The 2017 NFL season kicks off in a week, and the long holiday weekend is prime time for fantasy leagues across the country to conduct drafts. Fantasy owners are poring over team depth charts and injury reports, looking for sleepers and hidden values at every position. This week, Unanimous A. I. brought together swarms of Fantasy Football owners to assign player rankings at all positions, and set official UNU swarm A.I. draft lists.
Before we get to our lists, we should cover our methodology a bit. The swarm’s participants are all fantasy football owners who are managing at least one team this season. We asked them to consider their picks against a Standard scoring system (as opposed to PPR) when making their ranking choices. Unanimous A.I. researchers pulled the Average Draft Positions (ADP) of all players on Yahoo and other major fantasy hosting sites and had the swarm use an “elimination” style method to create a set of ordered lists of players to compare to this aggregate ADP.
We’ll start our lists with running backs, the workhorses of the fantasy universe. Unsurprisingly, the swarm ranked Arizona’s David Johnson and Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell at the top of the heap. There were some surprises though, as you can see in the chart below.
Ezekiel Elliott moved up into the top five of the swarm’s draft rankings, mostly because of widespread chatter within the swarm that his suspension would be reduced on appeal. Zeke isn’t the biggest mover in that chart though. That honor goes to New England’s Mike Gillislee. As one swarmer put it, “If Bill Belichick is talking him up, he’s pretty good.” Perhaps the swarm had memories of GIlli filling the role of 2015 Dion Lewis, who rained fantasy football points on everyone in 2015 before a season-ending knee injury.
The swarm also made some interesting decisions in the receivers category. Here the biggest mover is Oakland’s Amari Cooper, who does indeed fit the profile of a player who is set for a breakout year.
The last of the big three skill positions is the quarterback. Predictably, the final two spots came down to a battle between Aaron Rodgers and ageless Tom Brady. Of particular interest to researchers was how high Lions QB Matthew Stafford moved up in our swarm versus his ADP ranking. Must be that new contract.
Our swarm didn’t stop with the marquee names either. Our group also ranked the big uglies at tight end, as well as kickers and defenses/special teams. While these positions can seem like late round afterthoughts, when you get to those final rounds and need a defense, you’ll want some guidance, and the UNU Swarm has you covered.
Good luck with your fantasy draft this weekend! The UNU Fantasy Football Swarm will return throughout the season to provide guidance on waiver wire pickups and which players to buy, sell or hold. We’ll also be registering predictions on NFL games, starting next week. If you’d like to participate, drop us a line below.