MFL10s: The Worst Draft Slots?
A handful of recent MFL10s have revealed less-than-desirable draft slots early in the first round, assuming you hold certain opinions. If you have reservations about one or more of the top four running backs, and agree that there is a line of demarcation after the top nine wideouts, you probably don’t want the fourth, third, and maybe even the second pick.
Let’s say that you are confident in a pair of the top running backs, but the other two give you pause. We’ll call the second two Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles. First of all, it’s not sacrilege to have concerns about any first round running back, especially after what occurred last season. To point, Nate Jahnke laid out a perfectly reasonable case against Charles’ prospects in 2014. Whether you agree with that or not (I have similar concerns), it’s healthy to at least question prevailing opinion.
It appears that landing the third or fourth pick puts you in a quandary, if the two backs you trust are gone. We don’t want to take chances with high draft picks. We know that receivers are correctly viewed as safer investments than running backs. MFL10s are PPR scoring, and you can fit more wideouts into a lineup than other players. Receivers hold the most value, despite the position being deeper than John Facenda’s voice.
If you reluctantly draft Charles or Peterson, your queasiness will worsen as you watch the back-end of the top nine wideouts disappear by the middle of the second round. Since June 1st, the average draft positions (ADP) of Alshon Jeffery (2.01), Antonio Brown (2.06), and Jordy Nelson (2.09), paint a pretty bleak picture for drafters who are hoping to land a legit WR1 after taking a running back early in the first round. In two MFL10s this past weekend, Nelson (2.03 & 2.07) and Jeffery (1.12 & 2.04) went even higher than their ADPs from the last two weeks, and Brown (2.04 & 2.08) remained in the early-to-middle portion of the second round.
If you don’t really dig Randall Cobb, Keenan Allen, or Pierre Garcon, you’re not going to love the foundation of your wide receiver corps. You could go with Peyton Manning if he’s still there, or take one of the two non-Jimmy Graham top tight ends, but that won’t solve your wide receiver deficit.
However, you may be very tempted by one or more of the running backs still available. This could also be the solution for drafters who don’t trust a 29-year old Peterson with the fourth pick in the first round. Why not just take Calvin Johnson, or whoever else you have as your top wideout?
During both of those weekend MFL10s in which Jeffery and Nelson were climbing, Marshawn Lynch was drafted at 2.11 (once by me). His post-June 1st ADP is 2.05, but he’s falling further than that based on arguably irrelevant offseason chatter. Despite recent positive news, Arian Foster went 3.03 in one of the two drafts. Zac Stacy went 3.07 and 3.10, which are later draft slots than his 3.03 ADP. Doug Martin, whose post-June 1st ADP is 2.08, lasted until the 11th pick of the third round. Giovani Bernard, Andre Ellington, and C.J. Spiller are all available in that general late-second or early-third round range.
The instinct to zig when others are zagging has merit in some circumstances, but it can also be done to your own detriment. Top receivers are climbing for good reason and although the position is deep, the big dogs are a finite resource. If you have concerns about one of the top backs, why fight it?
For instance, skipping Charles or Peterson for Megatron or Dez and then taking Foster or Lynch in lieu of Allen or Cobb affords some more flexibility with your third round pick before the long wait until the next two selections in rounds four and five. You can take another of the aforementioned backs in the third if you’re not comfortable, or just wait and grab a Toby Gerhart, Ryan Mathews, or Joique Bell when it comes back around. Alfred Morris lasted until my pick at 5.02 this weekend, but that’s likely an extreme case (that I’ll gobble up every time).
The point is that running back depth, within just about every tier other than the very first one, is sliding deeper in drafts. It’s tough to take full advantage of that if you lock yourself into an early back, especially one that you’re not comfortable with and are picking mainly because you feel obligated to. Subsequently selecting a second round receiver because you feel as if you’re behind at the position, especially after the top nine are already off the board, puts you in something of a reactive stance instead of being proactive in the face of an exploitable situation.
Of course we can have differing views on the specific players mentioned above, but the overarching point remains the same. If you’re gung-ho on Peterson and he’s there for you at the fourth overall pick, then this isn’t as relevant to you. That doesn’t change the fact that by the time you pick again, you will be choosing from a large secondary tier of receivers that has a wide range of valuations.
These conditions will change in the coming weeks and months. But at least for now, the end of the second and the start of the third round is a sweet spot to pick from high quality running back depth as it sinks. It’s also an area where receiver values plateau, and patience is rewarded with pass catchers of comparable quality a round or two later.
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman