One remaining obstacle we still face in the fantasy community as content providers and consumers is understanding that rankings, projections, tiers, and average draft positions are all different and serve different purposes.

My season-long rankings and projections focus on the probable outcomes for a player based on top-down team production and projected game script.

Then player opportunity production is 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.

While those projections give us a range of season-long numbers and have implications for listing players in a linear format (rankings), the one thing that is missing is that even when those full-season numbers are accurate, they fail to capture the overall weekly impact and the pockets of production that are relevant to our weekly game of fantasy football.

Projecting Davante Adams for 103 receptions, 1,144 yards, and 8 touchdowns (his 2023 totals) paints a nice picture of his season-long outlook, but any gamer that rostered Adams last season will also tell you that there was a lot of weekly variance.

That is an anecdotal example to make a larger point, but there is a litany of other examples we can lay out that fit into the top-down point I am making.

There are very few players at each position that just smash weekly throughout the fantasy season at the highest level, and we are hopeful to be in on the remainder of players when they strike the hottest.

That is where player tiers come in.

2024 Fantasy Football Tiers

A lot of fantasy football tiers that 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 their archetypes.

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 who have more potential than originally perceived.

Arbitrage in fantasy football is driven strongest by how production is accrued, and the order of those players (rankings) is driven by the opportunities (on a player and team level) that each player receives.

Our projections are inherently going to be wrong on those projected opportunities often.

Team situations are influenced by a plethora of things.

The game script, injuries to the player himself, injuries to surrounding teammates, ineffective play, player breakouts, and so on. That is just the game through injuries, performance variance, and fluctuation.

Understanding how a player is used allows us to find prospects who target that variance in performance and opportunities. 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.

While that may be confusing for a player ranked highly on a linear list versus a specific tier he is in, I will do my best to incorporate detailed thoughts regarding draft capital in those events throughout the player breakdowns.

One final bit of housekeeping, I will be updating and adding analysis to these tiers all summer long,

With that intro to the methodology used with tiers in place, let us roll into the actual player analysis.

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Tier 1 Fantasy Football RBs:

  • Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey

Bye: Week 9

No intro to the tier since we have one player clearly at the top.

McCaffrey is approaching the age cliff and does have a career history of soft-tissue injuries, but he is still the best player at his position in a vacuum.

In the past four seasons that McCaffrey has played in full, he has finished as the RB2, RB1, RB2, and RB1 in overall scoring.

In the two seasons he was limited by injuries during that frame, he was the RB1 and RB5 in points scored per game.

McCaffrey has always been an excellent fantasy asset, but paired with Kyle Shanahan that has been accelerated to pantheon levels.

McCaffrey led the NFL in touches (339), rushing yards (1,459), yards from scrimmage (2,023), and tied for the league lead with 21 touchdowns last season.

McCaffrey has now played 33 games with the 49ers, scoring 39 touchdowns (with a passing touchdown) in those games.

He has played in just six games with the 49ers in which he has not scored a touchdown.

If I were a betting man (it turns out that I am), I would wager on the field being closer to McCaffrey this season than they were in 2023, which means he will not provide quite as much positional leverage as he did a year ago.

The RB2 in full-PPR formats only scored 74.2% of the points that McCaffrey posted last season.

Over the past 30 seasons, there have only been two seasons in which RB1 had a larger gap over the next player in scoring.

The average production of the RB2 compared to the RB1 over those 30 years is 93.8%.

Ironically, McCaffrey also does have one of the other two seasons providing the most fantasy leverage ever for an RB1 over the field.

I do believe Shanahan when he says that the 49ers want to preserve McCaffrey and could alleviate his workload in a better fashion this season and potentially get closer to where it was in 2022 after he joined the team. Elijah Mitchell was never healthy last season, and the team did not trust their depth.

Mitchell is far from a strong bet of staying healthy again as the clear RB2, but the addition of Isaac Guerendo does add another piece to the board.

That is not going to move McCaffrey down as the best fantasy asset perhaps ever at his position, but it is a caution that we could see the reserves in San Francisco get more work than they did a year ago.

If the 49ers are in a position to ease McCaffrey’s workload, you can also make a strong bet that he played a part in establishing the game conditions for his rest.

Tier 2 Fantasy Football RBs:

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