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It’s Never Too Early for an MFL10

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I played 20 MFL10s before the NFL draft. Here are a few of the lessons I learned while drafting throughout February, March, and April; as well as some general MFL10 thoughts I had about this particular set of 20 leagues. Unsure what an  “MFL10” is?

Late Round QBs and ADP “Moodiness”

(I’ve talked about the effect of social media on “ADP moodiness” in a couple different articles before.)

I am one of the biggest advocates for waiting as long as possible for a QB. This is especially true in best-ball leagues where quality starts don’t have to be predicted ahead of time. That said – it’s not that I’m totally opposed to drafting Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, at their ADPs…it’s that I  know I’m going to be joining a ton of these MFL10s, and I’m willing to wait out the instances when they fall well below their ADP.

I call this the “moodiness” of ADP’s. Maybe it’s an injury to one of his WRs, or a random grouping of drafters who hate a particular player – or hate drafting any position before whatever round…but I know that at some point, in some draft, every player will fall past their ADP. In fact, I know that in every draft – at least one talented player will fall WELL BELOW their ADP. In an ideal scenario, I am primarily drafting players I love – at well below their ADP price point.

While this may be tough to do in one specific draft, it’s a main goal of mine as I draft in dozens of leagues.

The ADP Battle

Taking players I love at well below their ADP is one of my biggest goals in MFL10s. I know that sounds simple, and many reading now are nodding their heads – but it’s a tough concept to apply in reality. It’s tough not to reach for players you love. I do it myself all the time, but I really try to be cognizant of when talented players are falling too far in drafts.

When have you been drafting your elite QBs?

As an example, let’s get back to this elite quarterback issue. In these first 20 MFL10s, I drafted Aaron Rodgers four times, and Drew Brees twice. However, my average pick for Rodgers comes out to the early fifth round, and my Brees shares were bought on average in the middle of the fifth round.

If I were to be honest, I’d admit that one of my main goals in these MFL10s is winning the “battle of ADP.”

rittler

(Screenshot of actual pick made last August in an MFL10. I won that league by a wide margin.)

The Battle of ADP isn’t everything

I could draft Aaron Rodgers every time he falls into the 4th or 5th round all off-season. I could end up with 25% stock of him at a discount well below his ADP…but if he sucks this year or gets injured in the pre-season – all that work produces a negative result.

Last off-season, I loved Joique Bell. A lot. However, I was stubborn about “winning the ADP battle” and he never quite fell to me where I wanted/needed him on teams or in drafts. I ended up with very little, if any Bell shares last year. Having him on a few more teams easily could have netted me hundreds more in profit, literally.

While “winning the battle of ADP” may be a hugely important component of drafting in volume, it’s by no means everything.

How I fared in the ADP battle of way-too-early drafting

I sorted through some ADP data recently, and found I fared far better than I thought I did – on average. There are a few guys I took a round or two earlier than I might now, and a few guys I got a round or two later than I might now…but some of that is just the process of drafting as time passes…and it’s definitely a factor of drafting in those early February days when “ADP” doesn’t even exist yet.

Specifically, I was most curious how I fared in the rookie ADP wins/losses. Worth noting, my pre-NFL draft strategy was to draft 1-2 rookies per MFL10 team. I wanted to buy into some of the potential upside of these backs at cheaper prices than they’d be after the NFL draft – without inundating myself with risk involving players I didn’t know a ton about yet.

Here is how I fared with my rookie picks, as well as the two biggest non-rookie picks that concerned me:

Rookies # of Shares Share % My Ave Pick # Current ADP* Pick +/- Weighted +/-
Carey, Ka’Deem CHI RB 7 35% 132.4 163.4 31 217
Seastrunk, Lache WAS RB 7 35% 140.9 198.8 57.9 405.3
Moncrief, Donte IND WR 6 30% 237.2 218.9 -18.3 -109.8
Sankey, Bishop TEN RB 5 25% 162 53.1 -108.9 -544.5
Hill, Jeremy CIN RB 1 5% 164 123.25 -40.75 -40.75
Matthews, Jordan PHI WR 1 5% 180 130.1 -49.9 -49.9
Adams, Davante GBP WR 1 5% 233 188.6 -44.4 -44.4
Evans, Mike TBB WR 1 5% 124 84.7 -39.3 -39.3
Robinson, Allen JAC WR 1 5% 244 167.9 -76.1 -76.1
Other suspects
Jackson, DeSean WAS WR** 4 20% 52 50 -2 -8
Gordon, Josh CLE WR 2 10% 8.5 102 93.5 187
Total: -103.45

I should maybe state that I’m relatively new to dynasty, and am still learning how to sort out prospect evaluation. I’m just saying…I’m not necessarily proud of all the players or stock percentages there, but I definitely learned some personal lessons about evaluation processes in this. However, part of drafting throughout the entire off-season is the fact that you’re literally drafting while you’re still researching and formulating opinions…

All that said and out of the way…I think it’s evident that I still fared remarkably well in the battle of ADP.

I want to thank Jon Moore publicly for his Sankey endorsement. In ADP terms, that was a huge winner and I credit all my Sankey shares in Jon’s honor. I wish more of my Moncrief stock had been Jordan Matthews stock or something, but even so – Moncrief saw a nice bump in ADP. I wish I had more stock of many of those one-share players. I’m really warming up to Hill of late, and Evans goes without say… but hindsight is 20/20. The purpose of this experiment is exactly that: How does the picture look, when you’re drafting with so little available information?

Other notable ADP concerns:

I got bit by the Josh Gordon bug, but thankfully I diversified well enough in the first round that it doesn’t sting too badly. I was worried about my Desean Jackson stock I acquired when he was an Eagle. I was surprised to find out I actually came out ahead of that one. As I’ve said already, taking a talented player when they fall in drafts is a HUGE concept.  It’s how you win the ADP battle, and Jackson offers a great example of the importance of winning that battle.

The Rookie ADP gains aren’t necessarily what they seem

There are some cases above where I came out ahead in “ADP battle” terms, even if I feel I got the worst of it. Moncrief saw a nice ADP bump with the attention he got from the NFL draft, but now on the depth chart behind Hilton, Wayne, Nicks (and possibly Da’Rick Rodgers) – I’m not excited about his possibilities this year. So even though Moncrief was an “ADP winner” for me, I feel like I got the losing end of it given his landing spot. I feel the same way about Davante Adams. Though his ADP went up versus when I took him, rookie WRs in Green Bay don’t have a glory-filled track record…and there are some pretty good WRs on the team already.

The Rookie Bump?

It’s hard not to notice that nearly every rookie in that chart saw a bump in ADP.  Perhaps later I’ll take a look at all the rookies and see how their ADP fared pre-NFL draft to post-NFL draft. For now, I’m not reading too much into that…except to say that (Seastrunk aside) perhaps I listened to some smart people about whose stock would be rising throughout the offseason.

Given my observations about ADP bumps in players who don’t necessarily deserve it – in redraft at least – I think some of this ADP bump can be attributed to rookie fever and increased attention rookies get following the NFL draft. I may need to check back on these ADPs come August.

In an attempt to limit my exposure to rookies in this first run experiment, I limited myself to 1-2 rookies per MFL10 squad. I have plenty to think about and process yet, but all the ADP bumps shown in this chart may encourage me to increase my rookies per team from the 1.5 average I sported this year, to closer to the 2.5 range or so.

Other lessons from these never-too-early MFL10s

There’s an ongoing discussion in fantasy circles about talent vs opportunity. Sifting through my ADP winners/losers, I note that a few of my losers (not mentioned in this article) were players relying more on opportunity than on talent. I’m not opposed to drafting “boring production,” but it seems – sensibly and predictably – that these are the players most at risk for having the depth chart shaken up throughout free-agency and the NFL draft, and losing that opportunity. I’m fine with sprinkling in some “boring production” into your MFL10 teams, but in hindsight I think waiting until July or August to do so would be prudent. Next year, the earlier it is in the year, the more I will be avoiding “boring players.” To word that more accurately, I’ll be avoiding players with tenuous roles or positions on the depth chart.

Concrete Example: Tim Wright filled in admirably in a need-based pass-catching role last year on Tampa Bay. However, his largest claim-to-fame this off-season wasn’t “hugely talented breakout candidate tight end,” but rather “maybe he’ll start for the Bucs this year.” What were the odds the Bucs never drafted or signed a replacement? I could have used a few my 14th and 15th round picks on more talented players. Similarly, I drafted Brandon LaFell a few times. Sure, he’s scored some fantasy points related to his role and  spot work for the Panthers…but again, what were the odds he maintained his role on the Panthers this off-season? In hindsight, when forced to choose I’d rather gamble on talent rising to the surface over questionable roles being maintained.

Relatedly, the most problematic rookie picks I made all off-season occurred in February. (Yes. I drafted in February. I know how insane that sounds.) Similar to the previous lesson, I think any rookies I draft in February or early March would be limited to the last few rounds of a draft.

Concrete Example: Once I drafted Seastrunk in the 8th round. (It was February. Let’s never discuss it again.) The first time I drafted rookie RB Ka’deem Carey was at pick 8.08. Then it was 9.08, and 9.10. Nearly literally, every time I drafted Carey it was later than the last time I did. By April at least I was drafting him in the 11th and 12th round.  It’s one thing to miss on a pick – that’s inevitable drafting this early (especially drafting rookies this year.)  However, missing on a late round pick is certainly better than missing on an 8th round pick. Some of these (embarrassingly bad in hindsight) picks are probably inevitable if you risk taking rookies that early in drafts – that early in the year.

These early MFL10s were filled with late-round QB drafters. If you’re planning on playing a volume MFL10 game, it’s almost worth consideration to join some way-too-early ones just to pick up the discounted price on elite QBs. I have 30% stock in elite QBs with an average price well into the 5th round. I gave some concrete examples of this earlier, and that pricing point and frequency will only rarely be found come July/August as the mainstream early-round-QB crowd comes back and begins to draft again.

Would I draft fantasy teams before the NFL draft again?

Important note: I would never consider drafting a home league before mid-July at the earliest.

The problem with drafting this early is obvious. Depth charts get shaken up with off-season signings, cuts, trades, and injuries. Heck, the NFL draft changes a great deal in of itself. With so much uncertain, you simply can not make the same level of high quality picks you might make in July or August. However every person drafting deals with the same level of depth chart tenuousness, injury potential, incoming rookie landing spots, and every off-season landmine that we deal with ourselves. As a result, the luck factor with everyone involved is equal. Since it’s a level playing field, we’re left only with the same problem any MFL10 presents us: Can you draft better than your opponents?

If you don’t believe that, you shouldn’t be playing these MFL10s at any time of the year.

Additionally, the lessons I learned this off-season listed above, along with my normal strategy of diversification (especially in the early rounds) will hopefully lead me to avoiding more pitfalls and landmines than my opponents. Besides simply drafting better than others, every landmine we can learn to avoid is another theoretical profit gain in our pockets.

I do want to see what type of winrate I get out of these 20 MFL10s, but if I come out well in that regard, I would nearly definitely repeat this “entirely too early drafting” next year.

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