Tier Draft Strategy
The tier draft strategy is a fairly simple method that can be very effective.
First, create a list of players for each position. Then rank the players from best to worst at each position.You should factor in your league's unique scoring system. For example, a RB who gets a lot of catches out of the backfield will rank higher in a point per reception league than in one that does not reward for receptions.
You can use Fantasy Strategy's cheatsheets to help you do that. The free version is available just by signing up here on the site. The free version ranks players based on last year's production. If you want to fine tune it even more, subscribe to the premium version and get custom cheatsheets based on current year projected production as well as other helpful info to help you with your draft.
After ranking the players it's time to separate them into tiers. This gets a little tricky. You want to group players into groups or tiers based on expected similar output. It's hard, but try to be objective. For example, don't downgrade or throw out the Dallas RB just because you are an Eagles homer. Also, don't give a player a higher weight just because he plays for your favorite team.
The top tier should be reserved for elite superstars. You probably will have one to three players at each position rated as elite.
The 2nd tier is a list of all of the players at that position that you would be happy with as the #1 for that position on your fantasy team. While you might have preferences for certain players in this group, these are players that should perform well with minimal risk.
The 3rd tier is a list of all of the players at the particular position that you would accept as the #2 for that position on your fantasy team. This group is going to be a little more diverse. It might include stable veterans with little upside, but low risk as well as youngsters with more upside, but less proven ability. A lot of judgment is required when putting this tier together. Again, the natural grouping should produce a list of players that you would be fairly happy with if they ended up being your #2 at that position.
Continue tiering the remainder of the draft board into natural groups of players based on similar projected output. The natural groupings will dictate the number of tiers that you form.
Each of the tiers can be color coded or otherwise noted for ease in reading the list during your draft.
Now that you have your tiering completed, you're ready to draft. Well, almost ready. How do you use this tiered list?
An over-riding principle to remember when drafting is that running backs are scarce relative to other positions. Most fantasy leagues start a higher percentage of NFL starting RB's than they do other positions. This makes them much scarcer. Due to the scarcity, most leagues will take a big run on RB's in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the draft.
Your goal, using the tiered approach, is to end up with a true #1 at each position.The players remaining on your draft board and your assessment of the players who will still be available the next time you draft will dictate who you take when it's your turn.
Let's use an example. If you were drafting 10th in a 12-team league there would be 4 picks between your selection in the 1st round and your second round selection. If there were 5 RB's in your tier of #1 RB's remaining and an elite QB or WR were available you might take one of the elite players knowing that you could still land a #1 RB with your 2nd pick.
If however, there were only 3 #1 RB's remaining you would need to assess what you think the 4 picks after yours might be to determine whether to use that strategy or instead take a RB.
Drafting toward the beginning or end of rounds can be difficult because of the number of selections that will be made between your picks. In the example above, it's fairly easy to project what's going to happen between the 10th pick in the first round and the 15th pick in the second round. However, projecting what is going to happen between the 15th pick in the second round and your next pick - the 33rd pick in the third round is another matter.
Every draft will unfold differently. This is what makes a fantasy draft challenging as well as great fun.
Tiering can help you determine when you should take players at different positions to draft a balanced roster with strong players at each position. We hope you will use the resources available here at Fantasy Strategies and that your draft will be a great success. Good Luck!