Love best-ball but looking for something with a twist? FFPC is already an industry leader in best ball competition for serious fantasy players but they also are the innovators when it comes to offering variety. Aside from the new Best Ball Slim Leagues which I explained earlier in the offseason and even showed how to build a roster via live stream, FFPC offers something no other site does: the Terminator.
This takes all the best ball scoring rules along with the draft-only/no waivers philosophy but adds a small element of weekly management. Intrigued yet? By the time you finish reading, you might be encouraged to try it out.
Let's dive into the details of this unique league type along with some strategies to help you tackle your first attempt at a Terminator league draft. After you're done here, you can join a Terminator best-ball league for just $35 or jump into the Terminator Tourney for true high-stakes action.
Rules and Scoring
Key points that distinguish this league from typical best-ball contests:
- You must terminate one player each week or else your team is disqualified. Don't worry, they send weekly email reminders!
- League scoring runs through Week 16. Winner has the most total points by that point.
- Kicker and Defense are required - more on this later.
Balance is Key
Like stocking up on RB early? Prefer the Zero RB method? Never draft a QB until after round 10? That's not the best way to approach a Terminator league.
If there's one key phrase to remember during a Terminator League draft, it's "Begin with the end in mind." By the time most head-to-head leagues are in playoff season, a team in a Terminator League will have half of its original players left on the roster. By season's end (after Week 16), there will be a total of 10 players left standing, which is just enough to field a starter at each position. The two flex spots give some, uh, flexibility, but it would do no good to have five great receivers or two stud QBs around while having a deficit at another position. Ideally, your roster is rock solid at each spot.
In best-ball leagues, fantasy managers often shoot for the high-ceiling player that could turn into a league-winner or at least provide some scoring spikes on certain weeks throughout the season. Those players are always helpful when they go boom, but if there aren't enough high-floor players remaining by the time the season is winding down, any lead in the standings will surely slip away. Drafting conservatively to some extent in the first few rounds is recommended, especially since trading and waiver wire adds are not allowed.
Play It Safe Early
The late-round QB strategy is popular in redraft leagues. You don't need to pull the trigger early on the position, but waiting too long here could spell trouble. Keep in mind that you will only have one QB by year's end and that second QB probably won't hang around past midseason because those flex spots are more volatile and more valuable to keep backups around. Which passer you hang your hat on is a matter for another article, but bear in mind that even though this is best ball, you can't fall back on the two-QB system all year. A relatively "safe" pick like Dak Prescott early, Jared Goff a little later, or perhaps Kirk Cousins if you truly insist on waiting for a QB are the best choices.
It's been said there are no safe running backs, even in the first round, and it's hard to disagree. That said, we know who is guaranteed a relatively large share of touches in their team's offense barring injury, so the Zero RB strategy would be hard to pull off. If you choose to make someone like Kareem Hunt your RB1 and Tevin Coleman or Mark Ingram your RB2, then you could start with Adams/Kittle/Mahomes/Kupp before addressing RB and then shoot for upside later with rookies. The point remains that whichever position you address in the early rounds, it should consist of a player you feel good about sticking around all year. For that reason, I'm fading James Conner, David Johnson, D'Andre Swift, A.J. Green, and Rob Gronkowski in this format.
Take Chances Late - Lots of Chances
Once you pass Round 10, it's time to begin the search for the infamous "upside." It doesn't mean throw caution to the wind and take a bunch of rookies or unproven players. It does mean that playing it safe is no longer necessary because your starting spots have been addressed and many of the players selected from this point on will be cut at some point during the season.
That means taking Bryce Love instead of Adrian Peterson, Brandon Aiyuk over Dede Westbrook, Matt Breida over James White, Joe Burrow over Jimmy Garoppolo, and Dante Pettis over Larry Fitzgerald. OK, I'm not taking Dante Pettis anywhere - that ship has sailed, sunk, and doesn't need to be explored again - but you get the idea. It's best to take a chance here because that player who flames out quickly can be terminated just as quickly.
In fact, the termination process begins before Week 1 so there is guaranteed to be a player on your roster that never even has a chance to contribute. You are almost obligated to take a lotto ticket in the later rounds. The first cut you make should not be one of your defenses because that position has a reasonable chance to give you a weekly advantage up until the time you need to clear up space without sacrificing a high-scoring flex player.
Draft 3 Defenses and 3 Kickers
Fantasy football "experts" will preach that you don't draft a team defense early and that the unpredictability of the position doesn't warrant holding onto a backup. In best-ball formats, you obviously need to roster a second DST and kicker to account for bye weeks. Shouldn't this be enough?
Technically, yes. But in a league where you want to assemble an ideal roster that will stand the test of time, grabbing a third selection at each position can help more than an eighth RB or WR. With 26 total roster spots available, you certainly have room for an extra kicker and/or defense. In a non-superflex league where taking three QBs isn't essential, a third DST is far more likely to surpass the point total of your first DST selection than a third QB like Tyrod Taylor or Sam Darnold is to outscore Deshaun Watson at any point. Many of the top winning roster constructions include a third defense and kicker. In fact, teams that draft a fourth or even fifth defense are more likely to win than those that stick with two.
Visual proof via RotoViz's FFPC Roster Construction Explorer that taking extra DST not only doesn't make you a noob, it makes you a crafty best ball player:
It's harder for some to stomach drafting three kickers, but it is even more important than for defense. First, injuries happen. Stephen Gostkowski, Robbie Gould, Michael Badgley, and Adam Vinatieri are some of the most reliable kickers in the league who missed extended time last season, leaving best ball owners with one lesser option at the position all year. It's not possible for an entire team defense to be put on IR, but kickers get hurt, cut, or simply don't perform well. Hedging your bet is a good idea since there is no way to pick up or stream a kicker during the season. One again, teams that owned a third kicker won at a higher rate than those with just three.
Now, extend this philosophy to a Terminator league where an injured or terrible kicker can get the boot off your roster, saving you from having to cut an RB or WR that you want to give more time to evaluate. Trust me, the extra pick will make a positive difference and you should prioritize a third kicker and defense more so than a third QB.
Here are two examples of Terminator drafts I've participated in. One draft kicked off the day after the NFL Draft wrapped up and the other is still in progress, to give you an idea of how ADPs have shifted.
May Terminator Draft
I lucked into the first overall pick, which made my strategy obvious. I'm a proponent of the one-RB approach this year, which means secure your workhorse in the first or second round and then wait until round 5 or 6 to take RB2. With Christian McCaffrey on my roster, that was a no-brainer. I followed up with three target hogs at WR and then Dak Prescott at QB. Evan Engram seems like an early selection but keep in mind this is a TE premium league, so waiting any longer at the turn would have meant fewer risk-free options.
Kareem Hunt is my favorite RB2 target this year as he has top-15 upside and even more if Nick Chubb misses time. If nothing else, his pass-catching floor means he should stick on my roster all year. I regret the Sony Michel pick a little but this was long before news of his surgery and the relative safety of Nyheim Hines and the fact I own both non-Ekeler Charger RBs means a good chance I landed an RB3 option.
Breshad Perriman and Jalen Reagor are pure upside plays but they won't be missed by the time November comes around since they are highly unlikely to supplant my trio of Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, and Kenny Golladay.
August Terminator Draft
This draft is nearly over as we are currently in Round 24. With the fifth pick, I tried a different strategy to see how I liked the roster construction. There is some degree of risk with Dalvin Cook (holdout), Derrick Henry (last year's workload), and Alvin Kamara (injury history), so I grabbed Michael Thomas first. It felt just a bit early to go with a tight end and both Kittle and Kelce were gone before my next pick.
I really wanted either Josh Jacobs or Austin Ekeler in Round 2 but it was not meant to be, so I grudgingly took Nick Chubb which forced me to secure my second RB a little earlier than usual. I am trying to have 110% exposure to Cam Akers this year, so no complaints with the results.
The starting lineup of Deshaun Watson, Nick Chubb, Cam Akers, Michael Thomas, Allen Robinson II, Courtland Sutton, and Hunter Henry provides a high floor across the board with the possible exception of Akers. That explains the boring selections of Duke Johnson and Marlon Mack a bit later. The latter half of this draft was filled with more lotto tickets than usual as a result.
I don't expect Dez Bryant to sign before the year starts but that just means he is my preseason termination pick. Same goes for Devonta Freeman, who could be a high-reward pick or an early termination if nothing pans out.
Another player appearing on the most recent draft that wasn't selected a few months ago is Scotty Miller, who I grabbed in Round 24. Following training camp buzz has spoiled many a fantasy roster, but in this league it's exactly the type of player to target late. If he pays off, great! If he doesn't turn out to be the next Wes Welker, he gets the boot in a couple of weeks.
You may or may not agree with all my draft strategies, but if nothing else, this should provide insight as to how you can tackle roster construction for this unique format. Give it a try by following the links listed at the top of this article!
Win Big With RotoBaller
Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you set those winning lineups, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:
More Best-Ball League Strategy