The process of improving at one’s craft is – or
should be – an endeavor that never truly ends.
It has occurred to me over the years that I typically win the
waiver wire in most of my leagues, no matter how high the stakes
have been. There are exceptions, of course, especially when injuries
and/or suspensions strike quickly and leave more holes in a roster
than an owner can realistically expect to fill in a short period
of time. So why change a good thing? Quite simply, because the
old way – while still successful – wasn’t delivering
the results I had become accustomed to in the first few years
of the Big Board era. During this past offseason, I have come
to believe that my slow starts are mostly a function of not doing
a good enough job of taking the best player on the board or the
one I believe in the most and my fast finishes are largely the
result of my ability to recognize talent. In theory, if I can
spot identify a player like C.J. Anderson or even Branden Oliver
before anyone else does, I should rarely be in a position where
I need to insert them into my lineup immediately, right? In case
you couldn’t tell, my self-congratulatory praise above isn’t
so much a humble brag as it is an indictment that I haven’t
done the best job of practicing what I preach when setting up
the Big Boards.
One of my biggest shortcomings in recent years has been overvaluing
opportunity, especially as it relates to the running back position.
Opportunity means something entirely different for someone like
Peterson than it does for Toby
Gerhart or Zac
Stacy. Opportunity for Peterson means he may go from 325 carries
to 375 (just throwing numbers out there, folks). Opportunity for
Gerhart and Stacy last year meant each player was going to start
Week 1 and on a very short leash. It was for reasons like that
(and others) that I wanted to revamp the way I evaluated fantasy
players in 2015. You have already seen some of the changes (such
as the four-game projections
versus the full-season projections of yesteryear) and some are
behind the scenes that you won’t get to see due to lack of column
Long story short, the behind-the-scenes work involved meticulously
grading and assigning certain weights to several attributes that
I feel are critical to fantasy success at that position. The end
result of that work is the eighth column in each of my Big Boards
this year: success score (SS). Without giving away too much of
the formula, talent was the No. 1 attribute at each position and
job security also appeared at all four positions, getting more
of the percentage at running back than at any other position.
Why? Some of the more notable reasons are because it is a position
that experiences a ton of turnover and also because it is a position
where coaches do not hesitate to “ride the hot hand”,
sometimes with little to no provocation.
Although I expect to tweak the system (as in adjusting the percentage
weights I have assigned at each position) over the coming weeks
and years, I believe I have something worth keeping here. I will
also place a higher priority on pushing players up the board that
I really believe in. Fantasy football is fun when your team is
winning, but winning with a group of players that you believed
in on draft day and taking the bulk of that team to a fantasy
title makes it extra special. I plan on bringing back the “Value”
column for my final set of Big Boards in two weeks because I think
it does a good job of quantifying certain things like how much
“value” a quarterback loses when the scoring format
goes from six points per passing touchdown to four points or how
tightly bunched a certain position group is.
I’m not going to pretend as if I have accounted for every
possibility. It’s an impossible task in a sport that features
11 men on each side of the ball trying to work in perfect harmony.
In case you hadn’t noticed, it rarely ever happens and breakdowns
occur on virtually every play.
Before I get to the boards, I would like to remind readers about
two key points:
1) I doubt you will find another draft board like this one and
further doubt you will find a similar set of rankings anywhere
else. The standard the industry uses to measure accuracy among
analysts is overall scoring, but I am more concerned with projected
consistency and matchups. Consistency tends to lead to big fantasy
numbers at the end of the season and championships while inconsistency
and bad matchups at the wrong time usually lead to frustration.
Someday, I hope the industry catches on to my way of thinking.
Until then, I’ll try to win as many titles as possible and
help you do the same.
2 ) Much like the past three seasons, I want to provide readers
with a clear risk sign. If a player is a moderate risk –
be it due to injury, off-field, etc. – you will see a
next his name. If I feel a player is a severe risk, you will see
next to his name. While I feel like I have accounted for each
player’s “risk” with their spot on the Big Board,
you may be more or less inclined to deal with that risk than I
am. This is just another way of helping you take a look at the
board and quickly identifying which players stand a good chance
to frustrate you at some point this season.
Note: For this
first set of Big Boards, I have chosen to stop at 150 players.
Early next week, I will release my first Big Boards for The Fantasy
Championship and FFPC Big Boards. In the final set of Big Boards
in 1 1/2 weeks, I will rank 200 players and present my final rankings
for kickers and defense/special teams.
Let’s revisit the color-coding system before we start:
Red – A very difficult matchup.
For lower-level players, a red matchup means they should not be
used in fantasy that week. For a second- or third-tier player,
drop your expectations for them at least one grade that week (i.e.
from WR2 to WR3). For elite players, expect them to perform one
level lower than their usual status (i.e. RB1 performs like a
Yellow – Keep expectations
fairly low in this matchup. For lower-level players, a yellow
matchup is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier
player, they can probably overcome the matchup if things fall
right. For the elite players, expect slightly better than average
White – Basically, this matchup
is one that could go either way. In some cases, I just don’t
feel like I have a good feel yet for this defense. Generally speaking,
these matchups are winnable matchups for all levels of players.
Green – It doesn’t
get much better than this. For non-elite players, the stage is
basically set for said player to exploit the matchup. For the
elite player, this matchup should produce special numbers..
OVR – Overall Rank
PR – Position Rank
FPts – Fantasy points scored
FPts/ G – Fantasy points/game
Success score (SSI) – The sum of several position-specific
attributes that I feel are important to fantasy production, weighted
and scored. A perfect score is 1000, but it may help to move the
decimal point one spot to the left and think of each score as a
percentage. It may also help to think of the final score as the
likelihood that player will produce at the level I have projected
him if his current environment stays roughly the same as it is now.
Just so you know what you are getting yourself into, here are some
of the attributes I weighed and scored at each position:
Quarterback – Talent,
job security, four-game stat projection, red-zone projection (how
often I believe the quarterback will either throw or run the ball
himself inside the 20) and the degree to which I believe his offense
is conservative or will play that way because of an elite defense.
Running back – Talent,
job security, durability, four-game stat projection, three-down
back (based on projected snaps) and the run-blocking prowess of
his offensive line.
Wide receiver – Talent,
job security, four-game stat projection and projected red-zone
Tight end – Talent, job
security, projected red-zone scores and projected targets in relation
to his peers at the position.
Here is the scoring
system that I used to rank the players in the 0.5 PPR format:
| PPR Big Board Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.