Pitcher Tiers 1.0
Rookie Pitcher Tiers 1.0
Todd's Takes: Putting a Bow on the Moves
Todd's Takes: Putting a Bow on the Moves
Collette Calls: 2023 NL East Bold Predictions
Collette Calls: 2023 NL East Bold Predictions