Trust me on that one. I make a living by creating (and selling) fantasy football rankings – and I have been doing this professionally for 13 years now. Draft Sharks even won an award for the most accurate projections for the 2010 season. What I've discovered is that you do a hell of a lot better when you actually have a rationale for your rankings. And the only way you can do that is by creating projections.
Yes, it'll take a lot of thought and research. But when you're done, you'll have a pride of ownership in your work. And my guess is that you'll have a lot of fun doing it. After all, if you play fantasy football, it's for love of the hobby. Doing your own fantasy football rankings and projections should be part of that love!
To help you out, let me offer you a handful of quick tips. Here we go.
Fantasy Football Rankings Tip #1: Last Year's Stats Don't Equal This Year's Stats. Check out most 2012 fantasy football rankings and you'll see that they look a whole lot like 2011's final player stats. No forward thinking. The guys doing these rankings just figure that players will basically finish as they did in 2011. But the truth is that most of the players who finish in the top-10 in any given year will NOT finish in the top-10 the following year. That is true for nearly every position, every year. As one example, among the top-10 RBs from 2010, only Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and Michael Turner repeated their top-10 performance in 2011. That's a lowly 40%. If you think I'm cherry picking to make a point, please go look for yourself. Research the turnover rate among the fantasy elite from year-to-year. You'll see that more than half the players fail to repeat their elite performance the following year.
Fantasy Football Rankings Tip #2: Last Year's Stats Don't Equal This Year's Stats – but they Make a Good Starting Point. Ok, now that you're ready to purge your player rankings of anyone who finished in the top-10 last year – let's slow down. After all, we need some baseline from which we can adjust player projections either upward or downward. The logical place to start is with each player's stat line from 2011. Begin with last year's stats as your baseline – and then try to guesstimate as to what will make a player better or worse this year. The remaining 5 tips will help you decide whether a player should be credited with projections that are better or worse than what they finished with in 2011.
Fantasy Football Rankings Tip #3: For the times they-are-a-changin'. The one factor that will impact how a fantasy player will perform in 2012 is "change." But change has dozens of variables. Here are just a few examples for your consideration:
Fantasy Football Rankings Tip #4: Load up on Fantasy Football News. You can find loads of free fantasy football news all over the internet. After all, NFL news is a commodity, so you won't have a shortage of places from which to collect and analyze that news. The real trick is not in finding the news. The hard part is to figure out how that news applies to NFL players. More specifically, how will the changes we noted in Tip #3 affect the projections and rankings you have for each player. That's where the real fun begins!
Fantasy Football Rankings Tip #5: Read Till Your Eyes Bleed. As you begin to digest the news, you'll start to form opinions about players for the 2012 season. Opinions about some players will be stronger than others. And some of your opinions will be more daring than others. But I would encourage you to dig deeper as you start to formulate your opinions into projections. There is a verse in the Bible that says "iron sharpens iron." If that seems a bit to heady for an article on creating your own 2012 fantasy football projections, here is the point: Search the internet for differing opinions on players. In fact, if you think a particular player is a first-round fantasy bust, or maybe a breakout player – you should spend a good deal of time reading opinions about that player that differ from yours. One of two things will happen. You will either change your mind (or at least temper your opinion), which is not a bad thing. Or you will become greater in your original conviction about that player. In other words, you will have a stronger sense of why you love or hate a particular player.
Fantasy Football Rankings Tip #6: Do Projections for Every Draftable Player. Now that you've done your research and you've put hours of thought into it – it's time to commit your opinions to paper. Using a spreadsheet, do projections for every player that you think is draftable. As a rule of thumb, it should be about 250 players for a basic 12-team league. That includes team defenses, but not IDPs. Putting a basic scoring system to the player projections should give you player rankings for each position. Simple enough. If you want to turn those player rankings into a 2012 customized cheat sheet, I can show you how to do that as well.
Fantasy Football Rankings Tip #7: Gut Check – An Exercise in Thinking Outside the Box. As you look at your final projections and rankings, it might make you a little nervous to see some funny looking projections and rankings. Congratulations – you did them correctly. You have to think outside the box – you gottazig when everyone else zags – to be successful in fantasy football.
I hope you put these tips to good use this year in doing your 2012 fantasy football rankings. Please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org let me know how you made out. Good luck this year!
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Draft Sharks was founded in 1999 by a couple of writers who wanted great fantasy football content – and wanted to build a community of fantasy analysts who could think outside the box. Over the years, Draftsharks.com has won many expert leagues, magazine polls, and even a Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association award for one of its writers. To check out their 2011 fantasy football rankings and lots of fantasy advise, go to Draftsharks.com