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Fantasy Football: 2015 NFL Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

Image courtesy of Mike Morbeck/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Mike Morbeck/Flickr.

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As sports news stations highlights are starting to be less dominated by baseball heroics, there is a quaint feeling of relief hearing the meddlesome voice of John Gruden coming through your flat screen television. The nights are finally starting to cool down and this is the time of year that all football fans have been patiently waiting for.

A minority of fantasy football leagues have already commenced their draft order, if not having already drafted their teams. Unique team names are being skewed on valuable work hours. Owners have started tinkering with the allure of role player trades. While the season has yet to be underway, fantasy football leagues have begun to prepare themselves. It’s that time of year once again.

Whether fantasy football fanatics use average draft position (ADP), ESPN’s Matthew Berry, or just plain superstition to decide their draft picks is irrelevant. There is a plethora of options that are viable at any pick. What isn’t accounted for is the importance of strategizing for draft day pressure.

The most important aspect in determining your strategy is determining the correct value of the players available during your pick. There are a limited amount of breakout stars, important role players, and sleepers at each position every year. So, make sure your team has them all. Assessing positional value, ADP, 2014 season statistics, and points we have calculated an incredibly valuable step-by-step draft strategy that should give you a better understanding of who to pick and when.

This list is organized by tiers in descending alphabetical order. Generating all of the players that any fantasy football owner should target, in order to optimize the maximum amount of points they receive on any given Sunday, Monday, or Thursday.

To begin, each tier includes a specific, nonequal amount of players. This is chosen based on varying ADP value. Based off this actual value, each tier has a specific amount of players that equates the range of ADP within their tier to be as close to 1.5 as possible (Range = Highest ADP Value-Lowest ADP Value). This keeps consistency within each tier and gives a more accurate reading of average ADP per tier.

Also included in each tier is the mean of all the players within that group. The difference in mean value between tiers illustrates the difference in drafting value of the players within that group. For example, the difference between the A-tier wide receivers and the B-tier wide receivers is incredibly narrow. This signifies that there isn’t much of a gap in the draft value of the players within these tiers.

How is this valuable to you? Well, this gives fantasy football owners the ability to draft players as steals. Instead of taking a risk on a player, this is a quantitive approach that gives owners a good understanding of player values. Using this correctly, owners can visualize the best players available on the big board and select accordingly. This way, instead of buying high on a running back that you may not be familiar with, this sheet will provide owners with the appropriate information.

This may not be necessary for the first few rounds, as players have a certain draw to themselves because of their skill, situation, or name. A majority of A-tier players will be taken right away. As the middle rounds come along, there is an incredible amount of depth consistently available that gets either skipped on or drafted way too early. Don’t make that mistake anymore.

Study this list and familiarize yourself with the players that are worth your first three round picks. This will make a difference further down the season. Having Matt Forte, Julio Jones, and Calvin Johnson will prove a lot better than Forte, Justin Forsett, and Mark Ingram. While the latter team may have good running back depth, they missed out on premier wide receivers. This is because of the value of players and how they can contribute to your team.

All fantasy football owners have one thing in common on draft day. A list of the top available players, based off of some statistic sheet that was hurled out there by a crazed fan. This is a different approach that has worked in past seasons. Study this, and implement it into your new drafting strategy.

Image courtesy of Joe Biewlawa/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Joe Bielawa/Flickr.

A-Tier Running Backs: These are your go-to guys. The difference makers. Select as many of these players as you possibly can because the next level of running backs below have an ADP difference of -2.04. Average ADP: 2

1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
2. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
4. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
5. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
6. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
7. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
8. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
9. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
10. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles

A-Tier Wide Receivers: These guys are proven large-scoring players. They make a difference in your WR1 position. Although, take a look at the B-tier wide receivers as well, because the difference between these two is a little less than a point. Average ADP: 1.97

1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
3. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
4. Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants
5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
6. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
7. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

B-Tier Running Backs: These backs have the ability to succeed tremendously next season. While they aren’t an established name like some of the players above, they will definitely contribute to the overall success of any fantasy team. Get these players before it’s too late. Average ADP: 4.04

1. Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens
2. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
3. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
4. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
5. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
6. Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
7. Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys
8. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders

B-Tier Wide Receivers: These wide receivers are valuable role players to any roster. Contributing on a frequent basis, these players have some of the best statistical outputs on a weekly basis. Making a great WR2, look to draft these players in the fifth round or so. Average ADP: 2.91

1. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
3. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
5. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
6. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
7. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints
8. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

B-Tier Quarterbacks: These quarterbacks are the outliers of the data. They may have an incredibly low ADP, but quarterbacks value is completely subjective. They can have large outputs, yet if playing the waiver wire correctly, so can anyone else. Average ADP: 2.5

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

B-Tier Tight Ends: These are the best tight ends in the league, but they aren’t worth a first round pick. Remember, tiers are based on when players should be drafted, not the actual skills of the players. Wait until you draft a tight end. Average ADP: 3.3

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
2. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

C-Tier Running Backs: This is a very narrow change in ADP from B-tier to C-tier. The value of these backs will be important as the season moves on. These guys would make a great RB2 or Flex option. Average ADP: 5.25

1. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
2. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
3. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
4. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars

C-Tier Wide Receivers: This is one of the largest changes in average ADP. Make sure, that every wide receiver above has been selected before you attempt to draft any of these players! Other than that, they should be some of the best sleeper picks in the draft. Just don’t overpay. Average ADP: 5.2

1. Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts
2. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
3. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
4. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
5. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
6. Martavis Bryant, Pittsburg Steelers
7. Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
8. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

C-Tier Quarterbacks: These quarterbacks will provide for your team once you have a good rushing and receiving core established. This is a great pick up, if you waited. Average ADP: 5.8

1. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
2. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
3. Ben Rothlisberger, Pittsburg Steelers

D-Tier Running Backs: These running backs are selected so late in the draft, simply because of their situation. These are backs you don’t want to take too high, as they have uncertain circumstances. Yet, they have a chance to be one of your best bench players. Average ADP: 6.14

1. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams
2. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
3. C.J. Spiller, New Orleans Saints
4. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
5. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

D-Tier Wide Receivers: Make sure to wait on these guys. They could add some serious depth to your roster albeit everything runs smoothly this season. Average ADP: 7.6

1. DeSean Jackson, Washinton Redskins
2. Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Victor Cruz, New York Giants

D-Tier Quarterbacks: With quarterback ADP ranging close to 3 points per tier, these players shouldn’t drag down your team too much. Get them at a good position. Average ADP: 8.25

1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
2. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
4. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

D-Tier Tight Ends: Tight Ends are tricky because every year, one player breaks out and has a fantastic year. These guys have put up average numbers the past couple of season and you shouldn’t roll out the red carpet quite yet. Average ADP: 7.3

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
2. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
3. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

E-Tier Wide Receivers: This is a close jump once again between the two tiers. These players will have close to the same value as those in D-Tier. Average ADP: 8.48

1. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Mike Wallace, Minnesota Vikings
3. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
5. Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles
6. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
7. Steve Smith, Baltimore Ravens
8. Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers
9. John Brown, Arizona Cardinals
10. DeVante Adams, Green Bay Packers

E-Tier Running Backs: These backs are the ones that you would select to fill your bench. They will offer a week or tow or great output but are mainly here to fill void during bye weeks. Average ADP: 8.61

1. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
2. Chris Ivory, New York Jets
3. Alfred Blue, Houston Texans
4. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
5. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
6. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
7. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
8. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
9. Shane Vereen, New York Giants
10. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans
11. Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles
12. Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams
13. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
14. David Cobb, Tennessee Titans

E-Tier Quarterbacks: These players will most likely have the best value. With the ability to be drafted so late, these quarterbacks have the potential to really explode onto the scene this year. Average ADP: 10

1. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
2. Eli Manning, New York Giants
3. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
4. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
6. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

E-Tier Tight Ends: Quick! Draft a tight end! You almost forgot! Average ADP: 10.01

1. Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins
3. Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
4. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
5. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
6. Delanie Walker, Tennesse Titans
7. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
8. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
9. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

F-Tier Running Backs: Mainly filers here. You might find some value amongst these players, but don’t expect much. Average ADP: 14.22

1. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
2. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3. Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
4. Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys
5. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
6. Reggie Bush, San Francisco 49ers
7. Roy Helu, Oakland Raiders
8. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
9. Andre Williams, New York Giants
10. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
11. Jonas Grey, New England Patriots
12. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens
13. Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts
14. DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburg Steelers
15. James Starks, Green Bay Packers

F-Tier Wide Receivers: Just get some of these guys on your roster, and pay attention to matchup. Might be a viable option at some point in the season. Maybe trade-bait for another person who ignored this article. Average ADP: 12.65

1. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
2. Torrey Smith, San Francisco 49ers
3. Brandon Lafell, New England Patriots
4. Eric Decker, New York Jets
5. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
6. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
7. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
8. Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
9. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
10. Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers
11. Devin Finches, Carolina Panthers
12. Breshad Perriman, Baltimore Ravens
13. Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams
14. Doug Baldwin, Detroit Lions
15. Rueben Randle, New York Giants
16. Stevie Johnson, San Diego Chargers
17. DeVante Parker, Green Bay Packers

F-Tier Quarterbacks: If you haven’t drafted a QB at this point, might as well wait and decide on a weekly basis depending on match ups. Average ADP: 15.58

1. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
2. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
3. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
4. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
6. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
7. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
8. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

F-Tier Tight Ends: What did I say before about drafting a tight end??? Average ADP:15.9

1. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
3. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
4. Josh Hill, New Orleans Saints
5. Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers

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