The last mock draft I participated in and co-ordinated by FF Toolbox finished up in early June, and after a little downtime they kicked off another last week. I know I get repetitive about the, “never get an early draft pick” schtick, but I was randomly assigned the 9th pick in the earlier mock draft. In this one… 9th. Fortunately, it is a mock draft so I was able to swap entire draft picks with someone for a little variety, and moved all the way up to the 2nd overall spot, a sweet spot to be sure.
I was all set to jump right into my full mock draft pick-by-pick commentary. (My picks, not all the picks. Let’s not get too crazy.) This rare fortune of drafting right at the top of the draft though gives me an opportunity to discuss two things. The first is the difference between player projections and player rankings. The second is, the annual big debate, just who is the #1 pick/RB in fantasy football this year? Plus as an added bonus get some insight about how I utilize the Cheatsheet Compiler and Draft Buddy.
Projections vs. Rankings
The Cheatsheet Compiler kicks out Jones-Drew as the top choice based on this scoring, with Peterson actually falling to 4th behind Matt Forte and LaDainian Tomlinson, due mostly to the reception points. FF Today’s Mike Krueger has Peterson projected for 19 receptions, while Forte is projected for 67 receptions, and LT, 50. That is a 31 to 48 point swing, and the beauty of the Cheatsheet Compiler is it customizes your cheatsheets based on the projections and scoring so you can see just how much players move based on differences in the rules from league to league.
I’m sure you’re asking the question though, why are Peterson and Jones-Drew my top 2 picks, when the Compiler created cheatsheets showing, in order, Jones-Drew, Forte, Tomlinson and Peterson? That is the difference between projections versus rankings. The Compiler has Jones-Drew projected 1st and Forte projected 2nd. I have Peterson ranked 1st and Jones-Drew ranked 2nd.
Projections can only account for so much on their own. The projections are created under a single, most probable (as the prognosticator sees it) set of circumstances playing out for the upcoming regular season. Many players are less predictable than others, whether they be rookies, sophmores, players on new teams, playing under new coaches or with a different QB, coming back from serious injury, etc., etc.
The variable is risk. There is upside risk and downside risk. Either way, the greater the risk, the less certain we are about the projections, the greater potential for error, plus or minus, and the more we may want to rank a player differently than his pure projection tells us to.
I truly believe Mike Krueger is an expert fantasy football prognosticator. I’m not trying to stroke his ego, but I can honestly say his numbers have worked wonders for me year after year, keeping me grounded from grabbing overhyped duds, and highlighting potential sleepers. I don’t do my own projections, or add other projections to the Compiler, and I don’t edit Mike K.’s projections, instead using them straight out of the box.
However, that doesn’t mean I don’t adjust the rankings more to my liking, which is something people should understand to truly get the most value from using the Compiler and Draft Buddy tools. They are what I call, “thinking person’s” tools, not, “hold your hand” tools. One way you should interpret that is, if you feel strongly about ranking a certain player above another, even if the Compiler is telling you differently, then do what you think is right. It may work, or it may not, but you’ll get a lot more satisfaction playing the game this way.
Heck, Mike Krueger differentiates projections versus rankings himself, meaning he adjusts his very own projections that he has spent countless hours on to a more refined rankings cheatsheet. For years we’ve posted separate projections and rankings on FF Today. Clearly, the rankings are developed from the projections, but there are additional subjective risk and upside adjustments bridging the two datasets.
Keep in mind the projections are opinions. Good, experienced and well thought out opinions, but still, opinions that are going to have a margin of error. Often fantasy footballers can get bent out of shape with rankings lamenting, “how can Player ABC possibly be ranked ahead of Player XYZ?” Hey, check the numbers. If there is just a 16 fantasy point difference between them, that is less than a point a game. Big difference? No, not really. And something that could possibly happen? Absolutely. This is fantasy football we’re talking about, where seemingly almost anything is possible.
So keep the terminology in check when you’re chatting fantasy football with someone. You may have a player projected at a certain level, but at what point are you comfortable ranking that player? I let Mike K. and Tony on the IDP side, plus the Compiler, do the heavy lifting crunching the numbers to produce cheatsheets based on the projections, and then setup Draft Buddy to re-rank some key players I’m more or less interested in than the projections show. It’s a good system, and one I highly recommend.
In my next post I’ll discuss #1 pick in fantasy football this year.