If you are like most Fantasy Football enthusiasts (or obsessed fanatics, as the case may be), deciding who to start for a given Sunday involves some pretty serious analysis. You check stock watches, matchups and rankings lists. You play a hunch here and there, but like to make the most informed decisions you can. You have seen these decisions on which players to start or sit win and lose you weeks. These weeks, in turn, win or lose you titles and cash.
Despite the fickle and sometimes unpredictable nature of Fantasy Football, using the best information available is your fastest way to a winner.
If you are like most, you look to the rankings provided by industry leaders as a guidepost along the path of finalizing your Sunday lineups. Three of the most-trafficked sites for this purpose are ESPN, Rotoworld and Yahoo Sports. Being well-trafficked, however, does not mean they are giving you good information.
Refusing to blindly follow fantasy rankings, I asked myself the question, which of the widely followed “experts” had the most accurate rankings in NFL Week 9?
Below you will find the best performers last week among ESPN (Matthew Berry, Chris Harris, Eric Karabell, and Erik Kuselias), Rotoworld (Gregg Rosenthal) and Yahoo Sports (Brandon Funston, Andy Behrens, Brad Evans, and Scott Pianowski). Next week I will add CBS Sportsline to this column for your benefit. Each has been scored on the accuracy of their weekly rankings for the following positions: QB, WR, RB and TE. (For instance, if site A chose Felix Jones as their 15th-ranked running back, and he finished 35th in scoring, they scored a 20 for that pick.) Less is more in this format.
RUNNING BACK RANKINGS – Yahoo came up smelling like roses for the second straight week with the best accuracy of the three outlets. Of the Yahoo crew Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski dominated the field.
Pianowski ranked Ray Rice 8th and he finished 7th for the week, and notably respected the potential of Brandon Jackson of the Green Bay Packers in his Sunday Night Football matchup versus the Dallas Cowboys ranking the Packers starting tailback 14th overall for a 6 spot difference.
Behrens was steady throughout his rankings and gained ground on the pack by placing Mike Tolbert as the 26th ranked back, whereas some others had him ranked insanely high; Tolbert finished with the 31st most fantasy points in Week 9.
YAHOO Composite Score: 11.2
Brandon Funston: 11.8
Andy Behrens: 10.6
Brad Evans: 12.1
Scott Pianowski: 10.7
The second most accurate running back ranks from week 9 came from Rotoworld, the NBC fantasy affiliate. Gregg Rosenthal ranked exceedingly well in the top 10, coming within 3 overall spots when ranking 6 of the top 10 running back options. (Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Arian Foster, Rashard Mendenhall, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Ray Rice), however swung and missed on some longshots such as LaGarrete Blount 13th overall, Felix Jones 15th overall, Ryan Matthews 20th, and disrespected Peyton Hillis, ranking him 12th.
ROTOWORLD Composite Score: 12.1
Consistently inaccurate were the “experts” over at ESPN.
ESPN Composite Score: 12.5
Matthew Berry: 12.1
Christopher Harris: 11.9
Eric Karabell: 12
Erik Kuselias: 12.9
WIDE RECEIVER RANKINGS – Yahoo again provided the best accuracy when predicting Wide Receiver Performance. As a side-note, Pierre Garcon continues to be the most overrated player in these wide receiver rankings week after week. The Colts WR is consistently ranked inside the top 15 WRs, but has rarely lived up to it, this week finishing outside the top 60
YAHOO Composite Score: 21.7
Brandon Funston: 22.9
Andy Behrens: 21.1
Brad Evans: 22.1
Scott Pianowsky: 20.7
ESPN scored second best here, but a full two points off the pace. Karabell was king here with Kuselias bringing up the rear.
ESPN Composite Score: 23.2
Matthew Berry: 22.8
Christopher Harris: 23.4
Eric Karabell: 22.6
Erik Kuselias: 24.2
Gregg Rosenthal had a few real misses here like putting Stevonne Smith in the top 20, despite his season long struggles and ranking Percy Harvin outside the top 25. The rest of the outlets had him in the teens.
ROTOWORLD Composite Score: 24.3
TIGHT END RANKINGS – For a position with so few viable options the experts performed very poorly. ESPN came out on top missing by an average of "only" 8.5 spots. Nearly all of these outlets completely overrated Brent Celek, another player who has been overrated throughout the year based on his performance from last year.
ESPN Composite Score: 8.5
Matthew Berry: 8.1
Christopher Harris: 8.9
Eric Karabell: 8.4
Erik Kuselias: 8.6
Yahoo notably did the best job with Jacob Tamme, who predictably smoked the Philly defense this Sunday ranking him 3rd overall. This outlet would have done quite a bit better but inextricably had Benjamin Watson in the top 10 (finished 28th)
YAHOO Composite Score: 9.7
Brandon Funston: 8.8
Andy Behrens: 9.1
Brad Evans: 9.9
Scott Pianowski 10.4
ROTOWORLD Composite Score: 11.2
Gregg Rosenthal performed amazingly poorly ranking the TE postion, his largest miscues included ranking Celek 8th, Todd Heap 13th, and Tony Moeki 16th (finished 35th, 26th, 7th respectively)
QUARTERBACK RANKINGS – The Yahoo crew returned to the top with a very impressive score of 5.5. This is made even better by a certain amount of pretty unavoidable mistakes that happened this week such as the eggs laid by Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
YAHOO Composite Score: 5.5
Brandon Funston: 5.3
Andy Behrens: 5.7
Brad Evans: 5.2
Scott Pianowski 5.4
Not too far off the pace we find Rotoworld and ESPN.
ROTOWORLD Composite Score: 6.3
ESPN Composite Score: 6.3
Matthew Berry: 6.5
Christopher Harris: 6.9
Eric Karabell: 6.1
Erik Kuselias: 6.1
For the second straight week Yahoo has been the most accurate outlet in predicting performance, within Yahoo Scott Pianowski performed the best in Week 9. Adjust your lineups and opinions accordingly as the fantasy playoff run kicks into gear.