Fantasy football rankings are a great tool. Just like any experienced mechanic, plumber, or electrician, they all have a wide array of tools at their disposal, but they typically have one they utilize more often than others. Dynasty fantasy football enthusiasts also have many tools at their disposal and rankings as a tool can assist with the preparation for startup drafts, and for the analysis of trades during and after drafts conclude, as you’ll want to weigh your own draft capital against the players offered.
Rankings provide a measure of value between players, and as the definition above indicates it is a listing of items according to a system of rating or a record of performance. I pulled this definition from the World Wide Web as it best suited how you should strategically categorize players when building a ranking. In other words, you as a ranker must define your system of rating, whether it is based on future unknown, present historical, or a combination of both. When I originally built my dynasty rankings, I compiled a number of metrics in order to best gauge each player against one another. I continually use these to assess the value of each player at any given time.
• Draft Selection
• Annual Ranking (by position)
• Age (as of the date the NFL season begins)
Team – As we’ve witnessed just over the last two years this can have an impact on a player’s fantasy relevance on both ends of the spectrum. The obvious example is Todd Gurley on the negative side, and Michael Thomas on the opposite end benefiting greatly as Drew Brees’ primary weapon in an offense plentiful of targets and opportunity.
Position – Depending on league settings this can adjust your rankings without any cause and effect from what occurred on or off the field. Superflex and tight end premium leagues can shift a player up or down depending on the point values given and starting roster requirements. Position can also impact rankings depending on your preference for team building whether it’s wide receiver, running back, or tight end. If you value one position greater than the other, then the percentage of that position most likely will be reflected in your overall rankings as higher, and in turn your roster construction.
Draft Selection – The round in which a player is drafted by an NFL teams has significant impacts on how a player gets valued in fantasy football. This is exemplified in the rookie drafts completed each year. Take a look at rookie rankings leading up to the NFL Draft, and then peer into them after the league’s annual selection show concludes. We always see volatility, not solely based on the player’s skill-set, but in where the player was selected in the NFL Draft. The basis with which we attribute draft selection to success has been studied in numerous articles. One such article I stumbled upon was from Connor King for an undergraduate project for St. John Fisher College titled Success or Bust? An Analysis of Draft Position and NFL Success. King does an excellent job in dialoguing the success rates for players based on draft position and, though lengthy, is worth a read.
Annual Ranking (by position) – This is an exercise I began to incorporate over the last few years. I was already building out rankings utilized for redraft purposes and thought it would benefit my dynasty rankings by assessing my value for players expected to make an impact in the coming season. My reasoning for layering what would be considered redraft rankings over my dynasty rankings is it provides me the perspective of players who are expected to produce in the short-term. In looking at those players and considering the other metrics we use to compile dynasty rankings, I should have a healthy mix of players who will perform this year and are young and in good situations. I want to assess their rankings against one another, by position, versus the overall population so as to not water-down their value. Providing the vantage of a player, by position, will help in identifying players who could increase their rankings as the age of other players increase, and teams drafting replacements of those players impact workload and target share.
Age (as of the date the NFL season begins) – This is a number worth monitoring each year with football players. Most are aware of the decline for running backs at age 30 and the beginnings of the decline for wide receivers at age 27. Rich Hribar, aka @LordReebs, profiled this a couple of years ago in an article for Rotoviz.com, How Old is Too Old? Calvin Johnson and the Significance of Age in Overall Production.
In reviewing these metrics, you should be able to formulate a list of players strategically categorizing them in order of rank. Once you have a ranked list, tiers could be implemented further separating players from one another in groupings which assist with players of like values. The rankings of those tiered players can help on draft day when all or most of those players are available in any given tier. Similar to the way NFL teams prepare for the draft, I also like to prepare in the same way; by constructing a draft board. When a startup draft is approaching, I will review my rankings and how I value each player. From there, I will slot players where I feel their worth is, based on my own evaluations and where I think the average draft position (ADP) of those players align. This will allow for you to assess when you should reach for a player, or hold until the appropriate time.
I try to look at my dynasty rankings at least once a month during the offseason, and as the season is in progress, it becomes a bi-weekly routine. I may not make any adjustments during those intervals; however, I always like to be cognizant of impacts to my rankings due to the changing landscape of the NFL.
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