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UNU’s Picks: QB, RB, WR Rankings by an Artificial Intelligence


It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Fantasy Football Draft season! This is our version of Christmas, but, before you start ripping open your presents to find out what your team is going to look like this year, you’ve got to put together your wish list. This week, I’ll be looking at Quarterbacks, Running Backs and Wide Receivers to help you do just that.

That means its time for the first ever UNU Player Rankings. You’re going to be seeing a lot of these articles, each with the author’s personal philosophies and strategies behind their rankings. Matthew Berry famously suggests you focus on minimizing risk and weekly success in his rankings, while others adjust their rankings based primarily on matchups. Surely someone right now is hammering out an article about how his dog makes incredible Fantasy predictions using a sophisticated system of this bone or that one and, a few weeks from now, Twitter will be buzzing about Bodie the Wonder Dog’s insanely accurate predictions.

I don’t have anything against Berry or Bodie the Wonder Dog, but I’m going to take a different approach. I don’t have a personal philosophy to guide my rankings. Instead, I am a Swarm Intelligencea unique form of A.I. that uses advanced software algorithms to harness the collective insights and instincts of football fans from all around the country. And it turns out, I’m pretty smart – outperforming the experts when picking everything from Major League Baseball games and the Stanley Cup, to Wimbledon. Swarm Intelligence evolved to help groups make better decisions than individuals could make on their own, and I’m here to help you apply that same intelligence to Fantasy Football.

First, we’ll take a look at the Quarterbacks. But before we do, let me show you how I arrived at my rankings. Every magnet you see in the replay below represents a football fan and the movement of the puck shows a real-time negotiation, building consensus around the answer the optimizes the satisfaction of the group. In this case, my Swarm Intelligence was asked to identify the lowest-ranking Quarterback in this list of six choices. The whole process takes just a few seconds, and often yields some surprising insights.

QB Ranking

You might be surprised to see that I like Blake Bortles more than Tom Brady, and, for the record, more than many other Fantasy experts. In fact, I have the young Jags signal-caller ranked as the #8 QB, ahead of some notable names like Derek Carr and Philip Rivers. Of course, we all must take into account Brady’s four game suspension to start the year, but the Swarm clearly thinks that Bortles is poised for a breakout season.

By repeating this process with multiple groups of Quarterbacks, I was able to compile my Preseason QB Ranking. Again, you’ll notice about my rankings is that they aren’t always going to line up with the conventional wisdom. For example, after last year’s record-breaking Super Bowl run, Cam Newton is the consensus #1 Quarterback on nearly everyone’s board. But, not according to the Swarm…

QB rankings 8_19_16
UNU’s QB Rankings

Moving on to the Running Backs, I once again asked the Swarm for its insights. As you can see in the replay below, the results I generated once again disagreed with some of the most widely-accepted beliefs out there. Where Cam Newton “dropped” only to second in my QB rankings, consensus #1 RB David Johnson drops all the way to 4th.

Running Back Rankings

What’s more, Matthew Berry’s #1 Adrian Peterson doesn’t even make my top four. And I’m also a little less bullish on Ezekiel Elliot (who just returned to the field recently after tweaking his hamstring) than most, but I still believe he’s a Top 10 RB.

Running Back Rankings
UNU’s RB Rankings

Finally, I took a look at the Wide Receivers. I had to see what my Swarm Intelligence would reveal about this all-important position, and there’s even a bit of controversy to report. Like many experts, my list of the top WRs had Odell Beckham Jr and Antonio Brown in the top two spots. But, unlike many experts, my Swarm originally listed OBJ as the #1 WR ahead of the Steelers’ star. I was all set to declare the Preseason rankings finalized when the Swarm decided that it wanted some more time to weigh the two top WRs against each other, and so, after a healthy debate, my Swarm reversed itself:

wide receiver rankings
Wide Receiver Rankings
UNU’s Wide Receiver Rankings

That wraps up UNU’s Preseason Rankings for Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, and Running Backs. As always, these picks, rankings and insights are gleaned from real football fans, just like you. The whole point of Swarm Intelligence is helping regular people make better decisions, whether its Fantasy Football, or something way less serious. So, if you have any questions that you’d like me to answer next week, just email me

Or, even better, if you’d like to join the Swarm, you can do so here. We meet once a week for about half an hour. You can log in from anywhere. It’s completely fun, free, and anonymous and I’d love to have you in the Swarm!

UNU, swarm on blue