Welcome to the final installment of your fantasy football draft training video series. In the last few videos, I showed you how to use consistency to create power ratings for each player. Now, I'll show you how to create our final rankings based on those ratings. While some people advocate creating a single big board with every player, I don’t. Each of the four skill positions deserve their own separate big board. You don’t need to rank kickers or defenses because their season-to-season predictability is so low. Your time will be better spent accurately formulating your boards for the other positions.
So why shouldn’t you use one big board? The short answer is that the actual values for each player only matter in relation to the values for others at his position. Rob Gronkowski’s 144 power rating doesn’t mean anything when compared to Cam Newton’s 191 power rating, for example. The value of those players comes only in how they compare to others at their respective positions.
Creating a single big board with every position can be misleading because it assumes the value of each position as a whole remains the same throughout the draft. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If there’s a run on running backs and only one elite running back remains on the board, for example, his value would shoot up above players at other positions who were previously ranked ahead of him. Similarly, if you already drafted two quarterbacks, you probably should avoid drafting another one, even if he’s the top-rated player on your board. Since you need to be so flexible with your rankings during the draft, it’s best to simply use four separate boards.
The primary reason we can’t create a single board is scarcity. Scarcity is a measure of how much a particular player stands out from the rest at his position. As your draft unfolds, the scarcity of certain players will rise and fall based on which players are taken. Your goal isn’t always to draft the best player available, which a single big board would suggest, but rather to draft the scarcest. In this way, you’re drafting not to gain the most points, but to lose the fewest.
To draft the scarcest players, you need to use some subjectivity. The most important question you need to ask yourself is “which players will still be left with my next picks?” With this method of drafting, you’re looking down the road to obtain the maximum total points for your team, whereas a “best player available” draft strategy is shortsighted, concerned only with the next pick.
How to use scarcity
Let’s take a look at an example of how to use scarcity. Suppose that the top quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end in your rankings have been assigned power ratings of 250, 120, 110, and 80, respectively. The quarterback has the highest rating, but that doesn’t automatically make him the best pick. Instead, you need to make an educated guess about the next player you could expect to grab in later rounds at each position. The ratings of those players—the replacement players that you think you could draft later—will determine which player is the most valuable.
How to create tiers
You’ll be looking for the biggest gap between players at the same position. In the example showed here, the gap between the top tight end and the next-best is 40 points—more than that for any other position. Thus, even though the tight end’s rating is the lowest, he’s the scarcest player available, making him the most valuable.
To set yourself up for draft day success, you can use your power ratings to create tiers in your rankings. Your tiers will basically be a measure of how much scarcity is inherent to each position prior to the draft. By sorting players in this way, you can maximize efficiency during the draft.
Your tiers should be influenced heavily by your power ratings. The best way to create tiered rankings is to rank players at a particular position according to their power ratings, highest to lowest. Then, group those players based on large differences in the ratings. If you have eight running backs with power ratings as I listed here, the first four would go into one tier and the second four would go into another.
After you create your tiers, you can re-order players within each tier based on individual risk and reward. If you consider the player with a 220 power rating to be extremely risky, for example, he might not deserve the top spot in your rankings even though he has the highest rating. All other things equal, you want the safest players with the highest upside, so you should re-order your tiers based on that.
At this point, you should have four separate boards of tiered rankings ready for use on draft day. If you recall from earlier videos, the first stage in creating those rankings is to use regression to make stat projections for each player. Then, using your scoring system, you can turn those stat projections into point projections.
Those point projections mean nothing without an understanding of predictability, however. Your next step is to create power ratings by multiplying the projected points by the consistency correlations I provided earlier. Then, as I outlined in this video, you can create tiered rankings based on scarcity. You should order the players within each tier based on their risk/reward. Remember, your goal when drafting is to create the best overall team, and that’s done by losing the fewest points with each individual pick, not necessarily gaining the most.
Thanks so much for participating in the fantasyknuckleheads.com how to draft training series. Hopefully you picked up some useful fantasy football advice along the way. Best of luck this season.