Many fantasy owners focus a bit too literally on expert rankings. Our rankings can definitely be used for “start or sit” decisions, especially as a tie breaker between two similar players. If we rank two players very closely together, however, we are not necessarily intending to make a bold call such as “Player A is a much better option than Player B this week.” We are making that call, though, if we project and rank the players quite far from each other. This is why we prefer to look at “tiers” – any two players within a tier are essentially coin tosses. However, the rank within the tiers is meaningful. Only if two players are ranked in different tiers, are you definitively better off (in theory) taking the higher ranked player.
Here are our Week 15 Tiered Rankings (standard scoring)
Robert Griffin III
This is another tricky week for QBs. People are surely going to be overthinking things just because the stakes are much higher now in the fantasy football playoffs. Instead of beating a dead horse by pointing out that Tom Brady has a brutal matchup I’d like to point out how to break down these decisions. It’s important to understand the different layers of a player’s expectations and how each player differs in that regard. Each player has their own unique “ceiling” and “floor” – not to mention their “average” projection can be farther off of their “median” projection. To put this simply – I base my rankings strictly off of my projections. By doing this I am essentially saying for Aaron Rodgers this week his projection is 18.4 standard fantasy points since if this week were to play out in full 1,000 times that his average fantasy score would be roughly 18.4 points. This certainly doesn’t mean that I expect him to get exactly 18.4 and anything he gets above or below that my projection can be classified as “bad”. We must embrace the randomness and volatility in this world and especially when it comes to fantasy football.
Having said that, looking at Tyrod Taylor’s projection of 17.3 points this week, he comes in higher ranked over Tom Brady at 16.4. So I’m saying to start Tyrod over Tom Brady, right? It’s not quite that simple actually. A lot of Tyrod’s production comes from his legs whereas Brady’s comes from his passing stats. Rushing stats are much more volatile week to week but also hold a lot of value in fantasy football scoring. Because of this, Tyrod stands to have much more inconsistent results which makes his potential for a real high scoring week (his ceiling) and a low scoring “dud” of a week (his floor) a greater gap then someone as consistent as Tom Brady. When it comes to making a sit/start decision in a tradition h2h season long fantasy format, you are more concerned about taking the player who has a higher floor – especially at the QB position. Since this is most likely a must-win week, don’t plan on pulling your hair our deciding to play Tyrod over Brady or Joe Flacco over Big Ben. In these tight decisions let’s just put the QB we drafted earlier in our drafts (for a reason) lead us to victory this week. Just keep in mind that their matchups aren’t ideal so we need to temper expectations some.
This week I feel like it’s a bit more beneficial if I spend use this space to help point out strategy at the position this week as opposed to cut and dry black/white decision making. The guy I’m highlighting at RB this week is Kenneth Farrow. We have already received the news that Melvin Gordon is set to miss this week. Kenneth Farrow is next up on the depth chart and while most people don’t have a clue who the UDFA out of Houston is – he is someone I am going to plug in this week in my fantasy football playoff team(s) in need. Most people can’t stomach the fact that they might have to play an undrafted RB with 36 career carries and 0 TDs. Let me help you feel a bit more relaxed about having to pull the trigger this week.
Some of the all-time fantasy football legends were undrafted: Arian Foster, Priest Holmes, Kurt Warner, Wes Welker…to name a few. Don’t let his draft status deter you. Go check out some of his YouTube highlights to see how he destroyed at the college level. To be fair, about 80-90% of the clips are just brutal college defense and weak attempts at tackling. Nonetheless, he has the physical ability to do some damage with the 15-20 touches he is likely getting this week. Unless you have DJ, Le’Veon, and Zeke as your RBs you can’t expect 100+ yards and multiple TDs each week. We are just begging for a 60-70 total yards with MAYBE a TD sprinkled in for Farrow this week and you should be in a better position to win. Yes, Ronnie Hillman could steal some passing down work. Yes, Rivers may just end up throwing it 60 times. I’ve seen all the reasons people are shying away from Farrow – and rightfully so. I just think that with their 5-8 “lost” season, they may be more inclined to audition Farrow to see if he can be a part of their RB plans for next year. If anything, give him some in-game experience to get better at pass protection as opposed to getting a look at journeyman Ronnie Hillman some work when we already have plenty of film on him to know what he can and cannot do. I am starting Farrow with confidence this week but not holding him to the lofty expectations I expect from someone like Le’Veon Bell.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Steve Smith Sr.
Terrelle Pryor Sr.
Ted Ginn Jr.
Marvin Jones Jr.
The WR strategy I’m highlighting this week is how to handle Julio Jones. It is very important to stay up-to-speed on his status if you own him in season long. There is absolutely no reason to be making your decision set in stone this early in the week though. The nature of his injury is likely going to make him a true game-time decision again this week. This means that even Julio himself probably doesn’t know if he will be able to play or how effective he will be. It’s a highly risky situation even if he is active, but we all know he is good enough to take on that risk. Due to some cruel scheduling by the NFL for this game -they play in the afternoon games despite being a home team in the eastern time zone. This means you shouldn’t be making sit/start plans 3 days in advance – you need to be making back up plans. So all this means is that you need to add or save a WR that plays in the afternoon games or later in the event you won’t be using Julio. A player like Taylor Gabriel is ideal for this since he stands to gain the most if Julio is ruled out or is expected to be severely limited.
Antonio Gates is 2 TD shy of tying Tony Gonzalez for most TDs by a tight end. I feel like Rivers may start forcing him the ball in the red zone as soon as this week. Hunter Henry’s run of 2 catches 15 yards & a TD may come to an end this week if my theory is correct.
Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs
New England Patriots
New York Giants
New York Jets
New Orleans Saints
Los Angeles Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers