So, a lot of people ask me: “Yo-yo Jay, how you do that shihizzay?”. Sure, the verbiage is pretty generalized (if you’re playing Grand Theft Auto), but the resounding point is: readers have shown interest over the years on what exactly my ranking process is. Thinking about it, I’m actually surprised that I haven’t written about this before, and something I might start doing in the preseason to sort of self-diagnose each season. Now, before we get started, I want to mention that if it wasn’t obvious, this process is my own, and I can’t begin to tell you how other “experts” rank the players. We have two other rankers here at Razzball, and that’s Tehol and Rudy. It’s probably fair to say that Tehol’s process is much closer to mine than Rudy’s, but that’s because Rudy actually uses data projection, and dark wizardry, with a scientific and proven methodology. Now, even if I don’t know what that means, the usage of multisyllabic words and the presence of magic should at least convince you that it’s special, which is what I concluded early on when remembering that I actually have no math skills whatsoever and would feel out of place questioning anybody who actually uses it. That being said (and you can see Rudy’s process here), the foundation of how I rank players begins and ends with as many snack breaks and pornHUB interludes as humanly possible. And the middle? Well, let me tell ya…

That it truly is the most ghetto process possible. (Granted, it may not be, but it certainly feels like it.) In fact, I’m sure I’m probably doing it the most archaic way possible, but since taking over the site a little over three years ago, the results were acceptable and I simply went with what worked and have been fine-tuning ever since.

Sunday is probably the busiest day for any football writer, but I think the least amount of information can actually be drawn from watching games in real time. I say this not to squash any analysis that comes out on Monday, there’s still plenty of conclusions to draw from and analyze, but taking all the information from a period where it’s hard to consume every bit of data from every single game just isn’t possible when ranking players for the following week. So my process involves taking notes on specific players throughout the day (which also is reflected in our recaps), and there’s nothing too special about the notes. Sometimes I’ll be really specific, or sometimes I’ll be salty and draw a middle finger. (For those wondering, I find myself doing this for Todd Gurley a lot this year.) My source is usually NFL Network’s RedZone, simply because they do the channel switching for me, but I’ll usually have a lot more detail for the primetime games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday simply because I can watch and focus on one matchup at a time.

The real work then begins… (First world problems!) Starting on Tuesday and going right on through the week (sometimes to Saturday), I take every single game and watch it over again, and take even more notes. One thing I specifically concentrate on is to focus on the offensive and defensive lines on every play. I’ve found that a lot of spectators will watch the quarterback when the ball is hiked, but the expectation is either he’ll pass, run, or hand off the ball for a run. All of this can be picked up by your peripheral vision. When you watch the two lines instead, you can analyse the entire play. Why did the halfback rush for only three yards? Did he miss a hole? (Never happens for me.) Was there a blown assignment or missed block? It’s almost like watching an entirely new game. And even more helpful is the ability to pause, rewind, change angles, etc. Now, I’m not an NFL coach, nor am I scout, nor do I even consider myself a fantasy “expert”. I’m a writer, and my goal is to disseminate this information as best I can, and then create a vehicle for this information so that you the reader can consume this information.

So then the process starts getting a little bit… rudimentary. I don’t plug numbers into a machine, nor do I generally do anything from an analytic standpoint. That’s not to say I don’t use stats, schedules, etc., I do, but my process can basically be boiled down to: I take notes, I do player research, and then I rank. Ranking players is probably the easiest and hardest part, all at the same time. What I mean by this is, just clicking and move players names is generally easy, mostly because as humans, we have opposable thumbs. But the reasoning of where the players go is the hard part. So we’ve established that I have notes. I have names. And I can click on sh*t. I take those three things and begin ranking…

I start by loading the FantasyPros ranker, and my starting point is the ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings). I do this for one reason, and that’s because this is the only time I am affected by other “experts”. I’d prefer being insulated for the entire process, so by getting a snapshot of what everyone else thinks allows me to develop my own conclusions by what a large analytical body has provided. That is to say, it allows me to start without any bias whatsoever on my part, and instead, start with an accepted median. Think of it this way, if I’m a bartender, and I’m wondering what to fill your glass with, it helps me to know if the glass is already half full. If it’s empty, I could just pour anything into it. Sure, I could ask you what you were having, but then that defeats what was an already poor metaphor.

And specifically with the players, there is no exact science for me, unfortunately. When ranking players at a micro level (i.e. ranking Randall Cobb at 24 and Travis Benjamin at 25), I make a determination based on my notes, on season stats, on their defensive matchups, basically all the information that I’ve gathered and that’s available to be researched all gets baked into my decision-making process. And that’s basically it. I watch, I research, and then I rank. I also drink.

I’ll be honest, I actually don’t like my process. And I’m not trying to be obtuse since I’m quite happy with the results, but a lot of times I find myself wishing that I had some secret code or some cheat to bring everyone fantasy championships and ultimately peace on earth. And that’s why I talk so much about Rudy’s Pigskinator. I feel like his process is the future in terms of data collection and projection, and watching this wonderful tool grow is an amazing thing to watch. That being said (and I want to let everyone know that I’m a huge advocate of advanced stats and analytic), even though I wish I could optimize the way I rank players even more, there’s a ceiling here. There is literally no way I can improve on what I do, because there’s nothing to tweak. Unlike Jamaal Charles’ hamstring. This is my third year now ranking players, and while we’ve seen tangible improvements, the reason why I don’t really like my process is because sometimes I have no idea how to deconstruct what I did poorly if the results don’t match my expectations. So, since we’re apparently celebrating Jay Ajayi day here at Razzball, he’s a good example of how my process can give me fits. The week he broke out, well, I don’t think many could figure that one out. But the second week of 200+ rushing yards, why did I miss that? Here’s what I wrote for notes on him against the Steelers that determined my low ranking:

“Sunday Notes: WTF? Vison +, Speed -. Steelers are trash. Seriously? Double-check line play. Where are the linebackers?”

“Second view: Wow, Steelers are trash. Zero tackling at second level. WTF? Good blocking first level. Terrible second level defense. Still looks slow, no burst. Good strength. One week wonder?”

Yeah, it comes off a bit jumbled, but my main takeaways, as you can read, was that he showed pretty good vision when getting the ball, hitting the areas he’s supposed to, and getting a good start with the blocking from the offensive line. But I also attributed a lot of his success to breaking tackles he shouldn’t have. And yeah, if you can’t tell, the WTF’s were for this play. So I took that info, and looked at his next matchup, the Buffalo Bills. Their defense has been pretty good this year, with some blips, but their run defense was ranked strong than the Steelers, and their front seven personal were a bit better. So my conclusion was that while Ajayi would once again get RB1 snaps, he’d be contained a bit more. And here we are. Jay Ajayi day… And the most important part, you know who figured out that Ajayi might be for real? That’s right, Rudy’s Pigskinator. Which kinda goes back to one of my earlier points that depending on multiple sources is always probably the best thing you can do.

So hopefully that gives you a macro and micro sense of how I rank players, and where my process has strengths and weaknesses. And I’d just like to say that ranking players is really really hard. I actually stress out every Tuesday (when the accuracy reports are released) because there is a system out there that actually grades how well I do as a fantasy football writer, and that’s the day when I find out if I either helped you, the community, or Tonya Harding’d your team into oblivion. That is a scary thing. And how do I deal with that? I put everything out there, both my successes and failures are presented on Razzball and FantasyPros for everyone to see. So in the end, if I mess up, or give the wrong advice, at the end of the day, at least I can say that I’m transparent. Is that enough? Not at all. But when I do succeed, it does give me a measure of solace that when I do, not only does Razzball have a free and open process, but the community sees that too and maybe that’s the most important thing to me. Well, that and making fun of your mom…

 

 

If you have any specific questions or comments on how I rank players, please ask below!

94 Comments
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Zandy
Zandy
5 years ago

Jay you’re the man! I appreciate all that you do here. And don’t downplay it, your process clearly works! Keep it up – this is the best fantasy site out there

Todd
Todd
5 years ago

Great stuff jay!

.5 ppr with the news on CJ Anderson would you trade FOR Booker? I dont own Anderson but love the schedule for Denver

Booker team needs pieces he’s been starting Kareem Carey & Booker all season even Shaun draughn too.

Thinking of packaging Charles + Jordan Howard for Booker.

Or what about one of Charles or Howard + either fuller, Shepard, hogan, moncrief, Watkins

My RBs: David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, Howard, andre Ellington, Henry, James Starks, Charles.

My WRs we start 3: Hopkins, Hilton, Emmanuel sanders, fuller, Shepard, hogan, Corey Coleman, moncrief & Watkins too

—-

Bookers team

His RBs: Booker, Carey, forsett, ty Montgomery

His WRs: boldin, John brown , stills, tavon Austin, ty Montgomery, Tyler Lockett

He just dropped Jordan Reed his flex his Vernon Davis his TE Olsen

With Reed a FA would you drop Witten for Reed?

Todd
Todd
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay:

Thanks man!!
I’m mainly thinking if I get Booker he’d be my flex this week then next week with DJ on bye he’d be my RB2 with Gordon my RB1. If I don’t get Booker are you confident in Charles for week 9? I’m worried about his knee

Defense Q; I added jets D who are at Cleveland but may get josh mcgowan back .. or drop for Eagles D? However the Eagles game this week scares me with zeke , also Dez may be back . I also noticed Prescott doesn’t really turn it over

JJ what
JJ what
5 years ago

Looking to push James white with dion Lewis on the mend. Picked up ty Montgomery as a flex spot hybrid guy. What can he bring back at this point? I’ve got d Johnson, ware, Hyde and Jennings at rb. Hilton and Marshall as wr1-2.

Is he enough to pull Alshon from a team with brown, Snead, moncrief as wrs and ajayi & t west rb combo?

William Hung
William Hung
5 years ago

Awesome stuff Jay! I didn’t play fantasy baseball in 2015, so I forgot about razz for my fantasy football season last year, but this year has been better (albeit unlucky) for me with rolling with you guys.

The one thing I’d like to see at the end of this season is how well you and the rest of the razzball community did in ranking the 2nd and 3rd tiers of each position. That’ll tell the true story of how well you did relative to the rest of the experts. That’s where crucial decisions are made and the H2H battles are won.

William Hung
William Hung
5 years ago
Reply to  William Hung

For the record, I have not used FantasyPros at all this year – just been on razz and rotoworld 80% of the time and numberfire 20% of the time.

Jim
Jim
5 years ago

Would you trade Ryan Mathews for James White in a PPR league, even with the return of Dion Lewis looming? Mathews arrow seems to be trending down quickly.

Jim
Jim
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

How about trading Mathews for Lewis?

James
James
5 years ago

Jay my dude, went from having zero starting running backs to: Spencer Ware, Devontae Booker, Jay Ajayi, & Latavius thanks for the advice I picked each of these guys up right when I was supposed to.

Anyway the real issue now is WR: Who should I be starting out of these guys in Standard format for week 8?

A-Rob
Randall Cobb
Jeremy Maclin
Tyrell Williams
Terelle Pryor
Julian Edelman

Just need three right now I have Edelman, A-Rob, & Cobb starting I think this might be the way to go but I want to hear your thoughts since A-Rob has been absolute garbage as of late.

Cheers

James
James
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: It is ridiculous dude, anyway thanks for the heads up, I will check back tomorrow and change things up.

Thanks man.

James
James
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: I know I feel like this will be the week (which is said way too much) that Brady is going to throw him 3 tds. But I love Pryor at the Jets if he has an actual QB. I just really hate what Bortles is doing this year. I feel like I have to start Cobb every week.

James
James
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: It’s tough man, right now I switched Pryor but depending on who’s throwing to him I might switch Edelman since I have Brady. Also do you think A-Rob will actually produce tonight?

Joe
Joe
5 years ago

Thank you for sharing some thoughts about your process! I know we all here appreciate the amount of work and love you put into it, for our benefit.

My team in an NFL.com PPR league is:

QB: Brady
RB: Ingram, White, Coleman, Howard
WR: Julio, Landry, A-Rob, Tate, Moncrief
TE: Gronk, Graham
DST: NE, PHI
K: Lambo

The following are all free agents (!): Adams, Beasley, LaFell, Enunwa, and Asiata. Also, the Jets defense, which is bad but does face CLE this week.

I’m thinking I should cut Howard for Asiata, and maybe one of my defenses (NE) for Adams. Honestly, I’m so disappointed in A-Rob’s inconsistency, I’m also willing to cut HIM for Adams and drop NE to play the Jets DST this week. Any advice?

Joe
Joe
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay:

Not together, but because of the past two weeks, nobody wants to waste a roster spot on Howard.

WillisReid
WillisReid
5 years ago

Great write up dude.

Nick
Nick
5 years ago

Nice work bro, great writeup…your process is not scientific in the least but sometimes that is what works! I’m an accountant & am all about the numbers so I’m definitely intrigued by Rudy’s metrics…maybe you could work with a hybrid between the fantasy pros ECR & Rudys data as starting points & bake in your analysis?

Nick
Nick
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: absolutely, I would run a separate set of rankings and test it out for a few weeks to see the results…

Gio
Gio
5 years ago

Great read.

.5ppr would you trade ware in return for either ingram or forte? If so, which RB? I’d rather get off the ware train a week or two early than late.

Zandy
Zandy
5 years ago

Booker or JStew in a std?

Who goes on the last roster spot – don jackson, rob kelley, dwayne washington, barber or zenner

Badonkagronk!
Badonkagronk!
5 years ago

Hey Jay

Can you rank these RBs Ros in 10 team standard? Not sure what to make of Montgomery as a RB…

Montgomery, McKinnon, L Murray, Booker, J white

Brian
Brian
5 years ago

.25 ppr. need a rb and very deep at wr. 12 team keeper. we keep 2 each year, but can’t keep 2 players from the same position. I have fuller, pryor, and davantae adams who can all be kept next year for a 2nd to last rd pick (my starters are julio, DT, and one of those 3 or ty montgomery).

my rbs are david johnson and then ????? (terrance west, devantae booker, jordan howard). considering dealing either fuller or pryor for gurley or martin. which back would you rather have? martin hurt but has a sweet sched down the stretch and gurley has struggled all year. i’m a little torn though leaning toward the healthy guy. thanks.

IV
IV
5 years ago

Appreciate you sharing your behind the scenes process Jay! You made a point a few weeks ago about shaking things up if you are in a losing position which I thought was excellent. Managed to follow your advice and ended up making a great trade, but at 2-5 and with my current situation, I think I need to do it again.

Team for context
16 team, .5 PPR,
Give: Landry and Gillislee
Get: Cousins and Michael Thomas

QB: No one… (Had Hoyer)
RB: Forte
WR: Cooper
TE: Miller
WR/TE: Diggs
WR/RB/TE: Marqise Lee
BN: Gurley (bye), Landry (bye), Gillislee, C Thompson, H Henry (will start if he plays)
K: Lambo
D/ST: MIN

I think I have to do it because I need a QB (I do not want to start Brock…ever…), but I wanted your opinion just to make sure I am not doing something stupid.

Thanks in advance!

IV
IV
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay:
Brock v DET
siemian v SD
Cutler or Barkley v MIN
Kessler or Hogan v NYJ
Bradford @ CHI

I guess Bradford or Brock are the best options, the question would then be who to drop?

IV
IV
5 years ago
Reply to  IV

@IV: just saw Tannehill was on waivers for next week, I am okay taking it one week at a time as I’ll try to scoop him up next week.

IV
IV
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: I am a Bears fan, but you are 100% right on the Miller drop here. Everyone else probably has at least some trade value. Thanks Jay!

William Hung
William Hung
5 years ago

If Matt Jones is a no-go this week, do I drop him for Rob Kelley? I think Chris Thompson is still who I go with as my 2nd RB though

William Hung
William Hung
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: My fear is that Kelley does well and runs away with the job – the flip side is that the Redskins ROS sched isn’t favorable to RBs… I have to be smart about how I navigate these waters.

I think Chris Thompson will have the most stable role out of Jones and Kelley for this week though for sure

Zandy
Zandy
5 years ago

You like Montgomery over Cobb still? std

Zandy
Zandy
5 years ago
Reply to  Zandy

This is yahoo so both are WR

Josh-NYC
Josh-NYC
5 years ago

Hey,

Had a question about a trade.. do you trade Jacquizz Rodgers and Demaryius Thomas for Larry Fitzgerald? I figure Jacquizz Rodgers is only relevant for another week or 2.. and I have Devontae Booker, who I wouldnt want to double up with Demaryius. Let me know.

0.5 PPR, 12 team league
QB: Brees
WR: Cooper, Thomas
RB: Elliot, Freeman
TE: Rudolph
Flex: Ty Montgomery, Devontae Booker
K: Vinateri
DEF: Carolina
Bench: Jacquiz, Floyd, Riddick, Coates, Yeldon, Morris
IR: Watkins, Corey Coleman

Thanks!

Brian
Brian
5 years ago
Reply to  Josh-NYC

@Josh-NYC:@Josh-NYC:
No way I would make that trade in fact I wouldn’t trade DT straight up for Fitzgerald but let’s see what Jay says about it.

Josh-NYC
Josh-NYC
5 years ago
Reply to  Brian

@Brian:

New development..

Demaryius Thomas and Riddick for Kelvin Benjamin.. thoughts?
I just don’t like doubling up on Thomas and Booker.

Johnny Hammershanks
Johnny Hammershanks
5 years ago

Looking for some trade advice. 12 team league, .5 PPR. My squad:

Brees
Gore, Jacquizz, Latavius, Deandre Washington, Asiata, Knile Davis, M. Gillislee
AJ Green, Marvin Jones, ARob, Moncrief
Julius Thomas, Ertz

I’m miraculously 6-1 and in first place. The offer is trade away Asiata and Moncrief and get Maclin and Doug Martin. Maclin is terrible so far and Dougie may finish strong when he returns.

Thoughts? Thanks!

Johnny Hammershanks
Johnny Hammershanks
5 years ago

@Johnny Hammershanks: Or, I could get Meredith and Dougie for my same two. That change anything?

Johnny Hammershanks
Johnny Hammershanks
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: Thanks man, I made the trade this morning. I was also offered to give up Jaquizz and get Ajayi (who is on bye). I’m 6-1 and pretty sure based on match-ups I’m going to lose this week, so would you do that deal? I appreciate the help!

Johnny Hammershanks
Johnny Hammershanks
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: Alright, last one for now. I have Ajayi now. Would you trade ARob and Gillislee for Doyle and Landry? My TEs are Julius and Gates. Reminder, rest of team now:

Brees
Latavius, Deandrew Washington, Gore, Knile, Gillislee, Martin, Ajayi
AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Maclin, AROB
Gates and Julius

Any thoughts would be helpful as I prepare for the playoffs.

Zandy
Zandy
5 years ago

Ryan or Carr ROS?

Andrewm
5 years ago

Hey jay how would you arrange who do like this week? Need 2wr, RB, and a flex.
Macklin
M.floyd
D.adams
Enunwa
C.thompson
J.howard
L. Murray

Andrewm
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: word I’m torn between mac and Adams. Mac has been killing me in these + match ups
McCoy injury is hurting right now
DAMN YOU REX!!!!!!!!

William Hung
William Hung
5 years ago

Tyler Lockett or DeVante Parker? Knile Davis or Peyton Barber?

MJP
MJP
5 years ago

Thanks for the article! I love the weekly read – but this one was special. As such, I’ll ask you a question a little more in depth than I usually do. Looking at my roster, there is a clear need for a RB and possibly an upgrade at TE… regardless, what types of trade would you look for if you inherited my team?

12-team Half-PPR Yahoo Auction (I have already complete 11 trades)

QB: Andrew Luck
WR: Antonio Brown
WR: Odell Beckham Jr.
WR: Mike Evans
RB: Le’Veon Bell
RB: Rashad Jennings
TE: Martellus Bennett
K: Stephen Gostkowski
DEF: Arizona
BN: Kirk Cousins
BN: Allen Robinson
BN: Travis Benjamin
BN: DeAngelo Williams
BN: Jerick McKinnon
BN: Minnesota

How do I get better?

William Hung
William Hung
5 years ago
Reply to  MJP

@MJP: Practice what Jay preaches and drop the 2nd QB and I’d try to pawn off A-Rob in a trade for a better RB.

You worked some amazing auction magic to get both Brown, Beckham, and A-Rob and still have a top RB in Bell

Chunk
Chunk
5 years ago

Ten team ESPN full ppr, I’ve been offered Crabtree for Arob and white.

My RBs are McCoy, Gordon, ware, ty mont, Charles, white, dion, Rawls

WRs are Hilton, d Thomas, ty mont, Arob, and Meredith

We start two of each and a flex.

Pull the trigger? Wait and see how Arob plays tonight?

Thanks for the awesome advice all year

Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo
Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo
5 years ago

20 team PPR with 4-3 record. i’m guessing in a league exactly like this drop CAP for kelley? have l.bell/both CHI guys (not counting carey)/knile/CAP. start 2 with 1 flex.

2. and with the woods likely back news. along with the floyd news, i’m guessing nelson (ARI) is above hunter here?

Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo
Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo
5 years ago

@Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo: gyuessing CAP would be higher in shallower leagues as safety valve.

Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo
Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: right, oops, redraft 20 teamer here.

Aubrey Plaza's Pillow
Aubrey Plaza's Pillow
5 years ago

fordeep dynasty 20 teamer, which is better stash for this year (mostly it is dynasty and maybe the MIA owner comes knocking later, i’m WAS), drake or d-will? going by yr fantasy pros (and other high ranked guys, right now i’m only using 2 total for ROS RB’s in PPR) rankings this is drake, but going by snap counts this is d-will. i own c.thompson/kelley/mckinnon/blount with AP/sims in IR slots.

Aubrey Plaza's Pillow
Aubrey Plaza's Pillow
5 years ago

@Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: could also grab c.west, but with arian nation going down i’d rather get a 2nd stringer than 3rd.

Aubrey Plaza's Pillow
Aubrey Plaza's Pillow
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

@Jay: i’m sorry, it wasn’t clear (couldn’t figure out why bell’s name came up). i’m talking the MIA guys, drake and d-will.

Aubrey Plaza's Pillow
Aubrey Plaza's Pillow
5 years ago

@Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: deangelo williams this season would have to hit IR to even have a chance at not being owned.