Most folks who play fantasy football will tell you that at least half the fun is in the draft. That’s when weeks of preparation come to a head, and all your hypotheses about who you might pick and when are put to a meaningful test. Often, it’s also when you consume copious amounts of beer, but that’s beside the point I’ll be making.
What’s not fun about the draft is waiting for it. Most drafts happen in August, or even early September. That means those of us who begin obsessing about fantasy football right after the
Super Bowl NFL draft are condemned to spend several frustrated months reading articles and doing mock drafts until the real thing comes along.
Ah, yes, mock drafts. They satisfy that jones and provide excellent preparation, don’t they? Well, sort of. Mock drafts are like playing poker without real money — when there’s nothing really at stake, folks are free to try out any sort of strategy. These being the times we live in, some people even join mock drafts strictly to get their troll on. So you can never be sure who’s making their picks with integrity, and who’s like this guy:
Happy early 4th of July! I ruined more mock drafts! http://t.co/UG11nMfzQ7
— stefan (@boring_as_heck) July 3, 2014
(Actually, the link in that tweet is worth clicking. It’s pretty funny.)
No, sir or ma’am, what you need is to be making ‘real’ picks, real soon. What if I told you that you could be in a real draft tomorrow, getting up to eight hours to make each pick, joining a league where you never have to do anything else with your team, and likely playing against recognized fantasy experts, all for only $10? Is that something you might be interested in?
The drafts I’m talking about are called MFL10s, and if you’re heavily into fantasy football, it’s a no-brainer to join one right away. Heck, why not join five, it’ll only cost you $50. The creation of Myfantasyleague, they are draft-only leagues — you draft a team, and then you’re done, and things play out automatically once the NFL season starts.
The way that works is each team is given a 22-player roster, with a fairly standard starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 flex (RB/WR/TE), 1 Def, 1 PK. Your starters each week are automatically optimized by the Web site, so the players with the highest scores form your lineup. There’s no head-to-head competition; the team with the most total points through Week 16 wins the league and gets $100.
There are a variety of “draft-only” fantasy leagues offered by several Web sites (I’ve had good experiences with rtsports.com), but the MFL10s really seem to have caught the fantasy industry’s fancy. In fact, it can be described as a bit of a craze right now, as far as I can tell.
I think it’s time to jump in a few MFL10s. — John Paulsen (@4for4_John) July 2, 2014
I wish non-degens did MFL10s.
— Denny Carter (@CDCarter13) May 13, 2014
— Frittlelocity (@FFRittle) June 29, 2014
It’s gotten to the point where fantasy Web sites are writing articles specifically aimed at strategy in MFL10s:
MFL10s, Bankroll Management, and Growing a Pair http://t.co/Ro4eBQOCJ4
— rotoViz (@rotoViz) June 24, 2014
What this means is that, in any given MFL10 draft, you are highly likely to find yourself squaring off against at least a couple of fantasy-industrial complex types, and a bunch of other people who take this stuff very seriously. (Whether or not you have any idea who they are is another matter.) An MFL10 I participated in recently (as Joique Store) included Rotoworld heavyweight Evan Silva; I’m in one now with contributors to the fantasy Web sites Fanmouth and Officepoolguru.
It also means that, whereas the hardcore fantasy football player often has an advantage in June/July drafts because most people — you know, the ones who’ll sneeringly tell you they “have lives” — haven’t done their homework yet, there’s not much superior-information edge to be had in MFL10s. For the most part, you’re swimming with sharks.
So you’d better have a good strategy. Luck, of course, plays a huge role in deciding the fate of any given league where there’s no in-season player acquisition, but any sound strategy is predicated on trying to shield your roster from the caprices of injuries and/or ineffectiveness.
Twenty-two roster spots may sound like a ton, but as you’ll need at least two of everything, suddenly it becomes tricky to determine where to allocate your personnel. If you draft three quarterbacks, does that mean you should only take two tight ends? What’s the lowest number of running backs you can get away with?
One thing to expect in these drafts is that quarterbacks probably won’t go early. Waiting on QBs is practically axiomatic among the fantasy smart-set these days, but it is especially prevalent in MFL10s. That has a lot to do with the fact that quarterback is a relatively stable position; even, say, the 27th-ranked QB (in this case, Carson Palmer) seems like a fairly safe bet to provide solid production. Contrast that with how quickly things get sketchy at running back, and bearing in mind that you’re stuck with your picks all season, and it becomes less surprising that Peyton Manning often lasts into the third round and Drew Brees into the fifth.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the “slow draft” mechanism employed in MFL10s makes them very easy to join (as does the low price). You don’t have to arrange your schedule to accommodate being in a draft room at a certain time, for a couple of hours. Instead, you can go about your business, make your picks (or, better yet, set up pre-draft lists) at a reasonable pace, relax, and enjoy a draft that may go on for over a week. After all, the NFL doesn’t kick off for two more months — we’ve got some time on our hands, right?