Tips From Top Players: MFL10 Strategy with Chris Raybon
In part five of "Tips From Top Players", 4for4's own Chris Raybon discusses how he approaches MFL10s, one of the best pastimes for football fanatics looking to get their fantasy fix during the offseason.
How many MFL10s did you play last year? How many do you plan on playing this year?
Chris Raybon: I played 43 last year.
I have no set plan on how many I’ll play this year. Although I profited last year, my main goal isn’t to profit; I play to keep myself sharp on season-long player valuation, and also because it’s a way to get a fantasy football fix during the spring and summer. If MFL10s were a drug, they’d definitely be crack. I like to have at least 4-5 going on simultaneously.
Do you find an edge in participating in more drafts at certain times during the year? When and why?
CR: No — there are different edges to be had depending on the time of year.
Early in the offseason, a lot of dynasty league players seem to frequent the draft rooms, so the ADPs of rookies and young players in general is inflated. Age is one of many factors to take into consideration when evaluating players for MFL10s, especially since you can’t drop an injured or declining player, but what happens in early MFL10s seems like blatant ageism to me. For the most part, I load up on solid veterans early in the offseason and let my competitors gobble up rookies.
I also think you can find an edge in pre-August MFL10s by not being as rigid with your early-round strategy at positions with only one starter (QB and TE). Since ADP tends to be off more the farther away from the regular season we are, I can find WR value late, so I’m fine with doubling up on stud QBs or TEs early — something I’d rarely do in August. I’m only six leagues in so far and I already have combos of Rodgers-Brady, Luck-Brady, and Kelce-Olsen.
As August rolls around, the edge comes more from the influx of casual players drafting, as well as preseason hype artificially inflating certain players' ADP.
Is there a maximum amount of exposure you want to have to any single player? Will you forego value and bypass that player if that max exposure is reached?
CR: I have no max exposure threshold. These are best-ball leagues and I’m aiming for first place in all of them, not trying to maintain a diversified portfolio in order to make a small profit. If I’m high on players that end up with high win rates, I want to maximize my upside by owning them as much as possible. I let the randomized (or is it?) draft order and dynamic ADP create diversification organically.
In a vacuum, do you have an ideal roster construction strategy (# of players at each position) that you strive for? Any popular strategies that you almost always avoid?
CR: Last year I rarely deviated from 3QB/5RB/7WR/3TE/2DST. So far this year the plan is to go with 2QB/6RB/7WR/3TE/2DST because I tend to take a stud QB — usually Tom Brady — and I haven't ended up drafting many RBs in the middle rounds -- not yet, at least -- due to the uncertainty currently surrounding them.
If I end up with a strong TE corps and wait on a QB, I’ll also go with some 3QB/2TE teams, but I prefer to have a third TE due to the position’s flex eligibility.
I understand the theory that you should take three DSTs because DSTs provide guaranteed potential points since they’re immune to injury, but the position’s upside is low. The standard deviation between the win rates of all DSTs is low as well. Last season, seven of the top eight first-place roster constructions had two DSTs, which is what I almost always go with.
Is there an unconventional roster construction strategy that you have successfully used in the past or would like to implement this year?
I’m at my best when I’m drafting based on value, rather than trying to create a balanced team. If players I like are falling to me below ADP, I take them regardless of where my roster sits at the moment. Sometimes I’ll have some weird looking, imbalanced teams after six to eight rounds.
What is one rule that differentiates your MFL10 draft strategy from your traditional redraft strategy?
CR: In MFL10s I’m more aggressive at the positions that require one starter (QB and TE). In re-draft, I almost always go with a late-round QB and wait-on-TE strategy, piling up assets at RB and WR that I can potentially use as trade bait to acquire a stud QB or TE down the line. Since there are no transactions in MFL10s, I want to make sure I give myself a chance to win QB and TE, where there can be a limited amount of difference-makers. With the 20-round format, I know I have a lot more leeway as far as finding an edge at RB and WR.
How do you manage your bankroll, or at what point do you decide to make the jump from MFL10s to MFL25s, or even MFL100s?
CR: I don’t really "manage" my bankroll because I only play MFL10s. I’m not a fan of MFL25s because the first-place ROI is lower and I’m aiming for first.
Do you plan on participating in MFL 50/50s this season? If so, how will you approach this new format?
CR: I probably will. It doesn't seem that exciting, but does seem like a good ROI opportunity for someone who plays fantasy football for a living.
I have to go back and do a review of my MFL10 teams from last year to see how many of them finished in the top half of their leagues. If it’s a satisfactory amount, I probably won’t change my approach from traditional MFL10s too much, if at all. Instead, I’ll take advantage of drafters who may potentially play more conservatively in 50/50s. I like aiming for first place no matter what. As the great Beanie Sigel once rapped: “Shoot for the moon, if you miss you still amongst those stars”.
What is one tip that would you give to someone signing up for their first MFL10?
CR: Don't get tricked by the ADP that shows up as you're drafting! That ADP is from all drafts of every type, including dynasty, so rookies are ranked a lot higher than they should be. Use MFL's ADP page to filter by MFL public league drafts over the last 15-30 days, or use an ADP tool like 4for4's Multi-Site ADP.
Which player do you hope to have the most shares of in MFL10s this season and why?
CR: Tom Brady.
Without LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots should be able to play more shotgun and throw more often, and pretty much everyone Brady will throw to ranges from Hall-of-Famer to above average in terms of playmaking ability. It's crazy. Even New England's projected fifth WR, Danny Amendola, caught eight passes and a TD in the Super Bowl.
I'm expecting a career year from Brady, who inexplicably keeps getting better with age. Brady's gonna get me all the shmoney.
Thanks to my partner in crime, Chris Raybon, for dropping his knowledge on the masses. Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisRaybon.
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- Reacting to the NFL Draft: 11 Players to Target Now in MFL10s
- Optimal MFL10 Roster Construction: Part 2
- Optimal MFL10 Roster Construction: Lessons Learned in 2016
- An Intro to MFL10 Draft-Only Leagues: Prizes, Rules & Basic Strategy