Using Our Draft Kit to Win Your Yahoo! Fantasy Football League

Yahoo leagues are a staple in fantasy football, and using our rankings can help identify guys to avoid and target in your draft.

Prior to every fantasy season, there are some players with a big sliding scale of expectations - guys who some see as top-20 talent, and some see as a non-factor. This becomes apparent when you scour through rankings during your research phase, and you might settle in on certain players at certain points in your mock drafts.

But when it comes down to draft day, you might not be able to wait for the players you like if your site's default rankings give away your hidden gems. While I can't prevent that from happening, I can try to help you add another advantageous element to your arsenal if you scope out those rankings, the list your league mates will likely be using during the draft, and find some inequalities in ranks.

And I'm not trying to criticize any site's outlooks on certain players, but when you see one site rank a player too high or too low, you should adjust accordingly to the market inefficiencies when you can, a crucial aspect of fantasy football.

In this article, I'll take a look at Yahoo's ranking in comparison with the ranks from numberFire's Fantasy Football DraftKit, which I set to Yahoo's default scoring system, in order to point out some ideological differences between their rankings and ours, highlighting some players we value significantly more or significantly less than what you'll be seeing on draft day in your player queue.

Fundamental Differences

1. Yahoo likes early wide receivers. Though the composition of Yahoo's top 36 and our top 36 is identical (19 running backs, 13 receivers, 3 quarterbacks, and 1 tight end), Yahoo pushes a heavier emphasis on receivers, placing them closer to the first round than our rankings do. I'll discuss this in more detail in the overvalued players section.

2. They seem to undervalue mid-round receivers. A few big-names can be had at a value in the middle of the draft, per our rankings, so don't be tempted to pick those early receivers that will be near the top of your draft list.

3. Yahoo likes tight ends more than we do. A few weeks ago, I discussed relative value of the tight end position in the form of our FireFactor ranking, and tight ends add very little value to fantasy squads - even when you can flex a tight end like in Yahoo leagues. Waiting on them in Yahoo drafts will give you a distinct advantage in your overall team composition.

4. We like running backs more than Yahoo does. This is a pretty common theme this year in all three rankings of the major sites, as many early running back picks last year led to turmoil. However, having elite running backs provides a major edge in your league, and finding running backs after the first few rounds is extremely difficult. Waiting on running back is very risky.

Overvalued Yahoo Players According to Our Projections

Okay, so you know some of the overall themes to look out for in your Yahoo league, but you'll still need to know which players to avoid in your draft - players with a Yahoo! draft-day cost that doesn't match up with our rankings.

Wide ReceiverYahoo RanknumberFire RankDifferential
Calvin Johnson611-5
Demaryius Thomas816-8
Dez Bryant923-14
Alshon Jeffery2131-10
Keenan Allen3149-18
Cordarrelle Patterson4478-34
Michael Floyd4868-20
Torrey Smith6180-19
T.Y. Hilton6382-19
Terrance Williams6897-29

Cases have been made for each of the top three guys to be the number one overall receiver this year, but our projections are more skeptical about their overall value relative to other positions (read: running backs).

I'm cautious about suggesting a huge repeat year from Alshon Jeffery if Jay Cutler plays the whole season. Additionally, Cordarrelle Patterson and T.Y. Hilton are two guys whose hype may be out of proportion.

Our rankings don't disagree with the receivers quite as much as the tight ends, though.

Tight EndYahoo RanknumberFire RankDifferential
Jimmy Graham735-28
Julius Thomas3672-36
Rob Gronkowski5087-37
Jordan Cameron5292-40
Vernon Davis5691-35
Greg Olsen78107-29

Once you get into round four and beyond, you'll be faced with a bit of a tight end frenzy. Don't get caught up in it: the middle-round tight ends are a trap. Picking them at that price is, for the most part, a waste of a draft choice. If they somehow slide three rounds or so, then you could find some value.

Just be wary about Bishop Sankey (Yahoo's 39th player and our 90th, a difference of 51 spots, which could change on our end as we get closer to the regular season), Terrance West (85th, 125th, -40), C.J. Spiller (29th, 54th, -25), Shane Vereen (53rd, 76th, -23), and Stevan Ridley (72nd, 94th, -22).

Undervalued Yahoo Players According to Our Projections

So with so many overvalued tight ends and receivers, you're going to be faced with the decision of investing early draft picks on a volatile position, running back, or with overspending for other positions. The problem is that there's really only one player you'd have to take early who we think would be a steal. Le'Veon Bell is ranked 20th overall on Yahoo's ranks, but 8th overall on our cheat sheet.

It's less drastic, but the algorithms also like two old favorites in Marshawn Lynch (12th, 5th, +7) and Arian Foster (13th, 7th, +6) roughly a half round better than Yahoo suggests.

The true value comes a few rounds later when Yahoo's default rankings will be suggesting some tight ends. Here are some guys with a significant differential between Yahoo's ranks and ours.

Running BackYahoo RanknumberFire RankDifferential
Doug Martin3213+19
Reggie Bush4627+19
Frank Gore5528+27
Chris Johnson6439+25
Trent Richardson6744+23
Ray Rice8365+18
Fred Jackson9750+47
DeAngelo Williams11353+60
Knowshon Moreno14545+100

These guys aren't, for the most part, traditional upside plays, but most sites are eager to quell the potential of veteran running backs. Yahoo is no exception. These aren't going to earn you any "oohs" or "aahs" during your fantasy draft (in fact, they'll probably result in the opposite), but these nine running backs are projected to be top-30 fantasy backs this year and can be had for significant discounts during your Yahoo draft. Also, watch out for Joique Bell. Yahoo seems no difference between Bell (47th overall) and Bush (46th), but we rank Bush 27th and Bell 64th.

Now, having rushers who are just 20th or 30th among the position (fringe RB2 players and flex options) doesn't provide much help, but these guys have historic fantasy track records and are too reliable to neglect entirely at such steep discounts.

If aiming for some of those veteran running backs isn't quite your thing, you'll probably try to solve the running back puzzle early in your draft, leaving you thin at wide receiver to start the draft. Thankfully, Yahoo seems to be undervaluing - versus our projections, of course - some capable wide receivers in the middle of the draft. Here are five guys you can get for a discount, according to our metrics, if your league mates adhere to Yahoo's ranks.

Undervalued WRYahoo RanknumberFire RankDifferential
Michael Crabtree4933+16
DeSean Jackson5140+11
Marques Colston7059+11
Kendal Wright7358+15
Julian Edelman7548+27
Eric Decker8473+11
Reggie Wayne8666+20

Our algorithms are pretty confident in a big year from Michael Crabtree. He'll have some competition, but he's always had a good connection with Colin Kaepernick.

You can find four top-28 receivers in the middle of your draft and avoid overspending early to fulfill your wide receiver slots.

By the way, if you're wondering about quarterbacks, there aren't any significant inequalities between our ranks and Yahoo's, so just be sure to wait on them like always.

This, of course, isn't to say that our projections will be 100% more accurate than what's above. But it's never a bad thing to know the market that your host league is setting. Exploiting that can help you dominate your draft and start your fantasy season off as the championship favorite.