Using Our Draft Kit to Win Your ESPN Fantasy Football League

Do you play fantasy football on ESPN? If so, find out how to win your league by using our customizable draft kit.

We've already seen how to win your Yahoo! fantasy football league by implementing the customized rankings from our fantasy football cheat sheet, and now it's time to see what advantages we can find in your ESPN leagues.

The process is pretty simple. I customize our cheat sheet rankings to the default settings for an ESPN league, enter a draft on ESPN so that I can see what ranking you'll be drafting from (they'll change of course throughout draft season but probably not drastically), find players who are underpriced or overpriced, and also provide you with some fundamental differences between how our rankings say you should attack a league with those given settings compared to what the default draft app gives you.

In other words, your buddy who doesn't even know who Latavius Murray is might get him in the second or third round just because ESPN's ranks have him there (they don't, but they should).

Let's figure out how to get the most from your ESPN draft.

Fundamental Differences

1. ESPN's default settings allow you to flex a tight end. Notice that I didn't say, "You can flex a tight end." Because you shouldn't. And that comes straight from our FireFactor lessons, which show us that the tight end is the least valuable of the four main positions. If there are no points for receptions, it's even more clear-cut.

2. Conversely, you can also flex a running back or a wide receiver. This creates a greater demand for running backs, as each team can roster three per week (as opposed to two on Yahoo's default settings). There aren't many undervalued backs, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware of the different roster demand for running backs.

3. ESPN offers a ton of wide receivers -- mainly young ones -- much higher than we would suggest, given the scoring format. Remember, the default settings don't offer you points for receptions, and that devalues receivers, according to our FireFactor system.

4. ESPN offers 4 points for a passing touchdown but -2 points for an interception. Generally, the penalty in a 4-point touchdown league is -1 for an interception, but would this penalize gunslingers and place a higher importance on quarterbacks? Do their rankings account for that? You'll see. 

Overvalued ESPN Players According to Our Projections

Keep in mind that these rankings are going to shift some, as things happen in the preseason and players win or lose jobs or get hurt. Staying up to date with player updates with a numberFire spin can help you stay ahead of your leaguemates.

Here are a few players at the onesie positions (including tight end because it should be approached as a onesie position even in this format) who you probably won't want to draft where ESPN's app currently lists them.

Notable Overvalued Players Position ESPN Rank numberFire Rank Difference
Jordan Cameron TE 120 177 -57
Rob Gronkowski TE 12 33 -21
Greg Olsen TE 58 77 -19
Jimmy Graham TE 32 49 -17
Ben Roethlisberger QB 69 82 -13
Russell Wilson QB 36 46 -10

The big-name tight ends are pretty overpriced, which is typical for most draft rankings. Of note, Travis Kelce is our 70th-ranked player and lands 71st in ESPN drafts. Still, we know that there are plenty of tight ends who can start in this format and give you a solid week here or there, and investing high draft capital in these players isn't the right approach in this setup.

The quarterback rankings are pretty accurate throughout, though they do drop off quickly. That just means that great value quarterbacks can be had at really depressed prices, provided that your draft unfolds somewhat like the default rankings suggest they should.

More importantly, there are a lot of wide receivers who are ranked much higher than we suggest they should be.

Notable Overvalued Players Position ESPN Rank numberFire Rank Difference
Breshad Perriman WR 93 138 -45
Kevin White WR 61 103 -42
DeVante Parker WR 113 149 -36
Amari Cooper WR 57 87 -30
Allen Robinson WR 72 102 -30
Tre Mason RB 82 110 -28
Julian Edelman WR 41 69 -28
Giovani Bernard RB 54 79 -25
Kelvin Benjamin WR 30 55 -25
Vincent Jackson WR 56 78 -22
Jarvis Landry WR 71 92 -21
Mike Wallace WR 65 85 -20
Michael Floyd WR 80 99 -19
Tevin Coleman RB 52 70 -18
DeAndre Hopkins WR 31 48 -17

If you read the breakdown about Yahoo league, then you might recall that Breshad Perriman was considerably undervalued given his place in the draft app, the roster constraints, and the scoring system. This is a good example of why knowing your host site's draft rankings can help you target and avoid players. Even if you set your own rankings, odds are, your leaguemates will be drafting from the default ones and, therefore, could pluck Perriman well before you thought you could get him.

A lot of these players listed are young receivers, and we aren't exactly down on all of them, but keep in mind that you can get away with starting two receivers if you have an awesome running back corps. In no-PPR leagues, that can help separate your team from the rest.

And, of course, this isn't a do-not-draft list. If you like DeAndre Hopkins, then draft him. But just know that you might be paying extra to get him if you feel like you need to snag him before your enemies leaguemates do.

Undervalued ESPN Players According to Our Projections

Ah, here we go. The value picks. So many quarterbacks are listed deep in the depths of the ESPN draft application that you can wait quite a while on them, provided your leaguemates don't reach for them.

Even if they do, you know that quarterbacks are pretty easy to replace, according to FireFactor.

Notable Undervalued Players Position ESPN Rank numberFire Rank Difference
Matthew Stafford QB 171 58 113
Joe Flacco QB 200 97 103
Philip Rivers QB 166 73 93
Eli Manning QB 160 101 59
Ryan Tannehill QB 148 91 57
Owen Daniels TE 186 136 50
Tony Romo QB 112 66 46
Matt Ryan QB 83 39 44
Delanie Walker TE 145 121 24

One thing I'm going to point out is that ESPN has Ben Roethlisberger ranked 69th overall and Ryan Tannehill 148th overall. Our algorithms project less than a three-point difference between the two over the course of a season. And Tannehill isn't even undervalued as much as Matthew Stafford, who is projected as the 58th-best player in standard ESPN scoring formats.

Wait on your quarterbacks, and you'll be fine. That's especially true because there aren't many receivers and running backs who can be had at big discounts.

Notable Undervalued Players Position ESPN Rank numberFire Rank Difference
Kenny Britt WR 206 133 73
Brian Quick WR 163 100 63
Steve Smith WR 119 65 54
Anquan Boldin WR 129 76 53
Latavius Murray RB 48 25 23
Frank Gore RB 42 28 14

Kenny Britt
and Brian Quick are undervalued on Yahoo's draft list as well, and even though the Rams' passing attack isn't necessarily exciting, receivers will have to put up some numbers. At these ranks, you'd be silly not to take a chance. ESPN is also down on veteran receivers Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin, but just because fantasy football owners inexplicably hate Boldin doesn't mean you should let him fall to 129th.

Also, two backs, who we have ranked as top-30 players won't be listed until pick 42, so you might be able to grab them a little later than they should be going.

Hidden Gems

I know there weren't many undervalued tight ends listed, but that's because a lot of them can be found way down in the depths of the draft application.

However, the tight ends we have ranked 13th through 16th (Josh Hill, Jordan Reed, Coby Fleener, and Heath Miller) are all listed 182nd or lower. Considering that Cameron, our 17th-ranked tight end, is listed 120th, I think you'll be fine waiting on tight ends, as well.

Eddie Royal (316th in the draft app) and Stevie Johnson (224th) also might be overlooked by your leaguemates because of their location.