Best Ball Thoughts
Iím a few rounds into my second MFL best-ball league of the year, and am largely sticking to the strategy I outlined last year - investing early in a few big-workload RBs with locked in roles and addressing the receiver position with volume. The reasons that strategy makes sense to me are detailed in last yearís piece. (For details on what MFL best-balls are, see last yearís article as well.)
I want to add a couple thoughts from 2017. First, people asked me how my strategy worked out last year, and Iíd say poorly - I didnít win a single one of my five 2016 MFLs. Thatís not a big enough sample to condemn the strategy, however, and any strategy, no matter how sound, is player dependent. I had some Todd Gurley and a lot of Eddie Lacy, so itís no surprise those RB-heavy squads fell apart. I did have David Johnson and Devonta Freeman as my first two picks in one, but I must have blown it elsewhere.
In any event, Iím going back to the well. My biggest challenge is getting a pick in the middle of the first round - say 5 or 6 - where Iím tempted to take Odell Beckham and have to get my three backs in Rounds 2-5. In full PPR, I suppose you can count on Christian McCaffery or even Danny Woodhead to an extent, but itís sub-optimal not to have three-down back upside when youíre going with only three backs. DeMarco Murray, McCaffery and Carlos Hyde in 2-4 would be ideal if you wind up with Beckham or Antonio Brown.
Iím a bit unsure of what to do about tight end. The original MFL studies I read (and canít find) suggested getting Rob Gronkowski was such a massive advantage, it was worth taking him even in Round 1. I canít get on board with that. Tight ends have taken such a beating injury-wise the last few years, and you only need to start one of them, so I typically prefer to get a Zach Ertz/Delanie Walker (guaranteed role) type and pair him with something in the 12-20 range.
But the TE does qualify in the flex spot, so in my latest MFL, where I picked 11th, and took Jay Ajayi and Devonta Freeman in Rounds 1-2, I considered a Travis Kelce-Jordan Reed pairing at 3-4. But Kelce went one pick before me. Great story, I know.
The other interesting question for me is what types of receivers play best in this format. Do you want eight or nine DeSean Jackson/Ted Ginn types, knowing youíll get all their long TD catches, or do you prefer a steadier PPR producer like Pierre Garcon or Stefon Diggs? The former will put up bigger scores for you in the weeks you use them, the latter will be useful for more weeks. Iíd argue if you have eight or nine WR, go for the upside, but the earlier you draft, e.g., in early July, the more uncertainty there will be with your roster, and the more valuable it is to get players who get you something every week. Put differently, as you get close to September, and training camp (and its attendant injuries) are behind us, youíll have more chance of fielding a full roster every week, and the upside guys make more sense. But in June when roles and health are less certain, the guy who wins the league might just be the one who got something from every slot most weeks.
Iíll almost never take a premium QB, preferring to go with two solid ones (Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers.) I donít like taking injury prone QBs like Ben Roethlisberger because he almost necessitates using a third roster spot at the position.
I plan to do quite a few MFLs as well as the NFFCís new 25-man roster best ball contests this summer. Itís a good way to mock draft and familiarize oneself with the dynamics of the player pool, even if the strategies for best ball and season long diverge fairly significantly.