PromoGuy’s Vegas-Based Fantasy Football Rankings: Using Season-Long Props to Find Value
Joe Sargent/Getty Images. Pictured: Najee Harris
These rankings take season-long player prop over/unders that sportsbooks offer and convert them into fantasy projected points, broken down by non-PPR, half-PPR and full PPR.
So if sportsbooks have a wide receiver's lines set at 50 catches, 800 yards and 5.0 touchdowns, he'll be projected for 160 points in PPR and 110 in non-PPR.
Vegas-based rankings are unique in that they aren't what one expert thinks. They leverage the wisdom of the crowds embedded in betting markets. These are rankings based on people putting their money where their mouth is. If you find something you disagree with, feel free to go bet against it.
I analyzed what the tool spit out vs. ESPN expert consensus rankings, plus implied fantasy points based on those season-long props vs. ESPN stat projections.
The ESPN projections aren't perfect but it does help give context to differences. For overall rankings, we're comparing an average of VOLAS (value over last available starter) and VORP (value over replacement player), a method used by FantasyPros that aims to solve the issue of positional scarcity.
For positional rankings, we're looking at our total projected points for the season vs. the ESPN consensus rankings (ESPN doesn't do half-PPR consensus rankings, so we just compared them to their projected points).
Not every player has season-long props; none of the top 15 QB and none of the top 15 tight ends are missing. The top 30 RBs missing are Antonio Gibson, Miles Sanders, and Kareem Hunt. The only top 30 WR missing is Chris Godwin. Prop odds mainly via DraftKings, but other books were used to fill in where needed.
In general, there were not dramatic differences between ESPN positional rankings and our Vegas-based ones. This is not a surprise and probably a good thing as experts in the field should be somewhat close to betting markets.
For example, the No. 1 player at each position was the same. Only one player ranked in the top 15 of their position in our rankings had a larger than 5-spot ranking difference in ESPN consensus ranks.
However, there were still some valuable positional differences that stood out:
While there wasn't a huge change in the position rankings at QB (1-4 match ESPN), the prop market projects Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert to have about 25 points more this season than ESPN.
Joe Burrow also got a big bump from No. 10 to No. 7 with Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson and Trey Lance dropping two spots each.
Austin Ekeler is the No. 7 RB in our standard RB rankings vs. No. 3 for ESPN consensus ranks.
Najee Harris is flipped, as the prop market likes him much better than fantasy rankers.
Sportsbooks have Harris projected for 2.6 more rushing TDs than ESPN does, and Ekeler is projected 94 fewer rushing yards in prop markets vs. ESPN.
Sportsbooks really like Saquon Barkley. He jumps from out of the top 15 on ESPN all the way to number 10 on these rankings. Meanwhile, Alvin Kamara, Javonte Williams, and Leonard Fournette were all bumped down 4-5 spots by our Vegas ranks.
Davante Adams is a standout in the prop market. He's implied for 26.5 more points over the course of the season in half-PPR than ESPN thinks, moving him up three spots and into the first round in many leagues.
Our rankings are high on the following middle-round WRs in all formats (half-point PPR differences in parentheses).
Our rankings are low on the following middle-round WRs in all formats (PPR differences in parentheses).
There wasn't much change at tight end in the rankings.
The biggest standout was Travis Kelce being projected for 32.7 more PPR points per game by the prop market than by ESPN. That separates him significantly from No. 2 tight end Mark Andrews.
The prop market likes Hunter Henry more than ESPN, getting a four-spot bump in PPR. But most of the differences at tight end add up to less than half a point per game over the course of the season.
We use a VOLAS or "value over last available starter" approach to converting our projections into overall rankings. That helps us assign appropriate values to each position, since quarterbacks will always score more fantasy points than most skill position players but aren't drafted as high because they're more replaceable.
Here are the main things that jumped out:
- Kelce gets a big bump up to No. 14 overall (ESPN ADP of 18) because betting markets projected him for way more points than fantasy rankers.
- Josh Allen also gets a bump to No. 13 in non PPR (current ESPN ADP of 24) because he's the clear No. 1 quarterback, projected for 35 more points than No. 2 Patrick Mahomes.
- The betting market is projecting more catches for pass-catching running backs like Christian McCaffery and Alvin Kamara, so they make big jumps in PPR formats.
These odds are updated in real-time as betting markets change, so some of the observations below may become outdated, but the rankings won't be.