ADP Explained (2018 Fantasy Football)
Most of you already know that ADP stands for Average Draft Position. For those not fully familiar with it, ADP is a crowdsourced number derived from an enormous amount of real and mock drafts that indicates where a player is typically selected in drafts. ADP is critical because it can and should significantly impact your draft strategy.
The most important thing to understand is that ADP is merely an indicator of what the masses are doing; it is not a ranking. Just because everyone is taking Alex Collins in the early fourth round on average, does not mean he is either the 20th-best RB or worth that selection. One of the biggest pitfalls in how fantasy owners utilize ADP is they become a slave to it.
The later a draft goes, the less and less likely we can predict what players will matter. The odds of drafting a player in the second round that we end up dropping are far less than the odds of drafting a player in the ninth round that we end up dropping. If it’s the sixth round and Marquise Goodwin, who has an ADP in the ninth round, is your top ranked WR and you want a WR, don’t be afraid to draft him just because it is technically a “reach.”
ADP, in this regard, can be both a blessing and a curse. You can use ADP to know that, in all likelihood, you can wait on your top-ranked player because you have him valued three rounds ahead of consensus. But, at the same time, your attempt to maximize value could result in someone else taking that player from you if you wait too long.
For example, Tyreek Hill currently has an ADP in the mid-to-late third round. He is my fourth-ranked WR and without question will be the highest player on my board at any point in the second round. By knowing his ADP, I can conclude that if I want to ensure he is on my team, I have to take him in the second round. If I pass on him and try and get him in the third, I am acknowledging the risk associated with taking a player near his ADP.
Harkening back to the term “reach,” it is something that is often misused by fantasy owners. A “reach” implies that you selected someone higher than you should have, in other words, you took a player above his ADP. But how can a player be a reach if he is legitimately the highest player on your board?
My general rule is that a pick is not a reach if you are not confident you can get that player with your next pick. So using the above Tyreek Hill example, if I pick in the middle, I am not confident at all that I can pass on Hill in the second and get him in the third. Therefore, if I take Hill in the second, it is not a reach even though I am selecting him above his ADP.
All of the above is not to say that you should ignore ADP. You should use ADP to your advantage. The caliber of your league is something you must take into consideration. If you’re in a competitive, cutthroat league, you can’t rely on other owners to mostly stick to ADP. They are going to take who they want when they want to make sure they get their guys. In more casual leagues, you can mostly expect everyone to be around consensus and take players within a small range of where they are typically drafted.
It is in those types of leagues where you can exploit ADP by passing on players you want, but know you can get later to maximize value. By the time we reach the fifth round, odds are my top-ranked WR will be the aforementioned Goodwin. In a competitive league, I will probably take him in the sixth or seventh round. In a more casual league, I can wait until the eighth or even the ninth while I gobble up my top-ranked players who I feel are most at risk of being selected by a fellow owner.
In the fifth round, I am more inclined to select Chris Hogan because he is a player I am interested in, and that is right around his ADP. Even though I have multiple WRs with later ADPs ranked above him, I will take Hogan first because, in a casual league, I know I can get Goodwin and Randall Cobb later on.
A final thought on ADP: understand that it gets less “sticky” the later you go into drafts. The difference between Antonio Brown’s 1.05 ADP and Odell Beckham’s 1.10 ADP is five spots, but it is significantly larger than the difference between Kelvin Benjamin’s 10.11 ADP and Jordan Matthews‘ 13.10 ADP. Once you are into the double-digit rounds of any draft, you should throw ADP out the window and select the highest player on your board (while factoring in positional needs). And the threshold for when to start ignoring ADP gets higher and higher with the competitiveness of a league. In my most competitive league, I may start ignoring ADP as early as the fifth round.
Ultimately, you want to use ADP to be able to acquire as many of your targeted players. Just be careful not to get caught passing on guys you like because you feel like it’s “too high.” If a player is the highest on your board, it is never too high. Don’t let ADP be anything other than a tool that helps you.