One remaining obstacle we still face in the fantasy community as content providers and consumers is still the understanding that rankings, projections, and tiers are all different and serve different purposes.
The first thing I do before ever ranking a player or putting together my tiers is doing team and player projections. My season-long projections focus on the probable outcomes for a player based on top-down production on a per-play basis and projected game script and then player opportunity production based on that team volume.
We can tweak volume and efficiency for a range of outcomes per player, but that is the simplest explanation of how the projection sauce is made.
Rich’s full 65-page Tiers PDF is available here for Fantasy subscribers
While those projections give us a range of season-long production and have implications into a listing of players in a linear format (rankings), the one thing that is missing is that even when those full-season numbers are accurate, they are failing to capture the overall weekly impact and pockets of production that are relevant to our weekly game of fantasy football.
Projecting David Montgomery for 1,508 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns (his 2020 totals) paints a nice picture on his season-long outlook, but we know from living through Montgomery’s 2020 season that he had a massive close to the season that made up for a subpar three-fourths of the season. By the time Montgomery was going on his tear of production, many teams with him were already out of contention already. This happens to several players per season in different manners.
Of course, that is an anecdotal example to make a larger point, but there are a litany of other examples we can lay out that fit what I am trying to say here. There are very few players at each position that just smash weekly over the course of the fantasy season. Those scarce fantasy resources are typically always taken at the top of your fantasy drafts while we are still drafting 95% of the player pool afterward.
That is where tiers come in. A lot of tiers you will find out there are just rankings chopped up into sections. While the rankings are more focused on a probable tally of season-long output for a week-to-week game, I prefer to structure my tiers based on how similarly players accrue their fantasy points and by the archetypes of players they are.
By doing this, it allows me to notice actionable gaps in player pricing per tier which in turn allows for arbitrage in fantasy drafts while also highlighting some longer-odds players as having more potential than originally perceived. Arbitrage in fantasy football is driven strongest from the manner in which production is accrued and the order of those players (rankings) is driven by the opportunities (on a player and team level) which each player receives.
Of course, our projections are inherently going to be wrong on those projected opportunities often. That is just the game through injuries, performance variance, and fluctuation. So understanding how a player is used allows us to find opportunities to buy in on that variance. If we are wrong on the opportunity projection, then a lower-tiered player could be an arbitrage opportunity.
While there is not a direct overlap to the individual player rankings, the order of these tiers is how I prioritize drafting the positions from an archetypical stance.
Following the release of all the tiers, a full 65+ page PDF with all the combined positional tiers will be available for fantasy subscribers.
So with that intro in place, let us roll into the actual tiers and player analysis…