On DRAFT, we have 18 picks and need those 18 players to fill 8 spots in our lineup every week (1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 3 wide receivers, 1 tight end, and 1 flex).
When building our DRAFT best ball rosters, we don’t have to take a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we want to approach each draft with an open mind and enough flexibility to take advantage of wherever we can find the most value.
While maintaining some flexibility is important, some lineup builds have proven most likely to lead to success. There are also some common sense minimums for each position that we should try to meet in all but the most extreme cases.
Note: This article is targeted specifically to DRAFT but is applicable to best ball drafting on other sites as well. In Bestball10s, we have 20 picks but need to roster two defenses, so the roster math is identical.
Roster building basics: 16+2
With the dual goals of maintaining draft flexibility and putting together a lineup built with the optimal positional totals, an approach we will call 16+2is a great rule of thumb. The optimal lineup build should hit the following minimum positional numbers:
- Quarterback: 2
- Running Back 5
- Wide Receiver: 7
- Tight End 2
Below, we will go through position-by-position below to detail why these minimums make sense.
You may notice the positional targets above add up to 16, which leaves us with two “free agent” picks. There is always a temptation to try to figure out the best roster construction and stick to it no matter what. However, the roster guidelines listed above are vague on purpose. We want to maintain flexibility in our approach for two main reasons:
1. We need to adjust our approach to account for draft capital spent. We should be adjusting our late-round strategy and positional targets to account for how we have drafted in the earlier rounds. What do we mean when we talk about draft capital?
Let’s look at tight end as an example. We know we want at least two but deciding whether or not to take a third is tricky. We should strongly consider how early we selected our first two tight ends when deciding how much of a priority adding a third tight end with one of our two “free agent” picks is. If we have drafted Travis Kelce and Austin Hooper as our first two tight ends, we already have a ton of upside and a very high floor at the position. There should be better uses of our two free agent selections and we can stick with just two. On the other hand, if we have waited until round 10 or later to select our TE1, then the tight end position will be a prime candidate for one of our free agent selections and we should try to get three at the position as long as the board falls in a way that we don’t have to make a major reach to do so.
The draft capital calculus is similar at other positions. If we have a Top-10 quarterback and drafted at Top-20 quarterback as our QB2, there are probably better uses for our free agent picks than adding a third quarterback. If we have gone especially heavy on either running back or wide receiver early in the draft, that should allow us the opportunity to use our free agent picks to bolster other areas.
2. We need to adjust our approach to allow for best-player-available. Given our roster, we may decide using one of our late-round picks on a TE3 would be a better idea than targeting an eighth wide receiver. However, if all of the decent TE3 options are gone when our pick rolls around and there are still some high-upside wide receivers available, we want to default to just taking the best player available. Always keep in mind that simply drafting good players trumps all else. We may feel that a 2-6-8-2 lineup build is our optimal configuration but we still have to have enough flexibility to detour slightly from our plan to try to capture as much value as we can depending upon how others are drafting
With the basics of our approach in mind, let’s dive into the positional specifics.
Targeting at least two quarterbacks is a no-brainer. There is no good reason to take a zero at the position when our starter is on bye. Plus, the position is deep enough that we should be able to get a QB2 who will have at least a couple weeks better than our starter that will boost our total score.
The only real question is whether to target two or three quarterbacks. The best answer — it depends. We should adjust our strategy depending on who our QB1 and QB2 are. In most cases, especially in tournaments, we probably do not want to draft a QB3. Assuming we have drafted a pair of solid starters, a third quarterback is not necessary to build a solid floor at the position. A third quarterback also does little to move the needle in terms of upside.
Let’s take a close look at the 2018 results and dive into when it makes sense to draft three quarterbacks.
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