Saturday, July 6, 2013

How to Tier Fantasy Football Players

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The War Room!

You may have heard the word tiering tossed around fantasy sports and found yourself wondering exactly what that mean.  Well, it simply means ranking players at various positions in groups of equal anticipated production for that season. Basically you are determining which players are relative equals in what they can deliver during the season. It is a useful tool for various reasons as we’ll discuss later on.  First let’s look at how you can come up with your own tiers.

I generally start my tiering by looking at my auction values.  I will start generating auction values a few months before my draft.  As I do mock drafts, study depth charts and read training camp information I will make adjustments to my values.  A few days before my first draft I will look at my auction values at each position.  From there, it should be evident where there are some natural “gaps” in prices between players.  For example, perhaps you have your top 3 running backs listed between $55-$60.  Last year I had McCoy, Rice and Foster all right around $56.  After that your next running back might be valued at $50.  So you can see that McCoy, Rice and Foster would make up my first tier of running backs.

I will continue to move through my values until I come up with around 6 or 7 tiers.  Some tiers might only have one or two player, for example usually Calvin Johnson is found all by himself in tier one of wide receivers and Gronkowski and Graham are usually the only two tight ends in their positions tier.  Generally, the farther you get down the list of players at every position, the more players you will have in your tier.  This should make sense since there are obviously fewer fantasy studs every given year than there are mediocre talents.

Once I have my tiers I will highlight players in them that I want on my team.  Whether you feel that these players have higher ceilings than other in their group or maybe there are players that are injury risks, there will be some players you will want and some you don’t.  By knowing the players that you don’t want and where they sit in relation to other similar players, you will now be able to generate a list of players you will want to avoid.  These guys can serve as players you may want to nominate to force owners to spend money allowing you to save your cash for more favourable options.

Now that you have your tiers what can you do with them.  Well, I firmly believe that this one tool can be your most valuable come your auction draft, and any style draft for that matter.  Some of you may be thinking, what about my auction values, and yes, they are important too.  However, I find that I’ve usually worked with my values so much over the last couple months that you will probably have them memorized so will use them less than you think.  

Tiers also become very helpful once most of the starters are drafted.  The good thing about your tiers is that they will allow you to spot values much easier at this point in the draft.  If you see wide receivers getting drafted out of your 4th tier and there are still 3 players not drafted in your 3rd tier then you know that there is going to be potential value for those remaining 3rd tier players.  Maybe you keep waiting on those players or maybe you nominate one the next chance you get and try and get a steal.  Also if you see some “over-hyped” players in lower tiers you can nominate them to make over zealous owners spend more of their money.  At this juncture in auction drafts, most owners will be running tight on funds after spending the majority of their budgets on the high-priced stars.  The more money you can force out at this point, the more you will have to purchase your high-upside values.

Another nice thing about tiering is that it allows you to see what positions to select at various points in your draft.  Maybe you see that only one player remains in tier three for running backs and yet there are six left in the highest open tier for receivers. You will immediately know that you can nominate one of those wide receivers if you want in order to preserve that runner and perhaps allow you to get him later with your increased budget in relation to your competitors.

Tiers also allow you to better adjust to the happenings of your draft.  There will come a time when you may lose out on a player you were locked in on for a few rounds.  Or perhaps you’ve had a few too many and you got involved in an in depth conversation and suddenly it’s your turn to nominate a player.  Either way, my point is there will be a time in the draft where you are caught somewhat off guard and you need a quick reference to get you back on track.  Your tier sheet will provide you just that opportunity.  It’s far quicker to review your tiered list of remaining players than it is to consult your cheatsheet.  

Now you may see that many owners in your draft don’t make tiers.  Most bring cheatsheets and all should bring auction values of some sort.  Don’t let this deter you!!  I guarantee that if others see you doing this, they will also notice how prepared you are once the draft starts and they will want to copy your strategy the following year.  Tiering can take your accurate auction values and translate them into a juggernaut fantasy team.

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