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Help Win Your MFL 10 League (1 Viewer)

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Axe Elf

Never mind the awkward-sounding title; it was supposed to be "Axe Elf Helps You Win Your MFL 10 League," but when they censored it to remove any trace of the helpful persona behind the post, it obviously got dumbed down a little.

I like doing these MFL 10s “Draft Only” leagues--for $10, you get the draft fix without the hangover of having to manage the team throughout the season. There are no trades, no waivers, and no lineups to set, but your team is scored in “best ball” format for 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 K and 1 D each week. Most total points at the end of the season wins $100 (2nd place wins a free entry next year).

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get a favorable draft position. I am on my seventh league now, and I’ve drafted from the #6, #7 or #8 slot in five of them (#8 in three of them), with a #4 and a #12 for the other two. To make matters worse, I wasn’t notified of the start of the draft in which I had the #4 pick, and my first round selection was auto-drafted for me! Fortunately, it was Arian Foster, so I can’t complain too much, as Jamaal Charles was already off the board in any case.

Anyway, my first round picks, and to some extent my second and third round picks, are being dictated by my draft position to a large degree--but I’m finding that by about the fourth round, I’m starting to choose the same players in almost every draft, no matter where I draft from. Since the expected finish of an Axe Elf drafted team is somewhere between 1st and 3rd, I thought the rest of you might be interested in coat-tailing the Axe Elf recipe for an MFL 10 team to win a few leagues--and some money--for yourselves.

The scoring is a pretty typical PPR system, except that offensive players don’t get credit for return yards or TDs, so guys like David Wilson take a bit of a hit, and QBs get 1 pt per 20 yards instead of every 35. That kind of devalues the QBs that depend on rushing stats a little; you want a guy who’s going to pass for 4500+ yards--Brees, Stafford, Romo, Ryan, or Peyton are pretty much the only acceptable QB1 targets. Then you have to consider that while pass TDs are 4 pts, INTs are -2 pts, so Peyton and Ryan become even more valuable in that respect, with the lowest INT rates among those 5 QBs (although the difference is really only about 10 points on the season). But I’m getting ahead of myself...

For the most part, my mid to late drafting positions have led me to look for some combination of two of the following in the first two rounds: Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris and Steven Jackson. So far, only two of my seven leagues have not followed that formula--when I had the 4th overall pick I started out with Arian Foster and Reggie Bush, and I had to settle for Dez Bryant in the 2nd round of one of the leagues that started with Marshawn Lynch, when Alfred Morris and Steven Jackson were taken in the two slots just ahead of me (argh).

Calvin Johnson is kind of self-explanatory. As the highest-scoring non-QB in this point system last year (and that was with only 5 TDs), he’s an asset to anyone’s roster. Marshawn Lynch has a couple of young RBs behind him that might challenge for carries, but I think he’s got at least one more year of being the Seahawks’ bellcow in him. He is under contract until 2015, and he continues to be among the league leaders in yards after contact--you just aren’t going to get that from anyone else on their roster. I think he’s really the #5 RB on the board this season, so getting him in the #8 slot isn’t a bad deal. Alfred Morris seems to get a bad rap for being on a Shanahan team, but Shanahan does stick with a good RB (Terrell Davis, Clinton Portis) when that RB is good--and 1690 combined yards and 13 TDs is a lot of goodness. He did catch only 11 balls in 2012, but he was still the #10 RB in the scoring system--and his scouting report out of Florida Atlantic hailed him as an excellent 3rd down back for his receiving skills, so I could see him being used a little more in that capacity if RG3 develops any sense of self-preservation in 2013.

Steven Jackson, well, you all know I’m high on him. He’s going to bring his career-usual 1400+ combined yards into an offense that set up tired ol’ Michael Turner for double digit TDs last season. He’s going to get the lion’s share of the receptions that had to go to Jacquizz Rodgers last season (and made him #4 among RBs in receptions) because Turner couldn’t catch--Jackson can. Jackson should be good for an easy 40 receptions, 1600 combined yards and 13 TDs--which will place him about #5 among RBs in this scoring system. Even at 30 receptions, 1400 yards and 10 TDs he will place around #8--and you KNOW he will be motivated, coming from his years of labor for the Rams to an axual SuperBowl contender.

The third round, then, is kind of guided by whether or not I already have 2 RBs at that point. If so, I’m probably looking at Randall Cobb, and if not, I’m probably looking at DeMarco Murray. Those two account for four of my six 3rd-round picks so far; Stevan Ridley (3.06) and Roddy White (3.12) were the other two. Obviously, I’m hoping that the “Third Year Charm” makes Cobb perform more like a second round pick, but he’s going to need to add about 250 yards and 3-4 TDs to his 2012 stats to make that happen. In any case, he’s the kind of guy who can bust a 100-yard, 2-TD game on any given week, and given the best-ball scoring system, it’s that kind of big-game potential that you’re looking for, even more so than consistently average production. DeMarco Murray also has that big-game potential, and if he had been healthy all year, he would have been the #7 RB in this PPR system last season. Even if he’s NOT healthy all season, a quality RB3 and RB4 can cover for him somewhat under the best-ball scoring.

And then they all start to become the same draft after that.

In the fourth round, I’m looking for Dwayne Bowe. After all, he did guarantee that he’s going to lead the league in receiving this season. Even Calvin Johnson hasn’t done that. Bowe may not actually do it, but he did lead the league in receiving TDs with 15 in 2010, and despite adding Donnie Avery to the supporting cast, you know the passing game in Kansas City is going to go over Dwayne Bowe. (Just a little Wizard of Oz humor there.)

In the 5th round, I’m looking for Giovani Bernard. That may seem a little early, but given the rapid disappearance of RBs in these leagues in the first few rounds, the next-best options for a RB3 at this point are typically something like Ryan Mathews, Montee Ball, Ahmad Bradshaw or Rashard Mendenhall. Given the PPR scoring and the best-ball format, I think Bernard has a good chance of scoring as my flex player in several weeks.

In the 6th round, I’m looking for Vernon Davis. Davis should get plenty of balls thrown his way in the absence of Michael Crabtree. It took him and Kaepernick some time to build chemistry, but they kind of hit their stride in the playoffs last season. I’m looking for him to continue getting work like the 11 catches that netted him 210 yards and a TD in the final two games of 2012.

The 7th round seems like a good time to nail down one of those elite QBs--my picks have been split so far between Ryan and Romo, depending on how quickly QBs have been coming off the board. Sometimes Ryan has been gone by then, but I’ve gotten one of the two by this point in every draft so far.

My 8th round pick might raise some eyebrows, but the MFL ADP list has Justin Blackmon as one of the top few WRs on the board at this point, and I have not yet failed to add him to my squad. Here’s why. In the final 7 games of 2012, Blackmon was on pace to put up 1409 yards and 9 TDs on the season--basically WR1 numbers. Sure, he won’t help any during the first month of the season, but assuming I have three other WRs that can score adequately until he gets back, I’m going to have an extra WR1 for the final 12 weeks--and I got him in the 8th round. Putting him together with Calvin Johnson and Bowe is looking pretty tasty.

In the 9th round, I’ve been adding another solid “third year” WR to help take up the September slack, and to offer the potential for flex slot scoring even thereafter--Vincent Brown--hopefully he can stay healthy for at least a month into the season this year.

In the 10th round, I’m looking at an RB4 that can take advantage of the PPR scoring and potentially be a poor man’s Darren Sproles--and that is Ronnie Hillman. Although he may not be the Bronco’s goalline back or even “starter” per se (at least not after the first few weeks if Ball gets up to speed quickly), he is expected to be the 3rd down, change of pace back, and their best receiver out of the backfield. Denver’s RBs caught a combined 64 balls last year, with the now-departed Willis McGahee having the biggest share with 26, and Knowshon Moreno getting the second-most, 21 (with all but one of those in late-season relief of McGahee). Hillman is probly gonna average 3-5 receptions a game, for 40-50 yards, plus the 20 yards rushing he managed each game last season, and 4-5 TDs on the year--making him worth an average of 10.3 points per week in this scoring system. Ideally, he will drop a couple of 16 point games into the best-ball flex slot for me, and at a minimum, should be more dependable bye week coverage than anyone else left on the board in the 10th round.

I’m not really fond of my typical 11th round pick, so I’m not going to spend an awful lot of time defending it, other than to say that in the absence of anyone else that isn’t an absolute reach here, Cordarelle Patterson seems like the kind of a “swing for the fences” addition to the WR corps that could pay big dividends in a few weeks. I’d be happier with him if he got points for return yards and TDs, but oh well. Maybe he’ll live up to the promise of his physical tools that have led some to dub him “the next Randy Moss.” Maybe not.

My typical 12th round pick is another third year WR poised to move solidly into a WR3 role in most 12-team fantasy leagues this season. He is especially valuable to me in the first week, when Justin Blackmon is still on suspension--and coincidentally, so is Josh Gordon. Greg Little will therefore be the featured WR in the unveiling of Norv Turner’s new Cleveland offense, hosting the 27th-ranked pass defense of 2012 in the Miami Dolphins for opening day.

By the 13th round, it’s time to add a second QB with the potential to throw for 4500+ yards, having thrown for 4000 last year for a much worse team. Carson Palmer will hopefully pair with Ryan or Romo well enough to give me 20+ points from the QB position every week in the best-ball format.

My 14th round choice is typically Heath Miller. Even if it takes him a few weeks to return to full health, he should complement Vernon Davis nicely for most of the season.

So by now I have 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 6 WRs, and 2 TEs--with 6 open roster slots. I know at some point that four of those slots will have to be filled with 2 Ks and 2 Ds--since there are no transactions in-season, bye weeks (and “down” weeks) need to be accounted for in the draft itself. That also means that you can’t “stream” defenses and kickers, so I think it is more important in these kinds of leagues to take at least one K and D before the runs on them go too deep. You can’t just pick up any old roster-filler in the last round and hope for some luck on the waiver wire.

Therefore, I have often started picking my kickers in the 15th and 16th rounds, landing me the likes of Matt Bryant (#2 in this system last year, and still propelled by a great offense) paired with Blair Walsh (#3 in this system last year due to ten 50+ yard FGs), or Randy Bullock (Houston has ranked in the top 5 for attempted kicker points the last two years running), or even David Akers (taking over for the #5 kicker in this system last year, Jason Hanson).

I have however found that if I don’t take the Arizona Cardinals D by the 16th round, someone else will usually nab them, so I seem to be going K-D-K in the 15th, 16th and 17th rounds a lot.

For the 18th, 19th and 20th rounds, I need one more Defense--usually someone like Kansas City (with an improved secondary) or Carolina (with an improved defensive line)--and two “wildcards.” One of the wildcards I’m fond of taking as a RB5 is Denard Robinson. Again, with the PPR scoring, the uncertainty surrounding MJD’s health, and the ability of Robinson to score from anywhere on the field, Robinson seems as good a bet as any 18th-rounder to drop another couple of big games onto my best-ball scoresheet. Robinson doesn’t always make it to the 18th round, however, so if you really feel you need him, you may have to reach for him as early as the 15th. At WR, a couple of teams’ WR2s seem to keep falling into the final rounds--Rod Streater of the Raiders, and Jacoby Jones of the Ravens. I don’t know if either of them are going to have any “WOW” games, but maybe one or the other helps to cover me a little in Blackmon’s early season absence. Heck, I even went with Leonard Hankerson in the 20th round of one league. Who knows, if Pierre Garcon gets hurt again...

So there you have it, an Axe Elf approved 20 round MFL 10 “Draft Only” league.

Your smiling faces from holding a stack of $10 bills at the end of the season is all the tuition I need--but please clap the erasers and turn out the lights when leaving my classroom!

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