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Tier Based Drafting

Tier Based Drafting.


For those new to fantasy football, the amount of information available these days is overwhelming. Do a Google search for fantasy football and you’ll come up with 11.7 million hits. There are the magazines, TV shows and even radio segments devoted to fantasy football. Every site, every book and almost every expert has player projections and rankings, and everyone’s is different.  And once you decide on which projection you like best, you have to come up with a strategy, and many exist. Some follow the 2 stud back theory, some go by best available and then of course there is value base drafting (VBD).


The problem is…. they all have their problems. The two RB theory may not be the right move depending on your draft position and/or the depth at RB in the draft. Going for the best player seems logical, but it doesn’t necessarily weight the importance of the different positions.  And Value Based Drafting, which is great method, can be very difficult for those new to fantasy football. It allows you a basis of comparison for players in the same position as well as different position.  It is highly dependent on your rankings, and can be very time consuming to put together. It probably should be used by the more experienced fantasy football enthusiast who has the knowledge and time to use it most effectively.


For those of you new to fantasy football, and find that standard cheat sheets leave something to be desired in the decision making process, Tier Based Drafting may be the solution. Tier Based Drafting is exactly like it sounds, drafting a player based on what tier they are in. And it’s actually fairly simple.


Step 1:  Find or Create Projections based on your scoring system. The Fantasy Sharks Projection Tool allows you to input your leagues scoring and will do the projections and ranking for you. Alternatively you could create your own projections and figure out fantasy scoring that way (Excel works great for this, I’ll cut and past a projection sheet into excel and modify the numbers I see fit) But a general ranking and the fantasy scoring is all that is needed.


Step 2: Separate players into groups, “tiers” based on their projected fantasy scoring at each position. The simplest way to separate them is by average weekly score (AWS) (divide the projected score by 16 games).  For example if you projected Corey Dillon to score 320 fantasy points in 2005, his weekly average score would be 20 points. Put players in tiers based on their AWS.  A range of 2 or 3 points per tier usually works, so all players with an AWS of 19-20 would be in a tier with Dillon. Players with 21 points would be in a high tier. Do not expand your tiers to try to fit in more players; some guys are a league of their own. It actual helps show their value, as they are clearly different from other backs. Some tiers may have just one player, others may have 7, 8 or more. A typical tier breakdown for RB’s may look like this.


RB Tier 1         Ladanian Tomlinson 25


RB Tier 2         Priest Holmes   22

                        Shawn Alexander 21

Deuce McAllister 21


RB Tier 3         Edgerin James20

                        Willis McGahee 20

                        Clinton Portis    19

                        Corey Dillon 19

                        Jamal Lewis 19


Step 3: Once you created your tiers, now you need to rank the tiers among each position to other tiers of other positions. For example; what is more valuable a RB3 or a WR1? The simplest way is by points.  Rank each them based on point values that each tier is made up.  RB3 has players with point totals of 19-20, If WR1 has a point value of   21-22, and then WR1 should be ranked higher.  If the two groups have the same value then the group with the fewer players should be high (less likely one of them will fall to a later round).  One thing I do like to do is adjust QB scoring since in typical leagues because only one QB is started, they score alot, and there generally isn’t that much separation after the first few top QB’s. I have found that using 80% of a QB AWS works well.  For instance if Dante Culpepper is projected to score 25 points each week, his 80% AWS would be 20. So instead of being tied for 1st with RB1 Ladanian Tomlinson (above example), he would be comparable to a RB3. Your Tier Rankings may look lie this:











Step 4:  Draft!!!!!!!! What you developed is a draft plan. As players get taken, cross them off your list. Once all players from a tier are gone, cross that tier off the list. When it’s your turn to draft, simply take a player from your highest ranked tier. Just keep in mind roster requirements and backups.


This is a simple system that works for novice players, or those who don’t have time (or energy) for more advanced strategies. It gives you a draft day plan that will limit the decision you have to make and help avoid the costly reaches when you do get stumped.

About Fantasy Sharks launched in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is (or has been) home to some of the most talented and respected writers and content creators in fantasy football.