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Winning Your Fantasy Football and Best Ball Leagues




Tom Brady and the Buccaneers trolled Aaron Rodgers and the Packers by allowing Brady to scout WRs for the upcoming NFL draft

As you prepare for the most important date of the year, your friends’ season-long fantasy football draft, you start to wonder, how am I going to beat my buddy this season? He has taken the championship each of the last two years and he has made sure that you don’t forget it.

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The reason most people do not win their league’s championship is not that they are poor fantasy players. It is because there is a ton of groupthink in fantasy football both in terms of player evaluation and strategy. To beat a large group of players you need to be aggressive and take some smart calculated risks.

How To Win Your Fantasy Football League

At Stokastic that is exactly what we are here to help you do. Over the last few years, our team has won over $7 million in sports gaming. We did this not by following the conventional wisdom. But by thinking outside of the box and playing aggressively in DFS, large pools, and sports betting. We have also used this same approach to win a lot of season-long fantasy football leagues and Best Ball Tournaments. By using our strategies and tools, we are going to help you do the same.

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Why the Playoffs Matter Even More Than You Think

The legendary Ricky Bobby said it best: If you are not first, you are last. And that applies to fantasy football; if you do not win your league, no one is going to remember or care. No one celebrates their second-place fantasy football team. Most people think about this when imagining winning the league title but quickly forget it on draft day, and instead follow the same strategies everyone else is.

The best way to adopt this mindset is by focusing on winning the playoffs. Fantasy football is a complex game, so by fixating on the playoffs you can greatly simplify things. Additionally, there is a ton of content across the industry that will help you do well for the season. The problem is since everyone has this information it is tougher to gain an advantage. In fact, using this information often makes it tougher to win. You are not looking for just a good team, which this can help you get. You are looking for an outlier team, and if you follow the general consensus, it is tough to construct an outlier team.

What’s more, a lot of that information is not really that valuable. Based on historical data we typically make the playoffs around 95% in season long fantasy leagues even without spending a lot of resources on doing so. You can get through the regular season by drafting well, being active on the waivers, making good start/sit decisions and making a well-timed trade. So why spend valuable resources like draft picks on players to help you make the playoffs when you can instead spend those resources on players that will help you in the playoffs?

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In Best Ball leagues we don’t have quite the same luxury of taking advantage of waiver strategies and start sit decisions to make the playoffs. So naturally our probability of making the playoffs will be lower. However, we should still focus on the playoffs because of how skewed the playoff results are for the top prizes. Finishing first or second could mean the difference of a Million dollars!

Additionally, just like in season long leagues, we should be able to make the playoffs more often than expected by an average team just by drafting efficiently since the contests are stacked with players that are below average and aren’t using good projections. Furthermore, during the regular season we have a season worth of weeks for our more superior drafted team to rise to the top exploiting these projection accuracies as well as depth on the team. In the playoffs we need every bit of edge we can possibly get to defeat all of the best teams in the contest.

Dominating the Draft

But first, you need to dominate the draft. By that we do not mean the team that looks the best to your friends right after the draft. Your friends probably like that solid team that you are going to beat in the playoffs. Instead, we are looking to dominate it by putting together the team that puts you in the best spot to win a title.

We have updated our rankings with this approach in mind. We have considered all the things that are most likely to help you win and combined them into one dynamic formula to maximize the value of every player to your team.

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Some of the things this formula considers are, how do we expect the player to be playing come playoff time, what type of upside do they have to win you your league, how will their points be scored throughout the season, which players are currently on your team, which players are likely to be on your opponents’ team’s, etc.

Properly Valuing the Playoffs

One of the biggest things we set out to do with our rankings is to make sure that the playoffs were properly weighted in all our decisions. To do this we gathered data from a bunch of leagues and built a Monte Carlo simulation that shows exactly how important each week was in determining your odds to win the championship. This works by creating thousands of different fantasy football leagues and then simulating the results of every week thousands of times. Sometimes the best teams beat up on the bad teams and win as you would expect. Other times the best team’s stud RB and QB get hurt in the first quarter of week one and the same high-flying team finishes in the basement. By playing this simulation over and over we can see which weeks have the most impact on our final payout.

These values are not static either. They are very highly dependent on how many teams make the playoffs and the payout structure. But even for the flattest payout structure with a bunch of teams making the playoffs, we know that the industry is not valuing them nearly high enough.

When it gets to Best Ball contests this gets magnified even more. In your home season long league you might get $100 for first and $50 for second. But in the largest Best Ball tournaments this difference could be up to a Million dollars just for scoring a few more points in the final round. This is why every point in the final round is so important! Losing a million dollars because Josh Allen’s pass to Stefon Diggs was incomplete due to heavy wind that you didn’t account for in July isn’t how you want your season to end.

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Stacking, especially for Best Ball, is a great way to win a tournament! This strategy is well known in DFS but may not be as familiar to those playing season long fantasy football. A stack is when you pair your QB with a player that is likely to catch passes from them. Since you need a score that is an outlier to win the whole tournament if your quarterback has a big game it is pretty likely that one of his pass catchers had a big game too so you want to take advantage of those two doing well together. The hidden benefit of this is you now know that you have two (or more) of your positions filled with guaranteed good scores and that allows you to use the rest of your roster to fill in fewer spots.

Stacking isn’t nearly as critical in season long leagues because you only have to defeat a single opponent every week and you aren’t looking for that same outlier type of score that you are looking for in the Best Ball playoffs so it can easily be avoided here.

Here are some situations where this may play a big role in our rankings and draft recommendations.

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Injured and Suspended Players

The biggest inefficiency we can take advantage of is a player that is expected to miss some amount of time but when they come back, they are expected to be major factors in the team’s offense. These players are perfect because we are getting a player that is expected to be at full strength in the playoffs for a discount based on their regular season projection that we do not care as much about. What you often see managers do is the exact opposite of this and discount these players because they might lose some regular-season games without them.

But you are not really getting zeros from these players, you can simply make up these points with players from waivers. Better yet, since we know they are missing time to start the year we can fill their spot with a low upside player that comes cheap at the end of the draft and plug them into the starting lineup for a few weeks before dropping them.

In best ball contests it is even easier because you can just draft a bit more depth at that specific position.

Injured players are a bit riskier than suspended players since we are not 100% sure when they are coming back but both represent one of the biggest inefficiencies in fantasy football.


Rookie production is more likely to increase as the season goes on, as compared to veterans, so their total points are likely understated for the playoffs and overstated for the regular season. This is especially the case for running backs who coaches tend to trust more as the season goes on or veterans get hurt. Overall running back production increases in the fantasy playoffs as the weather turns worse. However, rookie running backs production increases by about 5% faster than veterans if they are the team’s primary back and 10% faster for backups. Even if the rookie’s role does not increase you have a roster spot that you can use to pick up a spot starter down the stretch.

Backups on Teams with New Coaches

Coaches develop loyalty to players that win them games. But if a team has a new coach the players will not have had a chance to develop that trust. As such a backup player that finds themselves with a new coach has more upside for the playoffs than a backup with the same coach, all else equal. This is also a higher risk situation for starters with new coaches. Both new head coaches and offensive coordinators qualify depending on who primarily makes the playing time decisions.

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About Strength of Schedule

The general fantasy football consensus seems to be that strength of schedule is not predictable from year to year because of all the turnover in personnel. While this is true to a degree, a defense that was good last year on average tends to be good the following year. In general, a good defense should still decrease your playoff projections by at least 3%, and a poor one increases it by at least 3% with preseason projections. This may not seem like a lot, but remember these are magnified by the fact that playoff points are worth so much more than regular-season points. Furthermore, there are some ways that we can improve our SOS adjustments.

Home/Road Splits — A team playing at home typically scores 3% more fantasy points than they do on the road, running backs increase even more. If your player is playing two home games in Weeks 15 and 16, that could be enough to put you over the top in the championship game.

Weather — As the weather starts to get colder teams tend to score less and pass less. If your quarterback is making trips to Soldier Field and Lambeau during Weeks 15 and 16, their production may decrease by up to 10%. You do not want those guys on your team during the weeks you care about the most. On the other hand, if a running back is making this same trip, he could see his production increase by up to 10%, so he could be a championship winner.

Domes — When most teams are seeing their projected points decreasing in the fantasy playoffs those teams that are going to domes are going to see their production increase. If your players are visiting the Saints and Falcons, you will increase your chances of winning the title, and we can 100% make this forecast before we draft.

If you want to win your league instead of falling just short, you have to take calculated risks, the same way we have over the last few years, winning millions of dollars. Luckily at Awesemo, we have all the tools to help you implement these strategies and properly value players based on their odds to win a championship.

Thanks for reading to the end of this article! If you appreciate this free content and want to see more of it every day, you can help us out by sharing this article on social media! Check out our fantasy football draft rankings, our fantasy football draft cheatsheet, our NFL fantasy football sleepers and our NFL player profiles. If all that free content isn't enough for you to dominate your Fantasy Football draft this year, check out the Awesemo Fantasy Football Draft Kit, which includes sophisticated tools and proprietary fantasy data that you can only get from us. Want more free fantasy football news? We've also got a brand new Fantasy Football YouTube Channel where you can tune in every day for the best fantasy videos in the business.

Steve has been a life long sports fan supporting the Cubs, Colts, and Bulls. Growing up he would spend countless hours listening to the Cubs on the radio and perfecting Andre Dawson's swing or Michael Jordan's fade away. He has played fantasy sports since the 90's and has won a wide variety of season long leagues and online contests in NBA, MLB, and NFL. He started playing DFS in 2014 which took his fantasy sports obsession to another level. During the 2018 NFL season he won the World Fantasy Football Championship as well as a Milly Maker and several $100k prize payouts. He has also had multiple six figure wins and live finals appearances in NBA, MLB, and MMA. You can contact him on Twitter at @SteveBuzzard

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