Every year I check out who the “experts” think will do well in the world of fantasy football. You can find rankings in a number of locations. Some of the ones I look at are ESPN.com, NFL.com, and Yahoo.com. CBS, CNNSI, and many other sites also have good rankings to check out. This year though I have realized that the only thing I can be sure of is that a bunch of people are going to be totally wrong. This is because the rankings are so lopsided! Let’s look at a few examples.
Santonio Holmes is now the clear-cut #1 for the Jets and certainly has a lot of talent. NFL.com has him ranked as the 14th best WR. Yahoo on the other hand has him all the way down at 22! The overall rankings have him at 39 on NFL.com and 19 spots lower at 58 on Yahoo! What about another great WR: Mike Williams from Tampa Bay. Well, Yahoo has him ranked as the 34th overall player to be taken (the 12th WR) while NFL.com has him as the 59th overall player to be taken (23rd WR)!! The same situation is seen in running backs. Shonne Greene is viewed as the 11th best RB on Yahoo but the 19th best on NFL. These extremes are seen over and over again. They are less noticeable at the QB, TE, K and Def positions of course because there are limited numbers at each position. One differing opinion at QB to take note is on Kevin Kolb. While NFL has him as the 18th best QB available, Yahoo has him at 13.
So what is a fan to do? Well, I have never been one to trust the rankings TOO much to begin with. There has to be research done on stats (hey, I AM the Number Cruncher after all), schedules, and so much more. Take for example Joe Flacco. Last year Flacco passed for 3622 yards, 25TDs and 10 ints. He ranked 7th in the NFL in QB ranking and didn’t miss a single game all season. He is ranked 13th on NFL and 16th on Yahoo. Someone could take those rankings and assume then that Flacco should be around the 14th QB selected. But what if we look at things a little closer? Last season Flacco played against 6 teams in the top 8 pass defenses in the league, 6 teams ranking between 9 and 18 and 4 teams rankings from 19-32. This season the schedule has him going up against only 2 teams in the top 8, 7 teams from 9-18 and 7 teams from 19-32! So he is pretty much taking 4 games against top 8 pass defenses and instead getting to play those games against pass defenses ranked from 19-32. But do the “experts” look at this? What about the fact that Flacco has increased his QB rating from 80.3 to 88.9 to 93.6 in his 3 years in the league? What about the fact he has increased his passing TDs from 14 to 21 to 25 over his first 3 years in the league?
Am I telling you to draft Flacco as a superstar QB? Certainly not! But I would gladly take him over the likes of Stafford, Kolb, Cutler, and Eli Manning; all of whom Yahoo has ranked ABOVE Flacco! I may even be willing to take him over Freeman and Big Ben. So as you prepare for your drafts, focus less on rankings from sites and more on fact-based decision making. Check out those match-ups. Look at a player’s growth. Check out the rest of the team and how that will affect a certain player. Do that, and you will be laughing at the “experts” by the end of the season.