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 quantify.
Regardless, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Over the last two
weeks, I have evaluated the weekly matchups for 500-plus players.
Analyzing matchups alone requires me to make 7,500 "decisions".
This is not meant to be a humble 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/analysts 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
Speaking of changing processes, the Success Score Index
(SSI) below is moving away from an attribute-based algorithm
and one centered around my target and carry predictions that have
been featured in this space over the last two weeks. As always,
the matchups are included in the algorithm. SSI allows me to compare
apples to oranges across positions. Perhaps just as importantly,
I have been able to eliminate most of the guesswork across different
scoring systems (PPR, standard, etc.). Long story short, I am
much more confident in the product. SSI also helps me set me tiers,
essentially giving me (and you) a vertical and horizontal board
in one place.
New to this Big Board and moving forward, I am including
my fantasy-point projections as well. For those of you interested
in my actual individual player projections, please tweet
or email me.
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:Players with a
next to their name have some degree of injury/character/holdout
concern. Players with a * next to their name
have a higher than normal chance of losing their job at some point
during the season.
Next week, I will release my first Big Boards for 0.5 PPR
leagues as well as The Fantasy Championship (TFC) and FFPC Big
Boards. In the second and final round of Big Boards near the end
of the preseason, I will rank at least 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 Non-PPR format:
Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM's "Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.