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Tiers and How to Use Them During Your Draft (2021 Fantasy Football)

Aug 5, 2021

Top 200, 300, or even 500 fantasy player rankings flood your timelines and propagate your social media feeds. These rankings are good lists to see where your favorite expert differs from the consensus, but you can get so much more help from a modified version — tiered rankings.

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What Are Tiers?

Rankings have their place, except they lack a piece of essential information: how big is the gap between RB8 and RB9? To understand this, we break the straightforward ranks into groups of similarly talented players, called tiers.

For example, in 2021, there are three clear “top tier” TEs, Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle. All of these players project similarly, but once they have been selected in your draft, the tier is empty, and the next six or seven tight ends are lumped together in projected scoring. So should you take TE4, Mark Andrews in Round 3 after the top tier has been picked clean?

How Should You Use Them?

Short answer = no. Proper use of tiers requires you to forget the “get your guys” approach and instead trust the process and value every player in the tier equally. Now, going back to our Mark Andrews question and giving a more detailed answer, you should RARELY be the first fantasy manager to draft from a new tier. Of course, there are always exceptions, but in theory, refraining from a tier as long as possible will give your selections the most perceived value.

So if Mark Andrews has an  ADP in the 5th Round and Robert Tonyan is lasting until Round 10, you should be using the tiered approach to pocket all that draft equity. The major takeaway here is that tiers should be combined with ADP to help execute a Value-Based Drafting strategy.

Now, not all tiers are created equal. It is also imperative to value each position (QB, RB, WR, & TE) differently. Drafting a top-tier QB because they are the last of their position left in the group when you are on the clock in Round 2 is not recommended. The second-tier QBs will last longer than the second-tier RBs and WRs, So don’t blindly select from expiring tiers. Instead, see the bigger picture of roster construction by placing premiums on the top running back and wide receiver tiers.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Grasping a tier-based drafting strategy can be challenging. All drafts are unique. The only to become an expert and feel comfortable passing on or jumping a player is to practice. Luckily for you, FantasyPros has the best Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator! The tool is incredibly intuitive and a must for anyone who will be using tiered rankings in 2021.

Complete a mock draft in minutes with our free Draft Simulator >>

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Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to a more advanced strategy – like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? – to learn more.

Aaron Pags is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Aaron, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyTriage.

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