Adam Levitan

Draft Analysis

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Abusing the Default Rankings

Sunday, August 25, 2013

When I’m King of the World, there will be no default rankings in draft applets. The players will simply be listed in alphabetical order, thus forcing each owner to use independent thought to come up with their pick.

Unfortunately, I’m not King. That means that the default rankings we find when we go to our online draft are here to stay, and they are a major part of the drafting process.

Some unprepared – or even prepared – owners use these rankings as a crutch. That means they may be afraid to pull the trigger on X guy in the second round because they are listed as a fifth-rounder in the draft room. Or maybe they take Y guy early just because his name is on top of those default rankings in the applet. And if there are auto drafters, being aware of who is on top of the list is crucial.

Don’t be one of those owners. We’ve given you rankings and projections in the Draft Guide. Evan Silva has given you his top-150 and 40 guys he’s shying away from. I’ve told you who I’m targeting as sleepers in the later rounds and broken down the Yahoo Friends and Family draft. Pat Daugherty has overvalued players here and Nick Mensio maps out contract-year guys. Most importantly, we’ve been working tirelessly to keep you up to speed on every player via our dominant News Page.

Now is the time to take advantage of those poor saps using default rankings. Here is what to keep an eye on as you draft on each of the major sites:

* These rankings were found within draft applets as of Sunday, August 25.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a $100,000 Fantasy Football Contest in Week 1. It's $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Here's the link.


Players listed higher overall than expected:

12. Dez Bryant
14. Maurice Jones-Drew
44. Colin Kaepernick
50. Russell Wilson
61. Tony Romo
66. DeAngelo Williams
77. Golden Tate
78. Michael Vick
80. Greg Olsen
92. Vincent Brown

Strategy: In case you haven’t heard, Rotoworld and Yahoo are now partners. Therefore, we’re on the same page with a lot of these ranks. That means there's less value to be gleaned. ... Yahoo has 10 quarterbacks ranked in its top-51 overall players. That’s a great thing if you’re playing the recommended “wait on a QB” game. Don’t get tricked into reaching too early, be aware of which owners have a quarterback already. ... Dez Bryant is going to be hard to land with this pre-rank. He’s listed ahead of Matt Forte, Jimmy Graham, all quarterbacks and all the other elite Tier 2 wideouts (A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald). ... You’re not the only one that’s noticed how healthy Maurice Jones-Drew has looked this preseason. 14th overall is steep. ... Yahoo has adjusted to Jonathan Stewart’s injury situation by sliding DeAngelo Williams way up. That takes away a lot of D-Willy's value pick status. ... So many fantasy owners have been burned by Michael Vick that they’ll shy away. But this default rank could embolden them to taking Vick once again.

Players listed lower overall than expected:
8. Arian Foster
54. Darren McFadden
55. Lamar Miller
56. Darren Sproles
68. Rob Gronkowski
81. Chris Ivory
99. Josh Gordon

Strategy: There aren’t too many spots where we can make hay in Yahoo, but Lamar Miller and Chris Ivory certainly qualify. They are RB2s listed as RB3/4 types. ... Uninformed owners may see Rob Gronkowski’s rank and think he’s out for the year. Latest reports have him back sometime in mid-September. ... Where would Josh Gordon be ranked if he wasn’t suspended for two games? Probably in the 60s. It’s only two games during non-bye weeks. ... We know the drill with Darren Sproles. See if you get points for receptions and adjust dramatically.  

Where the buzz guys are listed:
38. David Wilson
42. Eddie Lacy
105. Michael Floyd
111. Jordan Cameron
126. Kenbrell Thompkins
152. Zach Sudfeld

Strategy: The only real bargain I see here is Kenbrell Thompkins. Know your opponents. If they are informed and read Rotoworld a lot, you’re going to have to bump Kenbrell up in your queue. ... I mentioned Rob Gronkowski’s spot above. Combine that with Zach Sudfeld’s rank, and we have an interesting handcuff opportunity.

Who to scroll down for:
143. Darrius Heyward-Bey
154. Roy Helu
157. Christine Michael
188. Coby Fleener
226. E.J. Manuel

Strategy: There’s nothing great here at all. Darrius Heyward-Bey continues to play ahead of T.Y. Hilton, who is at No. 85 in the applet.


Players listed higher overall than expected:

3. Marshawn Lynch
25. Tom Brady
34. Darren McFadden
36. Wes Welker
66. DeAngelo Williams
90. Owen Daniels
97. Ben Roethlisberger
111. Joe Flacco

Strategy: Someone in your league is going to take Marshawn Lynch too high, especially if it’s 0.5 or full PPR. ... ESPN "only" has eight quarterbacks in their top-48. It’s still interesting to see Tom Brady ahead of Cam Newton. ... Wes Welker is ranked as if he’s still in New England. ... If there’s still anyone out there on the Darren McFadden bandwagon, you’ll have to reach for him in ESPN. ... Joe Flacco is listed ahead of Michael Vick.

Players listed lower overall than expected:
11. LeSean McCoy
50. Reggie Bush
60. Lamar Miller
80. Shane Vereen
84. Daryl Richardson
107. Josh Gordon
114. Golden Tate
118. Michael Vick
126. Jermichael Finley

Strategy: I don’t have a problem with anyone taking LeSean McCoy No. 2 overall. He’s listed behind Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris and Calvin Johnson in ESPN. ... Don’t be afraid to buck these default ranks and be aggressive with Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller. At least one of your opponents will probably be on them before they get to the top of the queue. They're way too low. ... These default ranks haven’t been adjusted to the preseason buzz Michael Vick, Jermichael Finley and Golden Tate have generated. Take advantage of that.   

Where the buzz guys are listed:
32. David Wilson
37. Eddie Lacy
110. Michael Floyd
142. Kenbrell Thompkins
172. Jordan Cameron
217. Zach Sudfeld

Strategy: We can do some damage here, especially with Kenbrell Thompkins and Jordan Cameron. Get them on your radar in the ninth or tenth round. Opponents just using the default ranks won’t even see them coming. ... Those owners going for the Rob Gronkowski/Zach Sudfeld handcuff play should note Gronk is 54 and Sudfeld is 217. Not quite as good as Yahoo with Gronk, but still viable.

Who to scroll down for:
146. Roy Helu
161. Jay Cutler
163. Justin Blackmon
171. Pierre Thomas
172. Danny Woodhead
180. Christine Michael
183. Coby Fleener
184. Darrius Heyward-Bey
196. Nate Burleson
214. Cordarrelle Patterson
220. Rod Streater
234. Nate Washington
288. E.J. Manuel

Strategy: There’s nothing that outrageous here, unfortunately. Cordarrelle Patterson stands out as someone you could steal in the last round. ... Jay Cutler is listed behind Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton. He has far more upside than any of that trio.


Players listed higher overall than expected:
2. C.J. Spiller
14. Chris Johnson
17. Reggie Bush
19. DeMarco Murray
32. Rob Gronkowski
35. Darren McFadden
38. Giovani Bernard
41. Shane Vereen
45. Rashard Mendenhall
47. Daryl Richardson
71. Jermichael Finley
77. Seahawks D/ST
79. Stephen Gostkowski
102. Tyler Eifert

Strategy: CBS’ default rankings have placed a heavy priority on running backs. Of their top-50 players, 28 are RBs. Be sure you’re taking the guys that are supposed to be there – otherwise you’ll be losing value at WR and TE. ... CBS has Rob Gronkowski significantly higher than other sites. There’s no stealing him in the fifth and stashing here. ... I think Giovani Bernard is underrated in a lot of fantasy circles, but this seems extreme. He’s listed ahead of Vincent Jackson, Eddie Lacy, Victor Cruz and Cam Newton. Adjust. ... I was disappointed to see Jermichael Finley so high. On Yahoo and ESPN, we have a better shot of stealing him in the 10th round. ... I listed the Seahawks D and Stephen Gostkowski to show how high CBS has all the Ds and Ks. That’s great for us. We still wait to take ours until the last two rounds and extract max value at other positions.

Players listed lower overall than expected:
8. Arian Foster
50. Cam Newton
60. Danny Amendola
83. Mike Wallace
117. Vick Ballard
120. Colin Kaepernick
121. Greg Jennings
154. Russell Wilson
238. Jay Cutler
242. Michael Vick

Strategy: The “wait on a QB” theory is going to pay off huge here. Imagine the possibilities if we can get Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Michael Vick in the 10th round or later. ... If you’re in PPR, you can rob Danny Amendola. Literally has WR1 upside. ... I don’t like Mike Wallace, but he’s going to fall far in CBS drafts. Tempting. ... Greg Jennings will likely be the last No. 1 wideout off the board. Tons of value.

Where the buzz guys are listed:
29. David Wilson
42. Eddie Lacy
84. Jordan Cameron
107. Michael Floyd
118. Kenbrell Thompkins
189. Zach Sudfeld

Strategy: CBS isn’t doing us any favors at all here. Even the ill-prepared owner will see these names around the top of their draft list right around where they should. It’s unfortunate. Really unfortunate.  

Who to scroll down for:
139. Justin Blackmon
140. Vincent Brown
142. Rueben Randle
145. Emmanuel Sanders
165. Sidney Rice
169. Jonathan Dwyer
172. Rod Streater
180. Roy Helu
184. Darrius Heyward-Bey
187. Cordarrelle Patterson
208. Nate Burleson
211. Knowshon Moreno
264. Isaac Redman
282. Nate Washington

Strategy: There’s a lot to chew on here. While our opponents are taking D/STs and Ks, we can build serious depth at wideout. You could do worse than Nate Washington for your last-round pick in a deep league. ... I listed Jonathan Dwyer, Knowshon Moreno and Isaac Redman here because RB is going to thin out quickly in CBS – not because I like them as players. Scroll down in a desperate situation only.

Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
Email :Adam Levitan

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