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Koerner: Projecting Every Player’s Odds of a Top Fantasy Finish in Week 3

Credit:

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins

Welcome to my new weekly series featuring every player’s odds of posting a top fantasy finish at their position.

The concept is simple: I simulated every Week 3 game 10,000 times to calculate the odds, which include their chances of finishing as a QB1, RB1, WR1 and so on — so within the top 12 of their position in 12-team leagues, for example.

You might be asking yourself, “Great, what can I do with this? Will it help me decide who to start at TE this week?” Well, yes and no.

What I want to make clear is that these results are based on my projections as of two hours before the Thursday Night Football game. My Week 3 projections will change a bit between now and Sunday as there are two more days worth of data, film, news, etc. that could inform updates, so they’re the most accurate they can be come Sunday morning.

For season-long sit/start decisions, you should absolutely still consult my updated rankings on Sunday morning. And for daily fantasy, you can check out my updated projections on FantasyLabs that drive those models.

There is a constant stream of cool and interesting information that can make you a better fantasy football player. But I understand how that can be overwhelming when you have jobs, kids and a life outside of fantasy football, so I always aim to create rankings and projections that allow you can quickly reference when making a final sit/start decisions.

The goal of these odds is to help you think like a fantasy football expert, and one of the best ways to do that is to understand week-to-week variance and how it should impact your expectations.


Go To: QB | RB | WR | TE


Fantasy Quarterback Simulations, Week 3

One of the first things you should notice in the QB chart below is just how wide the range of outcomes are. This is something that I think a lot of people overlook.

When you see Patrick Mahomes is ranked No. 1, what do you think? If he ends up finishing the week as the QB6, did he have a bad week? Were experts wrong for ranking him as the QB1?

Mahomes might not be the best example as he is literally breaking fantasy football as we speak. But heading into Week 3 I would say that there is about a 50-50 chance he finished inside the top 7 at QB (if you look at the full table below, it’s 48.1% to be exact).

I will note that there are a few reasons I’m a bit lower on him this week: He faces a tougher defense, the forecast in K.C. calls for heavy rain, and his ankle has been bothering him enough to limit his rushing upside. Having said that, the reason he is projected as the No. 1 fantasy QB by most experts, including myself, is because his raw point projection is higher than all other QBs.

It does NOT necessarily mean that we think he will for sure be the top-scoring QB, and it definitely does not mean he was a bust if he finishes, say, QB5.

On the flip side, let’s take a look at a lower-end QB like Derek Carr. He’s currently my No. 28 QB. Most experts currently have him ranked outside of their top 25, as well. Due to variance, he’s not only expected to finish inside the top 25 (74.7% chance), but he actually has a slightly better than 50/50 chance of finishing inside the top 20 (54.8%).

How does that even make sense? The answer is variance. It’s also why I don’t view a player’s rank as an absolute value. Having a better understanding of this will unlock the sort of thought process that allows an expert to best interpret prior expectations vs. actual results and how those adjust on a week-to-week basis.

Here’s every QB and his odds to finish as the top-1, top-2, top-3, etc player at his position this week. This chart is best viewed on a computer. Feel free to download the full doc if you want to parse it further. 

Fantasy Running Back Simulations, Week 3

You’ll notice that some of the top backs actually have a better chance to finish in the top-five at their position than the top QBs do. It’s a bit striking considering there are nearly 70 more RBs than QBs any given week who will touch the ball, but that’s what actually explains this parity.

Workhorse RBs will get significantly more opportunities than other backs. That increase in volume raises their floor and ceiling compared to other backs who are expected to see less. Most starting QBs, on the other hand, will be in the same 30-40 passing attempts range each week. This makes the position a bit more even in terms of raw volume, so their actual rank that week comes down to efficiency.

This is why the top-five running backs are typically considered the most valuable assets in fantasy.

Here’s every RB and his odds to finish as the top-1, top-2, top-3, etc player at his position this week. This chart is best viewed on a computer. Feel free to download the full doc if you want to parse it further.

Fantasy Wide Receiver Simulations, Week 3

You see a similar phenomenon at WR that you do at RB, but it’s more spread out simply because there are more. Amari Cooper is my No. 6-ranked WR for Week 3, yet according to my sims, he has only a 32% chance to finish inside the top 10 and his breakeven point of where he will actually rank this week is around WR18.

The wider range of outcomes causes people to constantly overreact or underreact to the previous week’s results because most people don’t understand just how much variance and random noise can cloud our judgement.

Here’s every WR and his odds to finish as the top-1, top-2, top-3, etc player at his position this week. This chart is best viewed on a computer. Feel free to download the full doc if you want to parse it further.

Fantasy Tight End Simulations, Week 3

The tight end position is unique in that it is very top heavy before opening up considerably outside the top 9 or 10. The reason? It’s a very TD-dependent position.

We have to remember tight ends are essentially offensive linemen who often break off to run a route. There are only a handful of TEs who rarely stay in to block and essentially act as WRs in their offense. Because of this, a lot of TEs can’t be relied on to offer many receptions and/or yards on a given week and they will only be seen as a great play in hindsight if they score a TD.

If anything, the chart below should show you why Travis Kelce is so valuable. I have him at just over a 59% chance to finish inside the top 3. That is incredible and is the perfect illustration as to why positional scarcity makes him that much more valuable.

Here’s every QB and his odds to finish as the top-1, top-2, top-3, etc player at his position this week. This chart is best viewed on a computer. Feel free to download the full doc if you want to parse it further.

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