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What Happens When You Reach at Every Pick?

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Average Draft Position may not be great at predicting performance, but that doesn’t mean anyone can systematically beat it. I wanted to test myself, so I fired up the MFL10 ADP app and did a 20-round “Reach Mock,” where I could draft players only at or above their earliest recent draft selection (May 31 to June 5). Here’s what I learned:

Structure

My default approach to best ball is 3-5 running backs (mostly drafted early), 2-3 TEs, 2-3 QBs, 3 defenses, and as many WRs as I can cram onto the roster. Here, because I could guarantee that the player I wanted would be available, there was no need to move off that default. Indeed, now that I know I can build a respectable roster even by reaching every pick, I’ll be less likely to deviate from my preferred roster structure going forward.

By grappling with the exercise, I learned where to find positional values in drafts. For example, I planned to draft three late tight ends and three late quarterbacks. But “late” for TEs ended up being Tyler Eifert in the 9th, Jared Cook in the 10th, and Ricky Seals-Jones in the 13th. Gross. Gross and expensive! I strongly preferred my roster makeup when I splurged on Gronkowski and used those mid-round picks on wide receivers.

Favorite Picks

Rob Gronkowski (2.06)

Gronkowksi’s retirement waffling dinged his ADP, and he’s settled in as an early-third-round pick. But nothing’s changed since last offseason, when he was drafted in the mid-to-late second. And despite missing two games, Gronk posted an 11.9 percent win rate in MFL10s. That’s part of why elite TEs are alive and well in best ball.

Tyler Lockett (9.07), Mike Williams (10.06), and Michael Gallup (12.06)

One reason to draft RBs early in best ball is the abundance of potential breakout WRs available in the middle rounds. Lockett, Williams, and Gallup all play for teams with undervalued receiving corps:

best ball

Gallup, in particular, was a productive collegiate WR with an early breakout age, and he steps into massive opportunity.

Baker Mayfield (16.06) and Josh Rosen (17.07)

Normally, I wouldn’t draft more than one rookie QB in a best ball league. But the RB-WR-TE options at this point in the draft weren’t appealing, and I know I’ll have to take risks to have a chance, given my constraints. And the more I look at this QB corps, the more comfortable I am taking two rookies, even in a normal draft. Both Rosen and Mayfield have a wide range of outcomes in Year 1. I’d reckon 60 percent odds that at least one of them starts by Week 4, and similar odds that both are starting by Week 10. In a real draft, though, I’d pair them with a veteran QB who has a later bye. Gulp.

Full Results

Here are the full results, with the earliest pick for each player in parentheses. Find me on Twitter if you think you can do better.

1.07 Julio Jones (11)
2.06 Rob Gronkowski (24)
3.07 Sony Michel (31)
4.06 Royce Freeman (51)
5.07 Tarik Cohen (57)
6.06 Chris Hogan (71)
7.07 Robby Anderson (84)
8.06 Kenny Stills (96)
9.07 Tyler Lockett (111)
10.06 Mike Williams (121)
11.07 Alex Smith (129)
12.06 Michael Gallup (149)
13.07 Ricky Seals-Jones (163)
14.06 Donte Moncrief (165)
15.07 Jonathan Stewart (186)
16.06 Baker Mayfield (199)
17.07 Josh Rosen (206)
18.06 Packers DST (210)
19.07 Giants DST (237)
20.06 Dolphins DST (240)

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