One of the best ways to get value in fantasy football drafts is to create levels. Once you have a solid set of fantasy football rankings, Tiers are groups of players that you group together based on likely finishing areas at the end of the season. A level can be as short as one player and up to 15 or more. You will find that the further down the wide receiver rankings you go, the more important the tiers will be. Indeed, there are usually only a handful of points that separate WR36 and WR50 at the end of the season, for example.
How do you create levels?
No one expects you to be an expert and project the future. No one wants you to become a fantasy football analyst either. The really easy way to do this, away from making your own projections, which is a lot more work, is to narrow down the analysts you like and look at their rankings.
FantasyPros ECR is perfect for this. Because you can select the analysts you like, whether it’s Joe Pisapia and Pat Fitzmaurice or others. You can even select me if you want.
Get a list of four to six people in the fantasy football industry that you really like and watch their rankings and levels side by side. Now start looking at players who are consistent in one place. However, also look at the big discrepancies. These are the actors who may not have a solid consensus.
Many fantasy players will take the combined FantasyPros expert consensus. They take all the experts and bring together a consensus. However, many people write them, so don’t use them exclusively; otherwise, everyone else will do the same and you lose your edge. The smart thing to do now is to take the compiled expert rankings you’ve made and look at the consensus between them. And now you look to see if you agree or disagree based on your research. “I think Cam Akers is too high, so I’m going to move him below David Montgomery.” This is your ranking. You are not wrong if they are yours and you are happy.
Once you’ve done that, do you know what you’ve created? Your own ranking. They are personal and unique to you. There will be similarities. However, there will also be unique differences. Now you need to look at their points from last year, their likely points from this year, and design levels. This way you can make quick decisions on where to place the value in the draft.
Once you have that, do mock drafts. See if you are happy with the results. Do you like your team? If not, change your ranking. You will find that doing dummy drafts tests your ranking to see if it produces a reaction, overpayment, etc. This last point is extremely important because it boosts your rankings, and you’ve tested them to make sure you’re happy.
Why are levels important?
The reason for tiering is to make sure you always understand the value of where you get players in a draft. For example, if you are in round 5 of a fantasy football draft and pick from 10th position, your level setup is extremely important. Because if you have five wide receivers in your current highest tier, picking a wide receiver here is a bad choice. Because one of those five players will come back to you on turn 6. However, if you have Kyler Murray in a tier all by yourself and the players after you haven’t become quarterback, then selecting Kyler Murray might be the best selection for you and your team. You’re still looking at your tier groups, so you don’t need to go down a tier if there’s a player left. Some players call this having a horizontal board and a vertical board. However, you should always aim to select players in the highest but rarest tier possible, unless it’s not a position of need. (Don’t select three quarterbacks because your levels indicate that’s the best value in a 1QB league, for example).
Here is a theoretical example. Maybe you’ve started your RB-WR draft and want to get your second RB in Round 3. You want a high volume back who will also get work as a receiver. You can create a level that looks like Ezekiel Elliot, Saquon Barkley, Aaron Jones, and David Montgomery. In my PPR projections, I have these guys separated by about 30 points, or about 1.75PPG over a season. Am I really upset if I miss Elliott but get Montgomery? Not really, because I filled in what I wanted, and I don’t lose much to the highest ranked player I ranked in that tier. So I was not sniped. I always got what I wanted. If you tell your league that you were sniped, you are giving away valuable information. I know now that you are only working from a ranked list and targeting individuals. It then becomes a puzzle, and once you give me enough information, I can fill in the blanks on who you’re targeting, and then I can shoot you again. And even.
What happens when you miss an entire level? You do not reach the next level. You focus on other areas and explore value. This is where this concept of list building comes from, and the foundation of a great strategy. The idea is to allow you to be fluid in your strategy, and if you miss certain targets, you can pivot to other areas and extract maximum value elsewhere.
Below are my current levels for the upcoming season in PPR Rating. These are correct at the time of writing.
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Adam Murfet is a featured writer for FantasyPros. To learn more about Murf, check out his archive and follow him @Murf_NFL.