Ultimate Draft Kit Review: Fantasy Projections & How to Use Them (Fantasy Football)
The Ultimate Draft Kit is the best draft day tool you can find and should be referenced by fantasy managers both before their draft and during their drafts. Simply put, this draft day smorgasbord will advance your fantasy knowledge and ameliorate your chances to secure that #FootClanTitle.
This UDK Review series highlights some of the award-winning features you can find in the Ultimate Draft Kit and serves as a tutorial to teach you how to unlock the potential behind each feature. You can check out Kyle’s Tier-Based Ranking review, and also be sure to read Lauren’s guide to using the research tools.
For this article, I focus on the projections included in all versions of the UDK, and how to use projections to help you on Draft Day.
What Are Projections and Why Consider Them?
While most players are undoubtedly familiar with fantasy projections, if you are new to the concept, that’s okay! The UDK’s fantasy projections are Andy’s, Mike’s, and Jason’s respective, estimated, season-long, statistical outcomes for NFL players for 2021. Fantasy projections guess how many targets, carries, yards, touchdowns, etc. an NFL player will statistically accumulate throughout the 2021 season.
Yes, projections are an attempt to see the future, and yes, Andy’s, Mike’s, and Jason’s projections are almost certainly wrong (sorry guys!), but the point of projections isn’t perfect accuracy. Instead, projections help consider past performance, account for trends and tendencies, and generate the least subjective set of prognostications possible. Of course, there will still be some subjectivity in any set of projections from any analyst or fantasy player, but a good projection process removes some of the subjectivity and adds the “educated” in educated guesses.
Truly, the biggest benefit from fantasy projections is by actually going through the process of “stat-ing out players”. When you dig into the numbers at such a granular level, you think about players less subjectively. For example, you might love Hollywood Brown the player, but projecting the Baltimore Ravens offense will surely show you that the Ravens are unlikely to pass heavily, meaning that Brown will need an absurdly high target share (30%+) to return value. This isn’t controversial; the Ravens have thrown the fewest passes in the NFL (by a lot!) since Lamar Jackson assumed the starting role. So, it’s entirely reasonable that anyone would project the Ravens, as a team, to throw very little compared to the rest of the NFL. Regardless of whether you agree that Brown is unlikely to be a WR2 or better, the process of first considering the team and team tendencies subsequently enlightens individual player projections.
Now, I encourage all of you to generate your own projections because you will certainly learn a lot by doing so! But, the Fantasy Footballers understand that generating projections is a lengthy and arduous task. So, if you aren’t eager to generate your own projections, the UDK offers you three different projection sets for you to compare and glean important insight.
So, let’s go through Andy, Mike, and Jason’s projection process a little bit to find out how we can use their projections to guide Draft Day.
How Do the Ballers Project?
Each of our three favorite podcasters has a unique method, but all three begin projecting at the team level. At the onset, the Guys forecast overall NFL team statistics, such as how many total touchdowns the Philadelphia Eagles will score in 2021, how many plays the Eagles will run, how many passing yards the Eagles will accumulate, how many rushing touchdowns the Eagles will score, etc. Importantly, the game script is considered seriously (i.e. run-pass ratio). All these numbers consider historical tendencies, the coach, the coordinator, and other factors of each NFL team. Once the team-level projections are established, the Guys each work backward from there, usually by then projecting the starting quarterback, later projecting target share and rushing market share, and finally allocating final projected stats, which you can find when you purchase the UDK.
Compiling the final numbers includes proprietary algorithms and trade secrets, but you can be assured that the UDK’s projections will be outstanding because The Fantasy Footballers are the single most accurate entity in the fantasy football space over the past 5 seasons.
Using the UDK Projections
Now that you understand a little how the projections are generated, let’s look at the UDK tool itself.
The first thing to notice is that you can customize the fantasy points in the projection using a common league type (PPR, 1/2 PPR) or using your own league settings. Just click the “Customize” button at the top and enter your league’s settings.
So, if you are convinced that your league rules are super different and unique, the UDK still has you covered!
Also, the UDK generously shares the projection values, allowing you to export the numbers into an Excel CSV file, thereby allowing fantasy managers to tinker with the UDK numbers if you are so inclined.
I personally use the UDK projections to compare the three projections for a given player. I gave the Eagles as an example above, so let’s stick with that (especially since we know that Andy disagrees with Mike and Jason so much about Jalen Hurts).
So, let’s look at the three projections for Hurts.
Right away, we see that Mike is far more bullish on Hurts’ rushing numbers for 2021, which clearly explains why he has him ranked so much higher. Andy meanwhile, is quite pessimistic in the number of rushing touchdowns (4) that Hurts will generate for the Eagles, leading to a lower ranking for Hurts.
Seeing these projections will help understand how Andy, Mike, and Jason arrived at their ranking for each player. But not only can you see how each Baller arrived at their ranking, and you can play with the numbers! For example, each of the Ballers thinks Jalen is going to turn it over a dozen or more times. If you are a big believer that Hurts is going to hold onto the ball better in 2021, then feel free to decrease the number of interceptions thrown and see how that changes the projections.
As a parting word, remember that projections are not a strict guide for drafting players. Just because the projection for Latavius Murray might cause him to be projected as RB32, that does not mean you should necessarily draft Latavius as RB32. Consider the player’s ADP (Murray is RB42 in ADP), but note that you think that Murray is primed to outperform that ADP and draft him slightly ahead of that ADP. In this example, projections guided a smart draft choice, rather than generated a new set of rankings.