Ultimate Draft Kit Review: Tier-Based Fantasy Football Rankings

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The Ultimate Draft Kit is a locked-and-loaded tool to help fantasy managers win their #FootClanTitles. I recently highlighted 200 questions that are answered in the UDK but I buried the lead of one of the most valuable parts.

This UDK Review series will highlight some of the award-winning features found in the UDK including tier-based rankings, the Fantasy Footballers Projections, News Updates, Research ToolsConsistency Tools, the brand-new Draft Analyzer as well as the DFS Pass.

For this first article, let’s review how tier-based rankings work in the Ultimate Draft Kit.

What is Tier-Based?

We are huge proponents of tier-based drafting when comparing draft rankings during your draft. Tiers allow you to see more than just rankings and end-of-season points totals. In fact, the way fantasy is actually played out in season is you feeling the effects of having a player on your team like Dalvin Cook, who outpaced other RBs despite them finishing only a couple of other spots

It is great for identifying gaps in value at one position

Take for example the TE position. We know there’s an elite TE1 named Travis Kelce who has been sitting on top of this mountain for five years in a row. But identifying where the rest of the TEs stand allows you to weigh out the opportunity cost of drafting them versus passing on the next tiers. Here is a screenshot from this year’s UDK along with the risk rating, ADP, redraft & dynasty outlooks.

As you can see there is a full 2-round difference between Tier 2 & 3 among the TEs this year. Rounds 3 and 4 are not a spot where you want to think about drafting a TE. The tier-based approach gives you the confidence to continue to hammer away at RBs and WRs rather than reach on a position just to fill out your starting positions.

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For instance, last year although these TEs finished 1, 2, and 3 at the end of the year, the gap between their points was apparent as mentioned by Peter Chung in his 25 TE Statistics articleTravis Kelce finished the 2020 season as the clear-cut TE1 with 260.3 fantasy points, the highest of his storied eight-year career. This was substantially more than Darren Waller, who came in second place with 202.9 points. In turn, Waller’s total was lightyears ahead of Robert Tonyan, who finished third with 141.8 points. The tiers help you see gaps in points where sometimes ranks alone won’t give you that benefit.

Tier-based drafting strategy shines when used to compare across different positions.

Comparing players across positions is what ultimately allows you to “see the draft board”. The printable cheatsheets in the UDK can give you the type of visualizations needed when you’re on the clock. You might have three WRs available in tier 2 while only one RB is left in your tier 3.

Based on your roster construction so far in your draft, identifying who is “left” in that tier is quite easy. With the new markings system available in the UDK App, you can star someone like Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones as the last guy available in that tier and have confidence you weren’t passing up perceived value.

Not all tiers are created equal.

Recently, we had a writing staff call where we discussed some of our tiers for the 2021 season at the RB and WR positions. The goal of the conversation was to collectively identify where certain tiers start and end. It wasn’t always a consensus which is helpful to not have too much groupthink.

One of the key takeaways for me was seeing that some tiers are larger than others. While Tier 1 was almost unanimously decided as Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook, the second tier of RBs consisted of way more than two players as some of our writers had six or seven RBs in this next grouping. Depending on where you feel comfortable, these tiers allow you to stretch yourself in the draft and gain an edge over your opponent.

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Tiers That Don’t Go Out of Style

Remember when you used to wait for that magazine preview to come out and you perused it in the grocery store? Well, with the ever-changing nature of daily news in the NFL, the UDK is updated as a digital product every single day. If someone is traded or released or an unfortunate injury takes place, the Ultimate Draft Kit is updated with the latest projections and statistical outlooks for each player. The situations for teams and how they affect one another are also updated. When you head into your draft, be prepared with tiers that are up-to-the-minute and with you the moment you enter that draft room.

The tiers created by Andy, Mike, and Jason over the years move you from passively drafting to going in with a clearer lay of the land.

In other words, the Ultimate Draft Kit tiers actually work! Take it from a couple of #UDK buyers who swear by the tiers:

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