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How to Tier Your Fantasy Player Rankings

Updated on July 2, 2012

When you approach your fantasy sports draft, it is common (and easy enough) to go into your draft room with all your players ranked. Maybe you brought a magazine or are looking at your favorite website. Or, maybe you even painstakingly created your own draft list. But, if you are not creating player tiers, then your all work has only limited value.

Creating tiers gives you a clear idea not just of whom you think is the best player but rather about the depth and quality of players that are remaining. For instance, in 2012, I would create the following QB tiers:

QB Tiers for 2012

Rodgers, Brady, Brees
Romo, E Manning, Ryan, Newton
Rivers, Roethlisberger, Vick, P Manning

Of course, you might agree or disagree with my QB rankings (for more about Newton in particular, you can check out this Hub). But, tiering these players gives a much clearer vision of their relative draft value. Let's say it's the fifth round, and you have the 7th pick in a ten-team league, and the team after yours already has a QB. Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Newton and Stafford are long gone, and P. Manning and Vick go off the board in the two picks in front of you. Under most circumstances, you might panic and grab your QB then and there. But, if you look at your tiers, you see that Romo, E. Manning and Ryan are all sitting there in your third tier. You might have a preference for one, but you ultimately value all similarly. So, you can wait on your QB! Only two of the teams that draft before you pick in the 6th round need a QB, so you know that you'll get one of those guys in your third tier. By deferring your QB pick to the next round, you lose nothing and gain a valuable player at another position in the fifth round!

Romo, E. Manning, Roethlisberger

On the other hand, if we use the same example as before but instead of having P. Manning and Vick go right before you, Romo and E. Manning go, then you know that you must take Ryan at that pick. You're not panicking or getting in at the end of the run. You simply see that he is only QB left in your third tier! It makes deciding whom to draft when very clear!

Of course, you should create your own tiers. Almost everyone else will have Newton in Tier 1 or 2; I am not afraid to bump him down. So, odds are that he won't be on any of my drafted teams. You might see a player as about to explode. If you believe, for instance, that P. Manning is going to be his usual self, then don't be scared to put him in your Tier 2 or even Tier 1. That way, while you might pick him a little earlier than is necessary, that is much better than holding out to get him later and missing out on him. If you think that he's at the Tier 2 level, you'll have a much better idea of when you need to draft him and what is left if you miss out on him than if you simply walk in with your players ranked.

One final note on creating tiers: you also need to pay close attention to the gap between your tiers. If you go back to the QB chart, I do not see a major gap between Tiers 3 and 4. So, if I feel that I would need to draft someone in Tier 3 way too high in order to get him, I would rather wait 2-5 rounds to get someone in Tier 4 and draft players at other positions in between. On the other hand, the gap between Tiers 2 and 3 is huge in my eyes. That means that I would draft those guys a little higher than might be necessary to make sure that I get one. Understanding the gaps between your tiers helps you determine which guys need to be taken a little early, perhaps, and which guys you can hold out on. Similarly, if you see three QBs left in your current tier but only 1 RB in a similar tier, you know whom you need to pick. It is much more likely that one of the QBs will still be there for you when your next selection comes up.

Now that you are a tiering pro, you'll all set to dominate your drafts! If you have any questions or want to brainstorm your own tiers with me, just let me know in the Comments section below.


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