NFL Playoff Best Ball On Underdog: Strategy 101

Regular season best ball is over. But that doesn’t mean your best ball dreams have to die. NFL Playoff Best Ball is here! There are some similarities, but also significant differences from regular season best ball. 

There are also significant differences between playoff best ball contests. Here, I’m going to talk about The Gauntlet on Underdog. Make sure you read the rules before entering any contests, because the strategy differs. Let’s dive into the structure of The Gauntlet and talk strategy.

NFL Playoff Best Ball Strategy Guide


It starts with 11,200 drafts, with 6 managers in each. The drafts are sequential, so managers are essentially grouped into drafts with whoever entered around the same time as them. Once 6 managers have entered, the 10-round draft begins within a minute.

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Each manager drafts 10 players, and then they are done. There is no adding, dropping, or trading players. No setting lineups. Each week your team is active, your top scoring players–based generally on the same scoring as a standard half-point-per-reception season-long league– will accumulate points automatically, within a roster of 1 quarterback, 1 running back, 2 pass catchers (wide receivers and tight ends both qualify), and 1 flex player, which can be from any position other than quarterback.

Just like in regular season best ball, a majority of teams get eliminated each round. But in regular season best ball, the first round lasts 14 weeks. In playoff best ball, each round is just 1 week. 

The first round–Wild Card Weekend–teams compete against the 5 other teams they drafted against. Just 2 of the 6 move on to the second round.

For the second round, advancing teams are randomly assigned to a new pod of 14 teams for the Divisional Round, and only 2 of 14 move on to round 3.

For the third round, advancing teams are randomly assigned to a new pod of 8 teams, and only the top team moves on to the championship round.

The final round– the Super Bowl– pits all 400 remaining teams against each other in a large tournament, where the top team wins $150,000 and the bottom 200 teams each win $750.

NFL Playoff Best Ball Strategy:

In case you didn’t catch that last sentence, let me repeat it: $750 to the bottom half of the teams that make the finals. $150,000 to first.

While it’s great to turn $25 into $750, the real money isn’t just in making it to the final. The real money is in winning. So generally, the best strategy is to work backwards from the Super Bowl.

Some tips:

  • Draft a team that has at least a possibility of 5 or more active players in the Super Bowl (more is better, to increase your Super Bowl combos). This could be 5+ players from 1 team, but generally it’s probably better to have 5+ in a combo from 1 AFC and 1 NFC team. You might even be able to draft a team for multiple Super Bowl scenarios (e.g., 4 players from one AFC team, 3 players each from 2 different NFC teams). 
  • The 49ers and Ravens currently have the likeliest odds of making the Super Bowl. They also both have first round byes, meaning any Ravens of 49ers you draft will be zeroes for the first round. The one scenario where you might be able to get away with just 4 players in the Super Bowl is if it’s Ravens-49ers, because it will be tough to advance even 4 players from those teams through the first round.
  • Try to avoid players that will be playing against each other in the first round. For example, the Chiefs and Bills are currently projected to play each other in the first round. Avoid drafting players from both on the same team.
  • There is no need to dominate in round 1. 2 of 6 teams advance, and you just need to sneak by. Try not to get sucked in to drafting multiple players from a team you don’t think has a real shot at making it at least to the Conference Championship round.
  • Be agile. Unfortunately, we can’t always draft every player we want. You might go into a draft thinking you want to draft for a Ravens-Eagles Super Bowl, but you have the 6th pick and by the time it gets to you both Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson are already taken. Can you win the final without either starting quarterback? Should you draft a backup quarterback later? Is it likelier that both teams make the Super Bowl but one of the quarterbacks gets hurt, or that another team makes the Super Bowl?
  • Pay attention to your allocation of skill at each position. You can only get scores from 2 running backs or 1 quarterback at most. You probably shouldn’t draft Both Hurts and Jackson with your first 2 picks. If you’ve already drafted Christian McCaffrey, would you rather have both Raheem Mostert and Devon Achane or is one of those picks better spent on Jaylen Waddle?
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That’s it. It’s a simple game, yet tough to win. If you have any follow up questions, my DMs are open on Twitter/X: @playerqdfs. Happy to talk shop. Good luck in the playoffs!

Neil Orfield has been playing DFS regularly since 2013, but his success really started taking off in 2019 when he had a six figure payday with a hand built NFL lineup. The next day, he signed up for a Stokastic+ subscription with FantasyCruncher. Since then he has won an NFL milly and added six figure wins in XFL, MLB, and NBA. He has recently excelled at NFL Showdown, with many five- and six-figure wins since 2021.

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