News & Analysis

The 'wrongest' term in offseason fantasy football

Aug 10, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) looks on from the bench during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, we’ll wrap up the week on PFF Fantasy with some topic one of our writers has been thinking about of late, and we'll recap the top features and columns you could find on the site that week.)

Every January and February, fantasy football sites around the fantasy world have the same headline: Person X’s “way-too-early rankings for next season.” The last season just ended, after all, so our eyes are turning forward, and your fantasy writer of choice has unveiled his or her rankings for the next season.

Here’s the problem, though: They aren’t too early. They’re right on time.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, if almost literally every fantasy expert is putting out rankings, then no single ranking set can be “too early.” Second, it’s important to have a base for a full offseason of changing opinions and draft stock.

Take last offseason for example. Drafters and experts who had their rankings together as of February or March saw early ADP results come out and reacted. Terrelle Pryor, to name a name, was almost universally underrated. Most expert rankings had him as a fourth- or fifth-round pick, but quickly saw that he was going lower than that. As those draftniks started talking up Pryor and identifying him as a value, his name became associated with the idea of value, to the point that even as his draft stock (and ADP) rose in the drafting community, he was seen as a “value.” By the end of draft season, Pryor was going off the board in the middle of the third round. He wasn’t a value anymore, even if people heard his name that way.

That Pryor was ultimately a bust matters is largely irrespective to the point at large. If you took him as a fifth-rounder, the fact that he busted hurt. If you took him as a third-rounder, well, that’s just about a season-killer. As the season drew near, our own Jeff Ratcliffe in the PFF Fantasy podcast went from a pro-Pryor tout to a wet blanket. That change in tune came because Jeff started from a point of having rankings ready. Not “way-too-early” rankings, not “too-soon-to-matter” rankings, but rankings. Start early. Start early and win.

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