Wednesday - Jul 17, 2019

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Understanding Rankings and Projections

Fantasy football rankings are WAGs. But not in the pop culture “Wives And Girlfriends” sense. More in the military “Wild A$$ Guess” sense.

That’s not to say that there’s no value in rankings. I spent countless hours on my personal rankings and many others do as well. But at the end of the day, they’re really just a guide. That’s why we’ve evolved regular rankings into tiered rankings.

The main thing to understand about rankings is where they come from. When I’m formulating my own rankings, I take many things into account:

  • Past performance
  • Projected performance for the upcoming season
  • Offensive role, scheme and NFL team
  • Average Draft Position (ADP)
  • Consensus rankings/perceived value
  • Personal preference
  • Other mitigating factors (injury history, contract situation, off-the-field issues)
  • Scoring settings/league format

Throw all of these factors into a blender and you get the magical potion known as my fantasy football rankings. This isn’t necessarily the way that all rankings are formed, but it should illustrate just how many different things go into the process.

Perhaps I shouldn’t care what other people think about a particular player. In leagues where you can’t make trades, I do care quite a bit less. Think about it. In a redraft league, you’re taking Adrian Peterson with the first pick, even if you’re convinced that Jamaal Charles will outscore him. You do this because you should be able to turn around and trade Peterson for Charles and something else. In trading leagues, it’s very important to draft highly valued players in order to give yourself options to reshape your roster as the season unfolds.

Even when I really like a player, I won’t necessarily place him extremely high in my rankings if he’s going to be available later in drafts. For instance, I loved Danny Amendola in fantasy drafts going into the 2012 season. But I would often find myself drafting players that I liked less than Amendola. That’s because I knew I could still get Amendola a bit later.

If you want more of an unbiased approach to rankings, use projections. Projections are exactly what they sound like. They are exact statistical predictions for the upcoming season. At this point, the week-to-week projections won’t really help you, but the overall projections can be very helpful.

The problem with projections is the same as its strengths. It doesn’t account for any other factors. That’s why I tend to incorporate projections into my rankings instead of just blindly following them. That doesn’t mean that you should blindly follow rankings, either.

Use rankings as a guide, whether they are your own or from some other source. Every draft unfolds differently. The rankings don’t account for this. It’s not easy to evaluate the relative value of a player to another player at a different position. Quarterbacks will almost always be ranked higher than their draft position would indicate. Running backs are almost the exact opposite.

Don’t try to use a bunch of different rankings. If you want to create a spreadsheet with a couple of different sets, that’s probably okay. But don’t show up to your draft with 50 pages of rankings. You’re going to spend more time crossing off players than you will actually thinking. Trust me, I learned this from experience.

Unless you formulate your own rankings, you will never know exactly why the players are ranked the way that they are. At the end of the day, there’s a lot of personal preference in all rankings. Make sure that when you draft, you’re following your own preferences. If you draft the players that you like, you’re going to like your team better. At the end of the day, only one team can win your fantasy league. Hedge your bets a bit by at least guaranteeing that you will have some fun.

Thanks for reading and good luck to you this season.

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