Fantasy Football: ESPN, Yahoo Differences

EARTH CITY MO - JULY 31: Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams looks on during training camp at the Russell Athletic Training Facility on July 31 2010 in Earth City Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

I once noticed early this baseball season that Clay Buchholz was owned in 100 percent of ESPN leagues, but in less than half on Yahoo!. I thought this was pretty interesting—that’s a large discrepancy.

The experts on each of these sites—and the rankings that they create—have a profound impact on how leagues are drafted. So sometimes its interesting to see where sites disagree, and then how you might be able to take advantage of that fact if your league-mates are sticking to the status quo.

Here are a few players who have a large difference in where they are being drafted on the two platforms.

Steven Jackson, RB (ESPN ADP: 7.1, Yahoo ADP: 11.7)

It’s not a huge difference—only four and a half spots—but that’s large for the first round. I definitely think ESPN users are right on this one, there is no reason Jackson should be that low. Sure, the Rams stink, but they have before and he’s produced before. 11.7 puts in him in Rashard Mendenhall category and Jackson is way safer than Mendenhall.

Ryan Mathews, RB (ESPN: 28.1, Yahoo: 16.4)

Split the difference on this one. The rookie running back idea shouldn’t scare people all the way to 28. He’s the guy in San Diego. And I think if you like him, there’s nothing with wrong with grabbing him in at 16.

Hakeem Nicks, WR (ESPN: 74.9, Yahoo: 52.8)

I think Yahoo is correct here. I’m not an expert in football sabermetics, but from everything I read Nicks was one of the most efficient receivers last year in the NFL. Sure he’s not the No. 1 receiver on the Giants or your fantasy team, but you don’t have to draft him like one at 53 or so.

Jay Cutler, QB (ESPN: 84.3, Yahoo: 65.1)

Is Yahoo crazy here? Anyone who drafts Cutler in front of Favre is. Look, I’m going to spoil the surprise right now—Favre is coming back. I agree Cutler could be better under Mike Martz, but let’s not forget the man is an interception machine.

Knowshon Moreno (ESPN: 28.1, Yahoo: 64.8)

This is pretty staggering. And it’s not like all these drafts happened between two days ago and now when he got hurt. And he’s only missing three weeks. That being said, I’ve been concerned about Moreno’s situation just because I feel like there is a lot of unknowns in Denver. So while I might wait a little longer than 28, I don’t think I would let him fall past the 30s. 65 is pretty low on a team’s leading running back.

As a whole, there does seem to be a large difference between Yahoo and ESPN for a whole group of running backs like Moreno. LeSean McCoy has a similar spread. As does Jonathan Stewart. And Beanie Wells to a lesser degree. Likewise with Ronnie Brown and Joseph Addai.

It seems that Yahoo essentially rates what I would call the second tier of wide receivers—Michael Crabtree, Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith (NYG), Mike Sims-Walker—ahead of the running backs above.

Part of this undoubtedly because Yahoo uses a third wide receiver spot instead of a flex spot that ESPN uses. But it also might indicate that the Yahoo experts are showing how tenuous the running back situation is in many cities. What has to happen for Moreno to lose his job? What about McCoy? Will Hightower steal carries from Wells? Brown from Addai? There’s a lot of uncertainty out there.

I don’t agree with how low they have ranked many of the running backs. But I do think it’s worth noting the degree of security (or lack thereof) that your running backs are providing you with—and that drafting backups in later rounds will help mitigate that risk. 

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