The subject we get asked the most questions on at the Draft Doctors is, without a doubt, tiering. How do you tier players? How many players should be in a tier? I like a player to breakout, what tier should I put him in? And so on. And the reality is, it’s personal. We provide our ranks as a resource, but I’d hope it’s not something you simply print out and take to your draft. I’d hope you’d create your own ranks and use ours if there’s a player you’re not sure on or look to see where we’re miles apart and question why. Maybe you know you over-value (or under-value) players from your own team and look to ours (and others) ranks. Whatever the case, we put a stack of work into them, but hope you’re doing your own lists as well. And so it is with tiers.
RANGE OF OUTCOMES
Before you start tiering, you should start by accepting that players have a range of outcomes. Injury, role change, ceiling/floor, age are all factors. In fact a couple of months ago I wrote an article on range of outcomes, so definitely check it out, it’s on this website. And understanding that there are different things that can affect a players range of outcomes. The obvious one is injury. Take Tom Rockliff. Always missing games and playing hurt. But he also possesses an upside no-one else does. And some will rank for the upside, some (like myself) rank for the risk. So injury is easy to talk about. And some are completely unpredictable. If you’d have told me at the start of last year that James Sicily would be shifted to defence and turn into a fantasy stud, I’d have told you that you have no idea what you’re talking about. It was completely unpredictable. So when people are talking about ‘who’s going to get the Docherty role’, how about we accept it could be five people over the season. How about we question whether Carlton will change defensive structures? There are so many ranges of outcomes for players (some obviously have more than others), that trying to put the ‘upside’ candidates in with the ‘safer’ players is a balancing act and something that you should be considering for yourself. This is why Rory Laird is easy to rank as the number one DT defender. He has one of the smallest ranges of outcomes going. He might not finish as the number one fantasy defender, but the risk of him having a role change, injury, scoring drop-off is almost unforeseeable. You’re taking him because it’s really hard to see a way where he doesn’t finish as a top 4 defender.
HOW MANY IN A TIER?
A common question regarding tiering is ‘how many players should I put in a tier?’ I’ve had people ask if because they’re in a ten person league should it be ten? Should it be the same the whole way through your rankings? The answer is: as many as you want. You can have a tier of one, you can have a tier of 20, 30, it doesn’t matter. However, there are some things that work with tiering. One: the shorter your tier, the more you force yourself to draft from it. Because you’re always trying to get as many higher tiered players as possible, shortening the tiers will push you towards drafting from them before they run out. If you only have 2 defenders in your top tier and 4 forwards, you’ll obviously be drafting from the defenders as there’s a greater chance you’ll get a top-tiered forward in the next round. This is especially helpful in 3-4-1-3 leagues where positional advantage matters because you’re not rostering as many mids.
If you are in a league that rosters 7 (or more) mids on the field, you might consider having a tier 1A and 1B. Since the first 4 picks are almost always mids (unless there’s an outlier like Docherty), if you don’t have a top 4 pick you don’t even get access to them. You need depth at midfield and we know forwards run quite deep AND there’s always forwards and defenders come out of nowhere each year, that prioritising mids isn’t horrible. You mightn’t agree with this, but league size matters and midfielders matter the more you roster.
Another thing that happens through your ranks is that the tiers tend to get larger. Why? Because as expected scoring averages get lower, there’s more players capable of scoring them. Not many players have the potential to top their position by either total points or average. Hence, why the top tiers are generally smaller. Which is helpful in roster construction. If you’ve gone safe or risky early, you’ll like a larger tier where there are some players who have some upside and some who are safe, so whichever way you’ve gone early isn’t compromised by your tiers later. You got options.
So there’s a player you’re really hot on for a breakout. And you want to draft him as late as possible so you get him at the best value. Now, I’d recommend looking at his ADP on our Mock Draft website first, to get a gauge of where that player is being drafted. But that’s an average. All it takes is one player to snake you and you’ve missed out because you waited too long. The thing is, you have to be okay with missing out. If you wait too long, you haven’t been snaked, you’ve let your desire to extract value from the pick outweigh your desire to own the player. You’ve outsmarted yourself. The way I tier breakouts is to put them in a tier with players that I’m ok drafting in case someone goes earlier on the player than I would. That way I know if I miss out, I’ve still got a player I’m happy with, and I know the other person has assumed more risk than I was comfortable taking on. Not every breakout happens, as Callum Mills drafters from last year can attest.
RUCKS AND TIERS
We often talking about drafting a ruck late. But we know not everyone plays a ten or 12 team league. If you’re in a 16 team league, you’re going to want to draft a ruck earlier, same as if you’re in a 2 ruck league. The tiers shouldn’t change, just how you prioritise the position heading into the draft. And to be honest, we know not everyone wants to wait on rucks because the idea of having Zac Smith as their ruck gives them haemorrhoids.
I hope that helps. I’m writing an article on tiering whilst I’m supposed to be on holidays. Mrs Fizz is no doubt leaving me within the hour. Peace.