With the meat and potatoes of free agency behind us and the NFL Draft closing in fast, let’s have a first look at redraft fantasy football quarterback rankings for the 2015 season.
The upper tier at the position runs two deep with Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck first-second, or second-first, or 1A and 1B, depending on your view. Either figures to be a major contributor to your fantasy roster, worthy of a premium draft pick.
After that, it’s a group of players with a mix of concerns including age, injury history and questionable supporting casts.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
With just under 4,400 passing yards to go along with 38 touchdown passes and only five interceptions, Rodgers was clearly the league’s top quarterback last season. With all of his key weapons returning and second year player Davante Adams expected to take a step forward in 2015, Rodgers sits at the top of our fantasy football rankings at quarterback.
2. Andrew Luck, Colts
Luck established himself as an upper tier fantasy quarterback in 2014, throwing for over 4,700 passing yards with 40 touchdown passes. He also struggled at times as evidenced by his 16 interceptions. While we have him at number two in our quarterback rankings, we wouldn’t fault you for taking him over Rodgers in your draft.
3. Drew Brees, Saints
This is where things get interesting and where the second tier of fantasy quarterbacks begins. We’ll go with Brees here given his proven track record and injury free history. However, losing Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Pierre Thomas gives us some cause for concern. In Sean Payton (and Brees) we trust?
4. Peyton Manning, Broncos
Up next is Peyton Manning, who finished last season as the 4th rated fantasy quarterback despite stumbling badly over the final five games of last season as a torn quad hindered his ability to throw the ball. While tight end Julius Thomas won’t return, the Broncos have more than enough players waiting in the wings to replace his production.
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Appearing in 16 games for the second consecutive season, Roethlisberger overcame a slow start to the season to reach a career-high in passing yards with 4,952 while matching his previous high in touchdown passes at 32. With a pair of ascending young pass catchers in Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, expect more of the same from Big Ben in 2015.
6. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Wilson finally gets a true number one receiver in the form of tight end Jimmy Graham. The Seahawks don’t figure to change their winning approach much (league best rushing attack coupled with an outstanding defense), but we expect a slight uptick in Wilson’s usage in the passing game, especially in the red zone. Why else acquire Jimmy Graham?
7. Cam Newton, Panthers
An ankle injury caused Newton to miss the first week of the 2014 season but it also hampered him in the passing and running game through Week 5. With a pair of solid receiving options in Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen likely to be complimented by another rookie wide receiver in the draft, Newton figures to be a mid-tier QB1 in 2015.
8. Matt Ryan, Falcons
You have to love Matt Ryan. And you have to admit when it’s time to cut bait on the notion that he will emerge as an upper echelon fantasy quarterback. In seven seasons, he has career highs of 32 touchdown passes and 4,719 passing yards. And he’s not going to get you much production on the ground. And Roddy White is another year older. There is nothing wrong with Ryan. It’s just that his upside isn’t all that great.
9. Tony Romo, Cowboys
DeMarco Murray is gone which means that Romo is going to throw it a lot more than the 435 times he did in 2014. Despite ranking 23rd in passing attempts, Romo was the 9th ranked fantasy quarterback. Maybe, just maybe, having him here is too low.
10. Eli Manning, Giants
Eli was pretty decent last year with 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns despite having Victor Cruz for just six games and Odell Beckham Jr. for 12. Add Shane Vereen’s pass catching ability out of the backfield and there is a chance that Manning could re-emerge as a top five fantasy quarterback next season.
11. Tom Brady, Patriots
Let’s face it – Brady’s a great quarterback but the Patriots lack of upper tier receiving talent limits his upside and causes the team to rely more heavily on its rushing attack. A solid option, but not an elite one for fantasy.
12. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
13. Sam Bradford, Rams
Earns the coveted lucky 13 ranking because he’s now with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. For the record, Bradford’s never been much of a deep ball thrower and it’s worth noting that Nick Foles’ success in 2013 was largely a result of his ability to connect on a number of big plays.
Regardless of the hype for incoming rookies Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, they won’t jump into our Top 13 no matter where they land or what transpires at the NFL Draft. However, the landing spots of other skill position players from the draft can push these and other quarterbacks up or down to a degree. Pre-NFL Draft, this is how we see them.
Part I of my two-part article on MFL10s gave an overview of what these leagues are – draft-only bestball fantasy football leagues hosted by MyFantasyLeague – and roster construction – what your roster should look like after your draft. Today, in Part II, various strategies on how to pull together your winning roster.
There are many different strategies that you can explore playing MFL10s: RB early/heavy, WR early/heavy, early QB/TE, and what I use called, “Volume Value Drafting”. As with fantasy football in general, there is more than one way to do things strategy-wise, and luck plays a part. Below is a description of each strategy and how it can win and how it can lose.
Note for all strategies, picking top players that get hurt/suspended or just stink will kill any strategy, and hitting on guys like Jeremy Hill or Odell Beckham Jr. in the very late rounds of a draft last spring or summer can turn an otherwise bad strategy into a winner.
RB Early / Heavy
This strategy is to take 4 RBs in the first 5 rounds and end up with 4-5 RBs total. This can work with studs and hitting on WRs later on. You generally want to take 8 WRs to make up for the lack of top end talent. If a top RB gets hurt or vastly underperforms and your WRs can’t hold their own, you probably will be a top half of the table team, but won’t come in 1st place.
WR Early / Heavy
Punting RBs until later (maybe grabbing one RB in the first five rounds), this strategy gives you a high floor as WRs will put up a lot of PPR points. The downside to this strategy isn’t apparent until you get to your RB2-RB5 selections. Having guys like Frank Gore, Shane Vereen or Ryan Mathews as your second through fourth RBs can be a little scary, and they won’t be consistent week to week without the upside that the top RBs do. Going WR early, you need to get lucky and hit on a late RB. You increase your odds of hitting a sleeper drafting six RB in this strategy.
Early QB or TE
Taking a QB or TE early such as Rob Gronkowski, Andrew Luck, Jimmy Graham or Aaron Rodgers is a sidestep from the above two strategies. The main thing to note with this strategy is that it gives you the luxury of drafting just two QB or TE, not three, using the extra roster spot elsewhere. How beneficial this is somewhat depends on how any one particular draft plays out (i.e. what positions fall and represent the best value), which is sometimes tough to predict.
Volume Value Drafting
This is my favorite strategy, used by a number of players who draft a high volume of MFL10s. In a nutshell this strategy is, “take what the draft gives you”. Draft players that fall further than they should, and mix up similar guys to balance out your portfolio across numerous MFL10s of any one given player.
Last year I created an ADP drafting tool to help me draft in this manner, identifying the best draft values, and I have found it to be invaluable. This year the draft tool is available to the public.
This tool is generally for people that plan to do 15 or more drafts. Last year I did 40 MFL10s, winning six and finished second in ten. I am very happy with these results and got unlucky in a few, which could have pushed the 1st place finishes to as high as nine. This year my goal is to complete 70 drafts.
The thought process for Volume Value Drafting is to get guys BELOW where they normally get drafted. For example, I not a big Colin Kaepernick fan. His ADP is 128 right now, but I have 1 share at 143, so I got him a full round and a half after the average. Another example is Vincent Jackson. His ADP is 83, but I got him at 110 in one draft, over two full rounds after most people draft him.
By doing this over and over again, I have a lot of shares of players drafted after where they should be taken. Compared to a team that took players near the average, I can put together teams that shouldn’t be possible, but they are. If I don’t get a guy I really wanted in a draft, I know there will be other chances in another draft to get a player where I want them, at a discount.
Team defenses are very random and I want to get as much of a mix as possible across the league, so while I would normally not take a defense in Round 14, in order to get a few shares of the Houston Texans or Buffalo Bills, I have to draft them a bit earlier.
After Round 14 or so players can really fall in drafts. Some teams may think, “I have enough RB”, or WR, or any position, and just not draft that position at all, no matter what player is available. Drafts where a few owners think this way provide a great opportunity for drafting a team worth much more potential than what you paid for it in draft picks.
With my ADP tool you can also easily track completed drafts and look at a player you have a lot of shares in from all of your MFL10s. If there are multiple QB2s you like at roughly the same ADP, you can easily glance at what QBs you already have and mix up your shares. Percentage-wise, I currently have a high stake in Blake Bortles, so going forward I may grab Alex Smith or even Robert Griffin III for my QB2/3 to spread out the risk.
Here is hoping you take the plunge trying an MFL10. If you have any questions then look me up on Twitter @MikeMar05 as I love to discuss this format.
Any fantasy football players out there noticed the hashtag #MFL10s on Twitter and wondered what that is all about?
Fantasy football league hosting platform MyFantasyLeague offers 12-team draft-only bestball leagues, most commonly called MFL10s. In these leagues you draft 20 players to fill your roster and then you are done all you need to do to manage this team for the season. The website automatically starts your best players each week.
The team with the most points accumulated Weeks 1 through 16 of the NFL season takes home the top prize. A $10 entry fee MFL10 awards $100 for 1st place, and a free entry in the following season for 2nd place. There are also $25 and higher entry fee levels with different prize structures.
The roster includes a starting lineup of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB, WR or TE), 1 Team Defense and 11 bench players. These leagues can be accessed from a great new dashboard this year at MFL10s.com where you can make a bulk deposit and join leagues right from there.
Last year I did 40 MFL10 drafts – winning six plus finishing 2nd in ten. They are a ton of fun for only $10, and no time commitment problems after the fact. I can’t get enough of these things! This year my goal is to do 70. Now that I’ve explained a little what an MFL10 is, lets talk about constructing your roster.
Typical Roster Construction
There are multiple thoughts on the best way to build a roster, but on average the typical roster is:
- 2-3 QB
- 4-6 RB
- 6-8 WR
- 2-3 TE
- 2-3 DEF
The biggest thing to remember that these leagues are draft only, so if someone gets injured for the season, they can’t be replaced. The other point is that this is a bestball league. This increases the value of guys you would not usually risk starting in a normal league, but in bestball could put up 3 fantasy points for multiple weeks but then score a TD and earn a “start”, giving you some value.
Roster Construction Rational
If you are able to get two Top 12 QBs then I typically stick with just those two as the additional spot elsewhere is more likely to help and get you points each week.
RB position is still king in MFL10s for many reasons: lack of depth in the position, no option to use waivers to pick up guys like Justin Forsett, and they still score a lot of points. If I am able to get a stud, and 2-3 guys I really like, I sometimes stick with four (which can be a little risky) or more likely five.
If I start a draft off WR heavy, I will try and get six RB. With more time shares at RB and MFL10s being bestball, you don’t need to guess which RB will score a TD, so getting guys who just get on the field is a big help.
The majority of the time I do not believe in handcuffing in these drafts. Your goal in these leagues is to come in 1st place instead of trying to make the playoffs. A RB that puts up a 0 every week is going to hurt you, but at best (if your guy goes down) you make a lateral move to the handcuff. Burning two roster spots for one player’s production is not usually a value proposition.
WR (along with TE) are helped the most by the bestball format. MFL10s user +1 point-per-reception (PPR) scoring. The scoring, coupled with starting 3-4 WR each week, means you typically want to roster at least six or seven. I try to get eight when I can, given other strengths.
Most WRs will score points each week, but they are almost impossible to guess the weeks they will score a TD, so having 7-8 of them gives you good odds of having consistently strong weeks in your starting lineup. Players drafted in the late rounds like Doug Baldwin or Rueben Randle have value. You can survive weeks they get 1-2 catches in exchange for the weeks they stumble into the end zone.
There is a strategy of stacking 2-3 WR from the same team (typically without the stud). Taking the WR2 and WR3 past Julio Jones or Calvin Johnson has been a successful strategy in the past, although it does change each year and can be heavily influenced post-NFL Draft. The thinking behind this is the WR2 and WR3 level players are a lot harder to predict, so you hope that either one from the same team has a big game and/or a TD in any given week.
Unless I get two studs (Jimmy Graham plus Michael Bennett, for example) I will try and take three. TEs are even more volatile than WRs and more TD dependent. Even holding Rob Gronkowski, Graham or Travis Kelce plus an average backup, a third TE on the roster can be helpful. There are bye weeks (obviously) and of course down weeks, but your team truly benefits when a backup TE scores a TD and fills your flex spot.
Defenses are by far the most random position, and with bestball, you don’t play matchups. I try not to take a defense until Round 16 at the very earliest. Roster at least two, and more times than not I draft three. Even the worst defense can have weeks they get a pick-6 or shutout the Cleveland Browns. Having three can help ensure you have a decent to good score each week. Even three sub-par teams can put up decent points collectively over the course of the season.
Draft Strategy and MFL10 Tool
The prior section gives an overview of what your final roster should look like, position-wise. The next question is what strategy to get you there.
There are numerous strategies to employ tackling these MFL10 leagues. I will delve into different strategies including my favorite one, “Volume Value Drafting”, and describe an Excel tool I built to support my MFL10 drafting addiction in part two of this article. If you would like a sneak peak before part two is posted, visit my blog about the MFL10 draft tool.