Some would argue that the NFL Playoff Best Ball format is harder than the regular season Best Ball format. You need to correctly predict what happens in the playoffs, predict the highest scorers on the week, and specifically for Underdog Fantasy, survive the natural variance of the groups (or what we call ‘pods’) your team is competing against. And that’s just to make it to the final round in the Super Bowl! Once there you’re likely competing against a ton of other teams with lots of similar players.
While that seems tough, what it means is that we can benefit even more in this format from ‘uniqueness’ than any other form of Best Ball. By uniqueness we mean, in simple terms, finding a way within your draft to create a group of players for your team that is rare amongst all the teams drafted in a Playoff Best Ball tournament. Obviously we need to make it to that Super Bowl round in the first place to win the tournament, but it’s not good enough to just get there. Once you’re there, you need to have some way to differentiate yourself from your opponents, which is far tougher in this format given the smaller player pool and teams having players who have been eliminated from the real NFL playoffs. But, that difficulty level also means that the potential reward is FAR greater than any other form of Best Ball.
In this article, we are going to discuss different ways to increase your 1st place equity in this unique format. There are two main ways to get unique in this NFL Playoff Best Ball and both require you to get a bit uncomfortable.
Getting Unique in NFL Playoff Best Ball
The first approach is grabbing lower owned players on the premium NFL teams, or the teams with far greater odds of reaching the Super Bowl.This is similar to a common strategy in Showdown DFS (for those familiar). You want to increase the uniqueness of your lineup to increase the amount you win when you are right, and a unique player in that final round can often be a straightforward path to that even if the player is not a star member of the team. Fluky touchdowns happen in many NFL games, and we see them decide those Showdown DFS contests all the time.
With over 50k entries in some of these tournaments on Underdog, you can only imagine how many Chiefs, Bills, and Eagles stacks are out there. If we take the primary approach and are only taking their premium players, we are increasing the likelihood of having our finals lineup duplicated. As great as it is to win, you would rather win by yourself than with 25 of your closest friends. For example in the Mitten 2 contest, if you solo win, you take home $50,000, if you are duplicated with 25 others, you take home $5,462.64.
Although winning $5k+ is nice, there are ways to increase your likelihood of winning $50k while only slightly lowering your advance equity. This is by grabbing the lower-owned players on these teams. Think players with ADPs near 60 (on Underdog) or no ADP at all. In the Bills case, it could be grabbing Jamison Crowder in the oft-chance he gains the slot role over Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie when he regains health. Or in the Chiefs case, Melvin Gordon becomes their workhorse in the playoffs (or even just one or two games). These scenarios aren’t likely, but they are possible. And with the likelihood they are less than 10% owned in the contest overall, you increase the chances you are the only one with them in the Super Bowl which is significant leverage on the field.
Uniqueness can also help in a cumulative scoring format like Drafters as well. You don’t have to deal with the groups (or pods) each round, but you simply need to score the most points. Your main players are likely to drive most of your points along the way, but as teams get knocked out of the NFL Playoffs, yours and everyone’s roster grows thinner. In the later rounds, that WR4 on a team still alive could put up a score that sets you over the top from your opponents who drafted a “better” player
Flipping The Build
The second approach is what we’d call ‘flipping the build‘. In this type of scenario, you would largely disregard ADP (average draft position). With only 60 players being drafted, and the variable of players being not only need to score points but also for their team to win, ADP is not always going to be the most accurate encapsulation of player output. The playoffs can be pure chaos. It may not always be likely, but any team can beat any team in a one game sample. In flipping the build and drafting for some combination of less likely Super Bowl matchups and/or projecting for some upsets, you gain leverage by not only having the teams in the Super Bowl matchup that FAR fewer of your opponents have, but also in each individual pod along the way as the earlier picks will leave other teams thin (if their team loses), increasing your odds of advancing in each round.
You can even flip the build by projecting for some upsets with the teams that have byes as those teams will naturally be harder to advance out of the first round (since they do not score points in that first round). By getting unique with the way those rosters are built, you decrease the probability of duplication.