Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: How to Use Tiers (2022)
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.
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.
Below are my current tiers for the upcoming season in PPR scoring. These are correct as of the time of writing.
|Patrick Mahomes II||KC||2|
|Irv Smith Jr.||MIN||6|
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