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About the 2003 Player Rankings
 
Player Rankings Projected Stats  
QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DF | Top 120 QB | RB | WR | TE Cheat Sheet
= Rising   = Falling  |   = Good Upside   = Higher Risk  |  About the Rankings

It's time to change.

While we still offer projections, it is not enough to sort them on a fantasy scoring system and call it a ranking. The Huddle will not be doing that this season. Why? You deserve more and need more. To make the rankings page be as helpful as possible, it must be not only an ordered list but provide but insight and information that both explains the rankings and gives you something more to go on in making your own decision about the player. Towards that end, you will see the demographic information for each player - height, weight, age and years of NFL experience. For many players, these characteristics are relevant to their ranking and should be considered in your own assessment.

Also there are two other important indicators that may be present for each player:

Upside - This indicator signifies that the player has more "upside" than the average player and that should be considered in his evaluation. Upside comes from an improving career, a higher ceiling on his production or a more favorable situation. These make a player more valuable at least potentially. If choosing between two players, take the upside guy.

Risk - This indicator signifies that a player has more risk regarding his level of performance than the average player. Risk can come from a player changing teams, on a downward trend for production or being injury prone. These make a player less valuable or at least a bigger gamble less likely to perform as expected.

The auction value for the player is also listed considering a standard performance league of 12 teams using a standard roster of 18 players and 9 starters (QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, DEF and PK). There will be much more about auctions separate from the rankings as well.

To help inform why a player is ranked at given spot, each player will have information that explains how the player is viewed and what his outlook appears to be. During the summer, when a player moves in the rankings it will be accompanied by red text indicating why he moved and from where for easy reference. It is not enough to just shift players around, you deserve to know the reasoning.

The intent is to make the rankings informative and provide the reasoning behind it. All the write-ups for the players remain there in the rankings to give a sense of how they are related to other players and make it easy to review a position on one page. The last two significant changes to the rankings are these:

Why don't the rankings match the projections?

Because they shouldn't.

Projections are made for an entire season - either in total production or "points per game" which is a derivative. As such, projections are created making one set of assumptions for a player. They should always assume that a player plays a full 16 game schedule, is not injured and that performs in the most likely scenario. There are many problems inherent with this :

  1. Most quarterbacks, many runningbacks and several receivers do not play a full season due to injury. While projections can make an assumption that a player will miss "X" games a year, that itself devalues the projection. In many positions, a difference of two or three games could slide a player down 20 spots in the rankings. Guessing how many games a player might miss injured is placing an empirical value to a condition that cannot be reasonably forecasted. Either the projected numbers are doctored to get the player where he seems appropriate or the player misses the projection and resulting ranking by a large margin because he did not get injured in the manner forecasted.
  2. Projections do not indicate the upside of a player. Proper projections will have players arrayed so that they will most likely outperform those with lesser projected stats. Most third down backs, slot receivers and #4 receivers will normally outperform deeper players but if you are looking for a breakout player, you will not get that with the players mentioned. Winning in fantasy football is about having difference makers, not middle of the road players. Rankings should take into account upside whereas projections should not.
  3. Projections do not indicate the risk of a player. Some players are rock solid but others may turn in a 1000 yard season or a 100 yard season just as easily. They are in a situation where the outcome is less certain and in fantasy football, it is often better to skip the risky player - even if reasonably they will have a good year - and take a player that does not carry the same risk. If you live by projections, you must doctor the numbers yet again to give a subjective view translated into a hard number.
  4. Projections do not indicate the consistency of a player. Having the occasional monster game is great, but losing three out of four weeks because of the low weeks can kill your chances. Players should be considered more valuable if they are consistent and that cannot be captured in a projected season total.
  5. Projections quickly lose their value after the starting players are complete. For non-starters, projections force a hard number that describes one most likely scenario when the upside and risk are much bigger factors in their value as a fantasy draft selection. Either they project low or are artificially increased to raise their ranking spot while then devaluing the starter's numbers that were predicated on being the 16 game starter.

Given that projections describe only one most likely scenario and cannot adequately capture the overall upside, risk and consistency of a player, creating rankings straight from projections either is misleading or the projections are artificially adjusted to get a player to fall where his overall value should place him and that will satisfy only that particular scoring system. For this reason, the projections will be updated as appropriate but the better picture of a player value will be on the player rankings. And the two will not always match in all cases. Lastly...

What scoring system is considered in the rankings?

The scoring system considers mostly a standard performance scoring (yardage and touchdowns) but the exact point values are not important. Varying point awards for positions typically only change their value relative to other positions, not the players within the position. The only variation from this which has any common use are quarterbacks either having higher points for rushing or when all yardage is combined for a quarterback. Since the rankings considers higher rushing points (the majority of all leagues), the only change to the rankings for combined quarterback yardage leagues is that the pure passsers (Manning, Gannon, Warner, etc.) become more valuable but other than those three, there is little effect and regardless, a rushing quarterback is a more consistently scoring quarterback.

There will be articles this summer that examine this reality.

Thanks and may your best draft ever be only weeks or days away!