Week 3 - Visualized Tiers and Ranks

In case you missed it, Trent Richardson is now playing for the Colts.  "The Browns were like we got one good guy on our team, we should get rid of him." - Rosel22

To summarize my model, I've taken 94 expert rankings, plotted them in two-dimensional space of average range and absolute rank, and run a clustering algorithm on them.  The result is beautiful charts capturing 94 expert opinions that help you decide who to start.

Absolute rank is meaningful, but what you can't see from it is the true distance between two players. For example, Luck, Bradford, and Dalton are ranked QB15, QB16, and QB17 this week.  However, by this method, you can see in the chart below that Luck is actually in a higher tier, and that QB16 through QB20 are actually close to the same.

Between close players in the same tier, I recommend flipping a coin and going to bed, as experts who watch every game and analyze football for a living can't agree.  Or just go with your gut.

I hope to add a retrospective each week soon to see how my ranks and tiers hold up after the numbers are in.  Until then, here are my charts and comments for week 3.

The PPR charts are on this page.

As usual, I'll tweet any major updates as Sunday approaches if they come up.

Quarter Backs

Peyton takes the QB1 spot this week with the Bronco's juicy matchup against Oakland. All tier 1 QB's this week could be the top scorer.

Vick continues to stay highly ranked in tier 2 with the likes of Matt Ryan.

Out of the top 14 QB's, Luck has the worst matchup this week against the 49ers.  Brady is slipping, but QB's look like they should be mostly an easy choice again this week.

In deeper leagues, it looks like QB15-QB20, that is, Bradford, Dalton, Palmer, Rivers, Smith, and Schuab are all interchangable this week.

Tier 1: Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick
Tier 2: Michael Vick, Matt Ryan
Tier 3: Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson
Tier 4: Eli Manning, Andrew Luck
Tier 5: Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Alex Smith, Matt Schaub
Tier 6: Terrelle Pryor, Jay Cutler, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco
Tier 7: Josh Freeman, Ben Roethlisberger, Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel, Jake Locker
Tier 8: Brian Hoyer

Running Backs

A Trent Richardson/Indianapolis Colts bomb dropped yesterday, and you can see that in the variance of his rankings, though experts appear to have him and Murray tied for the RB11/RB12 slot.

Miller looks like he's borderline tier 4/5.  Keep tabs on Reggie Bush and Ray Rice, as both are still up for question this week as to whether or not they will play.

Tier 5 and 6 are extremely close this week.  Bell, Mathews, Mendenhald, D. Richardson look about equal in tier 5.  Similarly, Piece/Bernard and Bradshaw/Wilson/Starks.

Looks like most experts are staying cautious of Starks this week.  Bradshaw is an unadvised play with Richardson coming over.  Keep close tabs on these players into the weekend.

Tier 1: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin
Tier 2: Alfred Morris, Matt Forte, C.J. Spiller, Arian Foster
Tier 3: Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, Trent Richardson, DeMarco Murray
Tier 4: Darren McFadden, Stevan Ridley, Reggie Bush, Knowshon Moreno, Darren Sproles, DeAngelo Williams
Tier 5: Lamar Miller, Joique Bell, Ryan Mathews, Rashard Mendenhall, Daryl Richardson, Ray Rice
Tier 6: Bernard Pierce, Giovani Bernard, Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson, James Starks
Tier 7: Bilal Powell, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ben Tate, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Christopher Ivory, Fred Jackson

Wide Receivers

It's hard not to like any of the WR's in the top 3 tiers.  Anyone through Fitzgerald, WR15, is capable of top production this week.  The large drop off from Fitzgerald to Bowe that the algorithm identifies illustrates that.

The WR rankings this week are pretty tame through WR48 with a few exceptions.

Edelman's range is anywhere in tiers 4-5, but he averages out to around WR21-WR23 with Wallace and Steve Smith.  His high variance is attributed to the questionable return of Gronkowski.

Josh Gordon's first game back could not be more wild, with his QB Weeden out and now the Browns' run game non existent.  The experts and my algorithm place him in tier 8 which I think is appropriate.

Eddie Royal also drops into tier 8, which looks to be the boom-or-bust tier this week, from WR32 (Austin) to WR40 (Floyd).

Tier 1: Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall
Tier 2: Victor Cruz, DeSean Jackson, Randall Cobb, Vincent Jackson
Tier 3: Andre Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson, Wes Welker, Larry Fitzgerald
Tier 4: Dwayne Bowe, Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks
Tier 5: Anquan Boldin, Mike Wallace, Steve Smith, Julian Edelman, Torrey Smith
Tier 6: Eric Decker, Steve Johnson, James Jones, Antonio Brown, Ty Hilton
Tier 7: Miles Austin, Mike Williams
Tier 8: Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, Cecil Shorts, Chris Givens, Josh Gordon, Roddy White, Eddie Royal, Brian Hartline, Michael Floyd
Tier 9: Greg Jennings, Marlon Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Lance Moore, Andre Roberts, Kenbrell Thompkins, Golden Tate
Tier 10: Nate Burleson

Tight Ends

No real surprises this week at tight end through Bennett at TE12.  All of the top 12 TE's have put up some solid numbers in the first two games.

Gronkowski is the most interesting TE this week.  The Patriots have been looking desperate.  As of today, I wouldn't recommended starting him over anyone in tier 2, but follow him closely going into the weekend.

Fleener, Eifert, and Clay are new on this week's radar, but it looks like experts need to see more before they start grabbing higher ranks.

Tier 1: Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten
Tier 2: Tony Gonzalez, Julius Thomas, Vernon Davis, Jordan Cameron, Greg Olsen, Jared Cook
Tier 3: Jermichael Finley, Owen Daniels, Antonio Gates, Martellus Bennett, Rob Gronkowski
Tier 4: Brandon Myers, Kyle Rudolph
Tier 5: Coby Fleener, Tyler Eifert
Tier 6: Charles Clay, Brandon Pettigrew, Brent Celek, Kellen Winslow, Jermaine Gresham
Tier 7: Fred Davis, Garrett Graham, Scott Chandler, Delanie Walker, Dallas Clark, Jordan Reed, Zach Miller


Reggie Bush and Ray Rice are the two anomalies this week.  This is roughly where they would be if they are given a solid green light.

Flex continues to be extremely noisy within a tier, but the tiers remain solidly identifiable.  Hopefully your flex decision comes between two players in separate tiers.  If not, flip a coin and don't lose any more sleep.

Tier 1: Andre Johnson, Knowshon Moreno, Larry Fitzgerald, Wes Welker, DeAngelo Williams, Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller, Ray Rice
Tier 2: Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, Ryan Mathews, Rashard Mendenhall, Joique Bell, Anquan Boldin, Daryl Richardson
Tier 3: Mike Wallace, Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jason Witten, Julian Edelman, Bernard Pierce, Giovani Bernard, Eric Decker
Tier 4: Steve Johnson, Ahmad Bradshaw, James Jones, David Wilson, Antonio Brown, Tony Gonzalez, Ty Hilton, Miles Austin, Mike Williams, James Starks
Tier 5: Tavon Austin, Julius Thomas, Vernon Davis, Ben Tate, Bilal Powell, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, DeAndre Hopkins, Chris Givens, Cecil Shorts, Roddy White
Tier 6: Jordan Cameron, Brian Hartline, Michael Floyd, Christopher Ivory, Jared Cook, Greg Olsen


My kicker and DST advice remains the same: due to the high variance in both these positions, there is not need to drop and swap unless you are able to move up a tier.  Moving up a tier is also certainly worth trying to trade for, if you can sweet talk your way into swapping up kickers or defenses as part of a trade deal.

Tier 1: Matt Prater, Stephen Gostkowski
Tier 2: Matt Bryant, Phil Dawson, Garrett Hartley, Dan Bailey, Blair Walsh, Greg Zuerlein
Tier 3: Steven Hauschka, Alex Henery, Justin Tucker
Tier 4: Sebastian Janikowski, David Akers, Randy Bullock, Josh Brown
Tier 5: Caleb Sturgis, Robbie Gould, Mason Crosby
Tier 6: Jay Feely, Nick Novak, Ryan Succop, Mike Nugent, Rob Bironas, Adam Vinatieri, Kai Forbath


I wish everyone playing against the Seahawks defense this week good luck.  You will need it.

Tier 1: Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears
Tier 2: Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings
Tier 3: Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys
Tier 4: Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers
Tier 5: Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins

Don't forget to follow me on twitter for major updates.