In previous years, I’d always list all the players by rank. I would end up with a list of 150-200+ players. While in theory this works well, I always feel that it is much better to be flexible in a draft. Plus, it makes for a much more difficult list to set up. I’m not sure why I never used a tier system for my drafting before; but now that I have I can definitely say that for myself it worked a lot better than any of my previous strategies.
While grouping players in tiers isn’t an original idea on my part, this is my advice on how to setup and use that type of draft strategy.
For setting up a draft system, it really doesn’t get a whole lot simpler than this. The first step is ranking the top players in a position. How long your list is will depend on how big your league is. For a 10 team league with starting 3 receivers you would want to have 50 guys in your rankings. Whereas you would only need around 20-25 quarterbacks ranked for that league size.
I’m going to do demonstrate how I get this set up with quarterbacks, as they are probably the easiest position to work with. Here are my top 24 quarterbacks for normal league rules.
Side note: please don’t argue about who is ranked where, that really is irrelevant. I’m just trying to show how I set up my system.
For making my list, I found it very helpful to just google up around 5-6 different rankings just to get a look at what other people how saying about any particular position. In the end, you’re usually best off if you don’t just grab someone else’s list verbatim. It can work, but if you make your own list you are going to know it a lot better.
For the tier system you want to put players who you project to score a similar amount of points into the same group. What you want to end up with is groups of players who you would consider to be of equal (or very similar) value. Here is how I would put these quarterbacks into tiers.
Rodgers (yes, I am biased against him)
I separated the players where I saw their value drop off. Between Rodgers and Rothlisberger, Schaub and Kolb, Cutler and Orton are where I saw the biggest gaps in value and that is what I used to make the separation for the groups.
This should give a general sense of how you would set up your draft board. Now your tiers don’t have to be equal in size, it just kind of worked out for me like that. I really suggest setting your stuff up in excel, it is a lot easier to organize lists in there than it is on a word type program. You should be able to get your entire draft board onto one or two pages.
Once you have it all set up, using it is fairly easy. My advice for this can be summed up in five words.
Be flexible. Go for value.
One of the best advantages of using a tier system is that it allows you to be flexible in your drafting. It requires paying a lot of attention to the draft, but it is completely worth it.
If you are using a combined list it’s often hard to draft for proper value. Consider the following scenario.
You need a runningback and a receiver; there are 8 runningbacks in your highest runningback tier whereas there is one receiver left in your highest receiver tier. You would consider the runningback to be a better player than the receiver.
If you were using a combined, list you would take the runningback. However, though taking the top player in a tier can be good, it’s usually not the best strategy to use. Taking the receiver now, then waiting and grabbing a different runningback from the same tier would be the best move in that situation.
Generally, with a tier system you want to avoid picking someone at the top of the group, as you usually (but not always) will be able to get another player from that group with your next pick. Obviously if you are on the far ends of a snaking draft you will sometimes have to take a pick that isn’t a perfect value as you will be waiting 20+ picks in between turns.
Using a tier system puts you in a position to get the most value out of your draft picks. I’d definitely recommend doing this instead of using a list combining all positions.