Tips From Top Players: MFL10 Strategy with Mike Beers and Josh Hornsby
In this series, I’ve been interviewing some of the brightest minds in the fantasy football industry to see how they approach MFL10 best-ball leagues, now that there are a few years of data on the format.
How many MFL10s did you play last year? How many do you plan on playing this year?
Josh Hornsby: 2016 - ZERO! 2017 - 20-ish.
Mike Beers: 96 last year. Between 50-100 this year.
Do you find an edge in participating in more drafts at certain times during the year? When and why?
JH: Jumping in a cluster immediately after the NFL Draft is the ripest time, I believe. Folks are generally very hot on rookies, which pushes proven producers down the board.
MB: I think there is some advantage to drafting right when the leagues open, in Feb/March. MFL's default rankings, which tend to influence drafters, are based on ADP and are almost entirely driven by dynasty drafts at that time of year. Rookies and younger players are over-drafted as a result. I like to collect the discount veterans. Otherwise, I like August, because the pool is less concentrated with sharks.
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?
JH: I will limit myself on murky situations (SEA RB, BAL WR) until some clarity can be found. Otherwise, I'm not concerned about ownership all that much.
MB: My loose threshold is around 30%, but I didn't reach that number scientifically. My comfort level is different depending on the cost of the player. I will try to keep my concentration in players from rounds 1-3 below 20%, because they carry more downside relative to upside. I'd let a late-teens round player creep into the high 30% range if I really like him - being wrong there hurts, but is not catastrophic.
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?
JH: I won't take more than 2 QBs or DEFs. I tend to draft 5-6 RBs and 7-8 WRs. I'm pretty thorough about going exclusively WR in the first 4-5 rounds unless an RB or TE that I really like falls a bit past their recent ADP without cause.
MB: I do not believe in there being one ideal roster construction. The right number of players at a position changes depending on the capital you have invested in the position. Six WRs taken in the first 8 rounds is not the same as 6 taken in the last 8 rounds. My general guidelines are 2-3 QBs, 3-6 RBs, 6-9 WRs, 2-3 TEs and 2-3 DEF. Where I fall in a given draft is dictated by how I allocate my first several rounds of picks. I do prefer three defenses over two in most cases.
Is there an unconventional roster construction strategy that you have successfully used in the past or would like to implement this year?
MB: I wrote an article for RotoViz.com on a three-running back strategy that I dubbed "hyper-fragility." It was a swing-for-the-fences approach designed to take advantage of abnormally low ADP for top running backs last year. It ended up working very well, generating the highest win rate of all roster constructions that were tried at least 50 times. It can still be used this year (I have a few hyper-fragile teams already), but it is not as easy to implement as it was in 2016 because high-end running backs have gotten more expensive.
What is one rule that differentiates your MFL10 draft strategy from your traditional redraft strategy?
JH: In best-ball, I want explosive players. Late in drafts, I'm looking for players that will contribute 3-4 weeks of Tier 1 scoring. Anything more than that is just gravy. In redrafts, I avoid situations where I have to guess correctly on which weeks a player will contribute, and will instead look at players who can claim starting gigs after the season starts.
MB: I am much less likely to reach for "my guy" relative to ADP in an MFL10 than I am in a redraft league. The reason is volume. I play in way more MFL10s and I know I can get my guy at the right price in a future draft, but I only get one shot at him in my favorite home redraft league.
How do you manage your bankroll, or at what point do you decide to make the jump from MFL10s to MFL25s, or even MFL100s?
JH: I stick exclusively to MFL10s. I'd rather have more "outs" with my bankroll.
MB: I stick to MFL10s, unless I am invited to a higher buy-in draft as a one-off. I prefer the low stakes because the edge I believe I gain from my roster construction strategy is more likely to matter as the sample grows. I'd rather let the odds play out across 20 MFL10s than 8 MFL25s or just two MFL100s.
Do you plan on participating in MFL 50/50s this season? If so, how will you approach this new format?
JH: Absolutely! My inclination is to approach these with more of a "mutual fund" portfolio than a "small cap" portfolio. Instead of boom/bust players dominating my roster, I'll be looking into seemingly safer options whenever possible to boost my team's weekly floor.
MB: I am certainly intrigued by the idea, and will probably dip my toes in. I am most interested in getting my hands on the draft data and examining the differences in ADP for the 50/50s vs ADP for the traditional MFL10s. There is likely to be some kind of inefficiency to exploit.
What is one tip that would you give to someone signing up for their first MFL10?
JH: Wait on QB. Wait on DEF. Don't overspend on rookies.
MB: Import your own "My Draft List." The "ADP" in MFL's default dropdown list is skewed by dynasty drafts, even late in the summer. Ideally, you would import your own rankings, but if you are like me and don't have time to maintain custom ranks, there's another quick solution. I like to download recent ADP from the RotoViz Best-Ball App, which is based only on MFL10 drafts, and import it as my draft list. You'd be surprised by how helpful this can be.
Which player do you hope to have the most shares of in MFL10s this season and why?
MB: This is very difficult to answer, because it is driven by ADP. My highest exposure right now is Adam Thielen, but I built most of my exposure early on, then cooled off on him as his ADP rose. It looks like it has recently started falling back to previous levels - if that continues I will be collecting more shares.
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