Gut Check No.309 - PPR Tiers Update 8/16

A quick update of Waldman's PPR tiers for those drafting the weekend of 8/16.


If you don't know by now, I have a reputation for views on players that differ from the norm. Even so, my rankings accuracy is still very high by industry standards over the past 3-5 years and where I have performed best dovetails nicely with the strategy I write about the most: Upside Down Drafting.  

However, my tiers are formatted by my projections and I embed a variety of notations within them so you can tailor this information to a number of different strategies. I will be writing more about strategic angles than explaining where I ranked specific players. 

This update contains 20 rounds of players. I have not listed ADP next to the player's name, but I still used italics, underline, and bold to note the following: 

  • Players with normal fonts are have a ranking from me that coincides with their ADP. I consider them safe plays. 
  • Italicized players are slightly overvalued (1-2 rounds) if you agree with my ranking vs. their ADP. 
  • Players bolded and italicized are overvalued by more than two rounds.
  • Underlined players are slightly undervalued (1-2 rounds) if you agree with my ranking vs. their ADP. 
  • Players bolded and underlined are undervalued by more than 2 rounds. 

These notations give fantasy owners ample opportunity to plan: When to lay back and when to pounce when it comes to certain players and/or positions. I'll offer a variety of strategic tips as I discuss each tier.  


I've drawn bold boxes around players in each tier that represent a pivotal movement from my previous update. 

As I've told my Twitter followers Monday, the summer is a time to look at player performance in layers or criteria: 

  • Physical skills (improvement/decline)
  • Mental grasp of concepts (improvement/decline)
  • Consistency of execution in camp
  • Consistency of execution in preseason
  • Consistency of execution in the regular season

This is especially true of rookies and developmental players in their second and third seasons. The biggest gaps in performance tend to occur between the camp layer and the preseason layer and the preseason and regular season. The reason that athletes, musicians, and actors have such affinity isn't solely about fame and celebrity, but also their shared understanding of the dynamics of performance. 

If you have never performed on stage or before a group of people you may lack the understanding of the difference in the intensity of the setting. Surprising as it may seem, performers generate this intensity more than the audience. When the skill level ratchets up a notch, many young players sudden become less confident and more self conscious about everything they're doing, which leads to over analysis, stiff performances, and mistakes. This is why playing "when the lights come on," is much different than practice and why playing in the preseason is much different than the regular season. 

Keep these points in mind when evaluating players between now and the regular season and you'll have a solid perspective to draw from. 

 Tier 1

Nothing that new here. I've backed down some of Rice's carries because I think the Ravens will use Pierce a fair amount in short yardage and the red area even when Rice returns. However, I did bump Rice's reception totals based on previous seasons of work and factoring in ths suspension. 

Tier 2

Shane Vereen jumps in my tiers because of my lack of confience in Stevan Ridley's ball security and the benching we've typically seen from the Patriots when Ridley fumbles the ball. The Patriots are one of the more dangerous fantasy backfields this year so don't take my movement of Vereen as a statement of confidence in the situation. I'm confident in Vereen's ability, less confident in his health history, and I feel downright trepidation when trying to predict any measure of consistency with an individual runner on this depth chart.

 Tier 3

 I have bumped Allen's reception totals and touchdowns just enough that he's barely outside the first two tiers of wide receivers. I'm confident in this Chargers offense and Allen's preseason-training camp performance. 

Tier 4

Golden Tate is the biggest reason why I'm bumping Stafford's projections skyward. However, it's not just the former Seahawks receiver. Even if I believe he'll be inconsistent this year, Eric Ebron will also help, but there's also a host of players that will be more helpful in a secondary role now that they'll draw decent mismatches from opposing defenses: Ryan Broyles, Joseph Fauria, Kris Durham, and Jeremy Ross among them.

Kenny Britt is having a strong camp. I say this on the heels of warning readers to take practice reports with an ounce of skepticism, but I have also seen enough from Britt this weekend to believe what veteran linebacker Will Witherspoon has to say about his teammate. The paraphrased version: Britt looks good and I think he's going to become a star. We've heard this before, but Britt says he's finally healthy. I'll buy it, especially when you can draft Britt far later than where I have him valued. Figure out where you can reach a round or two for Britt if you miss on one of your receivers valued in this or the next tier. 

Rob Gronkowski's injury is the concern here. If you don't mind gambling, keep him in one of the top two tiers. However, I can't justify recommending Gronkowski this high until we see him play in a game. I also didn't like hearing that he was limping in practice this week. It could be a different (and minor) issue, but one worth noting here.

 Tier 5

 I'm upping my projections of Sankey in the passing game. He's a decent risk as an RB2 if opting for the Upside Down Strategy. I'd rather have him as a flex option if taking a more traditional approach. 

Tier 6

I'm more confident about Rivers' production this year because it appears Antonio Gates will remain a significant part of the offense despite the rise of Ladarius Green, who I can see as the second-most productive receiver this year. I like what Mike McCoy is doing and I believe the offensive line will play well enough to support a productive passing game that uses two tigth ends and a scat back as significant parts of its scheme.

 tier 7

 I already mentioned Green. Ertz looks good and after the way the Eagles used him in the preseason game that's often the dress rehearsal, I'm convinced he'll be an integral part of the offense and a fantasy starter. 

Cam Newton and Andrew Luck drop a bit in my tiers. Newton's off season rehab and his steady decline in rushing totals were contributing factors. The fact that the Colts' staff has said Hakeem Nicks isn't quite back to his normal self yet has put cold water on my Nicks proejections as well as hurt Luck's totals. 

On the other hand, Jay Cutler gets a little bump thanks to the addition of veteran Santonio Holmes. The former Steeler brings some redundancy to the receiving corps as a short-term option capable of making plays from the slot. It's not a huge bump for Cutler, but the higher floor also means higher upside. 

I've been cautious about my ranking of Kenbrell Thompkins despite talking about him all off season as someone not to be fair-weathered about. After seeing Thompkins in Week 3 -- it was the culmination of a strong off season. I've argued why the Aaron Dobson lovers are off base when stating that Dobson is far better than Thompkins. You can look it up. 

Tier 8

 The injury to Marvin Jones Jr helps Tyler Eifert -- a does Jermaine Gresham's slow recuperation. 

tier 9

Nicks still intrigues me at this spot, but it's not a spot where his value matches his ADP rather than my previous projections where he was underrated. I have a feeling that Nicks' best-case scenario is him coming on by mid season and fantasy owners benefiting from their patience or from a timely waiver wire move.

Not many changes with the rest of these tiers.  Good luck with your drafts this weekend. 


 Tier 11

 Tier 12

 Tier 13

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