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Tier-Based Draft Strategy (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Sam Ryner | Featured Writer
Jun 12, 2022
Najee Harris

Imagine you have a superpower that allows you to know how players will perform for fantasy in the future. It’s draft day, you’re on the clock, and you need a WR. You see the players who will finish the upcoming season as the WR13, WR15, WR17, and WR18 are still on the board.

Who do you choose? This may surprise some, but drafting the WR13 in this scenario isn’t necessarily the correct choice.

The flaw in thinking here is that fantasy managers often approach rankings in a linear fashion (e.g., RB4 is better than RB5; RB5 is better than RB6; etc.). In reality, there are often groupings (tiers) of players who have similar production, and one player isn’t clearly better than the next.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Let’s take the 2021 season, for example. In half-PPR scoring formats, the WR13 averaged 12.8 PPG, and the WR 18 averaged 12.1 PPG. That’s hardly a noticeable difference in production, and the players’ performance for fantasy teams was essentially the same.

Tier-based drafting is a strategy that groups players together in tiers rather than using the standard “Top 250 Players” rankings that present players in a straightforward, linear manner. In fantasy drafts, identifying tiers of players projected to have similar fantasy production enables fantasy managers to decide when a specific position should be targeted and when it’s alright to wait for another round before selecting a player from that position group. Understanding those tiers is critical to avoid leaving value on the draft board.

Let’s get back to our original question. Most fantasy managers would choose the WR13 in this hypothetical scenario. But let’s pose the question this way; Which draft result would you prefer?

Option A:

  • Third round: WR who will average 13.7 PPG
  • Fourth round: tier-four RB

Option B:

  • Third round: tier-three RB
  • fourth round: WR who will average 13.3 PPG

Option B is the better choice. This option gives you the superior RB, and the WRs are essentially a wash. Understanding where there are tier breaks for positional groups allows you to make informed draft-day decisions that maximize the value of your overall roster.

Here’s how the start of a 2022 fantasy draft might play out using this strategy:

  • You draw the 10th pick in a 12-team, one-QB, half PPR league.
  • You’re on the clock. Six RBs and three WRs have already been drafted.
  • You look at your tiered rankings and notice that all tier-1 WRs and RBs are gone. There are two tier-two RBs and six tier-two WRs still available. What do you do?

The right move would be to select one of the two RBs if you are using a tiered-based approach. Your next selection is at pick 15. Four players will be drafted between your first and second-round pick. If you take a WR with the first pick, both tier-two RBs will likely be gone before your second pick. You will be left with a tier-three RB as your RB1 or unintentionally using a zero-RB approach. By taking the RB with your first pick, you are guaranteed to have one of the tier-two WRs still available with your second pick.

Interested in trying out this approach? Getting started is easy, and the work has already been done for you. FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings (ECR) are divided into overall player tiers and positional tiers. Fantasy championships are often won as the result of giving hours of blood, sweat, and tears in the mock draft room. Practice indeed makes perfect, so get some mock draft reps in today using FantasyPros’ Draft Wizard to perfect the art of tier-based drafting.

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