Underdog Best Ball: Playoff Rankings and Strategy

Underdog Best Ball: Playoff Rankings and Strategy

This article is part of our Best Ball Strategy series.

Underdog Fantasy is well known for its regular season best ball contests, but if you still have the Best Ball Itch yet, then you can indulge that itch by playing Underdog's Playoff Best Ball format. In addition to many variations of cash game-type contests, Underdog offers a memorable trio of tournament contests between the $5 Mitten, the $25 Gauntlet and $250 Big Mitten.

It works the same as the regular season best ball drafts, but in this case we have to draft teams that advance by posting leading point totals in each round of the playoffs. It requires high point totals in each week of the playoffs, which notably requires investing heavily in the teams that eventually make the Super Bowl round. Since only two teams make the Super Bowl, correctly stacking at least one of the eventual Super Bowl teams is a likely logistical necessity for placing high in any tournament. The only other difference is that WRs and TEs are in one WR/TE group, and the starting lineups are 1QB/1RB/2WRTE/1Flex with five bench spots.

There are still two weeks left in the regular season, but with that playoff seeding ambiguity comes more team-building options and ability to make extensive stacks affordably. This article will look at the current playoff seeding situation and look at the Underdog ADP to see how player prices match up with the playoff seeding of their teams. The cutoff will be after the top three bubble teams from each conference. There will also be positional player rankings before the written explanation below.


Josh Allen (1.5 ADP)
Patrick Mahomes (2.1 ADP)
Jalen Hurts (3.7 ADP)
Joe Burrow (10.1 ADP)
Dak Prescott (19.6 ADP)
Justin Herbert (36.2 ADP)
Kirk Cousins (27.4 ADP)
Brock Purdy (35.5 ADP)
Lamar Jackson (39.7 ADP)
Trevor Lawrence (53.9 ADP)


Christian McCaffrey (4.1 ADP)
Dalvin Cook (16.9 ADP)
Tony Pollard (14.0 ADP)
Miles Sanders (15.3 ADP)
Joe Mixon (19.7 ADP)
Devin Singletary (28.1 ADP)
Isiah Pacheco (31.2 ADP)
Austin Ekeler (24.6 ADP)
Ezekiel Elliott (27.6 ADP)
Jerick McKinnon (20.4 ADP)
James Cook (43.1 ADP)
J.K. Dobbins (51.2 ADP)
Travis Etienne (52.4 ADP)
Saquon Barkley (39.8 ADP)
Samaje Perine (56.1 ADP)


Travis Kelce (6.5 ADP)
Stefon Diggs (8.5 ADP)
A.J. Brown (9.4 ADP)
Ja'Marr Chase (5.8 ADP)
Justin Jefferson (7.5 ADP)
CeeDee Lamb (9.9 ADP)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (17.5 ADP)
DeVonta Smith (15.1 ADP)
Tee Higgins (17.7 ADP)
Deebo Samuel (21.3 ADP)
George Kittle (23.6 ADP)
Gabe Davis (23.0 ADP)
Keenan Allen (35.0 ADP)
Brandon Aiyuk (31.8 ADP)
T.J. Hockenson (40.6 ADP)
Dallas Goedert (28.8 ADP)
Tyreek Hill (21.8 ADP)
Jaylen Waddle (34.8 ADP)
Mike Williams (43.2 ADP)
Mark Andrews (42.3 ADP)

Seeding as of 12/28

First-round Byes

  1. Buffalo (12-3) & Philadelphia (13-2)

Josh Allen (1.5 ADP) might get a first-round bye – it'll either be him or Patrick Mahomes (2.1 ADP) – but with the Bills regarded as the overall Super Bowl favorites it follows that Allen would be the favored player in the ADP. Even if the Bills surprisingly fail to make the Super Bowl, it wouldn't surprise if Allen and Stefon Diggs (8.7 ADP) provided the highest point totals of the divisional and conference championship rounds. The reasoning applies similarly for Gabe Davis (22.9 ADP), Devin Singletary (28.5 ADP), James Cook (42.1 ADP), Isaiah McKenzie (43.7 ADP) and Dawson Knox (47.4 ADP). If they get the first-round bye the Bills would likely face either Cincinnati or the Chargers, perhaps making those teams the least viable pairing to a Bills stack.

Jalen Hurts (3.7 ADP) rounds out the top three in the ADP as the NFC's favorite to play quarterback in the Super Bowl – a massive amount of utility in itself. Factoring in Hurts' rare rushing upside makes the appeal more obvious yet. A.J. Brown (9.5 ADP), DeVonta Smith (14.8 ADP), Miles Sanders (16.6 ADP) and Dallas Goedert (29.0 ADP) are accordingly among the most coveted players as well, just keep in mind the need to provide wildcard round production with your other picks given the Eagles' likely first-round bye. Also keep in mind that there's a strong chance the Eagles might see Dallas in the divisional round, making them perhaps one of the highest one-and-done risks among the three most favored teams. If you do secure an Eagles stack you'll probably want to mostly avoid Dallas, Tampa Bay and the Giants, as they're all candidates to be Philadelphia's first opponent.

Additional Division Winners

2. Kansas City (12-3) & Minnesota (12-3)

Other than the Bills, the Chiefs are the most coveted stack on the slate with Patrick Mahomes (2.1 ADP) and his self-evident playoff credentials driving the appeal. Travis Kelce (6.5 ADP) is unfortunately difficult to pair with Mahomes but just one of the two is valuable in themselves, and ideally teamed up with others in the Chiefs offense. That list certainly includes JuJu Smith-Schuster (17.6 ADP), Isiah Pacheco (31.6 ADP), and Jerick McKinnon (19.7 ADP), but even the likes of Mecole Hardman (52.7 ADP) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (47.2 ADP) are worth tacking onto a roster with other Chiefs. A Chiefs stack should probably limit exposure to the Bengals and Jaguars rosters, as those two appear to be the Chiefs' most likely second-round opponent after facing the Dolphins or whatever other playoff bubble team in the wildcard round.

The Vikings may be a somewhat fraudulent 12-3, but they've tied up the NFC North and compel our attention with elite fantasy assets like Justin Jefferson (7.5 ADP) and Dalvin Cook (17.1 ADP), both of whom are productive enough to justify selection absent any stack attempt. But if the Vikings advance to the second round – likely requiring a win against Green Bay, Washington or Seattle – then a proper stack involving the likes of Kirk Cousins (27.8 ADP), T.J. Hockenson (37.9 ADP), Adam Thielen (51.8 ADP) and K.J. Osborn (57.9 ADP) could well pay off. Any such stack should avoid the three previously mentioned teams and might want to limit exposure to the 49ers, who appear to be Minnesota's most likely divisional round opponent.

3. Cincinnati (11-4) & San Francisco (11-4)

The Bengals are one of the more interesting stacking considerations, especially since their likely wildcard round opponent (the Chargers) present one of the more likely shootout-prone matchups of that round. If the Bengals can withstand the Chargers they'll likely put up sizable fantasy points doing so, which means teams with Joe Burrow (9.9 ADP), Ja'Marr Chase (5.5 ADP), Tee Higgins (16.6 ADP), Joe Mixon (19.6 ADP) and Samaje Perine (55.8 ADP) could be among the highest-scoring rosters going into the divisional round. The Bengals are expected to fall at that point – be it against Buffalo or Kansas City – so you might want to fade one of those teams in addition to the Chargers if you pursue a Bengals stack.

San Francisco is one of the more peculiar teams of the slate, because they appear to be real contenders yet are led by a nearly undrafted rookie quarterback in Brock Purdy (34.1 ADP). The 49ers can beat perhaps anyone – or at least anyone in the NFC – yet it might not require much production from Purdy to do that. The 49ers win with defense first, and their offensive success is primarily defined on the ground first. Still, there's an improbable chance Purdy ends up in the Super Bowl if Philadelphia and Dallas disappoint, and with a defense like San Francisco's the possibility can't be ignored. Christian McCaffrey (3.9 ADP) would certainly be on a lot of winning rosters if it occurs, and even if it doesn't McCaffrey figures to do big damage against the Giants in the wildcard round and shouldn't do too shabby against Minnesota or Dallas after that, either. If you pursue Purdy, McCaffrey or players like Deebo Samuel (20.5 ADP), George Kittle (22.9 ADP) and Brandon Aiyuk (31.2 ADP) then you'll certainly want to avoid Giants players and probably don't want much exposure to the rosters of either Dallas or Philadelphia.

4. Jacksonville (7-8) & Tampa Bay (7-8)

Jacksonville just needs to hold off Tennessee – something that should be simple in light of Ryan Tannehill's injury – but even if they do the Jaguars could easily lose to Baltimore in the wildcard round. Even if they beat the Ravens, Jacksonville would be unlikely to beat Buffalo or Kansas City the next week. So long as you avoid the Ravens, though, the Jaguars could present viable wildcard and divisional round production for their prices. Trevor Lawrence (53.6 ADP), Travis Etienne (51.2 ADP), Christian Kirk (56.1 ADP), Zay Jones (59.0 ADP) and Evan Engram (59.2 ADP) would be candidates to pay off in this scenario, though any Jacksonville exposure should probably be limited rather than a proper stack. Even if they play two rounds, both will likely be against tough defenses.

Tampa Bay will make the playoffs as long as they hold off the Saints and Panthers, both of them at 6-9, but given how weak the Buccaneers have been all year it's easy to imagine them a one-and-done, and one without much life at that. They'll likely face Dallas – a seemingly superior team – which makes Tom Brady (56.9 ADP), Leonard Fournette (57.2 ADP), Rachaad White (59.6 ADP), Mike Evans (56.3 ADP) and Chris Godwin (49.3 ADP) less appealing than they might normally be.

Wildcard Berths

5. Baltimore (10-5) & Dallas (11-4)

Dallas presents one of the most high-leverage points on this slate because they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender but one who can't reach a division title. That means that not only must Dallas win a wildcard round game – likely against Tampa Bay – but then they'd likely play the top-seeded Eagles second. The Eagles are favored for a reason and their offense features several fantasy stars, but if the Eagles disappoint then Dallas is almost necessarily the beneficiary. So if you target Dak Prescott (19.1 ADP), CeeDee Lamb (9.7 ADP), Tony Pollard (14.5 ADP), Ezekiel Elliott (26.8 ADP) or Dalton Schultz (38.2 ADP) then understand you'll likely need to avoid the Buccaneers and Eagles.

Baltimore is expected to face the winner of the AFC South in the wildcard round, so presumably Jacksonville but otherwise Tennessee. Baltimore could easily lose against either team, and his recent knee injury otherwise takes some of the luster off of players like Lamar Jackson (39.4 ADP), Mark Andrews (42.7 ADP) and J.K. Dobbins (50.7 ADP). If you do acquire any Ravens you'll probably want to avoid Jacksonville and one of Buffalo or Kansas City.

6. Chargers (9-6) & Giants (8-6-1)

Good for the Giants and their expected playoff berth, but in the wildcard round they're likely to face either San Francisco or Minnesota, and either would be the safe favorites to win that game. Saquon Barkley (39.3 ADP) is of course a compelling fantasy consideration and is worth some thought as a one-off pick to patch up any roster spots that don't work toward your primary stacks, but he's unlikely to play two games and if he gets San Francisco it might not even be a useful game.

The Chargers are unlikely to advance past the wildcard round themselves and you certainly can't pair them with the Bengals – their likely wildcard round opponent – but with a quarterback like Justin Herbert (35.2 ADP) the Chargers certainly are a formidable threat to the Bengals. A Chargers stack would specifically be fading the Bengals and one of the Chiefs or Bills, so keep that in mind when constructing a roster with Herbert, Austin Ekeler (22.8 ADP), Keenan Allen (32.7 ADP), Mike Williams (42.1 ADP) or Joshua Palmer (58.4 ADP).

7. Miami (8-7) & Washington (7-7-1)

Miami are currently the favorite to win the seventh seed in the AFC, but they're at serious risk of missing the playoffs if they lose the next two weeks. With Tua Tagovailoa (53.7 ADP) dealing with another concussion there's no guarantee the Dolphins beat New England in Week 17, and a game against the Jets in Week 18 presents substantial peril itself. This creates both risk and opportunity with elite fantasy producers like Tyreek Hill (27.0 ADP) and Jaylen Waddle (39.2 ADP), both of whom are arguably a bit pricey for their combined odds of missing the playoffs and/or playing as a one-and-done against either Kansas City or Buffalo.

Washington could easily lose their seventh-seed spot to Green Bay or Seattle, and even if they hold on Washington would be hard-pressed to advance through any particular round. Terry McLaurin (59.9 ADP) is compelling otherwise, of course, but it seems unlikely that he'll be on the cashing rosters.

Bubble Teams

8. New England (7-8) & Seattle (7-8)

Rhamondre Stevenson (60.0 ADP) would be a potential best ball beast but the Patriots are unlikely to make the playoffs and would likely be one-and-done against either Buffalo or Kansas City.

Seattle also appears unlikely to make the playoffs at this point, with betting odds favoring Washignton and Green Bay for the final NFC wildcard spot, but there's a case to make that their odds should be about the same. The Seahawks need to win out and need Washington to lose at least one game, but as long as they do then Seattle would rank ahead of Green Bay even if the Packers win out. Seattle would likely face Minnesota or San Francisco in the wildcard round, but especially if they see Minnesota the Seahawks would have a chance to advance to the divisional rounds. Kenneth Walker (59.9 ADP), DK Metcalf (59.7 ADP) and Tyler Lockett (60.0 ADP) would be candidates to provide good value in that scenario, but extended exposure would be risky.

9. Jets (7-8) & Detroit (7-8)

The Jets and Lions might currently rank ninth in their respective conferences, but their odds of making the playoffs are worse according to the betting markets. Both Tennessee and Green Bay are seen as better bets to make the playoffs over the Jets and Detroit. It would be an obvious boon to any best ball roster if Amon-Ra St. Brown (59.0 ADP) or Garrett Wilson (60.0 ADP) logged multiple games, but it just doesn't seem realistic.

10. Tennessee (7-8) & Green Bay (7-8)

The Packers are more likely to sneak into the playoffs than the Titans are. A star player like Derrick Henry (51.7 ADP) might be tempting at such a low price, but if he were especially likely to play a game he would cost much more than he does. In Green Bay's case they need to beat Minnesota and Detroit, both times at Lambeau, which is probably easier than Tennessee needing to beat Dallas and Jacksonville without Ryan Tannehill. The Packers also benefit from the fact that Washington has to face Cleveland and Dallas still, which could easily lower them to 7-9-1. Aaron Rodgers (59.2 ADP), Aaron Jones (58.7 ADP), A.J. Dillon (59.7 ADP), Christian Watson (59.2 ADP), Allen Lazard (59.9 ADP), Romeo Doubs (59.9 ADP) are all candidates to play more than one game if Green Bay sneaks in, and they seem to have about as good of a shot as Washington despite the less favorable current seeding. Green Bay would likely need to beat Minnesota in the wildcard round to advance to a second game.

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Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
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