For full transparency, I lost a lot of MFL 10 leagues this year. In fact, I lost nine out of 10. But, I did win one league.
The problem with Fantasy Football is that there are a lot of different ways to construct a team and win. I can’t take what I learned from this team and carry it over to the 2016 Fantasy Football season and automatically expect to win.
I can, however, get a pretty good idea of what worked and what didn’t between this team and my losing teams.
And it looks like depth was one of the biggest reasons why I won my league…
MFL10 Winning Roster
Cam Newton was the highest scoring quarterback in my MFL10 league, but I was able to draft him at the end of Round 6.
I stated in July that I thought Newton would be the 2015 version of Andrew Luck from 2014 (a quarterback you could draft later but still had the chance to finish in the top five) from the previous season, and you can check out my reasoning here. I was also high on Ryan Tannehill, but that obviously missed the mark.
I don’t like the idea of drafting a quarterback early, and I know that Newton will not be hanging around at pick 6.11 next year. He’s going to go in Round 2 next season just like Luck and Aaron Rodgers did this year, so I will once again be looking for a diamond in the rough.
Jameis Winston was the 14th-highest scoring quarterback in my MFL 10 league, and I thought he was a reliable backup.
Entering the 2015 Fantasy Football season, I liked Winston as a backup because:
- His weapons: Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
- The potential resurgence of Doug Martin, which would create a balanced attack and not place so much pressure on Winston.
- He had the potential to grow as an NFL quarterback. Winston was going to be the starter no matter what, which would give him a chance to grow and develop. He wasn’t going to get yanked out during a game unless he was injured.
Including Newton’s bye week, Winston scored more points in five games than the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback. The rookie also came up big in the Fantasy playoffs, and scored 21.7 Fantasy points compared to Newton’s 15.7 in Week 16.
I know there are a lot of schools of thought on how many quarterbacks you should draft, and I can get the argument that you should draft three.
If you drafted Sam Bradford and Peyton Manning, you desperately needed a third quarterback on your roster.
But because of the volatility at the running back and wide receiver positions, I like to save as many roster spots as possible for my backs and receivers.
But as you can tell from looking at my receivers, they weren’t my top performers…
MFL10 Wide ReceiversEmbed from Getty Images
I drafted Randall Cobb and T.Y Hilton in Round 2 and Round 3 respectively, but Michael Crabtree was the top receiver on my team at the end of the season. I drafted him in Round 15.
My receivers weren’t the most dominant players in Fantasy Football. But the receivers I drafted in the later rounds of my draft were able to have big weeks when some of my other receivers underperformed.
In Week 3 for instance, Cobb, Rueben Randle and Kenny Britt were my three highest scoring receivers.
I drafted Danny Amendola in Round 19, but he was my highest scoring receiver in Week 10, Week 11 and Week 13.
Brian Quick was the only receiver who didn’t contribute anything to my team, and I ended up overpaying for him with a 12th-round pick.
So, what’s the lesson from all this?
I always try to anchor my team around four strong players. I thought the offenses for the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers were going to be too dominant to stop, and Hilton and Cobb would be in for huge seasons.
Hilton recorded over 1,300 receiving yards in 2014. And even though his touchdown totals were only medicore (7), I didn’t think the addition of Andre Johnson would impede Hilton’s chances of having another strong season in terms of receiving yards and receptions.
Cobb was close to 1,300 yards himself (1,287) in 2014, and he really didn’t have any competition outside of Jordy Nelson for Aaron Rodgers‘ attention.
But injuries and ineffectiveness caused the offenses for the Colts and Packers to implode this season, and nether player was able to improve on their 2014 totals.
I did have solid depth, however, in Crabtree, Amendola and Randle.Embed from Getty Images
Receivers like Randle are very difficult to start in season long leagues because you never know what you are going to get. But Randle did average 4.43 receptions per game in 2014 and had three games with 100 or more receiving yards.
While his production was unpredictable, he was heavily involved in the offensive game plan throughout the 2014 season. I thought he would once again continue to have a decent level of involvement in 2015.
I drafted Crabtree because he was available so late and seemed like a solid investment if anything went wrong with Amari Cooper‘s rookie season.
Cooper is an elite talent, but if he didn’t live up to his accolades, Crabtree was obviously the next choice to be Derek Carr‘s favorite receiver. The Raiders just didn’t add a lot of options for Carr to connect with outside of Crabtree, and the second-year quarterback did show a rapport with veteran receiver James Jones the year before.
If it took Cooper time to adjust to the NFL, Carr would at least have an experienced receiver to target in Crabtree. Cooper finished with more receiving yards (1050) than Crabtree (888), but Crabtree led the Raiders in touchdown receptions (8).
I selected Amendola in Round 19. I thought if injuries were to occur, Amendola could see an increased role. That ended up being the case, and Amendola had a few big weeks for my team.
I took a shot on Quick and hedged it with Britt, but that didn’t turn out as I hoped.
For 2016 MFL10 drafts, I still believe that you have to identify top receivers in the early rounds who can help your team. And I also believe that you can’t overlook receivers like Crabtree and Randle who may not be the starters, but who can still offer solid results from time to time.
Now, on to the running backs.
MFL10 Running BacksEmbed from Getty Images
It’s easy to see that my running backs were the biggest reasons why my team was so successful.
I owned the two highest scoring backs in my league (Adrian Peterson and Devonta Freeman), and I drafted the sixth-highest scoring back, Doug Martin.
Giovani Bernard was a strong performer for my team to start the season, averaging 14.1 Fantasy points per game from Weeks 1-6. He wasn’t as effective during the rest of the season, however, as he only averaged 9.12 Fantasy points per game from Weeks 8-16.
Fortunately for me, Darren McFadden and Bilal Powell were available to fill in where Bernard left off…
McFadden averaged 13.71 Fantasy points per game from Week 8-16 and Powell averaged 16.38 Fantasy points per game from Weeks 11-16.
The only bust I had for running backs was Reggie Bush. I really thought Colin Kaepernick was going to love having a dual-threat back like Bush for quick dump offs, and Kaepernick and Bush were able to work on their rapport for most of the offseason because Carlos Hyde was often sidelined with medical issues.
Unforutnately, things just didn’t work out.Embed from Getty Images
But I still liked the though process of targeting dual-threat backs. Unless it is specifically customized, the MFL10 leagues I participated in allowed one point per reception.
And that point per reception rule is why I targeted Bernard, Martin, McFadden, Bush and Powell.Embed from Getty Images
That provides a safety net if a back doesn’t have a great game on the ground, and that was particularly important for Bernard and Powell.
MFL10 Tight EndsEmbed from Getty Images
I wasn’t going to spend a second or third-round pick on Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, so I was happy to land Travis Kelce at the end of Round 4.
He obviously started the season off hot, cooled down and then picked things back up in the last two weeks.
Even with the addition of Jeremy Maclin, I wasn’t scared about Kelce’s productivity taking a dive. Granted, Maclin was more productive than I thought he would be, but Alex Smith didn’t turn into a gun slinger.
Without Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs found the perfect model for success: Play stellar defense and limit turnovers. That’s it.
The Chiefs did not ask Smith to do a whole lot near the end of the season, and Smith’s last game of the season where he recorded 200 or more passing yards was in Week 12.
I think that model will continue into the 2016 Fantasy Football season, and Kelce will be another solid selection in PPR leagues.
I whiffed on Larry Donnell, and I drafted him way too early by selecting him at the start of Round 13.Embed from Getty Images
Donnell was a beast in PPR leagues at the start of 2014, averaging 6.25 catches per game in his first four performances. But he slowly became less and less relevant as the season went on.
Some of that could be attributed to Odell Beckham Jr.‘s emergence(Eli Manning targeted OBJ on 21% of his passing attempts in 2014), but Donnell also saw less playing time because his blocking was not up to par.
But during the offseason, I heard various reports that stated Donnell was working on his blocking. I liked the fact that was taking actionable steps to improve.
He’s a 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end, so it’s obvious to see why he would have been such an attractive target in the end zone for Manning. And if he improved his blocking, that meant he was going to be on the field more.
Injuries held him back this season, however, and Will Tye emerged during Donnell’s absence.
This is a spot where I might consider taking three players next year.
Of course, you are giving up spots for running backs and wide receivers, so I think it really depends on how confident you are with the rest of your draft before deciding on taking three TEs.
MFL 10 DefensesEmbed from Getty Images
I waited a little long for defense, and I wasn’t able to end up with a whole lot in terms of Fantasy production from my defenses.
I drafted the Baltimore Ravens in Round 17 and the New York Giants in Round 18 because I thought those were the best options still available.
So I looked at the rounds where the top five defenses were drafted and reviewed who I drafted instead.
Here’s what I found:
Arizona Cardinals: Selected Round 15
My Round 15 Selection: Michael Crabtree
Denver Broncos: Selected Round 16
My Round 16 Selection: Kenny Britt
Carolina Panthers: Selected Round 16
My Round 16 Selection: Kenny Britt
Kansas City Chiefs: Selected Round 17
My Round 17 Selection: Baltimore Ravens
Seattle Seahawks: Selected Round 12
My Round 12 Selection: Brian Quick
Outside of Crabtree, I missed some opportunity costs. I still wouldn’t have drafted a defense in Round 12, but I selected Britt over the defense for the Carolina Panthers. The Broncos were selected in Round 16 before my pick of Britt.
Defenses are def. a position where people wait for that guy who is going to draft the Seahawks too early and then the frenzy begins. So it’s always difficult to judge when to get in and when to wait for a defense.
But next year, I’m going to start targeting a specific defense I want in Round 15 or 16 instead of waiting to see what falls to me.
I know I was able to win this league without owning elite defenses, but the performances from the defenses I did own could have really held me back if I was in a tight matchup with the team in second.
The Ravens’ defense had six games where they scored four or fewer Fantasy points, and the Giants’ defense also had six games where they scored four or fewer Fantasy points.
Conclusion on a MFL 10 Winning LineupEmbed from Getty Images
Here’s a summary of my takeaways at each position.
-Don’t draft a quarterback in Round 2. I wanted to load up on receivers and running backs early. The talent pool is limited. I owned the highest-scoring quarterback in Fantasy Football, and I was able to draft him at the end of Round 6.
– Pair a quarterback you are confident in with a player who can have a few big games. I knew Winston would make a lot of mistakes, but he was in a division that isn’t known for its tough defenses. I knew he would have a few solid Fantasy performances.
-Peterson was my first pick in the draft, and I didn’t draft another running back until Round 5. I focused on players I thought were undervalued and those who had upside.
– I was able to draft Martin in Round 7, Freeman in Round 8 and McFadden in Round 9. You can still build a strong running back core, even in the later rounds. But I still liked centering my team around Peterson.
– Filter the noise from the signal. The New York Jets wanted Chris Ivory to be complete back, and he did see a bigger workload as a receiver. But Powell was still the better pass-catching back, and I got him for a steal in Round 20.
-Sometimes you have to plan for deep down the road. I never bought into Joseph Randle, and that skepticism paid off during the middle of the season with my pick in McFadden. Powell also wasn’t as useful at the beginning of the season, but he was very productive down the stretch.
-When you hedge your bet, it means that you are protecting yourself and limiting your risk if something went wrong. I did that by drafting Quick and Britt. If Quick didn’t turn out to be a stud like he was in the early part of 2014, then Britt was obviously the next best candidate to lead the St. Louis Rams in receiving yards. But, this wasn’t the right bet to make. I took up two roster spots with players who weren’t that effective. I should have paid more attention to the fact that Nick Foles was the starting quarterback and that the addition of Todd Gurley meant that the team was going to focus on running the ball. I made the right move by protecting myself, but it just wasn’t the right bet to make in the first place.
-My running back core was strong enough to help my struggling receivers. I still think Cobb was a solid pick at the end of Round 2 and Hilton was a solid pick at the start of Round 3 entering the 2015 Fantasy Football season, but each of those offenses struggled. I think my decision-making process of loading up on elite wide receivers early was still right, even if Hilton and Cobb didn’t work out as I had hoped.
-Focus on roster depth. What would happen if receivers on the Raiders got banged up? The New England Patriots weren’t overflowing with depth at the receiver position to start 2015, so what would happen if players got hurt? Focus on who is the next man up. Think about the scenarios where something goes wrong, and focus on what happens if a player who is expected to have a big year like Amari Cooper struggles or Julian Edelman gets hurt.
-I know how productive Gronk is, but I never like to draft a tight end early. This year, the position seemed especially deep. But keep in mind that it’s hard to predict that a guy like Gary Barnidge is going to be one of the top tight ends in Fantasy Football in August. You could draft guys like Delanie Walker and Jordan Reed in the later rounds and own some of the highest-scoring tight ends in Fantasy Football.
-This is a position where you might want to load up on three tight ends to protect yourself. I got by with two, but I will have to carefully consider how many tight ends I own in each MFL10 draft next season. I know I said the position is deep, but you can also easily whiff on a selection.
-Don’t wait too long before selecting a defense. I think the sweet spot is right in the middle of Round 15. You aren’t waiting too long, but you aren’t drafting a defense too early.
Hopefully at least one piece of information you saw in this article can help you with your own MFL10 teams in 2016.
Thanks for checking out the article. Feel free to let me know how your season went, and what your plans are for drafting in 2016.