Football is simple at its very core but a very complex game to evaluate
and analyze well because 11 men are being asked to work in harmony
roughly 60 times per game, while 11 other men are being asked to
create chaos. Pro football is not pro basketball in that a team
can clear out one side of the court when things break down and the
offense can still score. Pro football is not pro baseball in that
one player can defeat a pitcher and eight fielders by timing his
swing just right. Even as great as Barry Sanders was, he never beat
a defense all by himself. In football, a player always needs help
from at least one teammate to accomplish his goal. That is part
of what makes football so great and part of what it makes it so
highly unpredictable. The violence of the game - even by the tamer
standards in this day and age - adds another element to the equation
that is difficult to account for quantifiably.
Regardless, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Over the last 1
1/2 weeks, I have evaluated the weekly matchups for 500 players
and assigned between five and seven grades for each player based
on the areas I believe are critical for fantasy success at their
respective positions. Analyzing matchups alone requires me to
make 7,500 "decisions". Grading each of those players
in at least five categories pushes the decision-making number
well over 10,000.
The preceding paragraph is not meant to be a brag of any kind.
Each year, my goal is to give those who put their faith in my
evaluations the confidence they have the best draft-day tool at
their disposal. I like to think that even if readers believe my
logic is flawed for whatever reason, they can count on the fact
that much thought has been put into that opinion.
Fantasy football is a stock market game, and our job as analysts
is identifying when stocks may be poised for an increase or ready
to tank. While last year's results help owners/analyst set the
table for the following season, they are merely a starting point.
Fantasy rankings and drafting need to be predictive, not reactive.
This is the approach I have taken for more than 10 years. While
some of the processes have changed in that time, the main goal
has not. I'm pretty certain I owe a great deal of my success to
it. Based on the feedback I receive from readers throughout the
year, it would seem many of them have enjoyed similar success.
At any rate …
I am still fine-tuning my updated Success Score Index
(SSI), which involves meticulously grading and assigning
certain weights to several attributes that I feel are critical
to fantasy success at that position. Having enjoyed the success
I did with it last year and not needing to reinvent the wheel
this year, I feel comfortable enough using it to rank the players
on the first set of Big Boards (unlike last year). It is the number
that allows me to compare apples to oranges across the positions.
For all of those unfamiliar with my Big Boards, allow me to explain
the color-coding system before we start:
Red – For lower-level players, a
red matchup is the most difficult one a player can face. 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 an RB2).
Yellow – For lower-level players,
he is a borderline start at best. For a second- or third-tier
player, the slight edge goes to the defense in what is essentially
a toss-up. For the elite players, expect slightly better than
White – This one can go either
way, but I favor the player over the matchup. In some cases, I
just don’t feel like I have a good feel yet for this matchup.
Generally speaking, these matchups are winnable for all levels
Green – For non-elite players,
the stage is set for a player to have a productive day. For the
elite player, this matchup could produce special numbers.
Note:This week, I will
release my first Big Boards for The Fantasy Championship (TFC)
and FFPC Big Boards. In the final set of Big Boards over the following
two weeks, I will rank 200 players and present my final rankings
for kickers and defense/special teams.
Here is the scoring
system that I used to rank the players in the Half-Point PPR
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.