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How These 10 Results from the RotoViz Ultimate Rankings Could Shape Your Early-Round Plan

If you missed it earlier in the week, Dave Caban put together the RotoViz Ultimate Rankings, using his projections from the Projection Machine, the tiers from the Draft Dashboard, the Historical Distribution Scores created from the similarity feature in the Fantasy Stat Explorer, and ADP. If you’ve been taking advantage of Dave’s tools in the amazing FFDraftPrep suite, then you’re ready to dominate your draft this weekend. If you haven’t, then this is your one-stop-shop and ultimate cheat sheet.

These 10 results could shape your early-round plan.

1. Le’Veon Bell is No. 1 overall at RB, but a risky No. 1. Bell ranks second in ADP and third in HDS,1 but his 382-point projection in the Projection Machine gives him the slight edge over David Johnson. Although Bell has now averaged 23 points or more in his last three healthy seasons, it will be difficult to manage the feat again, especially coming off of another holdout.

2. Travis Kelce ranks No. 1 at TE and should be on all of your teams. Although Kelce sits at No. 2 in ADP and HDS, Dave loves the Kansas City TE to break out with Patrick Mahomes.

KC Proj

3. Antonio Brown is the only player to earn the top rank in every category. He’s the clear No. 1 at WR and is undervalued in terms of overall ADP. With Bell holding out and Johnson returning with a new offense, Brown is my No. 2 overall player behind Todd Gurley.

4. Deshaun Watson falls to QB5, despite the second-highest ADP at the position. Watson doesn’t score as well in the projections or the HDS. I probably prefer ADP in this case. I’d have difficulty taking Russell Wilson (QB1) or Tom Brady (QB3) over him, given the state of their receiving positions.2 As Kevin Zatloukal pointed out in Computing the Optimal Lineup with RotoViz Tiers, while Watson and Will Fuller will decline in efficiency, they have a long way to fall before they wouldn’t be values.

5. Alvin Kamara’s HDS shows some risk, but he slots in at RB5. Check out the subsequent seasons for Kamara’s comps versus those of Leonard Fournette.3

A Kamara

L Fournette

Both players had five comparable players with seasons of 20-plus points the following year, but two of Fournette’s scored 24 or more. He also had fewer come in below 10 PPG. While I’m skeptical about Fournette’s ADP at the first/second turn, he offers plenty of breakthrough upside.

6. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the top early round values. His RVUR of WR10 is well ahead of ADP (WR16). The Arizona superstar falls slightly in drafts due to age and uncertainty at the QB position, but Fitzgerald owns the 10th-best high projection according to the Sim Scores, the 10th-best HDS, and ranks No. 9 in the projections.

7. Mike Evans is one of the biggest red flags in the early rounds. Coming off the board at WR9 but with a projection and an HDS outside the top 15, the headliner in Tampa holds a lot of risk. With established veterans like DeSean Jackson and Cameron Brate to go with breakout candidates in O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin, there are too many mouths to feed. Among second-year breakout candidates, Godwin has the largest gap between model projection and points implied by ADP. He’s a much better way to play the Bucs.

8. Rob Gronkowski ranks No. 2 at TE but is still your potential league winner. Dave prefers Kelce and Zach Ertz in his projections, but we can see Gronk’s upside in the HDS.

R Gronkowski

T KelceGronk owns the high outcomes, which explains why he was the early-round selection for 10 Players Poised to Crush ADP.

9. Don’t Sleep On Adam Thielen. It can sometimes seem like RotoViz is merely an arm of Stefon Diggs’ public relations team – I constantly mention him as the next Antonio Brown, he’s on our Optimal Team, and that’s just for starters – but Thielen may be an even better play.

MIN Alloc

Dave gives him the slight edge in our projections, and while Diggs’ 2017 doesn’t score that well in the HDS (WR30), Thielen comes in at No. 8.

10. Jarvis Landry is always controversial. Landry sits at No. 24 in the projections and No. 4 in the HDS. Draft position leans toward the projection side at WR17, but our tiers have him at No. 12, in part because Blair Andrews, Hasan Rahim, and I have him in Tier 2. It now looks like he’s set up for a big workload in Cleveland, and his opportunity-agnostic range of outcomes are among the elite.

Landry Sims 2


This is just the beginning in terms of what the RotoViz Ultimate Rankings have to offer. Be sure to explore for yourself, and check in on the original sources Dave used to put it all together.

  1. His high projection in the Sim Scores trails Kareem Hunt.  (back)
  2. Cam Newton is always interesting with his running ability and a dramatically upgraded set of receivers that includes the return of Greg Olsen and Curtis Samuel, plus the addition of D.J. Moore.  (back)
  3. As a reminder, the historical projections used to create the visualizations plot the number of comparable players that produced the included points per game (PPG) totals in year n+1. As a result, the y-axis counts the number of comparable players that produced the PPG that span the x-axis.  (back)

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