Early Summer MFL10 Guide

A breakdown of optimal MFL10 draft management through the current lull in the NFL calendar until training camps open

Free agency and the draft have come and gone. Some players seen as in peril were left unscathed, while other players took surprise tumbles down the board. Everything has returned to an equilibrium as minor news items trickle out of OTAs, but for the most part, ADP will be stable thru late July, when camps open and the preseason hype machine fires back up. The next month and a half represents a perfect window hone your understanding of the 2015 redraft landscape while taking advantage of places where the market still hasn’t caught up to the coming reality.

A note on rookies: Almost across the board, rookie ADP is going to be higher than it was pre-draft. File this away for future spring MFL10s - the market undervalues rookie before destinations. While rookies still represent some of the better upside bets, the price makes drafting them more prohibitive now.

Quarterback

Optimal Number: 2
Sweet Spots: 3rd, 6th, 10th, 14th-15th

I am warming more everyday to taking an early quarterback in MFL10s. Andrew Luck around the 3-4 turn and Russell Wilson from the late 5th on are both appealing if the top of your WR/RB board looks the same four or five names deep or Graham/Kelce aren’t falling to you. Both Luck and Wilson have #1 score potential in any given week and potential to distance themselves from the pack and make their price a value in hindsight.

If you don’t get a stud anchor, don’t worry, the QB field is wide and fertile this year. The tenth round should deliver one of Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, or Eli Manning, a fine low QB1 to ensure at least average scoring at the position. One of Ryan Tannehill or Teddy Bridgewater is almost assured to be there if you want a pure upside pick. I won’t blame you if you go QB-QB in the 10th-11th to get two of these names, or one and Tom Brady. Roethlisberger, Ryan, Brees and Newton can fall to the ninth. You should not be in a hurry to get your QB1 if you don’t take Luck or Wilson.

I see the appeal of taking two QBs in the 10-15 range, and it enhances weekly upside, although I found that backup QB was not really a crucial position on my teams that did well last year. QB2 duds like Robert Griffin III and Nick Foles didn’t stop my team. Besides, this year, there are plenty of value plays in the 14th-15th round who could contribute almost as much to your bottom line as a pick 2-3 rounds earlier.

3rd round target

Andrew Luck, IND - In the eye of a perfect storm

Late 5th/6th round target

Russell Wilson, SEA - Passing production should start to trend up, high weekly ceiling

9th round targets

Drew Brees, NO - Demise a bit overstated, but some dropoff coming
Cam Newton, CAR - High weekly ceiling
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - Offense has potential to put up huge numbers
Matt Ryan, ATL - Durable, steady producer

10th round targets

Philip Rivers, SD - Was nearly elite first half of year **Best Value Pick**
Eli Manning, NYG - Giants pass offense ascending
Tony Romo, DAL - Insane efficiency could come into play more with less RB quality
Ryan Tannehill, MIA - Net upgrade in targets + second year in Lazor O
Tom Brady, NE - Requires a QB2 pick in next round or two, but top 3 upside upon return

11th round target

Teddy Bridgewater, MIN - Massive upgrade in quality of supporting cast

13th round targets

Colin Kaepernick, SF - More running and second-half deficits equals higher weekly ceiling
Joe Flacco, BAL - Needs questionable supporting cast to hold up

14th round targets

Jay Cutler, CHI - Could be benched at some point, but set up to produce until that time
Carson Palmer, ARI - Produced like a low QB1 until he got hurt
Sam Bradford, PHI - High bust risk, but Eagle offense weekly ceiling

15th round targets

Andy Dalton, CIN - Weapons are back and his weekly ceiling should benefit
Alex Smith, KC - Last year represents his floor
Jameis Winston, TB - Has giant WR/TE to get off to a fast start

16th round or later targets

Blake Bortles, JAX - Running ability helps weekly ceiling
Marcus Mariota, TEN - Could be rough, but a runner and slated to start
Nick Foles, STL - Has a pulse and is a sure Week 1 starter
Geno Smith, NYJ - High weekly ceiling, but how long will he hold on as a starter?

Running back

Optimal Number: 5
Sweet Spots: 1st-4th, 8th-10th, 14th-15th

The orders remain the same as last year. Two or three of your first four picks should be spent on running backs. It is the hardest position to find reliable production from outside of the premium rounds, and that should drive your urgency to build your core early. I wouldn’t even blame someone for starting with four backs if the value on the board dictates it. You want to concentrate your RB investment earlier because expected return goes down more steeply at running back than at any other position the later you get in your draft. That’s why it shouldn’t be necessary to have more than five backs, and in some cases, four. Six running backs can be tolerated when you only need two tight ends or defenses to round out a strong roster.

The toughest decision probably comes in the first, where you can get a wide receiver that is likely to outscore all but one or two running backs at any point in the round. All of the first round RBs have warts to some extent, but they’re also easy to talk yourself into with upside narratives. I prefer RB in the first, but it is not mandatory.

The second round is an excellent place to take an RB2 that gives you an edge or an RB1 that holds the line. The third round could produce an RB1 or two and there’s plenty of RB2 material there and in the fifth round.

The fifth-seventh round range is prime WR territory, but the 8th-10th is a good place to get some additional depth if you don’t like your haul from the early rounds or just can’t ignore the value. Falling rookies can make up a good part of your plan here, too. The 14th and 15th round is a good place a “stopper in the bathtub” back who should give you 5-10 points in an emergency or an upside swing at the pinata.

1st round targets

Le'Veon Bell, PIT - Suspension be damned, weekly ceiling still blows away the field
Adrian Peterson, MIN - No problem with taking him as high as #2
Jamaal Charles, KC - Was excellent despite nagging injuries last year
Marshawn Lynch, SEA - Can set your watch by his production
Eddie Lacy, GB - Packers refuse to overwork him, but still produced at very high level

2nd round targets

Matt Forte, CHI - Bears are shaky, but he’s a rock
DeMarco Murray, PHI - Previous year overwork alert, but situation still very good
C.J. Anderson, DEN - Could easily be a top three back when dust settles
Arian Foster, HOU - Durability a question, but production when healthy is not

3rd round targets

Frank Gore, IND - You can probably get him in fourth, but I’m paranoid **Best Value Pick**

3rd-4th round targets

Lamar Miller, MIA - Still a good RB in an offense on the way up
Mark Ingram II, NO - Will get every opp to outproduce this spot like he did in 2014 when healthy
Justin Forsett, BAL - Should ring up receptions and coming off strong RB1 year
Andre Ellington, ARI - If he can return to 2013 form and stay healthy, RB1 production

4th-5th round targets

C.J. Spiller, NO - A hot name right now, demonstrated ceiling + situation improved
T.J. Yeldon, JAX - Not optimistic about Jags O, but opportunity there to be home run pick

6th round target

Joique Bell, DET - He’ll still collect TDs and justify this cost if you are need a solid RB3 in the sixth

7th round target

Ameer Abdullah, DET - Swing for fences pick

8th round targets

Rashad Jennings, NYG - Still the best back in what could be high-scoring offense
Charles Sims, TB - Should rack up receptions, but doubt ability to be lead back
LeGarrette Blount, NE - Bust risk could be regular visitor to end zone too

9th round target

Duke Johnson Jr, CLE - Will be used heavily in passing game and role could grow
Devonta Freeman, ATL - Will get some piece of Falcons backfield, size TBD

10th round targets

Chris Ivory, NYJ - Best RB on a team that will be more competitive and productive
David Cobb, TEN - Probably most production Titans back this year

12th-13th round targets

Reggie Bush, SF - PPR special
Danny Woodhead, SD - PPR special
Darren Sproles, PHI - PPR special

14th-15th round targets

Theo Riddick, DET - PPR special
Stevan Ridley, NYJ - Swing for the fences/pair with Ivory 

Late Round targets

Fred Jackson, BUF - Old Faithful just finds a way to produce
DeAngelo Williams, PIT - Decent ability, good offense, Bell injury upside
Khiry Robinson, NO - Decent ability, good offense, Ingram injury upside
Denard Robinson, JAX - Decent ability, Yeldon injury upside
James Starks, GB - Decent ability, good offense, Lacy injury upside
Javorius Allen/Lorenzo Taliaferro, BAL - Could get short yardage TDs, Forsett injury upside, monitor battle
Matt Jones, WAS - Could be third-down back for PPR boost, Morris injury upside
Lance Dunbar, DAL - Woodhead potential

Wide receiver

Optimal Number: 7
Sweet Spots: 2nd, 5th-7th, 9th-10th, 15th-later

Wide receiver points are the cheapest points on your board. Break ties against wide receiver throughout your draft. Top 5-10 weeks can come from lesser players who have red zone or deep ball skills, and the 20 roster spots afford you seven or even eight players with solid, defined roles to make up your wide receiver score pool every week.

The strategy here is pretty straightforward, outside of surprise falling value plays. I won’t fault you for going WR in the first, but I prefer the value in the second when compared to running back. You don’t *need* a centerpiece wide receiver, but you can certainly get away with taking one because of the RB value in the 3rd-4th. The WR value in the 3rd-4th isn’t that much different than value in the 5th-7th, and the 5th-7th gives you a variety of high ceiling and high floor plays to compose your WR core. Aging vets and some youngsters potentially on the rise provide a deep pool to reinforce your early picks and give you some flex punch through the end of the draft. When your WR corps is completed, you want to see a mix of high weekly floor possession receivers and high weekly ceiling deep and red zone threats.

1st round targets

Antonio Brown, PIT - No reason to predict much if any regression
Julio Jones, ATL - Should flourish as primary receiver in Shanahan O
Dez Bryant, DAL - Elite player in his prime, DAL could have to pass more
Demaryius Thomas, DEN - Julius Thomas departure could spell more red zone opp
Odell Beckham Jr, Jr, NYG - What will he do for an encore?

2nd round targets

Calvin Johnson, DET - Megatron in the second? Sign me up.
Jordy Nelson, GB - Producing at level of elite first-round options
A.J. Green, CIN - Coming with a discount because of 2014 injury, Dalton
Mike Evans, TB - Upside enhanced with addition of Jameis Winston

3rd round targets

Randall Cobb, GB - WR1 production sometimes slipping to 3rd

4th round targets

Brandin Cooks, NO - Should get inordinate number of targets

5th round targets

Andre Johnson, IND - Best QB he has played with in his career
Julian Edelman, NE - Receptions could spike with no proven receiving RB
Keenan Allen, SD - Was only healthy for a few weeks last year, ceiling unknown

6th round targets

Martavis Bryant, PIT - Even if he doesn’t progress from 2014, will justify this pick
DeSean Jackson, WAS - QB situation can’t get worse than last year
Jarvis Landry, MIA - High weekly floor

7th round targets

Roddy White, ATL - Often available in seventh
Vincent Jackson, TB - Bump coming with Winston installed at QB
Allen Robinson, JAX - Bortles burgeoning #1 could outperform this slot
Nelson Agholor, PHI - Shot to be #1 rookie WR in redraft/best ball
Torrey Smith, SF - Boom/bust weekly play

8th round targets

Brandon LaFell, NE - Steady producer once he was embraced in NE offense
Mike Wallace, MIN - Should start with Teddy Bridgewater at QB. Good enough for me
Breshad Perriman, BAL - High weekly and season-long ceiling

9th round targets

Larry Fitzgerald, ARI - Numbers with Palmer last year show potential value here
Kenny Stills, MIA - Boom/bust weekly play, ADP could be up with Parker foot surgery

10th round targets

Steve Smith, BAL - Will still be prominent in Ravens passing game
Marques Colston, NO - Will still be prominent in Saints passing game
John Brown, ARI - High weekly ceiling, steal of draft potential **Best Value Pick**

11th round target

Pierre Garcon, WAS - Sheer snap/target volume should justify pick

13th round targets

Rueben Randle, NYG - High weekly ceiling with Cruz slow start upside
Terrance Williams, DAL - High weekly ceiling with Cowboys more balanced upside

14th round target

Marvin Jones Jr, CIN - All he does is catch touchdowns
Phillip Dorsett, IND - Weekly long TD upside

15th round or later targets

Josh Huff, PHI - Good shot to unseat Riley Cooper and be central in PHI passing game
Malcom Floyd, SD - Still one of Rivers’ favorites in red zone
Cole Beasley, DAL - One of Romo’s favorites in second half of season
Danny Amendola, NE - Looked more like old self as year went on
Justin Hardy, ATL - Sneaky weekly upside if #3 and big Jones/White injury upside
Andrew Hawkins, CLE - Could (should?) lead team in receptions again
Eddie Royal, CHI - Reunited with Cutler and very productive in recent years
Steve Johnson, SD - Could riff well with Rivers

Tight end

Optimal Number: 3
Sweet spots: 10th-15th

The depth at running back this year makes a choice of Gronkowski in the first, Graham in the third, or Kelce in the fifth worth doing. You’ll save a roster spot for an extra WR/RB to reinforce whichever position you feel is left weaker by the early TE pick. Otherwise, plan on taking three tight ends between the 10th and 15th rounds. This should give you a decent shot at double-digit score every week, plus a little bit of flex help. The position is deep enough to support this approach no matter what your leaguemates do at TE.

1st round target

Rob Gronkowski, NE - It’s possible we haven’t seen his best yet

3rd round target

Jimmy Graham, SEA - Touchdowns and big weeks should still come in bunches

5th round target

Travis Kelce, KC - Could be closer to Graham/Gronk than we think with full health

9th round target

Zach Ertz, PHI - More big games coming in 3rd season?

10th round targets

Jordan Cameron, MIA - Rare big play TE just needs to stay healthy
Antonio Gates, SD - Rivers still leans on him in red zone
Josh Hill, NO - Promising upside of Jimmy Graham role + 2014 efficiency

11th-12th round targets

Jason Witten, DAL - More DAL passing could lift his numbers
Delanie Walker, TEN - Surprisingly productive last year, TEN WR still mostly unproven
Dwayne Allen, IND - All he does is score touchdowns

13th-14th round targets

Kyle Rudolph, MIN - Could become Teddy’s #1 red zone target if healthy
Coby Fleener, IND - He won’t go away
Owen Daniels, DEN - Set up to collect TDs in TE friendly offense
Larry Donnell, NYG - Giants like him and called number in red zone a lot pre-Beckham

15th round or later targets

Jordan Reed, WAS - If healthy will be a great value
Heath Miller, PIT - On his last leg, but in terrific offense + chemistry with Ben
Charles Clay, BUF - Love the player, hate the situation
Vernon Davis, SF - Could be steal of the TE class if head on straight + healthy
Jace Amaro, NYJ - Gailey will know how to use him
Rob Housler, CLE - Someone has to get catches in Cleveland

Defense / special teams

Optimal Number: 3
Sweet Spot: 15th-20th

This position is the easiest one to project in your draft. Just get three. They can be with your last three picks, but be careful if you have a late pick in 20th as you can be left without any options to pick from. If you start out with Houston, Seattle or Buffalo as your #1, you might feel free to take only a second D/ST to bolster another position that needs the help. Remember, meltdowns can push defenses into the negatives with this scoring format, so going with only two can leave you open to a big letdown. More than half of the teams posted at least one 20+ point week last year, including Jacksonville, Tampa, and Atlanta (twice even!), so that third defense can also play some offense for you.

15th round targets

Houston - Clowney could be back, and J.J. Watt, y’all!
Buffalo - Elite unit from 2014 mostly intact
Seattle - Bounceback coming after slow start to 2014

16th round targets

Arizona - Very productive last year and getting Mathieu back to full health
Miami - Added Suh and terrific schedule
NY Jets - Excited to see this monster front four in combination with Revis/Cromartie

17th round targets

Denver - Wade Phillips and Peyton Manning game scripts upgrade this unit
Green Bay - Always good for a few feeding frenzies in Lambeau
Detroit - Barely miss a beat going from Suh to Ngata

18th round targets

Minnesota - Zimmer + Bridgewater + Peterson = good things
Kansas City - Great edge combo and added the best cover corner in the draft
Cleveland - Already a top unit, added a top nose tackle in the draft
Indianapolis - Luck should stake them to some big leads and pass rush upgraded

19th round targets

Dallas - Will get Sean Lee back, plus added talent in draft and Greg Hardy eventually
New York Giants - You down with JPP? Yeah, you know me.

20th round targets

Tampa Bay - Winston should lift this entire team, plus weak schedule
San Diego - Competitive team, should improve with better health from key players
New Orleans - No idea what happened last year, but it can’t get any worse
Jacksonville - Team should be improved even without Fowler

Draft Plan

The main fork in the road of your draft will be whether you take Gronkowski or a running back in the first round. Either way, you want to have one of your top two picks be a running back

1st: Gronk/RB
2nd: RB/WR
3rd: RB/Luck/Graham
4th: RB
5th: WR/Kelce/RWilson
6th: WR
7th: WR

The next eight picks should be best players available, but including two quarterback and a three tight ends if you haven’t taken Gronk/Graham/Kelce or Luck/RWilson. Only one quarterback and one tight end if you took a top three option at the position.

8th: RB/WR
9th: QB/RB/WR
10th: Best Player Available
11th: QB/WR/TE
12th: TE/BPA
13th: QB/WR/TE
14-15th: Best Player Available/Elite D/ST

16th: Best RB/WR Available/Top 10 D/ST
17th-18th: Defense/Best RB/WR available
19th-20th: Defense