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Tiers vs Actual Rankings or Projections (1 Viewer)

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
I know some GMs like to use tiers when they draft.

I use them too. But they are always in addition to rankings or projections. 

I'll have my RBs ranked 1-60 and within that list, I'll mark where I see the drops. For a hypothetical example, RBs 1-4 might be roughly in the same group and then there's a big drop to the group of RB5-10.

So I'll make the tier break between RB4 and RB5. But will still very clearly have them ranked RB1-RB10.

This takes more work. When someone asks me would I take Ezekiel Elliot or Jonathan Taylor, I have to answer. I don't have the luxury of saying, :shrug:  they're both in the same tier. 

I see a lot of people that are hesitant to define players more than just tiers. I get it, it's much easier.

But my question for you is when it's you're turn to pick and you have players to choose from that are in the same tier, how do you pick?

Let's say you're in the example above and you have Taylor and Elliott in the same tier. And it's your turn to draft and both players are there, how do you choose?

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
And to be clear, I'm not trying to argue. I'm genuinely interested in how you make a pick if you can't define a player within a tier.

 

pantherclub

Footballguy
With tiers for me its easier to put all groups into tiers and then tier the tiers if that makes sense.  RB tier 1 is higher than wr tier 1.  Wr tier 2 is higher than rb 2.  TE tier 1 is higher than RB2 and wr2.  and on and on and on

ranking them 1-60 or whatever makes this basically impossible for me in real time

see how that works

 

apalmer

Footballguy
I'm more of a tier guy, simply because projections are not a science. If Elliot projects to 4 more fantasy points in the course of a year, you rank him one spot above Taylor.  You can't honestly believe your projections are so accurate that the 4-point estimated difference is significant.  How do I choose between the two? Usually I try to guestimate what's going to happen later in the draft: for example,  who am I likely to get as  a RB2 or 3? In your example, Elliot has a week 7 bye. That would clash with a lot more possible #2 and #3 RBs than Taylor's week 14 bye (for example, if Najee Harris with a week 7 bye is available at my next turn, would I rather pair him with Elliot or Taylor? Or, if I take Elliot will I want to take someone I value less than Harris later?).  To me, that makes it easier to draft a stronger team with Taylor than with Elliot, so Taylor is the choice.

 

Man In The Box

Footballguy
It may not be the best tie-breaker in the world, but if I'm deciding between two players that I have ranked equally, I look ahead to playoff schedule. I know it's hard to predict how good a defense is going to be four months from draft day, but it's what I do. Also, if one of the players is on the same team of a player I've already drafted, I'll lean towards drafting the other player.

 

Anarchy99

Footballguy
What works best for me is projected PPG. That then combines rankings, tiers, and projections all in one. Then I can decide how much of an injury risk a player is. 

 

SoBeDad

Footballguy
It may not be the best tie-breaker in the world, but if I'm deciding between two players that I have ranked equally, I look ahead to playoff schedule. I know it's hard to predict how good a defense is going to be four months from draft day, but it's what I do. Also, if one of the players is on the same team of a player I've already drafted, I'll lean towards drafting the other player.
Sometimes, I look at the first 3 games in my 16 team, 4 division league, because they're all division games. That's why I picked the Denver defense this year. 

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
I'm more of a tier guy, simply because projections are not a science. If Elliot projects to 4 more fantasy points in the course of a year, you rank him one spot above Taylor.  You can't honestly believe your projections are so accurate that the 4-point estimated difference is significant.  


No doubt. 

I think that's what gets lost. You're not deciding if there is a significant difference between the two. There often is not.

What you must decide is which one you'll pick. 

And I'm interested in how people make those decisions. 

 
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Mister CIA

Footballguy
Within a tier I always go with the guy I think has the highest ceiling.  Winning with a high-floor kind of guy (say, Mike Davis) is not nearly as satisfying as hitting on the swing for the fences types. I'm the guy in your league most likely to reach.

Also, I tend to gravitate towards players I genuinely like. 

I'm not suggesting my methodology is correct, but I won't change.

 

TripItUp

Footballguy
I use all 3, tiers, rankings and projections.

Projections - the first step to understanding players' expectations

Rankings - the order in which i would actually draft players(not in the order of projections)

Tiers - a derivative of rankings to assist with spotting value during the draft

 
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SoBeDad

Footballguy
I use rankings and tiers defined by dropoffs. But I star some players as high potential, or as having a solid backup, and may choose them over a higher player within the tier. For example, Aaron Jones had a good backup last year, Jamaal Williams, who had flex value in my large league, and great upside in case of injury. And I wouldn't have to reach much later in the draft. So I would've chosen Jones over others in his tier in 2020. The same this year with Jones and Dillon, although Hill is pretty good. 

This year I chose Hunt over Davis, who are in the same tier,  due to his upside if Chubb goes down. But in hindsight, I thought Davis was ranked too low and should've been in a higher tier. Since then, Gallman has arrived, and he lived up to his college profile in 2020, making people miss in the open field. Plus, he had some nice GL leaps, so he's a threat to Davis IMO.

 

pantherclub

Footballguy
I use rankings and tiers defined by dropoffs. But I star some players as high potential, or as having a solid backup, and may choose them over a higher player within the tier. For example, Aaron Jones had a good backup last year, Jamaal Williams, who had flex value in my large league, and great upside in case of injury. And I wouldn't have to reach much later in the draft. So I would've chosen Jones over others in his tier in 2020. The same this year with Jones and Dillon, although Hill is pretty good. 

This year I chose Hunt over Davis, who are in the same tier,  due to his upside if Chubb goes down. But in hindsight, I thought Davis was ranked too low and should've been in a higher tier. Since then, Gallman has arrived, and he lived up to his college profile in 2020, making people miss in the open field. Plus, he had some nice GL leaps, so he's a threat to Davis IMO.
Great example.

Hunt probably has more potential but Davis is a start week 1 player where I would be a little apprehensive about Hunt week 1. 

Guys may be ranked closely but in reality they are totally different players.  You have to set your strategy up accordingly

I would prefer production right out of the gate

 

GroveDiesel

Footballguy
No doubt. 

I think that's what gets lost. You're not deciding if there is a significant difference between the two. There often is not.

What you must decide is which one you'll pick. 

And I'm interested in how people make those decisions. 
I posted this in the thread about guys you may be questioning if you’re overrating: but for me the answer is: it depends. Early in the draft I’m looking for guys with high floors and that I expect to score on a more consistent basis within tiers. As the draft moves along and I start filling out my bench, I’m looking for guys that may be a bit unproven but have the potential to take huge jumps and be league winner type guys.

Byes I only start looking at around the middle of the draft for one of two reasons:

a) make sure I’m not so heavily weighted on one week that I can’t field a team that week or

b) see that I’m moderately heavily weighted towards a specific week and lean into a bit figuring I’ll take an L that week but be at relatively full strength the rest of the season.

 

da_budman

Footballguy
The answer is:  It depends.  I like tiers because its just plain easier BUT when making a decision I take into consideration the players in that tier,  their ADP ( when I am in a  position where I am, for example, hoping to get 2 rbs in back to back rounds I often draft the player who has the highest ADP hoping at least 1 of the players in that tier drop to me in the next round)   I also often use  floors and ceilings of players in a  particular tier to break the tie. ( too many safe plays pretty much max out your teams potential so if the aim is to really compete I will often  decide in a tier which player has the highest upside)   Also I use tiers to determine when its time to go a different direction ( for example I had the "top 4"  rbs in a  tier)....so if they fell as expected my choice is either  Kelce or one of the 3 wrs I had in a  tier)   this year I had Adams Hill and Diggs in a tier at wr.  to break the tie  there I would go Adams because I think he is the safest pick there

 

Gally

Footballguy
No doubt. 

I think that's what gets lost. You're not deciding if there is a significant difference between the two. There often is not.

What you must decide is which one you'll pick. 

And I'm interested in how people make those decisions. 
It's a combo of all three but those comparisons and decisions are made prior to the draft.  If your "cheatsheets" have all of that rolled into it then you already know who you pick of players in the same tier.

In addition as the draft is unfolding you get more information that will help distinguish players within a tier.  That can be bye weeks or already having a player on that team or already having an upside guy and you need a floor guy for roster construction.

Bottom line is putting in the thoughts prior to the draft so when you are in the clock you should already have an idea of who prefer within a tier.

And sometimes it just comes down to who you want to root for or who you like.  It's supposed to he fun so if you have two guys ranked similar sometimes you just take the guy on your favorite team or don't take the guy on your most hated rival.  After all it's supposed to be fun.

 

dkp993

Footballguy
But my question for you is when it's you're turn to pick and you have players to choose from that are in the same tier, how do you pick?

Let's say you're in the example above and you have Taylor and Elliott in the same tier. And it's your turn to draft and both players are there, how do you choose?
I tend to lean toward the projected proficiency of the overall offense, target/carry share and the overall makeup of my team (if I have picks already made) first when breaking a tier tie.  

 

pantherclub

Footballguy
I draft players I actually like.
I know you are being factitious but in my $100 neighborhood league that is how I am.  I am normally hammered and its always the day after my big money league so I am up to speed on things.  So I reach for players, have no strategy and just get guys I like watching for the hell of it.  I got Mahommes in the 2nd just for the hell of it.  I know its a stupid value pick but damn its going to be fun to just watch him play knowing you own a piece of him.  

 

Soulfly3

Footballguy
It also helps a ton if you like good players ;)  


i basically look at a group of 5-6 guys when my pick comes around and take the guy I actually like to watch play. that sometimes means taking a "lesser" player...  projections, team, schedule... none of that has any impact on my picks. 

 

rockaction

Footballguy
I try to remain as flexible as possible with my drafts, so I do tiers. If one year that means going RB heavy because I think RB value can be had, then I do that. If I have to go zero RB one year and go WR heavy at the beginning, then I do that.

I do a form of VBD. I look at positional values and think where I can get guys that will outperform their given valuations. In short, I don't do projections, I try to beat market ADP with a form of rankings. It has worked for me on a casual level and even among good players here I tend to finish pretty okay. That's luck, though, I think.

But what I really try to do is to put guys in tiers that I particularly like whose ADP is not in keeping with where I think they should be going. That becomes the crux of my draft. Have I singled out and am I right about those guys in those slots. It means that my drafts are heavy with second and third-year guys, or guys in new situations in their fourth or fifth year. I generally do not have aging vets that procure a lot of points. That's just me.

I know some people believe projections are important. I think they're important, but it's more important to gauge team projections than individual projections which vary so greatly because of injury and role. I find that being locked into a set amount of points just hinders the process of beating ADP, which should be the goal.

 
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matuski

Footballguy
Playing Auction solves all (or a lot) of this imo.

You actually go get who you want... or at least players from a group you have identified as being happy with.  I don't have to choose J Taylor or Zeke... I can do neither or both.  Snake draft ADP might force you into an either/or scenario.

Haven't done a snake in maybe a decade now. 

 
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Tanner9919

Footballguy
in 29 years of fantasy drafts, I've never once used tiers. I dont' even use projections. I pretty much get a list of guys in my head who I think will perform well and kind of go from there. I almost always have a set of teams I avoid, or players I avoid, etc. , and use stats more than anything else. coaching staff changes are important. schedule is important, as one person said earlier, have a  look at the fantasy playoff weeks and try to get guys with easy paths to success in those weeks - I'm referring to Javonte Williams, for example.easy weeks 12-17 .I'll take some ranks I see elsewhere and tweak them.  but a lot of it is gut feel. like I just never ever draft Lions players , last one I had was Scott Mitchell back in the day. I haven't had any bears players since I took curtis enis and felt ripped off. so I never went back to the well. they haven't been good except A. Robinson. 

you need to get a piece of the prolific offenses like it was with Manning in Indy, Brady still today, Rodgers, Brees, etc. 

 

ratbast

Footballguy
I tier and read a ton all year. As the draft progresses, I break tiers with guys I like and future keeper value in early rounds and adapt later in draft to solidify and diversify based on team prominence, ceiling and floor. 
 

Also, if your tiers are perfectly working, you should be looking at less choices in the tier. Ultimately you should be looking at only a few to choose from. That’s how tiers are supposed to work in general. 

 

Runnyb

Footballguy
If in the same tier, I will look at each FBG staff members and comments in DD and their average ranking. I tend to lean towards Wood's opinion.

Gut feel or my own research rarely works for me. I don't have the time with kids.

But the older I get (50+yrs), the more I just want to root for my team and match it with my fantasy team. That's rookie stuff I learned NEVER TO DO the hard way around the year 2000.

I think I don't care as much about winning the big $ or the prestige of my expert skill (lot's of luck imo). Sporstbook legal online betting is seriously changing the desire for myself and others in the league to care as much about FF. I mean real full Vegas style prop bets from my damn phone has changed how I and others in my league see FF.

 

Hot Sauce Guy

Footballguy
I see a lot of people that are hesitant to define players more than just tiers. I get it, it's much easier.

But my question for you is when it's you're turn to pick and you have players to choose from that are in the same tier, how do you pick?


I actually do define players beyond tiers. There's more to life than numbered lists. Many years ago, an old co-worker who was teaching me SQL, upon seeing how I'd coded something said my coding was "interesting". I asked, is that bad? To which she replied, "there are many paths to the house next door." She was Chinese and liked to humorously  throw out Confucius-sounding faux proverbs, but that one has always stuck with me. 

So within my tiers, I consider a number of factors regarding their circumstances & context. Who's the QB, how's their OL, do they have a new OC or are they in the same system year to year. How's the defense of a team for a RB & will that negatively impact game scripts for that player. Any off-field issues, player history, injuries - those are all factored in. 

So when the draft comes to me in a given round & I have my tier of players I consider there (grouped roughly by ADP because I need to know who my leaguemates are targeting and where) I take all of those things into account. 

I also consider my drafting strategy, and how the draft has unfolded to that point for VBD/BPA for a position I need. If the player is an obvious get, I'll often disregard that in the early rounds. I don't mind taking a bench player ahead of a starter if the value is too great to ignore. 

Then I consider their upside. Is it a player I see as on the rise? Is it a player I see as a safe floor? Different parts of the draft have me targeting different potential outcomes. 

And finally, do I like that player? Do I want to root for them? Are they on a team I hate?  Again - this isn't necessarily a deal-killer, but it might be a tiebreaker. 

I could probably assign numbers to the list if I felt it was important. In my 20 years of project management, lord knows I've done my share of numbered lists. And I used to do numbered lists for FF too. And it made me a little manic. It also created a false narrative within my "rankings" in that if I had a WR at a certain number I was hesitant to take a higher number RB, sort of thing. 

Because I didn't like how numbered lists had me feeling while I drafted I gave this method a try a number of years back. And I've stuck with it, because it feels more zen while I'm drafting. And there are many paths to the house next door. 

Interesting topic. I look forward to seeing others responses. 

 
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rockaction

Footballguy
Many years ago, an old co-worker who was teaching me SQL, upon seeing how I'd coded something said my coding was "interesting". I asked, is that bad? To which she replied, "there are many paths to the house next door." She was Chinese and liked to humorously  throw out Confucius-sounding faux proverbs, but that one has always stuck with me. 
you sure she wasn’t worried about you trespassing?

 
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lionsden

Footballguy
i use numbered positional rankings then i also rank them overall once done
i do not always stick to the positional rankings exactly and am even less likely to completely follow the overall rankings 
my most important piece i bring to the draft though is my matrix
doing it this way i have found that almost all of my decisions are already made before i even get to the draft and if i change from my plan i can have a good idea of how it should play out in future rounds because of the matrix
 

 

NYRAGE

Footballguy
No doubt. 

I think that's what gets lost. You're not deciding if there is a significant difference between the two. There often is not.

What you must decide is which one you'll pick. 

And I'm interested in how people make those decisions. 


I usually get started early for football season, but I couldn't this year. Thus I ran into the problem of differentiating players within tiers (aside from my gut feeling on players). Since I'm a RB guy, I did my own projections for the top 14 RBs (and associated offenses in general) just before my first real draft. I usually do pretty well with my own projections (which are a mixture of many factors). It really helps my thought process before the draft and now I have a mostly clear pecking order.

I also spent some time on TEs. I've always done well with predicting cheaper breakout QBs. I have to admit, I'm still flying a little blind on WRs, but there is still time for some late cramming.

 

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