Having played fantasy football for five years and now in my second season writing about fantasy football, I’ve read and heard considerable excitement for MFL10 fantasy football leagues. I never took part in one however, until now.
MFL10s are leagues hosted by MyFantasyLeague.com. There are a variety of entry fee price points, the lowest and most common being $10 (hence, “MFL10”). The format is a single-season redraft league with performance plus PPR scoring. A valid starting lineup is 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB/WR/TE) and 1 DEF for 9 total starters, and 20 roster spots.
MFL offers in-season management MFL10 leagues closer to the start of the NFL season, but at this time MFL10s are draft-only leagues. There is no trading, free agency waiver add/drops, and you don’t even set your lineup each week. This is called “best ball” scoring. The website automatically inserts the best scoring, valid starting lineup each week.
I was very excited to get the draft started and kick off the 2015 fantasy football season. Let’s take a look at my draft picks, and from this you can get an early take on some players I like and where others are getting drafted.
1.10 RB Matt Forte, Bears
The draft started out as I expected, five of first six picks were running backs. As I sat waiting at 1.10, I was hoping to have tight end Rob Gronkowski fall to me, but unfortunately he was taken at 1.08. My first debate: Do I draft a proven running back or one of the top tier wide receivers? Remember, this is a PPR scoring league. My options were Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas. With only four picks between my 1.10 and 2.03, I knew I was going to land two of those six.
I decided to go with Forte. Those three WR are all pretty equal and with Murray and McCoy now on different teams, their respective roles are more uncertain. I know Forte, and the Chicago Bears for that matter, might be in a transition year with new head coach John Fox. However, Forte is in a contract year and it is highly unlikely the Bears resign him, so he might think he has something to prove to other teams. Plus, in 2014, Forte led all running backs in the league with 102 receptions, which is gold in a PPR league.
2.03 WR Julio Jones, Falcons
When I saw Julio Jones available my eyes lit up. As I stated previously, I value Jones, Bryant and Thomas very similar. Jones does have some injury history, mostly a tough 2013 season still fresh in our memories that saw him play only 5 games. When healthy however, Jones is one of the most dominant receivers in the league. I was very pleased with my starting two players.
3.10 RB Alfred Morris, Redskins
I was really hoping quarterback Aaron Rodgers would fall to me as I was ready for an elite quarterback. However, he was taken at 3.08. I took a look at RBs and WRs available and saw a bigger drop off at RB than WR. Alfred Morris has been one of the most consistent running backs since coming into the league in 2012. Over the course of his three seasons, Morris has ranked in the Top 12 every year. Also, amongst only five running backs to finish in the Top 12 running backs each of the past three season, Morris has the third best yards per carry at 4.52, behind only Jamaal Charles’ 5.10 and Marshawn Lynch’s 4.64. Morris is 7th in fantasy points at RB since joining the league (yes, PPR scoring) and is younger than all of these similarly high producing backs taken earlier in the draft. Morris is in the final year of his contract and while some think rookie RB Matt Jones may be Morris’ successor, I see Jones pushing Morris to be even better to prove he is worth a big contract and a starting position for any team next year.
4.03 WR Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
With my starting running backs set, my focus now shifts to wide receiver and quarterback. Since quarterback is deep, I was looking at Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin or rookie Amari Cooper. With Watkins going at 4.01, I decided on Benjamin due to his one year experience in the league. I do believe Cooper will find instant success in Oakland, however, that is clearly a more risky proposition since we’ve witnessed Benjamin perform in the pros last season. Also, with Carolina’s addition of Devin Funchess, Benjamin might see some lighter coverage allowing for more scoring opportunities.
5.10 QB Peyton Manning, Broncos
Peyton Manning is one of the best in the game. Yes, his stats fell off half way through the 2014 season as many said he had a dead arm. I feel it was more the quadriceps injury that plagued him and only became known after the Broncos earlier than expected exit from the playoffs. However, besides an overhaul of the coaching staff, not much has changed for Manning on the field. All his weapons remain except tight end Julius Thomas, who went to the Jacksonville Jaguars. If this is Manning’s last year in the league (we’ve heard that before), I’d like to think he will do everything he can to go out on top. I’m more than willing to accept the risk of a “dead arm” with Manning’s statistical history on my side.
6.03 TE Greg Olsen, Panthers
Yes, I know I have a Panthers wide receiver on my team already. However, Greg Olsen is one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets, especially in the red zone. Olsen has consistently put up fantasy stats and ended as a top three tight end in 2014 in PPR formats. I’m willing to assume the risk of teammates on the same fantasy team, especially if the offense is moving in a positive direction, which the Panthers are.
7.10 WR Steve Smith, Ravens
Former Panther! Despite being 36 years old, Steve Smith proved his doubters wrong in 2014 with a Top 24 fantasy performance at wide receiver. He played all 16 games, did not show signs of injury, and can still burn defenders as evidenced by his 15 receptions over 20 yards and five over 40 yards. With Torrey Smith’s departure, Smith is line to lead the receiving corps again for the Ravens.
8.03 RB Joseph Randle, Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys bid farewell to DeMarco Murray in the offseason, the league’s leading rusher in 2014. With the addition of aged running back Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle, at worst, may see a time share of carries behind the amazing Cowboys offensive line. Randle is worth the risk even at this moderate draft cost, as he has a good chance to earn the starting gig at some point for the Cowboys, even if not out of training camp. Note his Week 17 performance last season as the starter scoring three touchdowns.
9.10 RB Doug Martin, Buccaneers
Behind a new franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston, running back Doug Martin, as of right now, is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leading running back, with Charles Sims maybe getting a bigger role. At this point in the draft, taking a running back that might be a starter Week 1 is worth the risk as Martin may have a breakout game or two still left in him.
10.03 WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Titans
If you read my Top 10 Rookie Wide Receivers article, you know that Dorial Green-Beckham has been compared to Brandon Marshall, who has had a pretty good career if you ask me. With the young Tennessee Titans in a transition period, no one really knows what to expect from this offense. Green-Beckham could be an integral part of this offense in September.
11.10 QB Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
Teddy Bridgewater was the best rookie quarterback in 2014. He definitely progressed in his development to become the Minnesota Vikings franchise quarterback. With the Vikings addition of wide receiver Mike Wallace and running back Adrian Peterson returning, Bridgewater has all the weapons set up for success.
12.03 Roy Helu, RB – Raiders
Roy Helu ended his rookie contract after the 2014 season and once it ended, Oakland rushed to sign him. Helu has been a receiving back during his career. With the departure of Darren McFadden and retirement of Maurice Jones-Drew, next starter up is sophomore Latavius Murray. Murray played well his rookie season, but isn’t much of a pass catcher. Helu will definitely factor into the Raiders offense, especially on third downs, which translates into a worthy late add for a PPR league.
13.10 WR Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
14.03 TE Larry Donnell, Giants
15.10 WR Eddie Royal, Bears
I’m hoping the addition of elite tight end Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch continuing his dominance will force defenses to load up the box, allowing Doug Baldwin to basically run free to make big plays. Larry Donnell is still young and does not have much competition behind him to challenge his starting job, which makes for a great bye week replacement for Olsen. There is a chance rookie wide receiver Kevin White does not make an immediate impact with the Chicago Bears. In such a case, the Bears will have to rely on Eddie Royal to produce, which makes for a good late round flier.
16.03 Arizona Cardinals Defense
17.10 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense
With all the quarterback troubles the Arizona Cardinals had in 2014, they finished 11-5 because of their dominant defense. Arizona did not lose many players in the offseason, so their defense should still be in the top seven in 2015. Pittsburgh Steelers defense was bad in 2014, but that may be mainly attributable to injuries. In 2015, besides an edge rusher, Pittsburgh has a well-rounded defense which should be drastically better.
18.03 RB Benny Cunningham, Rams
19.10 WR Aaron Dobson, Patriots
20.03 RB Matt Jones, Redskins
Benny Cunningham should serve as the third down, receiving back for the St. Louis Rams, so he has the chance to gobble up receptions from quarterback Nick Foles. Aaron Dobson was overhyped going into the 2014 season and was a major disappointment. Let’s see how his 2015 goes. Rookie Matt Jones is the backup to my starting running back Alfred Morris, so he is an insurance policy in case of injury.
Overall, I think my first MFL10 was a success. My team has some young talent, but is mainly comprised of proven veterans. A few things I noticed, which are on par with what the fantasy football draft trends have been the past few years: quality running backs are limited and go quickly, wide receivers are ridiculously deep, and outside of tight end Rob Gronkowski, wait on tight ends. I highly recommend MFL10s, so go sign up and get your draft on!
For fantasy owners that are bored of the typical 12-team, standard scoring fantasy football leagues, there are plenty of different league formats to try. One of that is becoming more popular, and my personal favorite, are leagues that incorporate Individual Defensive Players (IDPs). Instead of focusing strictly on one side of the ball, it requires owners to become familiar with the defensive side of the ball.
Here is a quick IDP primer. Players that produce a high amount of tackles are usually very valuable. Those players tend to be linebackers. Players that rely on turnovers and sacks, primarily defensive ends and defensive backs, can be inconsistent (except the freakishly athletic J.J. Watt who can seemingly do anything on the field). Knowing your league’s defensive scoring rules before going into the fantasy draft is crucial, and IDP scoring does tend to vary more from league to league than offensive scoring.
Knowing an NFL team’s defensive scheme (3-4 or 4-3) will help guide which positions should be getting more tackles, linebackers or defensive linemen. Teams with weak offenses will obviously have their defense on the field much more, which translates to more fantasy points. Matchups are key assessing which teams give up more points on average to opposing DL, LB and DBs.
As for rookies, some step right into an ideal situation due to lack of competition at their position. Some have to prove themselves before earning a starting gig, or a spot that has the opportunity to produce good defensive stats and fantasy numbers. Here are my Top 10 Rookie Defensive Players, for fantasy football, for the 2015 season:
1. LB Eric Kendricks, Vikings
Talk about an amazing landing spot for linebacker Eric Kendricks with the Minnesota Vikings. Kendricks should slide right into the middle linebacker position and play alongside veteran Chad Greenway and former college teammate Anthony Barr. Although a bit on the short end for a linebacker (6’0”), Kendricks makes up for it by being very athletic and a tackling machine. He is great in pass coverage and should immediately start as a three-down player. Kendricks is clearly the best IDP rookie prospect given his situation.
2. LB Stephone Anthony, Saints
The New Orleans Saints definitely needed to improve their defense and they took a giant step in the right direction by drafting Stephone Anthony. Anthony, like Kendricks, is very athletic and a great tackler. Although Anthony has struggled a bit in pass protection, he is great against the run. With minimal competition at linebacker, Anthony should start Day One and get plenty of opportunity for tackles.
3. LB Benardrick McKinney, Texans
The Houston Texans cannot seem to catch a break with linebackers. They either get hurt or continue to underperform. Benardrick McKinney is next up for the Texans as he should start immediately and make a name for himself on an already impressive defense. McKinney is an excellent pass rusher and run defender, but struggles in pass coverage, which may limit him early. With his physical play and persistence, McKinney will impress the defensive staff and his fantasy owners.
4. DE/LB Vic Beasley, Falcons
It is yet to be seen where Vic Beasley will play for the Atlanta Falcons, but either way, the Falcons need help on the defensive side of the ball. His best fit is at defensive end where he is a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen. He excels at the pass rush and he could push for 10+ sacks his rookie season, but he needs to improve his play at stopping the run. Beasley has great talent and is full of energy, so he should instantly improve the Falcons defense. Fantasy owners make sure to lobby for Beasley to be considered a defensive lineman in your league.
5. LB Denzel Perryman, Chargers
With Manti Te’o underwhelming in 2014, Denzel Perryman has the opportunity to step in immediately and prove he is a Day One starter for the San Diego Chargers. Perryman has the upside to be a three-down linebacker and a tone-setter, which is greatly missed in defenses around the league nowadays. Perryman is light on his feet proving he can move well side to side. With only Te’o standing in his way, it will not be long until Perryman is starting for the Chargers and he could hold onto that job for many years.
6. LB Jake Ryan, Packers
It is still unknown if veteran Clay Matthews will stay at linebacker (as the Green Bay Packers experimented with in 2014) or go back to defensive end. However, either way, he is a force to be reckoned with. Jake Ryan will immediately make an impact for the Packers. A Mid-Western native, Ryan is used to playing tough. He is a great tackler and athletic enough to play any linebacker position for the Packers. With no competition for a starting position, Ryan has a fantastic opportunity ahead of him for an elite team. He has sleeper appeal written all over him for IDP leagues.
7. LB Shaq Thompson, Panthers
Shaq Thompson is a great athlete and a turnover-forcing machine. Unfortunately, IDP owners may have to be patient with Thompson as he lands with the Carolina Panthers who already have elite linebackers in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. With the addition of Thompson, that makes the Panthers’ linebacker corps one of the best in the league. Given Thompson’s athleticism, the Panthers will find a way to get him on the field, likely in a third-down role as he is a great pass defender. Give him some time to work his way into the defense and he will be a stud.
8. DE/LB Randy Gregory, Cowboys
Going into the 2014 season, all the talk surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how bad their defense would be due to injuries and lack of depth. Well, they held their own and impressed the skeptics. For 2015, they added some defensive line depth by drafting Randy Gregory. Gregory is a small defensive end at 235 pounds, but is a great athlete. He has an opportunity to play opposite recently acquired Greg Hardy (once he comes back from suspension). Given his lack in size, Gregory has some room to improve, but has a bright future ahead of him on team that always seems to be in the spotlight.
9. S Landon Collins, Giants
The New York Giants defense had some huge holes in 2014. To start plugging them up, they drafted safety Landon Collins. Yes, defensive backs in IDP leagues are easy to find. However, defensive backs that play in the box and put up linebacker-type tackles are rare, and that is exactly what Collins is. He will instantly help the Giants. He is not a great pass defender, but that didn’t stop Bernard Pollard from consistently producing top 10 defensive back performances by racking up tackles. Expect Collins to do the same and become a top defensive back for fantasy.
10. OLB Preston Smith, Redskins
The Washington Redskins have a sneaky good linebacker corps. With the addition of Preston Smith, he joins Keenan Robinson, Ryan Kerrigan, and Perry Riley Jr. Smith should make an immediate impact as he is a natural defender. He might not rack up the tackles next to those other linebackers, but he will be a “big play” stopper. It will take some time for him to become fantasy relevant week in and week out, but he is a great stash for deep IDP leagues.
Two More To Monitor
DL Leonard Williams, Jets
Easily the best defensive linemen and arguably the best all-around player in the 2015 NFL Draft, Leonard Williams was taken by the New York Jets. Unfortunately for Williams, the Jets already have two really great defensive linemen in Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Williams’ best chance for year one success is via a rotation. However, Williams is the next man up for the Jets and has incredible talent, so consider him a longer-term quality stash even if he doesn’t produce immediately.
OLB Alvin “Bud” Dupree, Steelers
A team that is desperate for a pass rusher, the Pittsburgh Steelers went with Bud Dupree in the 2015 NFL Draft. Dupree still needs time to develop his game, but given the Steelers history developing outside linebackers, Dupree is in the right place to learn and become very good. He could eventually become a good fantasy option, but will rely more heavily on sacks, so factor that into his value for your IDP leagues.
When someone mentions the 2014 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, what immediately comes to mind? Do not say Deflategate!
As a fantasy football player the first thing I think of is Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski (Gronk) is the best tight end in the game. He is an absolute beast, worthy of a touchdown dance called the “Gronk Smash”.
Gronk is in an elite tight end tier by himself, while Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen are a tier below. Beyond those three guys, the tight end position is a bit of a toss up for fantasy production. Tight ends take more time to develop than most positions, and even a player who is very valuable to his team may spend more time blocking than catching passes.
Although history shows tight ends do not produce relevant fantasy stats their rookie year (2014 top rookie tight ends Eric Ebron and Austin Seferian-Jenkins scored a combined 54 points in standard scoring leagues), with NFL teams and coaching staffs searching for and pushing to create the next Gronk, you never know when someone may breakout.
Here is my list of top rookie tight ends for 2015:
1. Maxx Williams, Ravens
Clearly the best tight end taken in the 2015 NFL Draft, Maxx Williams goes to the Baltimore Ravens. With Dennis Pitta coming off his second hip injury, it is very uncertain if he’ll be ready at the start of the NFL season. That being said, it was very clear the Ravens were planning on adding a tight end during the draft regardless of Pitta’s status. The Ravens like to use one tight end who plays as a threat up the seam or in the flat. New Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, during his tenure in Chicago, relied heavily on tight end Martellus Bennett, with Bennett finishing in the Top 5 tight ends in 2014. The main competition for Williams is Crockett Gillmore. Any positive showings in the passing game from Williams during mini-camp and preseason could land him a starting position. With quarterback Joe Flacco constantly looking at the tight end as a check-down option, Williams should have a bright future with the Ravens, and perhaps even make an immediate impact as a rookie.
2. Clive Walford, Raiders
Chalk up another young weapon to the Oakland Raiders. Wide receiver Amari Cooper should gobble up targets and catches from sophomore quarterback Derek Carr, however, the Raiders offer Clive Walford the opportunity to become an integral part of their offense for the next few years. Many compare Walford to Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen. I believe Walford has more upside and athleticism in terms of pass catching. Mychal Rivera had a decent year in 2014 with Carr, however, there is much room for improvement at the tight end position and Walford has an opportunity to fill that void. With the Raiders still limited in offensive weapons, Walford might see a fair share of targets from Carr, making Walford a good investment for future years.
3. Jesse James, Steelers
With arguably the best fantasy wide receiver in the game in Antonio Brown, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for more weapons to help spread the defense out. Veteran Steelers tight end Heath Miller is aging quickly, so Pittsburgh invested in Jesse James in the 2015 NFL Draft. Although Miller is getting older, he still was able to produce a Top 10 fantasy performance in 2014. James still has some development to work on, but he can offer quarterback Ben Roethlisberger an additional weapon in the red zone with his large size (6’7”). James’ price in fantasy drafts is extremely cheap, so his potential to surpass Miller makes for a worthy investment in dynasty leagues.
4. Tyler Kroft, Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals are in need for a consistent, healthy tight end. The Bengals’ first “Tyler” at the position, 2013 rookie draft pick Tyler Eifert, is close to being considered a bust. His rookie season was a typical rookie tight end season with 39 receptions for 445 yards and two touchdowns. In 2014, Eifert suffered a dislocated elbow in the first game of the season and was out the remainder of the year. The Bengals haven’t seen much production from Eifert for their investment. Tyler Kroft is an all-around complete athlete who could have a better pro career than his modest college stats suggest. With the Bengals affinity to run two tight end formations, Kroft should see the field quickly with a chance to earn valuable targets in the red zone.
5. A.J. Derby, Patriots
Any tight end playing with quarterback Tom Brady and opposite Gronk has a chance for success. A.J. Derby might not see the field immediately but Gronk sees double coverage every play and the wide receivers for the New England Patriots have not been spectacular, so the opportunity for a tight end to thrive in this offense is there. Derby is a speculative add for deep dynasty leagues.