Who to Target in MFL10s Before the NFL Draft
Once the NFL draft begins (April 27, 8pm ET), MFL10 drafts often come to a screeching halt with many owners opting to exhaust their entire 8-hour clock before making a pick, waiting to see landing spots for rookies and how the draft will impact veterans. While this can be a fine strategy to implement, the week leading up to the draft can be a great time to target players in your MFL10s that might have depressed ADPs because of unclear situations or fears of a rookie replacing an incumbent.
Who to Target Before the NFL Draft
When looking at who to target before the NFL draft, the main thing to consider is how safe a player's role is. There are obvious studs that are safe regardless of how the draft shakes out -- teams like the Cowboys aren’t going to draft a top RB and the Raiders almost assuredly won’t spend much capital at WR.
The key lies in looking at guys whose job should be safe for at least one more year, but the fantasy community is waiting until post-NFL draft to invest heavily in. This early in the MFL10 drafting season, the dynasty mindset can still affect owners. Dynasty players always try to get out from under a player before their value tanks, but in an MFL10, or any redraft league, zeroing in on players with one more season in the tank can be a big key to victory.
There are also situations where a team is very likely to draft a high-profile rookie RB or WR that is likely to have a huge impact in year one. In order to capitalize on these instances, owners may want to invest in rookies before they see an Ezekiel Elliott-like spike in ADP.
Owed $3 million (with a $500k roster bonus) in 2017, but with a 2018 contract that is voidable, the Saints could lean heavily on Ingram this season. In 2014 he rushed 226 times for 964 yards, and in 2016 he rushed 205 times for 1,043 yards while catching 46 passes. He is currently being drafted 29th overall as the RB12 in MFL10s (finished as the RB9 in 2016), and while this is not a great discount, his price could potentially settle in the early-to-mid second round if the Saints decide to pass on RB in the first round, despite many mock drafts suggesting they address the backfield in round one.
Should New Orleans wait until day two to address the backfield, Ingram could have one more solid year while a rookie gets up to speed in a fast-paced Drew Brees-lead offense. On the other hand, Ingram could become a great post-draft value if his price dips after the Saints do in fact pull the trigger on a day-one back.
The Packers RB depth chart currently consists of converted WR Ty Montgomery, journeyman Christine Michael, and Don Jackson who has 10 career rush attempts. Green Bay will almost certainly draft and/or sign one or two RBs this offseason, but Montgomery is a versatile back and will have 3rd down duties locked up at a minimum. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he thinks Montgomery “has the ability" to be their top RB.
Montgomery had at least two catches in each of the last 11 games of the 2016 season, with double-digit receptions in two of those games. For the season, he averaged 5.9 yards per rush and 7.9 yards per reception, giving him a nice floor if the Packers do make him the focal point of their running game. Ty flashed the potential for the big game on the ground, as well, rushing 16 times for 162 yards against Chicago in Week 15.
Going as the RB22 around the 60th pick is a solid value now, but he could get pricey if Green Bay ignores RBs in the first few rounds.
Isaiah Crowell/Duke Johnson
A team with as many holes to fill as the Cleveland Browns is unlikely to draft a RB early, or even at all. Because of that, Crowell and Johnson should maintain their roles from last year and RBs in a Hue Jackson offense inherently have added upside. Their MFL10 price can still be affected by the NFL draft, though. If teams like the aforementioned Saints and Packers come out of the draft with murky backfield situations, players with defined roles, such as Crowell and Johnson, could see a jump in ADP.
Crowell is currently the 19th RB off the board and Johnson is being drafted as the RB38. While Crowell isn’t offering the same discount as last season, his price tag is reasonable and he’s a relatively safe pick compared to some RBs being drafted in the same range (Spencer Ware, Derrick Henry, Latavius Murray, and rookies). Duke is the RB here with the most upside -- even if he matches his production from last season, he will return value, giving you a nice cushion built into his price.
Adrian Peterson/Jamaal Charles
Two veterans that remain unsigned, AP and Jamaal have seen their stocks plummet in recent weeks.
At this point, it’s clear that teams are going to wait until after the draft to offer either of these backs a contract, but that means a discount for MFL10 drafters. Uncertainty breeds contempt, and once either of these players lands on a team, their stock will rise as drafters are simply more comfortable taking a shot on a player once they know what to expect.
Regardless of what you think about either RBs ability at this point, it’s simply sound investment strategy to buy low, especially when it’s almost guaranteed that an asset will appreciate.
Unlike RBs, rookie WRs rarely usurp a team’s WR1, and often don’t impact a solid WR2 -- instead, all but the top rookie WRs usually displace a team’s WR3 or WR4, and that will be the focus here. The following are WRs that are unlikely to be impacted by the NFL draft, but could still see a slight price hike once draft weekend ensures that their roles have remained intact.
Mohamed Sanu/Taylor Gabriel
It doesn’t get much safer than either of these guys when it comes to a really late-round WR pick -- the only thing that has changed in Atlanta in the offseason is Kyle Shanahan’s departure, but the skill positions have remained unscathed.
Sanu is currently going as the WR75 and Gabriel as the WR67 -- in 2016, they finished as the WR56 and WR54, respectively. This week and beyond, grabbing one of these guys late in order to round out your WR corps can prove to be a steal compared to some of the lottery ticket rookies that other MFL10 owners are taking a swing at who may never see the field.
Brandon LaFell/Tyler Boyd
Another pairing that has not changed much from last season can be found in Cincinnati. LaFell (WR82) is going at the very end of MFL10 drafts and Boyd (WR73) isn’t being drafted much earlier. Cincinnati is not expected to invest heavily at WR in the draft and LaFell and Boyd are great late-round picks that will provide some boom weeks with built-in upside. Eifert is a persistent injury risk and if he or A.J. Green happens to go down, both LaFell and Boyd could see a considerable uptick in targets.
Like with their backfield, the Cleveland Browns are unlikely to go after any notable WRs in the draft or free agency, especially after signing Kenny Britt. Coleman is locked in as one of Cleveland’s top targets and with a year under his belt, the hope is that Coleman can take a solid step forward in his sophomore year. Currently going as the WR34, the community is already expecting Coleman to make a leap into the fantasy starter ranks, but his current price tag still leaves room for upside and is a player to target before the hype train catches steam.
Beasley had his best season (WR31) in 2016 with Dak Prescott at the helm and Dez Bryant missing a few games due to injury. The Cowboys slot WR hauled in 72 catches for 784 yards last season, career bests in both categories.
Not much is expected to change in 2017, and while Beasley won’t be a league winner by any means in the coming year, a full offseason with Dak should only improve Beasley’s fantasy potential. His 4.5 catches per game last season gives Beasley a nice floor at his current WR68 cost.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking to outsmart the MFL10 market in the days leading up to the NFL draft, be sure to consider the following with each pick:
- If you think a player’s role will be hurt by the NFL draft, avoid that player, at least until his price falls significantly.
- Similarly, if you anticipate that a team will target a skill position, but the incumbent will maintain his role, wait until after the NFL draft to target the veteran and get that player on the cheap.
- Target players who the public believes will be impacted by the NFL draft but could see a price hike if their team goes in another direction. Other owners who fear change that could come on draft weekend will end up paying a premium later.
- Look at the needs of every team -- though it seems obvious, not all MFL10 drafters are considering teams that might not need to target the skill positions causing players like those mentioned above to be wrongly undervalued.
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