Each Best Ball platform has slight, or sometimes major, differences in various aspects like scoring, roster size, ADP and opponent tendencies. As drafters, we need to understand these nuances of each individual site in order to ensure we are building the best possible teams for that specific site.
DraftKings is arguably the craziest platform to draft on right now. For DraftKings tournaments, the structure is similar to Underdog when it comes to your league and the playoff weeks.
- Round 1 – Weeks 1-14
- Round 2 – Week 15
- Round 3 – Week 16
- Round 4 – Week 17
- Round 1 – Top 2 Advance – 12 Team Groups
- Round 2 – Top 1 Advance – 12 Team Groups
- Round 3 – Top 1 Advance – 12 Team Groups
- Round 4 – Final Round – 969 Team Group
While the exact numbers of each round are slightly different than Underdog, it’s still extremely similar. IT’s also (relatively speaking) a bit easier path to reach the finals than maybe we’ve come to expect in Best Ball Tournaments. However, the final round is absolutely massive. You have to beat nearly 1,000 other teams in that final round, which clearly makes week 17 VERY important. Where DraftKings is also extremely different from other platforms is in their scoring, which is the same scoring as their DFS product.
Key Scoring Differences & Roster Differences
- Full Point PPR
- 300 Yards Passing Bonus – 3 Points
- 100 Yards Rushing Bonus – 3 Points
- 100 Yards Receiving Bonus – 3 Points
- 20 Round Drafts
Those may not seem like huge differences from a platform like Underdog, but they definitely are. Full point PPR lends itself more to, shocker, the players who catch more passes. Pass catching backs and higher volume wide receivers get a significant boost over their peers. The bonuses have major impacts as well. Hitting 300 yards passing for a quarterback is almost the equivalent of another passing touchdown or 75 yards passing. This can help prop up some of the pocket passer types, but it also adds a boost to the dual threat QBs that have access to both the passing upside and rushing because the raw score that players like Kyler Murray can obtain are simply unmatched in this scoring format.
With less workhorse running backs in today’s NFL, this also gives an even greater edge to wide receivers as a whole. With full point PPR and the 100 yard bonus, wide receivers have access to ceilings (and oftentimes floors) that very few running backs do. On the flip side, those few running backs with the rare blend of rushing and receiving volume/upside offer a tremendous advantage over the rest of the running back pool. For example, Christian McCaffrey in 2019 was accumulating both RB1 and WR2 volume/scores every single week with his combination of rushing and receiving. Essentially, it elevates the value of the truly elite dual threat backs (CMC, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, etc.) and pushes down the backs without access to that type of role.
Finally, the drafts are 20 rounds compared to 18 in contests like Best Ball Mania II and the Puppy on Underdog. This also might not seem like a big difference, but it actually is in many ways. It’s an 11% increase in roster size, and those 2 extra picks afford you much more flexibility in how you structure your teams. The “onesie” positions like QB and TE where you only start one player each week give you more opportunity to use 3 picks on that position if you aren’t able to get the requisite upside earlier in the draft at the position. At RB and WR, those extra picks allow you to build more depth depending upon how your early picks go. If you start RB heavy, you can draft a huge volume of wide receivers (10, 11 or even 12) in order to make up for that lack of quality with quantity. If you go more of the zero or hero RB route, you have the ability to attach a couple extra late round running backs as upside “lottery ticket” picks build in those extra shots at finding a valuable running back that 18 rounds don’t afford you to do.
ADP and Draft Dynamics
Scoring differences are critical, but understanding the dynamics of drafts on a platform like DraftKings are probably the most important factor in gaining an edge over your competition.
To put it bluntly, DraftKings drafts are the softest in the best ball market right now. There are frequently very wild picks, reaches and people on auto-draft. On top of that, the ADP is a lot less efficient than other sites, particularly Underdog. There are simply players that are flat out too cheap at their ADP based on any rankings or projections you might use, and those types of values don’t exist (or not for long) in more efficient markets.
There are two very clear themes in DraftKings drafts that we can use to our advantage.
First, higher quality wide receiver picks last longer on DK. If you’ve drafted at all on Underdog the last 2 summers, you’ve seen the paradigm shift to a more efficient market with essentially all of the wide receivers getting pushed way up the board in terms of ADP. That hasn’t made its way to DK just yet despite the scoring being more in favor of it.
Knowing that the WR depth lasts longer on DK is extremely important. We know that early round RBs have high bust rates, but they also provide elite upside that can help us win tournaments. Knowing the fact that we can spend some early draft capital on running backs without losing out on both wide receiver upside and depth on our teams allows us to more easily build super high upside teams with early RBs. We also know that the elite tier of tight ends can provide huge advantages both in the point scoring floor/upside combination they provide, as well as the structural advantage they give you in your draft with the ability to only draft 2 total tight ends. So, again, knowing that you can use an early round pick on a tight end without getting buried at wide receiver is valuable. Those are obviously not things you need to force in every draft, but they’re very valuable to understand.
The flip side is that you can also build out a monstrous wide receiver core if you focus at wide receiver early. This would allow you to dominate your draft with elite wide receiver scoring, and then use the depth of a 20 round draft to build up other positions with more quantity. And we know that the elite WRs can be totally dominant with the DK scoring (full point PPR and 100 yard bonus).
The second theme is at Quarterback. Many DK drafts will be VERY QB thirsty. Not only did the elite QBs go earlier than any other site in 2021 just based on ADP, but it’s important to read your room because you’ll often see many drafters taking QBs much earlier than ADP. While that can be an advantage if others overspend on the position, we still don’t want to get run out of ALL the QBs with upside, and we also want to be considering how to create stacks with our QBs and pass catchers. Maintaining flexibility with potential stacks can be critical as we keep an eye on the draft as it pertains to QB.
Ultimately, DraftKings drafts were very advantageous in 2021, and I suspect they will remain so in 2022, particularly with the launch of a $5 Milly Maker contest. If we take into account all the different dynamics of this platform, I think we can build the most +EV teams here and give ourselves the best shot at a huge win across the best ball space.
Last thing to touch on is the Tournament Structure on DraftKings. As of this writing, they only have their $5 Milly Maker tournament available, but the structure on this tournament is pretty important. As you saw at the top, you simply need to advance 3 times in 12 team groups to make the final. We shouldn’t go so far as to say it’s an easy feat (it’s still incredibly low probability), but it’s certainly not as difficult as some other tournaments we’ve seen in the past.
More importantly, the final round is absolutely MASSIVE. 969 total players make the final Week 17 Championship Week. With that large of a field, the amount of likely crossover of players between teams, focusing our strategy on optimizing for that week 17 tournament is even more important here on DraftKings than anywhere else (again, speaking strictly about their current $5 Milly Maker tournament).