How the Underdog BBMIV Prize Structure Impacts Draft Strategy

May 04, 2023
How the Underdog BBMIV Prize Structure Impacts Draft Strategy

As of Saturday evening, Underdog Fantasy's Best Ball Mania IV tournament is underway! It is (once again) the biggest best ball tournament in history. With 677,376 total entrants, the prize pool has grown to a staggering $15 million!

More Best Ball Strategy: Player Profiles | Impact First-Round Rookies | More Impact Rookies

Best Ball Mania IV Prize Breakdown

Last year, BBM3 introduced a new prize with $1 million going to the top-scoring team in the regular season (Weeks 1-14) instead of just paying out teams that advanced to the playoffs. But now, Underdog has expanded the prize pool for the regular season with a third of the prize money going to regular-season payouts. The breakdown for these payouts is as follows:

Based on this, we see that the 10,000 highest-scoring teams will get a payout, which is just 1.48% of entrants receiving a payout for this prize. So, how, if at all, should this change in a team's expected value influence your draft strategy?

How Regular-Season Scoring Correlates with Playoff Success

If your main goal for Best Ball Mania is to advance to the playoffs, you're in luck. It turns out that scoring more points in the regular season is not a great measure of potential playoff success. As the chart below demonstrates, the distribution of regular season points scored overlaps a ton between teams that advanced only to the quarterfinals (first round of the playoffs), to the semifinals, or to the final round.

Obviously, there is a massive difference in points scored between playoff and non-playoff teams. While there isn't much in our control in this regard, the cutoff for regular season points scored needed to make the playoffs is about 1,600 points.

As I mentioned, the top 1.48% of regular season point scorers will receive an additional payout worth (at least) 10x the $25 entry. If we analyze the top 1.5% of teams in regular-season scoring from each of the past three Best Ball Mania tournaments, we see that there's a 99%+ advance rate for the teams that fall into that bucket:

When to Draft Your Best Ball Mania IV Team

One of the biggest debates in best ball tournaments is determining when in the offseason you should draft your team. On one hand, drafting earlier in the offseason will give you the advantage of ADPs not fully settling in and being able to get closing line value on player ADPs. On the other hand, drafting later in the offseason will lead to fewer dead players (players who get injured or buried in the depth chart in the offseason) on your roster. Well, if you're aiming for one of the regular season prizes, drafting later seems to offer a slight edge.

The Bottom Line

These analyses barely scratch the surface of how to approach Underdog's BBMIV tournament through the lens of their new payout structure. This does not cover the impact that stacking or roster construction could have on this as those will be covered in separate analyses.

Ultimately, the way the new payout structure is set up should not impact your drafting strategy all that much and you don't need to worry about sacrificing regular-season expected value for a chance at making the playoffs.

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