Few things are more powerful than the placebo effect. Once you get an idea in your mind, it tends to stay there until it is acted upon–this is the magnitude of the power of suggestion. What does this have to do with fantasy football? When drafting on a specific website’s applet, it has everything to do with it. To not use a site’s default rankings to your advantage is akin to leaving money on the table, and today I’m going to tell you how to take Yahoo’s rankings and use them to your advantage.
But how important is this actually? I would argue it is absolutely vital. First of all, although people have their player preferences, often that Yahoo screen of players is the only cheatsheet that people are using during their draft. You’re kidding yourself if how low or high a player is on the screen does not have an effect on your draft picks.
Secondly, it becomes wholly important when you have auto-pickers in your draft. When you do, it becomes very easy to tell when players nearer to the top of the page are going to get selected. Like Rueben Randle more than T.Y. Hilton? That’s fine. But if you have an auto-picker next to you and Hilton is at the top of the wideout list, you may as well consider sniping Hilton and then grab Randle with your next pick. These themes must become a part of your draft strategy. Without further ado, everything you need to know to take advantage of Yahoo’s rankings:
Take Advantage Of Their Patriot Distrust
For some reason, Yahoo is quite down on the Patriots. Understandably, they had a pretty rough 2013. Gronk missed most of the season, Vereen missed half, and Amendola was never truly healthy. But in my opinion, the disrespect is insane. Tom Brady is rated as QB11, and I wholeheartedly disagree. We know Brady is a different player without Gronk, but what about with and without Vereen?
That season-long point total with Vereen would have made Brady the 2013 QB3 by a wide, wide margin. Vereen, Edelman and Amendola are healthy so far, Gronk looks like he’s going to play most of the season (even if he doesn’t play the whole season, he’s worth a high pick), and the run game is still there to keep defenses honest. I believe Brady is going to be big this year, and is a far better value than QB11. The point is that even if Gronk cannot recover, Brady can still be elite.
Speaking of Gronk, Yahoo ranks him as the 46th player overall. Even if you click the “Hide Drafted” button, he still won’t appear on the big board until the 4th round at the earliest. Considering his ADP has shot up to the 2nd round according to most websites, that could end up being a constant bargain
Target Goldmine in the WR3 Range
Here is a list of the wide receivers Yahoo has ranked 28th through 35th: Mike Wallace, Julian Edelman, Kendall Wright, Marques Colston, Eric Decker, Golden Tate, Brandin Cooks and Reggie Wayne. This is an absolute jackpot for cheap targets. Five of these seven receivers will be the heaviest targeted wideout on their team barring injury.
Wallace is insanely undervalued. He’s a more talented DeSean Jackson, and Lazor was involved with the offense that helped Jackson put up huge numbers in Philly last year. Unlike with Mike Sherman at the helm, Wallace is moving around the formation. Take a look at a RotoViz heat map of the careers of some other deep threats going before him, including DeSean himself.
Jackson’s map looks a lot better because of his outlier 2013, at least partially due to Chip Kelly’s scheme. As I mentioned before, Wallace is looking like he’ll get the same treatment this year.
As for the others? Colston is crazy consistent. I recently wrote about him, Reggie Wayne and Decker–each is his team’s No. 1 wideout and available at a WR3 cost. Kendall Wright had a fantastic PPR year, and there’s reason for optimism that he’ll even improve.
Because these guys are ranked so low, you can probably wait a round or two extra to get them, even if you have them ranked above guys you would consider instead.
Yahoo Is Aware Of The Hype Guys
This is not your older brother’s Yahoo rankings. Gone are the days of the “sleeper”–the breakout guy only hardcore fantasy owners knew about and you had to scroll for ages to find. Yahoo is now very up to date with the “buzz” guys, as evidenced by their overall rankings:
Andre Ellington at 17
Toby Gerhart at 28
Cordarrelle Patterson at 49
Terrance Williams at 65
Brandin Cooks at 84
Justin Hunter at 108
Now, in no way am I saying that this is an abnormal draft pattern. With the possible exception of Gerhart and Terrence Williams, these rankings roughly reflect ADP trends. You just cannot count on breakout candidates to consistently fall into your lap anymore.
You May Have To Reach For The Young, Mid-Round Running Backs
All of these guys are rated in the top 120 overall in Yahoo’s rankings. That means they are all projected to go in the first 12 rounds:
Jeremy Hill at 95
Bernard Pierce at 98
Devonta Freeman at 109
Carlos Hyde at 80
Andre Williams at 114
Christine Michael at 116
Even if you are drafting with less experienced and prepared competitors, they will see these names and at least consider them. This is in stark contrast to many of the young breakout candidates in previous years being buried in the rankings, safe from the uninformed hoi polloi of fantasy owners.
Diamonds In The Rough
Here are some guys who are the expert owner’s best friend–players who are so buried in the rankings, you’ll have to scroll down a lot to find them:
Darren McFadden at 153 Burned plenty of bridges over the years, but it’s possible he can be a Zero RB savior this year. Injury risk and committee finally are factored into his price.
Lance Dunbar at 177 Could be Reggie Bush lite in the Linehan offense. All signs point to considerable usage and at the very least a decent bye-week flex with upside.
James Starks at 166 You could make a strong argument he’s the top handcuff in fantasy football.
Harry Douglas at 213 Roddy and Julio haven’t been stalwarts in the health department the past few years. Take a look at what Douglas has done without Julio in the lineup the past two seasons. He’s a potential 6 catches for 80 yards per game guy available almost for free:
Yahoo’s default rankings have come a long way in just a few years. I remember licking my chops as I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled for players who should be in the top 6 rounds. Now, they are very aware of all the buzz/upside guys, although many of them are very unproven. But that is the positive shift they’ve made: going from reactors to prognosticators.
Although Yahoo has caught up with the times, their possible overrating of these young breakout candidates could allow you to take advantage of the proven players. As evidenced by Gronk’s ranking and the relatively low ranking of old reliables Wallace, Decker, Wayne and Colston–they are all ranked behind Terrence Williams–there are still plenty of ways you can take advantage of the autodrafters and rankings-followers in your fantasy drafts.
Asher Molk, along with being a regular contributor to the Apex Insider Blog and The Fake Football, helps Mike Braude run Apex Fantasy Football Money Leagues – their solution to the randomness and luck-based formats of most public money leagues.