This week, we’ve been running through each position and exploring ideal roster construction for those positions in best ball formats. So far, we’ve covered ground on the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Continuing that approach today, we’re diving into the Team Defense/Special Teams (DST) position.   

If you’re new to best ball, they are fantasy football leagues that remove week-to-week management. You draft your team and your optimal lineup automatically gets set for the highest score each week. It’s that easy. No waivers, no trades and no management in season. When the dust settles, the best team(s) take home the prizes.

The two most popular places to currently compete in best ball leagues are on Fanball BestBall 10s and in FFPC satellite leagues. With those two places being the focal point of popularity, we’re going to dive into some data from the past few seasons for what has been ideal lineup allocation and construction per position just to provide a few guidelines in building successful teams.  

You can also check out our 2020 rankings hub for early 2020 rankings that will be updated throughout the offseason to apply to these early drafts.

Number of Total DST Selected and Win Rate

# of DSTFanball Tm %Win %FFPC Tm%Win %

*Fanball Data is from 2017-2019 **FFPC Data is from 2018-2019 (no SuperFlex)

Team DST is a critical component to best ball teams, but often is treated like a throwaway spot. At Fanball, teams taking two DST are by far the most popular draft approach, with a gaudy 75% of teams leaving the room with a pair of defenses. Those teams do clear our baseline 8.3% win rate, but the 15.5% of drafters taking three team DST have a spiked rate of success and an edge on those teams. 

In FFPC formats, the most common approach is taking three DST and that’s the only winning formula that meets our desired threshold. No other approach even meets the base rate over in those leagues over our sample. We’ve established that we want to take three DST on each site as the preferred approach, but the when and where are still uncovered.

Allocation and Success Rate for First DST Drafted

DST1 RoundFanball%Win%FFPC%Win%

Team DST go late in drafts as 79.9% of Fanball teams have selected their first DST in Round 15 or later while 83.6% of FFPC teams have done the same. You really don’t want to be one of the teams reaching for a defense or paying top dollar while chasing the top point-getters from the previous season.

At Fanball teams taking their first DST prior to Round 15 have combined for a 7.1% win rate compared to 8.9% afterward. In FFPC formats, that threshold is a round later with teams taking their first DST prior to Round 16 posting a paltry 6.5% win rate compared to an 8.9% win rate afterward. No individual round ahead of those two thresholds has a win rate that sniffs our base rate. Tried and true, don’t be the team paying the tax for a perceived top defense outside of few examples to follow. 

DST2 Selection for 2DST Teams

DST2 RoundFanball%Win%FFPC%Win%

Focusing on the teams that have taken only two DST and when they’ve selected that final defense here. This approach is taken by 44.4% of FFPC drafters, but has been a suboptimal strategy in bulk. Where it has had success is in the later rounds. 2DST drafters taking their final defense in the final four rounds on FFPC have posted a 9.0% win rate.

If you think you can just take two lower-end defenses, though, that hasn’t worked out. FFPC teams waiting and taking both of their DST in the final four rounds have had just a 7.2% win rate compared to a 9.3% win rate prior. Since we’ve already established that the hot spot for your first DST in FFPC is in Round 16 or later, teams taking that first DST at that point, but prior to the final four rounds have a 9.4% win rate when going with a 2DST approach and the final one coming over the final four rounds. 

Taking a high-priced defense (prior to Round 16) and pairing them with an end of the line one (final four rounds) has also had success for 2DST drafters with a 9.0% win rate. 

2DST drafters at Fanball have a win rate above the base rate and is the most common approach taken. 79.5% of those teams have taken their second and final DST in the final three rounds and have posted an 8.8% win rate. 

The difference at Fanball is that 2DST teams taking both of their DST units from this area of the draft have had success, with a 9.0% win rate. Teams taking both of their DST prior to the final three rounds have had just a 7.7% win rate. The one caveat for going for your two DST picks over the final three rounds is that doing so with your final two picks has not worked out. 2DST teams solely saving their final two picks for DST-DST have had just a 7.7% win rate. 12.3% of 2DST drafters also have tried this backdoor approach to negative results.

The other difference at Fanball is that 2DST drafters going for a higher-priced option paired with a lower-end one have not had success like FFPC drafters. At Fanball, teams taking their DST1 prior to that Round 15 threshold and then their final DST over the final three rounds have had a 7.2% win rate. The hottest pocket for 2DST success with a tangible sample at Fanball is teams taking their DST1 in Rounds 15-17 and then their final DST over the final three rounds, accounting for a 9.0% win rate on 39.7% of 2DST drafted teams.

DST3 Selection for 3DST Teams

DST3 RoundFanball%Win%FFPC%Win%

As mentioned to open, the 3DST approach hasn’t been overly popular at Fanball, but has been successful. Teams taking 3DST have had a 9.5% win rate with a quantifiable sample of teams. The interesting part of the approach is that while 2DST teams closing their Fanball drafts by going DTS-DST have struggled, 3DST teams going DST-DST-DST to close drafts have had a 10.1% win rate. Those teams also make up 24.4% of our 3DST sample. So going bottom of the barrel defenses can work, but that approach needs to be three-pronged rather than just a pair of DST. 

Although 3DST teams have had success overall, one thing remains true for Fanball. Taking a high-priced option (prior to Round 15) is still not sound. 3DST teams taking their first DST prior to Round 15 have a 7.8% win rate. Those teams then taking their second defense prior to the final three rounds have just a 7.1% win rate. Even teams taking their first DST prior to Round 15 and pairing them with two more lower-end DST units over the final three rounds haven’t had success, registering a 7.9% win rate.

In FFPC formats, selecting three DST is the most popular strategy and the most successful. Going with the three later DST picks has been the most successful approach within those teams. 3DST teams at FFPC taking all three of their DST units in Round 20 or later have had a 9.9% win rate while teams taking all three of their DST units after Round 15 have had a 10.1% win rate. 

While a stud DST1 and a dud DST2 pairing has worked at FFPC for 2DST drafters, paying up for a top defense to lead a 3DST approach hasn’t been as fruitful. 3DST teams taking their DST1 prior to Round 16 have had an 8.1% win rate. The hottest spot for 3DST drafters to select their DST1 has been in Rounds 16-19, accounting for a 10.2% win rate on 44.5% of our 3DST team sample.