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Guide to Pre-Draft MFL10s

Sigmund Bloom runs down the best values and overall strategy for pre-draft MFL10s.

As the fantasy football continues to mushroom in formats and level of participation, the long-time league management leader My Fantasy League has given us the prototype best ball draft game to be the ready fix for those of us that love the draft as much as watching the season play out. The draft-only best ball format allows you the ability to have a draft and not have to add another round of waiver moves, lineup setting, and trade talks to your already bloated regular season fantasy plate.

If you’re new to “best ball”, the idea is simple. Your best scoring players at each position score each week. There are no lineup decisions, no trades, no adds, no drops. This totally changes the lens of evaluating draft stock. Injury risk is more tolerable because your backups can automatically count when your starter is down and out. High weekly ceilings are more valuable than high weekly floors because you have a bench to be your firewall when your boom/bust starters bust. Rankings for best ball leagues will resemble redraft rankings, but with sometimes wide variations. 

If you really like drafting when everything is unsettled, try doing one of these drafts before free agency and the draft. I signed up for a handful and surveyed the land to help anyone diving in early this year, and to get a headstart on understanding the 2016 redraft landscape, only to have it altered one more time at the end of April.

BASIC PARAMETERS

LINEUP

  • 1 QB
  • 2 RB
  • 3 WR
  • 1 TE
  • 1 RB/WR/TE Flex
  • 1 D 
  • Note: Kicker was dropped after being included in 2014

SCORING/ROSTER/RULES OF NOTE

  • 20 Roster Spots
  • PPR
  • 4 pts per pass TD/pt per 20 pass yards
  • 10 - (-3) range for Team DEF Points Allowed
  • Winner Take All

QB

Optimal Number: 2
Sweet Spot(s): 7th, 13th-15th Round
Reserve a Pick For: Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler
Pass On: Blake Bortles, Derek Carr
Don’t Be Afraid Of: Taking your QB1 in 13th/14th Round, Alex Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick as your QB

strategy haiku

Discount Stud Or Wait
QB Prices Keep Dropping
Switch To Two QB

Much like typical redraft leagues, quarterback is a position to always break ties against in MFL10s. The best ball scoring makes it even easier to get away with two adequate starters and nothing more. I have won MFL10s with only one healthy quarterback for half the season, and not a particularly good one. The goal here is to hold the line with 15-20 points a week. Banking extra points by drafting quarterbacks with a higher season ceiling and more frequent weekly outbursts is desirable, but only if the price is right. I’ve been ending up with a mix of Rodgers/Luck/Brees as my #1 with a lot of Stafford as my #2. Stafford and Cutler in the 14th/15th is totally viable. Again, if you see a compelling RB/WR/TE in the 6th-12th that you are weighing against a quarterback, pass on the quarterback.

You can get the elite options in the sixth, which is about three rounds later than Rodgers and Luck were going last year. Brees in the 10th is low-hanging fruit, he was top 5 after shrugging off an early season shoulder injury. I’m getting Stafford in every draft I can, he was a solid QB1 after Jim Bob Cooter took over.

QB Targets

Cam Newton, CAR - 6th Round
Aaron Rodgers, GB - 6th/7th Round **Best Value Pick**
Andrew Luck, IND - 6th/7th Round **Best Value Pick**
Russell Wilson, SEA - 8th Round
Tom Brady, NE - 8th/9th Round
Drew Brees, NO - 10th Round **Best Value Pick**
Carson Palmer, ARI - 11th Round
Philip Rivers, SD - 12th Round
Andy Dalton, CIN - 13th Round
Matthew Stafford, DET - 14th Round **Best Value Pick**
Tony Romo, DAL - 14th Round
Ryan Tannehill, MIA - 14th Round
Jay Cutler, CHI - 15th Round **Best Value Pick**
Alex Smith, KC - 16th Round

Running Back

Optimal Number: 5-6
Sweet Spots: 3rd-4th round, 6th-7th round
Reserve a Pick For: Giovani Bernard, Charles Sims, Frank Gore, James Starks, Devontae Booker
Pass On: David Johnson, Jeremy Langford, Latavius Murray, Javorius Allen
Don’t Be Afraid Of: Ezekiel Elliott as your RB1 in the third round, taking one running back in the first five rounds.

strategy haiku

Do Not Overpay
Carry Weak RB to Title
Pass Catcher Saviors

Last year, going somewhat running back heavy early in drafts seemed prudent - the value in the mid and late rounds looked terrible, and the lead options seemed like relatively clear. This year, I’m more flexible at running back, sometimes waiting until the third to take one. If I draw an early enough pick slot to take LeVeon Bell or Todd Gurley, I will. Usually, both are gone by Pick 7. The rest of the backs going in the top 20 feature interesting stud veterans with dropoff risk (Peterson and Charles) and ascendant young backs with timeshare risk (David Johnson and Freeman). Lamar Miller is a good pick near the 2-3 turn with his intersection of career upslope and workload.

The pick I keep coming back to as an anchor for my running backs is Ezekiel Elliott in the third round. There aren’t any wide receivers or tight ends falling to that area that I can’t live without. Elliott is a true three-down back who will likely take over his team’s backfield in short order. If David Johnson can be a late first round pick with Chris Johnson re-signed, then Elliott can easily be a second round pick after the inevitable news item in OTAs or camp from his team that basically says the backfield is his. Even if Elliott doesn’t start out as an uncontested lead back, he’ll probably take over soon enough unless he goes to a surprise team, and he has the fresh legs to be an instant top five back.

This pick could backfire if Elliott underperforms, or if he is eased into his role. In a winner take all format, I’ll still roll the dice on his ability to finish the year as an elite fantasy option, assuming I haven’t taken a running back yet in the first two rounds. With Gronk/elite WR or two elite wide receivers locked in, my team won’t be sunk if Elliott misses, but it will be excellently situated if he hits.

Mark Ingram and Eddie Lacy are good alternatives to Elliott in the third, and C.J. Anderson, Dion Lewis, Matt Forte, and Carlos Hyde all provide enough intrigue as fourth round to not feel forced to take a running back in the first or second round.

The sixth and seventh rounds are full of options that have upside and a high enough floor to expect a strong contribution in at least half of the weeks, giving you a little more room to play fast and loose and roll the dice at the position.

There are opportunities to get underrated veterans and potential PPR specials, along with rookie upside plays, but it is important to have a core of three backs from the first seven rounds who can carry your team to baseline running back production as long as they stay healthy. You can hedge a few early picks like Bell (DeAngelo Williams), and Lacy (James Starks), and of course the second backs are good picks even if you didn’t take Lacy or Bell because of their demonstrated potential to provide RB scoring punch from a late round slot. In general, look for ceiling in late picks, because a steady low level producer might keep you from being last, but they don’t help as much when it comes to finishing first.

RB Targets

LeVeon Bell, PIT - Top 5
Todd Gurley , LA- Top 7
Adrian Peterson, MIN - Mid 2nd
Jamaal Charles, KC - Late 2nd
Lamar Miller, HOU - Late 2nd
Mark Ingram, NO - 3rd round
Ezekiel Elliott, ROOK - 3rd round **Best Value Pick**
Eddie Lacy, GB - Late 3rd **Best Value Pick**
C.J. Anderson, DEN - 4th round **Best Value Pick**
Dion Lewis, NE - 4th round **Best Value Pick**
Matt Forte, NYJ - 4th round
Carlos Hyde, SF - 4th round
Giovani Bernard, CIN - 6th round **Best Value Pick**
Derrick Henry, ROOKIE - 6th/7th round
Matt Jones, WAS - 6th/7th round
Duke Johnson, CLE - 7th round
Karlos Williams, BUF - 7th round
Charles Sims, TB - 7th round **Best Value Pick**
Jay Ajayi, MIA - 7th round
Theo Riddick, DET - 8th round
Frank Gore, IND - 9th/10th round **Best Value Pick**
Bilal Powell, NYJ - 13th round
Shane Vereen, NYG - 13th round
Rashad Jennings, NYG - 13th round
Kenneth Dixon, ROOKIE - 13th round **Best Value Pick**
DeAngelo Williams, PIT - 14th round
Lance Dunbar, DAL - 14th round **Best Value Pick**
Devontae Booker, ROOKIE - 14th round **Best Value Pick**
Zach Zenner, DET - 16th round
James Starks, GB - 16th round **Best Value Pick**
Darren Sproles, PHI - 17th or later **Best Value Pick**
C.J. Spiller, NO - 17th or later
Ka’Deem Carey, CHI - 17th or later
Christine Michael, SEA - 17th or later

WR

Optimat Number: 7-8
Sweet Spots: Late 1st-2nd, 4th/5th, 12th-15th
Reserve a Pick For: A.J. Green, Brandin Cooks, Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, Jeff Janis, Sammie Coates, Michael Thomas, Sterling Shepard
Pass On: Demaryius Thomas, Josh Gordon, DeVante Parker, Kevin White, Breshad Perriman
Don’t Be Afraid Of: Ignoring WR in the 8th-11th rounds, rookies in the second half of the draft

strategy haiku

WR Points are Cheap
Even Big Weeks And Players
Always Buy in Bulk

Wide receiver should be the meat of your weekly scores. It’s easy to build a group that has bedrock producers, high weekly variance types, and upside plays. Ideally, your flex is coming from this group. Wide receiver is a position that will be a consideration in almost every round, so don’t feel pressure to break ties in favor of wide receivers.

The top of the draft is strong, with a surplus of receivers in the top 25 that lead to a lot of WR/WR starts. That’s fine because the mid rounds are where you’ll find the best RB and TE values. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham make up a clear first tier with DeAndre Hopkins right behind and going in the top 7-8 in every draft. Dez Bryant, Allen Robinson, and A.J. Green usually go in the first, and then wide receiver stretches out into a large and level third WR1 tier. Everyone will have a favorite or two to target, I usually end up with Brandin Cooks or Mike Evans.

Randall Cobb and T.Y. Hilton can be appealing in the third round, but otherwise I generally sit out wide receiver for the next few rounds, but from the fifth round on, there are usually players like the Arizona trio, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Michael Crabtree, and DeSean Jackson that allow you to swing for solid singles if no value presents itself elsewhere.

There are reasonable values who should contribute in the 8th-11th round like Willie Snead, Marvin Jones, Tavon Austin, Kendall Wright, and Steve Smith, but there’s no need to reach for any of these names. If one falls a round later than they should and you’re not excited about anyone else on the board, they become draft targets. In the 12th, you can land upside plays like Josh Doctson. Phillip Dorsett, or Corey Coleman, or discount producers like Vincent Jackson, Torrey Smith, or Pierre Garcon, depending on how you feel about your wide receiver corps to that point.

The late rounds are for pure upside plays like Sammie Coates, Jeff Janis, and Brandon Coleman. My favorite late round rookies are Michael (not Mike) Thomas and Sterling Shepard. More boring plays like Jermaine Kearse, Kenny Stills, Steve Johnson, and Anquan Boldin are worth a look if you’ve already built in a ton of upside and need a higher floor.

WR Targets

Antonio Brown, PIT - Early 1st
Odell Beckham Jr, NYG - Early 1st
Julio Jones, ATL - Early 1st
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU - Mid 1st
A.J. Green, CIN - Late 1st **Best Value Pick**
Jordy Nelson , GB- Early 2nd
Alshon Jeffery, CHI - Early 2nd **Best Value Pick**
Brandin Cooks, NO- Mid 2nd **Best Value Pick**
Mike Evans, TB - Mid 2nd
Sammy Watkins, BUF - Late 2nd
T.Y. Hilton, IND - Mid 3rd
Randall Cobb, GB - Late 3rd
Julian Edelman, NE - 4th
Jeremy Maclin, KC - 4th **Best Value Pick**
Golden Tate, DET - 4th/5th **Best Value Pick**
Donte Moncrief, IND - 5th
Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, ARI- 6th
Doug Baldwin, SEA - 6th
Michael Crabtree, OAK - 7th **Best Value Pick**
DeSean Jackson, WAS - 8th
Willie Snead, NO - 8th **Best Value Pick**
Kendall Wright, TEN - 11th/12th
Steve Smith, BAL - 11th/12th
Nelson Agholor, PHI - 12th/13th
Josh Doctson, ROOKIE - 12th/13th **Best Value Pick**
Corey Coleman, ROOKIE - 12th/13th
Phillip Dorsett, IND - 12th/13th
Vincent Jackson, TB - 12th/13th **Best Value Pick**
Torrey Smith, SF - 12th/13th **Best Value Pick**
Pierre Garcon, WAS - 13th
Jeff Janis, GB - 14th/15th **Best Value Pick**
Brandon Coleman. NO - 14th/15th **Best Value Pick**
Sammie Coates, PIT - 14th/15th **Best Value Pick**
Davante Adams, GB - 15th+
Chris Hogan, NE - 15th+
Michael Thomas, ROOKIE - 15th+ **Best Value Pick**
Sterling Shepard, ROOKIE - 15th+ **Best Value Pick**
Mike Wallace, BAL - 15th+
Terrance Williams, DAL - 15th+
Jermaine Kearse, SEA - 15th+
Kenny Stills, MIA - 15th+

TE

Optimal Number: 2-3
Sweet Spots: 5th/6th, 9th/10th
Reserve a Pick For: Tyler Eifert, Antonio Gates
Pass On: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jimmy Graham
Don’t Be Afraid Of: Starting a tight end run with back to back picks in the 6th or later

strategy Haiku

When Tight End Scoring
Equals Wide Receivers Left
Time For You To Pounce

Beware the tight end run in early MFL10s. There are two good times in your draft to get a tight end - the 5th-6th round window and the 9th-10th round window. There are usually multiple tight ends worth the investment there, and pairing two should have you set without having to deal with the low ceiling later options. One of those later options is fine as a backup if you land Gronk in the late first, but it never hurts to thin the pool for your opponents and strengthen your TE peaks and flex scores with a strong second option. These pools can dry up quickly, so if you have an early draft slot, you might have to reach for a tight end or two at the 4-5 and 8-9 turns to make sure you don’t get left out in the cold.

TE Targets

Rob Gronkowski, NE - Late 1st
Tyler Eifert, CIN - 5th Round **Best Value Pick**
Greg Olsen, CAR - 6th Round
Travis Kelce, KC - 6th/7th Round
Delanie Walker, TEN - 7th/8th Round
Gary Barnidge, CLE - 9th/10th Round
Antonio Gates, SD - 9th/10th Round **Best Value Pick**
Martellus Bennett, NE - 10th/11th Round **Best Value Pick**
Dwayne Allen, IND - 10th/11th Round
Clive Walford, OAK - 12th Round
Jason Witten, DAL - 13th Round
Charles Clay, BUF - 14th/15th Round
Kyle Rudolph, MIN - 14th/15th Round **Best Value Pick**

DEF/ST

Optimal Number: 3
Sweet Spots: 15th or Later
Reserve a Pick For: Oakland, Indianapolis
Pass On: Kansas City, New York Jets
Don’t Be Afraid Of: Taking D/STs in 17th-18th-19th if you have an early draft slot to avoid missing on a third D/ST at the end of the 20th.

strategy haiku

Third D More Likely
To Score Than Seventh RB
Or Eighth Receiver

The Defense/Special Teams game is simple, just get three. If you are thinking of cherry-picking a Denver/Seattle/Arizona type in the 15th-16th or Houston/Minnesota/New England in the 16th-17th, I will not talk you out of it. They will enhance your scoring peaks. You can still get away with three, any three. D/ST’s can put up negative points in this scoring format, and even the worst teams can contribute a few double digit scoring weeks.

DEF/ST Targets

Denver - 15th Round
Seattle - 15th Round
Arizona - 15th Round
Carolina - 15th Round
Houston - 16th Round
Minnesota - 17th Round
New England - 17th Round
Pittsburgh - 18th Round
Green Bay - 18th Round
Oakland - 19th Round
Indianapolis - 19th Round
Tampa Bay - 20th Round
Tennessee - 20th Round

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