With the Super Bowl now behind us, registration for the various MFL10s is now officially underway. This is exciting to me, because this past season, I entered 26 MFL10s and won or placed in 50% of them. Underwhelmed? I don’t blame you. As the FD himself told me on a RotoViz email chain, “You’re like a little mini insignificant Shawn Siegele.” (For the uninitiated, Shawn Siegele is the best fantasy football player in the world, so this is high praise indeed.) So while I didn’t win anything close to the $250,000 that Shawn now bathes in, Scrooge McDuck style, I did employ a moderately successful strategy, which I’ll share below, for those of you for whom this whets your whistle. [Editor’s Note: 50% is very impressive.]
Quick note before we get started: it appears that the format is changing for the upcoming year with the addition of two additional roster spaces, and in the interests of full disclosure, keep in mind that I haven’t given much (ok, any) thought as to how this will impact my strategy for the upcoming season.
It’s likely obvious that roster composition is key in a league without roster moves. Most of my rosters were comprised of three quarterbacks, five running backs, six wide receivers, and two each of tight end, kicker and defense. (Ok, now that I’ve thought about it for a second, my hunch is that I’ll likely add another TE and another WR/RB this year, depending on who the best player available is.) I utilized a blend of several Rotoviz strategies to arrive at my ratios:
First, I knew I wanted to have 3 RBs in the first five rounds, if not the first four — the antithesis of Zero RB. Now, a note of caution: it is generally a fools errand to short a Shawn Siegele strategy. However, without the benefit of in-season moves and waiver wire pickups, it is crucial to nail several high volume pass catching backs in the first couple of rounds in order to have a consistent advantage over your fellow drafters. (Note also that in this case, you’re actually shorting a Shawn Siegele strategy with another Shawn Siegele strategy — mind blown yet?) This has two primary effects: it squeezes the other drafters, forcing them to play catchup and overdraft runners in the mid rounds (while you are scooping undervalued WR talent) and provides you with some wiggle room in case one of your primary backs goes down. Once I had 3 RBs, I generally left the two remaining RB slots for the later rounds, unless I found a bargain. If you believe in a specific team’s run game, you may wish to utilize handcuffing (if you believe in the backup). I handcuffed a lot of Reggie Bush/Joique Bell, Alfred Morris/Roy Helu, Jamaal Charles/Knile Davis, Daryl Richardson/Zac Stacy, etc., to insure my early round investments.
Late Round QB
My goal was to get the last available tier 1 QB (often Tony Romo last, for whatever reason), and then back him up with two middling starters (Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, Geno Smith, EJ Manuel). The theory here is twofold: first, the QB is one of the higher scoring positions, so I wanted to be protected in case of injury (I had a decent amount of shares of Sam Bradford and Jake Locker as my #2 and #3 QB – a couple times, on the same team). Second, as JJ Zachariason has shown, the top performances by QB can fluctuate wildly from week to week, and I wanted to be in a position to capitalize on big games. For me, the decision was between a third TE or defense, a sixth RB or a third QB. Given that the third QB was more likely to put up points, I generally went that route.
Tall and Heavy WRs
I knew that in order to maximize TDs, I would need to get as many big WRs on my squad as possible. I utilized the WR arbitrage app to identify undervalued WRs that fit this mold. Some hit (Jordy Nelson/Pierre Garcon/Eric Decker/Josh Gordon/Alshon Jeffrey), some missed (Stephen Hill/ Mike Williams/Danario Alexander/Marques Colston). Interestingly, Eric Decker was on most of my winning teams.
I didn’t concern myself greatly with TEs last year. This is because, unless you get one of the top TEs (read: Graham/Gronk), TE is unlikely to make or break your squad. Where I found a TE to be the best player available, I took him. Otherwise, I prioritized other needs, especially given the wealth of TE talent available in the later rounds. For example, although Brandon Pettigrew didn’t light the world on fire last year, (shameless self-promotion alert) his cost was so cheap that he provided tremendous value. In any event, this approach didn’t seem to adversely affect my squads, and even when I missed (Dustin Keller, Jermichael Finley, Dwayne Allen and even some Fred Davis) the results were hardly fatal to my squads.
Kickers and defenses are almost impossible to predict from year to year. Don’t bother investing in any of these until the last four rounds.
While I think the above secret sauce should work well for 2014, I’m curious to see how ADP develops. I’ll probably revisit this issue later this summer (or after the draft) to share some thoughts going forward for team composition in 2014.