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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: How to Use Tiers (2022)

Aug 7, 2022
Kyler Murray

One of the best ways to get value in fantasy football drafts is to create tiers. Once you have a strong 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 tier could be as short as one player and as many as 15 or more. You will find the lower you go down on the wide receiver rankings, the larger the tiers will be. That is because there are usually just a handful of points that separate WR36 and WR50 at the end of the season, for example.

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How do you create tiers?

Nobody is expecting you to be an expert and project the future. Nor is anyone wishing you to become a fantasy football analyst. The very simple way to do this, away from doing your own projections, which requires 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 that be Joe Pisapia and Pat Fitzmaurice or others. You can even select me if you wish.

Get a list of four to six people in the fantasy football industry you really love and look at their rankings and tiers side by side. Now, start to look at the players who are consistent in a spot. However, also look at the big discrepancies. These are the players who perhaps do not have a solidified consensus.

Many fantasy players will take the combined FantasyPros Expert Consensus. They take all the experts and throw together a consensus. However, many people draft off these, so do not use these exclusively; otherwise, everyone will do the same thing, and you lose your edge. The clever thing to do now is to take the compiled expert rankings you have 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 am going to move him down below David Montgomery.” It is your rankings. You are not wrong if they are yours and you are happy.

Once you have done this, do you know what you have created? Your very own rankings. They are personal to you and unique. There will be similarities. However, there will also be some unique differences. Now, you need to look at their points from last year, their probable points from this year, and design some tiers. That way, you can make snap decisions about where the value in the draft is.

After you have this, do some mock drafts. See if you are happy with the results. Do you like your team? If not, then change your rankings. You will find that doing mock drafts is testing your rankings to see if it produces a reaction, an overpay, etc. This last point is extremely important as it makes your rankings battle-hardened, and you have tested them to ensure you are happy.

Why are tiers important?

The reason to do tiers is to ensure you always understand the value of where you are getting players in a draft. For example, if you are in round 5 of a fantasy football draft and you are picking from the 10th position, having your tiers set up is incredibly important. Because if you have five wide receivers in your current highest tier, then selecting a wide receiver here is a bad choice. Because one of those five players will make it back to you in round 6. However, if you have Kyler Murray in a tier all on his own and the players after you have not gone quarterback, then selecting Kyler Murray might be the best selection for you and your team. You are always looking at your tier groupings, so you do not have to drop down a tier if there is one player left. Some players call this having a horizontal board and a vertical board. However, you should always be looking to select players in the highest but scarcest possible tier unless it is not a position of need. (Do not select three quarterbacks because your tiers say that’s the best value in a 1QB league, for example).

Here is a theoretical example. You might have started your draft RB-WR, and you 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 tier that looks like Ezekiel Elliot, Saquon Barkley, Aaron Jones, and David Montgomery. In my projections in PPR, I have these guys separated by about 30 points, or around 1.75PPG over a season. Am I truly upset if I miss out on Elliott but get Montgomery? Not really, as I filled what I wanted, and I am not losing that much from the “top” ranked player that I have ranked in that tier. Therefore I haven’t been sniped. I still got what I wanted. If you tell your league you have been sniped, you are giving away valuable information. I now know you are working off just a rankings list, and you are targeting individuals. It then becomes a jigsaw, and once you give me enough information, I can fill in the blanks as to who you are targeting, and I can then snipe you again. And again.

What happens when you miss out on an entire tier? You don’t reach for the next tier. You focus on other areas and explore value. This is where this concept of roster construction, and the foundation of a great strategy, comes from. The idea is to allow yourself to be fluid in your strategy, and if you miss some targets, you can pivot into other areas and extract maximum value elsewhere.

My Tiers

Below are my current tiers for the upcoming season in PPR scoring. These are correct as of the time of writing.


Quarterback Team Tier
Tier 1
Josh Allen BUF 1
Tier 2
Justin Herbert LAC 2
Tom Brady TB 2
Patrick Mahomes II KC 2
Tier 3
Lamar Jackson BAL 3
Kyler Murray ARI 3
Tier 4
Dak Prescott DAL 4
Jalen Hurts PHI 4
Tier 5
Joe Burrow CIN 5
Tier 6
Aaron Rodgers GB 6
Russell Wilson DEN 6
Trey Lance SF 6
Tier 7
Kirk Cousins MIN 7
Matthew Stafford LAR 7
Derek Carr LV 7
Tier 8
Jameis Winston NO 8
Tua Tagovailoa MIA 8
Ryan Tannehill TEN 8
Tier 9
Justin Fields CHI 9
Trevor Lawrence JAC 9
Tier 10
Deshaun Watson CLE 10
Mac Jones NE 10

Running Backs

Running Back Team Tier
Tier 1
Christian McCaffrey CAR 1
Jonathan Taylor IND 1
Austin Ekeler LAC 1
Tier 2
Leonard Fournette TB 2
Najee Harris PIT 2
Derrick Henry TEN 2
Tier 3
Joe Mixon CIN 3
Dalvin Cook MIN 3
D’Andre Swift DET 3
Alvin Kamara NO 3
David Montgomery CHI 3
Nick Chubb CLE 3
Tier 4
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 4
Aaron Jones GB 4
Saquon Barkley NYG 4
James Conner ARI 4
Breece Hall NYJ 4
Josh Jacobs LV 4
Cam Akers LAR 4
Tier 5
Cordarrelle Patterson ATL 5
Antonio Gibson WAS 5
Nyheim Hines IND 5
J.K. Dobbins BAL 5
Miles Sanders PHI 5
Javonte Williams DEN 5
Elijah Mitchell SF 5
Travis Etienne Jr. JAC 5
AJ Dillon GB 5
Kareem Hunt CLE 5
Melvin Gordon III DEN 5
Damien Harris NE 5
Tier 6
Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC 6
Chase Edmonds MIA 6
Tony Pollard DAL 6
Devin Singletary BUF 6
James Robinson JAC 6
James Cook BUF 6
Gus Edwards BAL 6
Rhamondre Stevenson NE 6
Trey Sermon SF 6
Tier 7
Tyler Allgeier ATL 7
Ronald Jones II KC 7
Michael Carter NYJ 7
J.D. McKissic WAS 7
Alexander Mattison MIN 7
Jamaal Williams DET 7
Darrell Henderson Jr. LAR 7
James White NE 7
Raheem Mostert MIA 7
Isaiah Spiller LAC 7
Ken Walker III SEA 7
Dameon Pierce HOU 7
Khalil Herbert CHI 7
Tier 8
Rashaad Penny SEA 8
Darrel Williams ARI 8
Marlon Mack HOU 8
Sony Michel MIA 8
Chuba Hubbard CAR 8
Kenneth Gainwell PHI 8
Chris Carson SEA 8
Boston Scott PHI 8
Ke’Shawn Vaughn TB 8
Tier 9
Myles Gaskin MIA 9
Mark Ingram II NO 9
Rachaad White TB 9
Kenyan Drake LV 9
Samaje Perine CIN 9
Brian Robinson Jr. WAS 9


Wide Receivers

Wide Receiver Team Tier
Tier 1
Cooper Kupp LAR 1
Tier 2
Davante Adams LV 2
Stefon Diggs BUF 2
Justin Jefferson MIN 2
Tier 3
CeeDee Lamb DAL 3
Deebo Samuel SF 3
Tyreek Hill MIA 3
Keenan Allen LAC 3
Mike Evans TB 3
Ja’Marr Chase CIN 3
Diontae Johnson PIT 3
Tier 4
A.J. Brown PHI 4
Chris Godwin TB 4
Michael Pittman Jr. IND 4
DJ Moore CAR 4
Brandin Cooks HOU 4
Tee Higgins CIN 4
DK Metcalf SEA 4
Michael Thomas NO 4
Terry McLaurin WAS 4
Jerry Jeudy DEN 4
Tier 5
Darnell Mooney CHI 5
Amon-Ra St. Brown DET 5
Amari Cooper CLE 5
Courtland Sutton DEN 5
Marquise Brown ARI 5
Allen Robinson II LAR 5
Jaylen Waddle MIA 5
Russell Gage TB 5
Drake London ATL 5
Robert Woods TEN 5
Treylon Burks TEN 5
Gabriel Davis BUF 5
Mike Williams LAC 5
Rashod Bateman BAL 5
Adam Thielen MIN 5
Tier 6
Tyler Lockett SEA 6
Elijah Moore NYJ 6
DeAndre Hopkins ARI 6
Hunter Renfrow LV 6
Christian Kirk JAC 6
JuJu Smith-Schuster KC 6
DeVonta Smith PHI 6
Brandon Aiyuk SF 6
Tier 7
Jakobi Meyers NE 7
Garrett Wilson NYJ 7
Kadarius Toney NYG 7
Allen Lazard GB 7
Michael Gallup DAL 7
Chris Olave NO 7
Tyler Boyd CIN 7
DeVante Parker NE 7
Skyy Moore KC 7
Chase Claypool PIT 7
DJ Chark Jr. DET 7
Tier 8
Van Jefferson LAR 8
Rondale Moore ARI 8
Jarvis Landry NO 8
Kenny Golladay NYG 8
Marquez Valdes-Scantling KC 8
Christian Watson GB 8
Corey Davis NYJ 8
Jameson Williams DET 8
Tim Patrick DEN 8
Tier 9
Sterling Shepard NYG 9
Jamison Crowder BUF 9
Marvin Jones Jr. JAC 9
Laviska Shenault Jr. JAC 9
Mecole Hardman KC 9
Joshua Palmer LAC 9
Nico Collins HOU 9
Jahan Dotson WAS 9

Tight Ends

Tight Ends Team Tier
Tier 1
Travis Kelce KC 1
Tier 2
Mark Andrews BAL 2
Tier 3
Kyle Pitts ATL 3
George Kittle SF 3
Darren Waller LV 3
Tier 4
T.J. Hockenson DET 4
Dalton Schultz DAL 4
Cole Kmet CHI 4
Dallas Goedert PHI 4
Tier 5
Zach Ertz ARI 5
Pat Freiermuth PIT 5
Tier 6
Noah Fant SEA 6
Hunter Henry NE 6
Mike Gesicki MIA 6
Tyler Higbee LAR 6
Irv Smith Jr. MIN 6
Logan Thomas WAS 6
Tier 7
Gerald Everett LAC 7
Dawson Knox BUF 7
Robert Tonyan GB 7
Adam Trautman NO 7
Albert Okwuegbunam DEN 7
Evan Engram JAC 7
David Njoku CLE 7

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Adam Murfet is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Murf, check out his archive and follow him @Murf_NFL.

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