What’s in a Projection?

Can Tom Brady remain a top 5 fantasy QB with his new receiving options?

Can Tom Brady remain a top 5 fantasy QB with his new receiving options?

by Anthony Amico on June 21st  , 2013 (follow on twitter @amicsta)

It has been a while since you last heard from me. Among my list of things to do as a (somewhat) responsible young adult has been my annual fantasy football projections. It is a long and arduous process, trying to figure out what a team’s game plan will be, how they will use each player, and what the fantasy results will be for those players deemed “fantasy relevant”.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  For a stat nerd like me it is heaven, I can’t wait until fantasy projection time. And now the first batch of projections are finished. Over the next couple of months they will be tweaked and tinkered with, but this first set really sets the stage for my preseason preparations and usually unveils a sleeper or two that I otherwise had not thought about.

So You’re Preparing for Your Fantasy League…

If you’re reading this, chances are you play fantasy football. If you don’t, and just find my words to be soothing and medicinal, more power to you. But assuming that you play fantasy football and that you also play to win, you should start your preparations early. Don’t be the guy that buys a fantasy magazine on the way to the draft and declares himself “ready”. I generally start getting ready in April, but if you aren’t as grossly obsessed with fantasy football as I am, I think that June would still suffice. For me though, April is necessary to start if I want to finish my projections by June. If you are someone who has played this game for some time and are looking for something new, or even if you are a first timer trying to do all that you can to prove your friends wrong, I highly recommend creating your own projections. The research that you will put in to your projections will give you a better understanding of how a team runs their offense, how often you could expect a player to score or be targeted, and overall will just allow you to put a number on the thoughts that may be jumbling around in your head. It would be very easy to say, going into this season, “I really like Pierre Garcon (which I do)”, but if you put a number on it and make a projection for Garcon you may find out just how much you like (or dislike) him.  See, projections, if you do them with the right amount of research, can take much of the bias out of fantasy rankings. Even better, you should uncover some sleepers and busts headed into your draft. And really, best of all, you now are the owner of your own fantasy thoughts. You think a player is a steal now AND you can prove to yourself that it is likely. You can come up with different strategies and come up with point totals for yourself. This is what makes this game fun.

Time to Rank

So now let’s say you’ve made your own projections, or at least have taken a set from a website that you trust. You aren’t done there. Now it is time to rank your players so that when your draft comes, you aren’t fumbling around your magazine or laptop searching for the best selection. I have two HUGE recommendations when creating rankings. First off, use tiers when ranking players. As you’ll see below at the conclusion of this article (and by all means, feel free to skip there if you’re sick of listening to me) will be my first set of rankings for the 2013 fantasy season. Everything is done using the tier system. Why use tiers? Tiers allow you to group players together that you think will be similar in production. This is much better than a strictly numeric format that doesn’t tell you how much more you like one player from the next. They also make decision making a little easier for you if you have made tiers that you truly trust. If it is your pick and there are only 2 running backs left in your best tier, but 10 wide receivers and your confident you can get one with your next pick, then you take the running back. This should cut down on the likelihood of your league mates being exasperated with you by the fifth round.

Cam Newton's primed for another big fantasy season.   One of only 3 QB's making my top tier.

Cam Newton’s primed for another big fantasy season. One of only 3 QB’s making my top tier.

My second suggestion is to avoid overall rankings. Overall rankings, to me, are just window dressing that big sites and magazines use because they provide some kind of entertainment. The reality is that they are not very practical past the first few rounds of your draft. After all, even the most stout proponent of “best player available” wouldn’t select 4 straight receivers just because their rankings said so. Rank by position, rank with tiers, and rank with confidence and you will not be disappointed come draft day.

You will also notice that rankings and projections do not always align perfectly. In fact, I think that if they do you have a bad set of rankings on your hands. Projections give you a kind of baseline to work from, what you could think of as a fairly likely outcome. But there is still upside to consider, as well as a player’s floor. These things can sway rankings quite a bit.

Now What?

You have your projections, you have your rankings, now you’re ready for the best part of the hobby; the draft. But how to know when to select which players? I highly recommend using mock drafts  to get a feel for when players will go, when you should pull the trigger on your favorite sleeper, and what draft position you think would suit your strategy best. Find a site that you like (mine is fantasyfootballcalculator) and test out different things. Just keep in mind that you will need to be ready for anything during your draft. The tight end you get in the 8th round of just about every mock draft may go in the 6th in your real draft. You should have a plan in place in case that happens. Be ready, be flexible, and overall, have fun! After all, that is why you play this game in the first place.

Dennis Pitta is a TE I really like this year and his current ADP is in the 7th round.

Dennis Pitta is a TE I really like this year and his current ADP is in the 7th round.

 

As I mentioned before, you will find my current rankings below. It is important to keep in mind that these rankings are made for leagues that score 4 points for passing touchdowns and .5 points per reception. If your league does 6 points per passing touchdown, you may want to move up guys like Brees and Stafford and down guys like RGIII and Kaepernick. If you have some other scoring setting for catches, you should also adjust properly. Knowing the ins and outs of your league’s scoring system is a prerequisite for fantasy success. Enjoy!

2013 Fantasy Football Draft Board

QB

Tier 1

  • A. Rodgers, GB
  • C. Newton, CAR
  • D. Brees, NO

Tier 2

  • P. Manning, DEN
  • R. Griffin III, WAS
  • T. Brady, NE
  • R. Wilson, SEA
  • C. Kaepernick, SF

Tier 3

  • M. Stafford, DET
  • M. Ryan, ATL
  • T. Romo, DAL

Tier 4

  • J. Cutler, CHI
  • S. Bradford, STL
  • B. Roethlisberger, PIT
  • A. Luck, IND
  • M. Vick, PHI
  • E. Manning, NYG
  • A. Smith, KC
  • J. Flacco, BAL
  • C. Palmer, ARZ
  • A. Dalton, CIN
  • J. Freeman, TB
  • P. Rivers, SD

Tier 5

  • E.J. Manuel, BUF
  • B. Weeden, CLE
  • R. Tannehill, MIA
  • J. Locker, TEN
  • M. Schaub, HOU

Tier 6

  • G. Smith, NYJ
  • C. Ponder, MIN
  • C. Henne, JAC
  • T. Wilson, OAK

RB

Tier 1

Trent Richardson just needs to stay healthy this season to continue being the Cleveland Browns workhorse.

Trent Richardson just needs to stay healthy this season to continue being the Cleveland Browns workhorse.

  • A. Peterson, MIN
  • J. Charles, KC
  • D. Martin, TB
  • T. Richardson, CLE
  • C.J. Spiller, BUF
  • L. McCoy, PHI

Tier 2

  • A. Foster, HOU
  • R. Rice, BAL
  • M. Forte, CHI
  • S. Jackson, ATL

Tier 3

  • M. Lynch, SEA
  • C. Johnson, TEN
  • D. McFadden, OAK
  • R. Bush, DET
  • F. Gore, SF
  • A. Morris, WAS
  • D. Murray, DAL
  • M. Jones-Drew, JAC

Tier 4

  • C. Ivory, NYJ
  • D. Wilson, NYG
  • L. Bell, PIT
  • L. Miller, MIA
  • R. Mathews, SD
  • S. Vereen, NE
  • D. Sproles, NO
  • S. Ridley, NE
  • R. Mendenhall, ARZ

Tier 5

  • B. Brown, PHI
  • B. Tate, HOU
  • F. Jackson, BUF
  • A. Brown, NYG
  • Z. Stacy, STL
  • A. Bradshaw, IND
  • E. Lacy, GB
  • B. Pierce, BAL
  • P. Thomas, NO
  • J. Stewart, CAR
  • M. Ingram, NO
  • M. Ball, DEN
  • G. Bernard, CIN
  • K. Moreno, DEN
  • B. Green-Ellis, CIN

Tier 6

  • S. Greene, TEN
  • D. Williams, CAR
  • D. Woodhead, SD
  • J. Bell, DET
  • M. Leshoure, DET
  • V. Ballard, IND
  • I. Pead, STL
  • J. Randle, DAL
  • L. Murray, OAK
  • R. Turbin, SEA
  • C. Michael, SEA
  • M. Hardesty, CLE
  • R. Hillman, DEN
  • J. Rodgers, ATL
  • M. Bush, CHI
  • J. Franklin, GB
  • T. Gerhart, MIN

Tier 7

  • R. Williams, ARZ
  • M. Tolbert, CAR
  • L. James, SF
  • D. Richardson, STL
  • M. Goodson, NYJ
  • M. Gillislee, MIA
  • J. Forsett, JAC
  • K. Hunter, SF
  • D. Harris, GB
  • C. Thompson, WAS
  • D. Robinson, JAC
  • L. Blount, NE
  • B. Bolden, NE
  • S. Taylor, ARZ

WR

Tier 1

  • C. Johnson, DET
  • D. Bryant, DAL

Tier 2

  • B. Marshall, CHI
  • D. Thomas, DEN
  • A.J. Green, CIN
  • R. Cobb, GB
  • J. Jones, ATL

    Will the departure of Greg Jennings bolster the stock of Packers receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson?

    Will the departure of Greg Jennings bolster the stock of Packers receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson?

Tier 3

  • J. Nelson, GB
  • A. Johnson, HOU
  • L. Fitzgerald, ARZ
  • V. Cruz, NYG
  • V. Jackson, TB

Tier 4

  • D. Bowe, KC
  • R. White, ATL
  • P. Garcon WAS
  • H. Nicks, NYG
  • P. Harvin, SEA
  • R. Wayne, IND
  • E. Decker, DEN
  • D. Amendola, NE
  • W. Welker, DEN
  • M. Colston, NO

Tier 5

  • D. Jackson, PHI
  • C. Shorts, JAC
  • S. Smith, CAR
  • T. Austin, STL
  • M. Wallace, MIA
  • A. Brown, PIT
  • J. Gordon, CLE
  • K. Britt, TEN
  • D. Alexander, SD
  • M. Williams, TB
  • A. Jeffery, CHI
  • J. Maclin, PHI
  • M. Floyd, ARZ
  • A. Boldin, SF
  • D. Hopkins, HOU
  • J. Blackmon, JAC
  • S. Johnson, BUF
  • M. Austin, DAL
  • T.Y. Hilton, IND
  • G. Jennings, GB
  • T. Smith, BAL

Tier 6

  • S. Rice, SEA
  • R. Streater, OAK
  • J. Criner, OAK
  • L. Moore, NO
  • R. Broyles, DET
  • G. Tate, SEA
  • V. Brown, SD
  • S. Hill, NYJ
  • R. Woods, BUF
  • B. LaFell, CAR
  • D. Moore, OAK
  • E. Sanders, PIT
  • K. Wright, TEN
  • A. Dobson, NE
  • B. Hartline, MIA
  • R. Randle, NYG
  • J. Jones, GB
  • M. Wheaton, PIT
  • C. Patterson, MIN

Tier 7

  • S. Holmes, NYJ
  • A. Roberts, ARZ
  • A. Pettis, STL
  • J. Edelman, NE
  • J. Hunter, TEN
  • K. Allen, SD
  • T.J. Graham, BUF
  • C. Givens, STL
  • M. Sanu, CIN
  • B. Gibson, MIA
  • A. Hawkins, CIN

TE

Tier 1

  • J. Graham, NO

Tier 2

  • R. Gronkowski, NE
  • D. Pitta, BAL
  • J. Witten, DAL
  • T. Gonzalez, ATL
  • V. Davis, SF
  • J. Cook, STL

Tier 3

  • A. Hernandez, NE
  • A. Gates, SD
  • J. Cameron, CLE
  • K. Rudolph, MIN
  • M. Bennett, CHI
  • B. Meyers, NYG
  • F. Davis, WAS
  • G. Olsen, CAR
  • H. Miller, PIT

Tier 4

  • B. Pettigrew, DET
  • T. Eifert, CIN
  • O. Daniels, HOU
  • T. Kelce, KC
  • D. Allen, IND

Tier 5

  • J. Gresham, CIN
  • D. Keller, MIA
  • R. Housler, ARZ
  • J. Casey, PHI
  • C. Fleener, IND
  • J. Finley, GB
  • E. Dickson, BAL
  • C. Gragg, BUF
  • Z. Ertz, PHI
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