Prepping for a fantasy football draft can be a time consuming, confusing process. Spending hours reading though magazines, online articles, and listening to podcasts can leave you sifting through a mishmash of conflicting and often useless information.
It’s difficult figuring out who to trust and which stats are noise and which aren’t. You’ve probably come across players who are considered a ‘Breakout’ pick in one article, only to see them labeled as a ‘bust’ in another.
The reason for this is simple: There are too many available statistics to choose from and many of the ones that are used by fantasy football analysts, contain little, if any, predictive value. In fact, even the statistics that do offer predictive value can be harmful when viewed in isolation. When citing individual statistics – as fantasy football analysts often do – they can make the case for anyone. If you’re tired of the groupthink and industry consensus, of seeing the same rankings over and over again, maybe it’s time for a data driven approach.
Fortunately, the solution to this problem is also simple: the creation of first-rate fantasy football rankings, based on projections. Good projections consider millions of data points. They then determine which data points are most predictive and aggregate them into a single overarching number for each player, finally culminating in a ranking system that takes relativity into account.
When it comes to projecting fantasy football players, no one is better or more qualified than Alex Baker, the No. 1-ranked daily fantasy sports player in the world.
He has used his fantasy football projections to profit millions on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. This year, for the first time, Alex is offering FREE season-long fantasy football projections through Awesemo.com. What’s the catch? There is none. We hope you come back over the course of the season and help us build the most engaged and vibrant community of sports fans around.
Alex also provides fantasy football rankings and groups players by tiers for each position (based on projections) and provides overall rankings based on value over replacement in the ALL PLAYERS tab, which can serve as a cheat sheet for your fantasy football drafts. Projections, ranks and tiers will all dynamically adjust to your scoring settings as you update them.
For our fantasy football rankings and projections, the world’s #1 DFS player, Alex Baker put his daily fantasy model to use, in order to calculate game-by-game projections for the entire NFL season, for every fantasy-relevant player. He used over/unders, win totals, spreads and metrics like targets, routes run, yards per attempt and many more, to come up with one simple, easy to use number for your fantasy football drafts. After that, Awesemo factored in positional scarcity and relative value to reach a final, easy to use set of rankings and tiers.
Great question. Unlike a lot of other sites out there that rely on the opinions of analysts, ours rely directly on data. Alex Baker takes his NFL DFS model and uses it as a basis to calculate projections for every player, every game to begin the process of creating his fantasy football rankings. Awesemo then goes through the player props, over/unders and game lines to allow the hyper-efficient Vegas betting markets to determine a baseline expected production number for each player in his fantasy football rankings. Then he gets to work tinkering. For situations that don’t have a lot of change, he plugs in numbers from last year like usage, pace, production and snap counts. He then makes manual adjustments to his fantasy football rankings based on changing situations — Carson Wentz replacing Phillip Rivers, for example. Throughout the process, he uses key stats like YPA, targets, routes run, usage and much more.
Awesemo adjusts his rankings based on positional scarcity. So though a running back may have a lower projection than a comparable wide receiver, that running back is more valuable by comparison because there are more viable wide receivers at the position.
But its not all Awesemo — we have an entire team of data scientists and fantasy football experts going over the relevant information, in order to come to a consensus and make sure nothing is missed. Top NFL DFS players like Steve Buzzard, Shawn Zhan, Matt Gajewski and more, have all contributed their thoughts.
What’s on Our 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings Page?
Our fantasy football rankings page includes player names, teams, bye weeks and average draft position (ADP). Just because a player is ranked highly in Awesemo’s fantasy football rankings, doesn’t mean you should select them at that position. ADP is an important factor in gaining expected value. If Player X is ranked 15th in Awesemo’s fantasy football rankings, but is being drafted at an ADP of 35th, you know with great certainty that you’ll be able to take that player a round or two later, so there’s no reason to reach.
First and foremost, as mentioned above, knowing the difference between projection and ADP is crucial. If you’re picking in the second round at 18th overall and you see Clyde Edwards-Helaire ranked 11th overall in our fantasy football rankings, but his ADP is 25th, you know there is a solid chance he will be there when the draft comes back your way. So why not hold off for a round. Take someone like Stefon Diggs or Calvin Ridely, who you know won’t be there when the draft snakes back. This is one of the keys to winning your draft — don’t reach for highly projected players if you know you can get them later than your draft slot.
As well, in addition to our fantasy football rankings, you can use our Draft Wingman tool to make sure that you’re not over-drafting at certain positions. The tool projects the totals of your entire team on a weekly basis, based on who you are selecting. Draft Patrick Mahomes and his projection will be added to your team, decide to draft Lamar Jackson right after and you’ll see that your fantasy team’s QB projection barely moves up at all – because you can’t start two QBs (non SuperFlex), only one will count towards your total each week. As such, the draft wingman would tell you that selecting both in rounds two and three is an unwise move. Of course, this applies to other positions as you get deeper and deeper in the draft. If you take Ezekiel Elliott and Aaron Jones in Rounds 1 and 2, other RB picks throughout the draft will not be as valuable to your team as other positions of need.
Awesemo has Patrick Mahomes as his top option at QB in his fantasy football rankings, ahead of Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. Mahomes finished last season as the fourth-highest fantasy scorer, but No. 1 in points per game. And unlike most seasons where it’s a good idea to wait at QB, Awesemo recommends drafting him earlier than most. If you can grab him in the late second, or early third round, go for it.
Well the list, like most, starts with Christian McCaffrey at the top, followed by a slew of running backs before we delve into other positions. McCaffrey is coming off an absolutely insane season two years ago, as the second-highest scoring player in the history of fantasy football, before sitting out most of the 2020 season. Even with the QB change in Carolina, McCaffrey still maintains the No. 1 spot in Awesemo’s fantasy football rankings, followed closely by Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry. He is lower on Saquon Barkley than most.
At wide receiver, it’s none other than Bills WR Stefon Diggs taking the top spot in our fantasy football rankings. Diggs was the third leading scorer in fantasy among WRs last year. With uncertainty surrounding Aaron Rodgers returning to the Green Bay Packers, Davante Adams as been lowered in the rankings, though he would be No. 1 if Rodgers returns.
Rounding things out, Travis Kelce takes home the top spot in the TE rankings. Awesemo ranks him as a mid-first-round pick this season — a full two rounds ahead of any other TEs on the board in his fantasy football rankings.
Want more Fantasy Football picks, strategy, and draft advice? Check out our Fantasy Football Printable Cheatsheets, our best fantasy sleeper picks, and our Fantasy Football Player Profiles
Alex Baker has been playing daily fantasy professionally since 2015 under the handle Awesemo. Working his way up from the smallest stakes, he has been the #1 overall ranked player in DFS since 2017 on the strength of his predictive models for sports. As the competition has gotten more sophisticated, Alex has used game theory to build a winning strategy combining his fantasy and ownership projections. To this day, he still participates in almost every DFS tournament available.