Best Ball has quickly become one of the most popular forms of fantasy sports. One of the leading sites for Best Ball leagues is Underdog Fantasy. This article will cover general rules, strategy, players to target and tips to help you win your Best Ball league on draft day.
The main difference between Best Ball leagues and other fantasy formats is you don't set your lineup throughout the course of the season. In fact, once you finish your draft, your job is over. The site will automatically insert whichever players perform the best on a weekly basis. It's that easy. There are no waivers, no free agents, nothing like that.
On Underdog, your starting lineup (aka: the guys that perform the best) will consist of one center, two wingers, one defenseman, one flex (forward or defender) and one goalie. You'll also have 10 bench spots, creating a 16-man roster. Choose wisely, because the16 players you draft will be the 16 that remain on your roster all season long, regardless of outcome.
Best Ball scoring on Underdog consists of, for skaters, 6 points for a goal, 4 points for an assist, 0.5 for a power-play point, 1 point for a shot and 0.5 for a hit. For goalies, you get 6 points for a win, 0.6 for a save and -3 points for a goal against.
Target goaltenders aggressively: You should be targeting goaltenders aggressively in all formats, but even more so in best ball. Simply put, there aren't enough quality goaltenders to go around. Getting a top-tier netminder like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Igor Shesterkin, Jake Oettinger or Ilya Sorokin can make a huge difference since you won't be able to improve your situation on the waiver wire. Remember, the guys that are projected to be the top goaltenders at the start of the year almost always finish as the top guys at the end of the campaign. Goalies get pushed up in formats like this. It is what it is, so don't be afraid to "reach" for your guy.
Don't forget about shots, blocks, and hits: Sure, Connor McDavid is going to be the best player in fantasy as long as he's scoring 150 points, but as you look to fill out your Best Ball roster, it's imperative to find guys that might be able to help in the secondary categories. For example, Moritz Seider of the Red Wings had five goals and 42 points last season. Solid numbers, but not elite for a defender. However, he also added 140 shots on goal, 207 hits and 190 blocks. Those are massive numbers in this type of format. Seider averaged 2.52 hits per game in 2022-23. That's more than half an assist per game under this scoring system.
Stack when possible: Those that are familiar with Best Ball football leagues are familiar with "stacking." The football equivalent is taking a quarterback and a pass catcher on the same team. If you take Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, every time Kelce does anything, Mahomes should also benefit. Same goes for hockey. If you draft Jack Hughes, target Dougie Hamilton or Timo Meier. If you draft Mika Zibanejad, try to add Chris Kreider, who has been on Zib's wing for several years now.
Don't overrate prospects: This is probably the biggest mistake people make in Best Ball leagues. Sure, an elite top-tier prospect like Connor Bedard will almost certainly be great. There's little doubt about that. But what about a guy like 2023 No. 2 overall pick Leo Carlsson? He could make an impact for Anaheim this year, but it's far from a guarantee. Remember, if a prospect doesn't make the team or starts slow, you can't cut him.
Avoid players with injuries: As a rule, I avoid injured players in Best Ball drafts unless the value is outrageous. Brandon Montour of the Panthers was one of the best defenders in the NHL last season. He is also dealing with a shoulder injury and he still doesn't have a definitive timeline for a return as training camp is set to begin. Sure, the upside is high, but what if he has a setback and doesn't return until after the All-Star break? I'll pass.
PLAYERS TO TARGET
Brady Tkachuk (W-OTT, ADP: 11): In 82 games last season, Tkachuk had 83 points (29 with the man advantage), 347 shots on goal and 242 hits. He'll play this entire season at age 24. He's a fringe top-five overall pick in this format.
Juuse Saros (G-NSH, ADP: 31): I'm not high on the Predators as a team this year, but Saros is locked into arguably the greatest workload in the NHL among starting goaltenders. As the old saying goes, "the best ability is availability."
Alex Ovechkin (W-WSH, ADP 14): Yes, Ovechkin is now 38 years of age. He's also seemingly a lock for 40 goals, 300-plus shots on goal and 150-plus hits. That's elite all-around offensive production.
Tyler Toffoli (W-NJ, ADP: 71): Toffoli was excellent in Calgary last season (34 goals, 73 points, 25 power-play points, 268 shots on goal in 82 games). Now he's moving to one of the deepest and most talented offensive teams in the league. An easy buy.
PLAYERS TO AVOID
Linus Ullmark (G-BOS, ADP: 53): Ullmark was the best goaltender in the NHL last season, but the Bruins are likely going to take a step backwards as a team in 2023-24 and Jeremy Swayman is poised to see significant playing time as well.
Victor Hedman (D-TB, ADP: 64): Hedman had 14 power-play points last season and averaged 2:36 worth of power-play time per game. The season prior, he had 38 power-play points and averaged 3:35 a man up per game. I'd MUCH rather have teammate Mikhail Sergachev at his ADP of No. 81 than Hedman at No. 50.
Connor Bedard (C-CHI, ADP 36): I touched on Bedard earlier. I would love to have him on my team, but at his current ADP, he's going ahead of names such as a Brad Marchand, Evgeni Malkin, Filip Forsberg, Jonathan Marchessault and Jesper Bratt. I'll pass at that price.
Joonas Korpisalo (G-OTT, ADP: 99): Ottawa should be a team on the rise, and they just handed Korpisalo a nice contract to serve as their No. 1 goaltender.
Wyatt Johnston (C-DAL, ADP: 192): Johnston had 24 goals and 41 points in 82 games last season as a 19-year-old. That's the type of player you want to bet on moving forward.
Mike Matheson (D-MTL, ADP: 184): Matheson had 34 points in 48 games for Montreal last season and is the team's questioned No. 1 rearguard. He's being overlooked in a major way.