Expert Consensus Rankings vs. Yahoo! Pre-Draft Rankings (2018 Fantasy Football)

Aug 26, 2018

LeSean McCoy may be slipping under the radar in Yahoo drafts

Fantasy football season is upon us, folks! Draft season is in full swing, and fantasy owners are desperately trying to figure out how to rank players, who to draft, and when to draft them. Here at FantasyPros, we’ve combined and averaged the rankings of many experts into our Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR). The ECR is a great tool that gives owners an idea of how industry experts value certain players. 

Of course, there are many platforms used to play fantasy football. One of the most popular platforms, and the one that I use for all of my leagues, is Yahoo!. The Yahoo! staff has compiled their own rankings, and unsurprisingly, there are differences in those rankings and our ECR. Yahoo! uses a default Half-PPR scoring system, so that’s the ECR scoring that will be used for comparison in this article.

Understanding the differences in rankings across multiple platforms can give you a leg up on your competition and give you a more clear picture of any given player. Here, I’ll highlight some of the players who are valued differently in the aforementioned rankings and give my take on how you should approach those players in your own rankings.

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Yahoo Likes Him More

Case Keenum (QB – DEN): (Yahoo: QB21, ECR: QB24)

He finished just outside the top-12 last year, ending as fantasy’s QB14. Keenum played on a great offense in Minnesota, featuring a solid running game and backed up by one of the league’s best defenses. He made some good plays, but he was asked to be more of a game manager for the Vikings. I think his number will be called more in Denver, and he has a WR corps arguably as talented as he did in Minnesota. Keenum can finish as a top-20 QB, and a top-15 finish wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Yahoo got it right on this one.

Peyton Barber (RB – TB): (Yahoo: RB32, ECR: RB41)

I’ve been beating the drum for Ronald Jones II all off-season, and I’ll continue to do so at my own peril. It’s hard to deny that Barber has run well in the preseason, easily besting RoJo in yards per carry despite a nearly even split in reps. In the very important Week 3 of the preseason, Barber put up a 5-34-1 rushing line, while Jones II rushed six times for only seven yards, although the latter did have the longest catch of the game with a 37-yarder. I still think RoJo is the more talented back, and the cream will rise to the top sooner than later. For now, this backfield may be a timeshare, and Yahoo has Barber valued much too high. Don’t take this guy based on an RB3 ranking. The ECR has him ranked where he should be.

Marlon Mack (RB – IND): (Yahoo: RB38, ECR: RB42)
Jordan Wilkins (RB – IND): (Yahoo: RB43, ECR: RB55)

These rankings may change sooner than later. Mack is not a sure thing to suit up in Week 1 after suffering a hamstring injury. Marlon Mack was on track to be the starter in Indianapolis, but Wilkins may get some opportunities if the former can’t go. Wilkins has made noise in camp and the preseason already. With “Big Bobby” Robert Turbin suspended for the first four games of the season, Wilkins could split time with Christine Michael Week 1, and he could even rise up the depth chart to become the every-week starter. Still, this backfield hasn’t shaken out quite yet, and Yahoo has valued both Mack and Wilkins far too highly. Our ECR has Mack still a little too high for my taste and Wilkins ranked in a reasonable range.

Cam Newton (QB – CAR): (Yahoo: QB2, ECR: QB4)

Sure, it’s only a difference of two spots. But that’s a huge difference when picking a top-five QB. Newton has the potential to be a top-five finisher at his position every single season. But he is wildly inconsistent. Will he suddenly become accurate and consistent in year eight, just because the Panthers hired OC Norv Turner and drafted DJ Moore? Give me a break. He’s not Fantasy’s second-best QB, and Yahoo is out of their minds on this one. He’s ranked ahead of Tom Brady and Russell Wilson – both of whom have less talented weapons around them. I’ll still take them over Cam because they put up quality stats while staying consistent. Newton’s final QB finishes over the last four seasons are QB2, QB17, QB1, and QB17. In last year’s QB2 season, he finished with six weeks outside of the top-16 and three weeks outside the top-20. I think Brad Evans may have gotten all his coworkers to make a #TeamHuevos pick on this ridiculous ranking. Don’t take Cam too early based on Yahoo’s projections.

Chris Godwin (WR – TB): (Yahoo: WR51, ECR: WR62)

These rankings will surely move Godwin up as the preseason continues. He has impressed at training camp, and he will most likely be the starter opposite Mike Evans, with DeSean Jackson seeing more slot work. In Weeks 2-3 of the preseason, Godwin has gone 5-38-2, making some impressive catches along the way. He ended 2017 on a high note as well, going 10-209-1 in the final two weeks of the season. He’s a talented sophomore with increased opportunities and the growing trust of Buccaneers staff and teammates. He’s undervalued in both Yahoo rankings and ECR, but Yahoo is much closer. He’s a great late-round addition to your roster.

Adrian Peterson (RB – WAS): (Yahoo: RB49, ECR: RB56)

Peterson looked bad last year. That’s all there is to it. He ran for only 3.0 yards per carry behind a Saints offensive line that blocked for Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara in highly productive seasons for both. He had two great games in Arizona, but otherwise, he didn’t look like the AP of old. In preseason Week 3, often a “dress rehearsal,” Peterson rushed 11 times for 56 yards and looked like he still has some gas in the tank. At this point in his career, Peterson is a football legend with nearly 13,000 yards and 99 rushing TDs on his resume. I’m not convinced he can stay healthy this year, and I’m certainly not convinced he can make any sort of fantasy impact, especially in a crowded backfield. He’s a potential boom player if he plays like he did throughout most of his career, but it’s a long shot right now. Yahoo has him ranked too highly, but I’m sure experts will begin to rank him higher after his recent performance in the preseason.

Josh Gordon (WR – CLE): (Yahoo: WR20, ECR: WR24)

His story has been beaten to death, but he has to be mentioned. Gordon has played in just 10 games since leading the league in receiving in 2013 (1,646 yards and nine TDs that year). His off-the-field struggles with addiction have lead to suspensions and a lot of time missed. His talent is undeniable, though. For his career, he averages 17.3 yards per catch, highlighting his outrageous motor and explosive abilities. He is currently on the IR for a Non-Football issue after stepping away from the team for an undisclosed personal matter, but he will probably suit up in Week 1. Gordon is without a doubt the biggest boom/bust player in fantasy football this year, with an incredibly high ceiling and ridiculously low floor. He also has Jarvis Landry to compete with, and Landry has been a vocal leader and productive player at training camp. Both Yahoo and ECR rank him as a WR2, and I’m OK with the Yahoo ranking. Drafting Gordon this year is a judgment call for fantasy owners who may want to stick to taking a safer player.

Will Fuller (WR – HOU): (Yahoo: WR35, ECR: WR39)

There is definitely some recency-bias here as Fuller blew up for nearly 300 yards and seven TDs (his only TDs of the season) in four games from Weeks 4-8 last year. He can’t possibly replicate that production, especially considering those seven TDs came on just 28 receptions (25%). 75-174  His deep-threat ability is undeniable, but his skill-set is limited. He has just 75 receptions in two seasons, and teammate DeAndre Hopkins has 174 in that time. Hop will soak up the targets because Fuller is not a possession receiver. Fuller is also injury-prone, having already missed eight games in his first two seasons. Even in a DeShaun Watson-lead offense, I can’t envision WR3 production for Fuller. Listen to the ECR on this one.

ECR Likes Him More

LeSean McCoy (RB – BUF): (ECR: RB16, Yahoo: RB21)

I understand that as the Bills’ best skill-position player, Shady will get volume, and volume is king in fantasy football, but this ranking is much too high from our ECR. Shady enters 2018 with a career 2,626 touches and nine years under his belt. He won’t be the same player he’s been in the past. He’s playing on one of the league’s worst offenses and playing behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Add in his off-the-field legal distractions and a rookie QB, and McCoy could have a major down year. Yahoo’s RB21 ranking even seems generous to me, but the ECR is far too high for a player with this much risk.

Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA): (ECR: RB30, Yahoo: RB34)

Penny for your thoughts?  Cris Carson has impressed in the preseason, while Penny has gotten off to a slow start, to say the least. Still, Seattle invested a first round pick into this guy, and he will get playing time this year. The ECR still have faith that Penny will land the starting job, but Seattle has shown in the past that contracts and draft picks don’t mean automatic playing time (remember Matt Flynn?). I’m not crazy about this backfield, but I’m still happy to take Penny in the 10th round of Yahoo drafts (his current overall ranking) because I’m getting a starter at some point this season, and I’m sinking very little draft capital into him. He is a low-risk/high-reward pick. I’m certainly not taking Chris Carson in the eighth round of Yahoo drafts where he’s currently going, because he won’t return any kind of value being taken that high. Interestingly, Yahoo has Carson ranked ahead of Penny, and ECR has Penny ranked higher.

Andrew Luck (QB – IND): (ECR: QB9, Yahoo: QB14)

He’s graduated from Nerf footballs and moved on to the real thing, getting some preseason action and showing that he can still play. Luck will be understandably rusty after over a year off from playing football, but his talent in his first three years in the league was undeniable. In Luck’s first three seasons before injuries halted his career, he tossed 86 TD passes and nearly 13,000 yards. That’s absurd, guys. The experts seem to remember Luck’s talent and scoring abilities, but the folks at Yahoo have him valued outside the top-12 (presumably for health and rust). He’s worth the risk because of his talent, and if others in your draft value him similarly to Yahoo’s rankings, you may have a steal. If he stays healthy all season and returns to his previous form, he’s a top-5 QB this year.

Tyler Eifert (TE – CIN): (ECR: TE15, Yah00: TE23)

He’s a clear top-10 talent when healthy, and by all accounts, Eifert will be at full-strength this season. He has only played in 10 games over the last two seasons, but Eifert is a red-zone animal, and he can score at will. In 2015 and 2016, he scored 18 TDs in just 21 games. After a historically bad year for the Bengals offense, Andy Dalton should rebound and share the love with his big-bodied TE. He is criminally undervalued in Yahoo rankings, and you should be able to grab him at very little cost if league-mates go by those rankings. The ECR haven’t forgotten this guy’s talent.

Eric Ebron (TE – IND): (ECR: TE17, Yahoo: TE21)

The former first round pick and perennial fantasy letdown will be in a great situation with Andrew Luck, but he will have to compete with Jack Doyle for targets. Still, the Colts love throwing to TEs. Over the last six seasons, TEs in Indy have averaged 134 targets, 87 receptions, and almost 10 TDs per season. Twice in Andrew Luck‘s career, he threw at least five TD passes to two different TEs in the same season. Ebron and Doyle could be the next Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. At TE17, the ECR isn’t pegging Ebron for a monster year, and he is ranked appropriately. At TE21, he’s a well-priced flyer with upside in Yahoo leagues.

Chris Hogan (WR – NE): (ECR: WR22, Yahoo: WR26)

It looks like Hogan is the last man standing. By default, he’s the Pats’ #1 receiver after the Julian Edelman suspension and the releases of Malcolm Mitchell and Kenny Britt. Eric Decker is still learning this offense, and Hogan has experience with and trust of Tom Brady. He was fantasy’s WR10 through the first eight weeks of 2017, totaling a 33-438-5 line before an injury derailed his promising season. He went on to play in only one more game after Week 8, catching one ball for one yard. If he can stay healthy, he’s sure to return value at his low-end WR2 ranking. Yahoo has him valued just a bit too low, so you may be able to get him at a bargain on draft day.

Alshon Jeffery (WR – PHI): (ECR: WR25, Yahoo: WR36)

This is a huge difference at 11 spots, but I have to agree with the Yahoo crew here. Jeffery is a gifted receiver, but he hasn’t topped 1,000 yards in a season since 2014. Last year, he caught less than half of his 120 targets for only 789 yards, making up points through nine TDs. He still has to compete with Nelson Agholor for targets, the Eagles signed Mike Wallace in the offseason, and pass-catching whiz Darren Sproles will be in the mix when he returns for what seems to be his 30th season. The Eagles will likely spread the ball around, limiting Jeffery and his inefficient tendencies. Seemingly always knicked up, he’s unsurprisingly on the PUP list for off-season rotator cuff surgery, and his availability for Week 1 is unknown. Yahoo has made a great appraisal of Alshon. Don’t reach for him on draft day.

Randall Cobb (WR – GB): (ECR: WR37, Yahoo: WR45)

Not sure what the gang at Yahoo are using in their Randall Cobb evaluations, but he has WR2 written all over him this season. Although he’s played more like Randy Quaid than Randy Cobb over the last two seasons, Green Bay’s second option has averaged 74 receptions for over 800 yards and six TDs over his last four seasons. The return of Aaron Rodgers and departure of Jordy Nelson signal a potential re-breakout season for Cobb in 2018. If league-mates are going by Yahoo rankings, snag Cobb a round earlier where he will still be a steal. By season end, you’ll be glad you did.

Devante Parker (WR – MIA): (ECR: WR46, Yahoo: WR59)

The hype train has left the station once again for this talented underachiever. In three NFL seasons, Parker has never played in all 16 games. He is often injured and rarely makes explosive plays on the field. His career high in yards in a single season is 744, his career high in receptions in a single season is 57, and he has scored only eight TDs in three years. Fellow ‘Fins receiver Kenny Stills lead Miami receivers in targets (186) and TD receptions (15) over the last two seasons, and he was only narrowly edged in receptions by Parker over that time. The Dolphins added receivers Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola and drafted TE Mike Gesicki. Kenyan Drake is a much more talented pass-catcher than Jay Ajayi was last year. There are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, and Parker will put up a mediocre stat line once again. Did I forget to mention he’s injured again? He broke his finger and may be limited when the season starts. Yahoo has him ranked 13 spots lower than our ECR, and I wholeheartedly agree with that ranking.

Chris Thompson (RB – WAS): (ECR: RB31, Yahoo: RB41)
Samaje Perine (RB – WAS): (ECR: RB52, Yahoo: RB69)                                          
Rob Kelley (RB – WAS): (ECR: RB55, Yahoo: RB64)

Washington’s RBs are all still valued outside of the top-30 despite the loss of promising rookie Derrius Guice to a torn ACL.

Chris Thompson had a hyper-efficient 2017 averaging 1.3 fantasy points per touch in Half-PPR scoring. His 103 touches for 804 scrimmage yards and six total TDs made him a very valuable fantasy asset until he was injured. Players with Thompson’s skill set can have seasons like this and then regress. In five seasons, he has never topped 117 total touches in a season. He will return value if he has another efficient season, but this is shaping up to be a very crowded backfield, and Thompson is not a lock to be healthy for Week 1. Still, he will handle pass-catching duties, third down, and hurry-up offense work so his opportunities will be there. He’s the Redskins back with the most potential this season, and his true value falls somewhere in between the ECR and Yahoo rankings.

Samaje Perine was drafted by the Redskins last year after an excellent career at Oklahoma, but his college success didn’t translate to the NFL in his rookie campaign. Perine averaged only 3.4 yards per carry and found the end zone only twice. Now, dealing with an ankle injury, a slender Rob Kelley, and Adrian Peterson, he’s off my radar.

Rob Kelley, once known as “Fat Rob,” has taken care of his body in the offseason and gained the new moniker, “Fit Rob.” Just two seasons ago, he racked up almost 800 total yards and seven total TDs as a useful fantasy asset. He was the favorite for early-down work before the signing of Adrian Peterson, and the starting job will be a competition. I’m avoiding all of the players in this convoluted backfield.

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Zachary Hanshew is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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