Not all fantasy football cheat sheets, sleeper lists, and tiers are created equal. With so many experts and so many sites, it can be overwhelming to figure out the best source for overall player rankings from one year (and draft) to the next.
The constantly updated consensus rankings at Fantasy Pros are a helpful composite, but chances are you will be drafting and playing a lot of fantasy football leagues on either Yahoo! or ESPN. Although Yahoo! defaults to half-point PPR and ESPN goes with standard, there are some intriguing differences between both sites’ main rankings, so if you play on both, you must be able to find different sleepers and need to utilize different draft strategies. Even if you just play on one, it’s important to understand that the draft applet you’re using might have vastly different rankings than the ones you (or your leaguemates) were studying prior to the draft. Some of your targets might go more quickly on one site compared to the other.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2021 Cheat Sheet
There is one guarantee — neither Yahoo! nor ESPN will be 100-percent accurate across positions, just like Sporting News, CBS Sports, Pro Football Focus, etc. Here’s a look at the most polarizing players leading to the biggest deviations in 2021 so you can plan accordingly for your drafts.
IYER: Most overrated players by ADP | Best underrated values by ADP
2021 Yahoo! fantasy football rankings (half-point PPR) vs. ESPN fantasy football rankings (non-PPR)
Trevis Kelce, TE (Yahoo! ranking: 14 -— ESPN ranking: 4)
ESPN is going by the pure standard numbers here, based on Kelce putting up 1,416 receiving yards and 11 TDs last season. That’s still a hefty ranking right in the middle of the elite RB1s. Kelce comes at the opportunity cost of being much lesser at running back or wide receiver early. Getting aggressive for Kelce is fine, but it’s better starting in the late first round.
Nick Chubb, RB, Browns (Yahoo! ranking: 6 -— ESPN ranking: 11)
Funny how half-point PPR boosts Chubb so much despite him losing the key receiving work to Kareem Hunt. ESPN is concerned about that timeshare. The latter ranking makes more sense for Chubb.
2021 PPR FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200
Miles Sanders, Eagles (Yahoo! ranking: 44 -— ESPN ranking: 22)
ESPN is high on Sanders leading Philadelphia’s backfield, while Yahoo! doesn’t think he’s worth higher than a fourth-round pick. The fifth round is actually more apporpriate for Sanders given the uncertainty of his role.
Josh Jacobs, Raiders (Yahoo! ranking: 43 -— ESPN ranking: 29)
ESPN isn’t worried about Kenyan Drake, while Yahoo! has considered Drake’s presence more based on the formats, Jacobs should be taken somewhere in the middle of that range.
Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings (Yahoo! ranking: 50 -— ESPN ranking: 35)
Thielen is a tough one to figure after being TD-dependent for his production. The age and wear suggest Yahoo!’s more conservative approach makes sense.
2021 STANDARD FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200
Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals (Yahoo! ranking: 68 -— ESPN ranking: 43)
ESPN doesn’t use receptions for our purposes, so this is bit curious to see Edmonds much higher on its site. Edmonds belongs somewhere in the 50s, so split the difference.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Giants (Yahoo! ranking: 81 -— ESPN ranking: 45)
This reflects the boom-or-bust nature of the Giants’ revamped passing game tied to Daniel Jones, plus concerns about Golladay coming off a hip injury and getting hurt in camp. Lean toward the Yahoo! layup, just not that low.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos (Yahoo! ranking: 82 -— ESPN ranking: 47)
Here’s another polarizing wideout coming off a major injury with a questionable quarterback situation. Sutton is too talented when healthy not to lean closer to ESPN.
2021 FANTASY AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Overall
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns (Yahoo! ranking: 66 -— ESPN ranking: 50)
Yahoo! thinks Beckham will make some big plays but will fall short of a pleasing reception total. ESPN putting him in the early fifth round is more reasonable.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs (Yahoo! ranking: 29 -— ESPN ranking: 55)
ESPN tends to rank quarterbacks where the experts like to take them (i.e. late). Reality, however, says someone will jump on Mahomes’ value in the third round, if not sooner.
Will Fuller, WR, Dolphins (Yahoo! ranking: 101 -— ESPN ranking: 58)
Fuller, DeVante Parker or Jaylen Waddle? Good luck with that when trying to figure out Miami. Fuller’s Week 1 suspension and shaky durability say Yahoo! is right here.
DJ Chark, WR, Jaguars (Yahoo! ranking: 102 -— ESPN ranking: 65)
Chark should come back healthy to be the true No. 1 wideout for Trevor Lawrence soon. ESPN is on the right track with him as a seventh-round pick.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens (Yahoo! ranking: 48 -— ESPN ranking: 68)
ESPN has Jackson down more with Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott, but Yahoo! has Jackson clearly fourth behind Mahomes, Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. That should provide reason to not overdraft Jackson on either site.
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints (Yahoo! ranking: 137 -— ESPN ranking: 72)
Yahoo! doesn’t want to touch Thomas (ankle) anywhere before Round 12. ESPN is still thinking he’s the old, healthy Michael Thomas.
2021 FANTASY SLEEPERS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Each team
Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons (Yahoo! ranking: 49 -— ESPN ranking: 74)
The question with Pitts is whether he should go right after the big three (Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle) or with T.J. Hockenson and/or Mark Andrews in between. ESPN has it right it being a little more conservative.
Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens (Yahoo ranking: 124 -— ESPN ranking: 75)
The Ravens are a low-volume passing game with more diverse wide receiver depth now. Yahoo! is spot on; ESPN isn’t.
Henry Ruggs III (Yahoo ranking: 162 -— ESPN ranking: 89)
ESPN also has faith the Raiders will tap into the big-play ability of Ruggs with Derek Carr behind Waller. Yahoo! has this right on again.
2021 FANTASY TIERS & DRAFT STRATEGY:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST
Jalen Reagor, WR, Eagles (Yahoo! ranking: 169 -— ESPN ranking: 98)
Reagor should be somewhere in the middle of this range. He’s flashed plenty, but he’s still, at best, the third target on his team.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts (Yahoo! ranking: 165 -— ESPN ranking: 116)
Is Hilton done? As the Colts QB room reshuffles again to Carson Wentz, Hilton probably has one more decent season in him. Still, he feels like another boom-or-bust guy and should be taken more in the double-digit rounds.
Tyler Higbee, TE, Rams (Yahoo! ranking: 77 -— ESPN ranking: 120)
Higbee is a hot sleeper with no Gerald Everett and questions about the Rams’ third wide receiver. That lines up for more sneaky good production, this time with more consistency.
Rob Gronkowski (Yahoo! ranking: 166 -— ESPN ranking: 121)
Gronk is caught in a crowded wide receiver and tight end group in Tampa. He’s better suited to go closer to Round 14 than Round 10;.
FANTASY DRAFT STRATEGY:
Snake Draft | Auction | Best Ball | Dynasty/Keeper | IDP
Trey Sermon, RB, 49ers (Yahoo! ranking: 61 -— ESPN ranking: 124)
Yahoo! is preaching to the choir on Sermon, meaning you will need to be more aggressive to get a possible league-winner in an elite running game. You’ll have better luck stealing Sermon on ESPN.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns (Yahoo! ranking: 126 -— ESPN ranking: 166)
Mayfield is being ranked around QB17, which makes little sense now that he’s healthy and his receivers are, too. Things should open up in the downfield passing offense playing off the running game. Yahoo! is right on his rise.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings (Yahoo! ranking: 108 -— ESPN ranking: 167)
Cousins was a back-end QB1 last season and has a great trio in Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Irv Smith Jr. Give more points to Yahoo!
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Washington (Yahoo! ranking: 123 -— ESPN ranking: 212)
This continues to reflect ESPN not putting as much value in QB. Fitzpatrick has potential for his best statistical season ever with great weapons. Woo hoo, Yahoo!
Trey Lance, QB, 49ers (Yahoo! ranking: 131 -— ESPN ranking: 220)
Lance’s upside says he belongs in the top 200, even if he should start the season sitting behind Jimmy Garoppolo.
MORE 2021 FANTASY RANKINGS:
Superflex Top 200 | Superflex Top 200 PPR | IDP | Rookies | O-lines
Gerald Everett, TE, Seahawks ;(Yahoo! ranking: 127 -— ESPN ranking: 257)
Yahoo! is too aggressive on the former Ram given Will Dissly is still in Seattle and the team still shouldn’t throw all that much to tight ends. That said, ESPN is a little too low for a promising TE2 flyer.
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Dolphins (Yahoo! ranking: 136 -— ESPN ranking: 94)
When there are question marks about a team’s No. 1 wide receiver, go with the one who can get you best value and return on investment. The rookie first-rounder’s upside has more appeal than Fuller and DeVante Parker. ESPN wins this one.
Justin Fields, Bears (Yahoo! ranking: 142 -— ESPN ranking: 219)
Lance vs. Fields is an interesting draft question, especially if both start out on the bench. Either way, their potential “league winner’ profile suggest Yahoo! is right on both.
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