Expert Consensus Rankings vs. CBS ADP (2018 Fantasy Football)
Draft season is firmly underway. While a great many fantasy players prefer to wait until after the third week of the preseason to select their squads, it’s undeniable that there are plenty of early birds who want to get started as soon as possible. As such, there is a lot of Average Draft Position (ADP) data available to wade through as August rolls on.
Here at FantasyPros, we like to analyze this information and see how it compares and contrasts with our Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR). Today, the subject of our study is CBS Sports, and we’ll be taking a look at numerous players that are being taken both higher and lower in CBS drafts than their consensus rankings would expect. So let’s get right to it.
Note: All subsequent ECR and ADP data is for standard formats
ECR Likes Him More
As far as quarterbacks go, I tend to agree more with the consensus rankings than the ADP data. Matthew Stafford has quietly compiled three consecutive top-10 fantasy finishes in a row while averaging 4,345 passing yards, 28.3 touchdown passes, and 11 interceptions per year. The former first overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft has a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal and a terrific rapport with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. There’s no reason why another productive season shouldn’t be expected.
If you read my column about Philip Rivers back in May, you know I think he’s perennially underrated as a fantasy option. In fact, he’s only finished outside the top 12 at the position once over the last five years, and that was a 2016 season in which Keenan Allen was lost to the season before halftime in Week 1. I think he’s underrated in our consensus rankings, but as the QB16 on CBS, he’s a complete steal.
Marcus Mariota was rough last year, but finds himself in a new offense with plenty of quality contributors in the mix. If his touchdown rate returns to his career norms (around 5%) from the nightmarish 2.9% he produced in 2017, he’s a potential value pick.
CBS Sports ADP Likes Him More
It seems CBS drafters aren’t completely scared off by Winston’s looming three-game suspension and still value him as a low-end QB2. I understand this perception. Despite committing 18 turnovers in only 13 games, Winston was much better than advertised a season ago, setting career-highs in yards per attempt (7.9), passing yards per contest (269.5), and quarterback rating (92.2). With several favorable matchups on his 2018 slate, he could be a highly productive streamer, and you can likely scoop him off the waiver wire.
Running Back (+/-6)
ECR Likes Him More
Both key members of the Jets backfield find themselves on this list. Isaiah Crowell looks like the favorite for lead back duties, but Powell will still have a role. Either man could be a value at his current ADP, but that’s largely predicated on how the offense performs as a whole in 2018.
Giovani Bernard was a more productive runner than Joe Mixon by virtually any metric last season and averaged almost a full yard per carry more than his teammate. While Mixon is the lead man entering the season, Bernard handled 15-plus touches for the Bengals in every single December contest in 2017. There’s no reason to assume he’s going away altogether, and he’s a screaming value at his RB51 ADP.
Latavius Murray led the Vikings in rushing and scored eight touchdowns a season ago. Now fully healthy, Dalvin Cook should re-claim lead back duties, but with Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco, Murray should remain involved. Although he only received seven touches in Cook’s three full games in 2017, Murray has likely earned more volume after his performance down the stretch. However, it’s clear that drafters remain unconvinced.
LeGarrette Blount is expected to open the season as the Lions’ goal-line back and has plenty of history with new head coach Matt Patricia. I like the rookie Kerryon Johnson a lot (and he looked great in the first preseason game), but he’s currently being selected 114 slots higher than his veteran teammate in CBS leagues. That’s an excessive disparity considering the team’s backfield remains an open competition.
Peyton Barber is gaining a little steam after an impressive preseason debut and reports that rookie tailback Ronald Jones is struggling in pass protection. I still like Jones to ultimately emerge as the lead runner in the rotation, but it’s becoming more and more evident that Barber will get his touches, and his ADP will likely match his consensus ranking shortly.
Chris Ivory is one LeSean McCoy injury (or suspension) away from a huge workload. For that reason alone, his ADP is a little on the low side, but until more is known about McCoy’s situation, drafting Ivory seems like a fruitless endeavor.
CBS Sports ADP Likes Him More
CBS drafters appear to be more receptive to the idea of handcuffing a lead runner than our experts are. In fact, every player in this grouping is a backup. Tevin Coleman makes sense at his ADP since he has significant standalone value in the Falcons’ backfield. Coleman has exceeded 900 total yards and eight touchdowns in each of his last two seasons and will continue to play a significant role in the offense. In fact, he was the RB17 in 2016 the RB22 in 2017, so if anything, his consensus ranking is far too low.
The news of Derrius Guice‘ season-ending ACL tear is incredibly upsetting, and my heart goes out to the talented young tailback. For fantasy purposes, his absence doesn’t necessarily have a significant impact on Chris Thompson, who was pretty well locked into his role as a pass catcher and change of pace back. With that said, Thompson will have an important role in the backfield and warrants individual consideration of his own after his remarkable performance in 2017.
James White is a solid pass-catching back, but we’re talking about standard format ADPs. The versatile Rex Burkhead and (when he’s healthy) Sony Michel will almost certainly emerge as the top two options in this backfield, and as such, White’s draft status appears a bit inflated here.
Here’s the deal. If you’ve checked out my Twitter, you know I love Matt Breida. One of the most underrated players in the league, he was one of the more efficient tailbacks on a per carry basis last season and, by all accounts, was having a great camp. Unfortunately, an injured shoulder sustained in the preseason opener will reportedly keep him sidelined for “some time.” However, a return to the lineup prior to Week 11 seems likely.
Austin Ekeler was very impressive for the Chargers as a rookie, although recent reports indicate that head coach Anthony Lynn wants Melvin Gordon to play an even bigger role in the passing game in 2018. It’s hard to envision a scenario where that wouldn’t negatively impact Ekeler’s workload.
Spencer Ware is likely going to be a strict backup to Kareem Hunt, although he’s proven he can capably handle a significant workload in the past. Last season, Hunt had 254 more carries than his direct backup Charcandrick West. That won’t happen again with a healthy Ware on the roster, but Hunt’s robust market share clearly illustrates why it’s risky to invest in any other Kansas City running back.
I like James Conner a lot, but the Steelers are going to ride Le’Veon Bell as they always do. Meanwhile, Darren Sproles is a sneaky sleeper, and reports indicate he’s looked impressive in camp. However, the Eagles have a lot of options in the backfield with Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Matt Jones, Donnell Pumphrey, and Wendell Smallwood in the mix.
Wide Receiver (+/-8)
ECR Likes Him More
Kenny Stills played 91% of the Dolphins’ snaps last year, received 105 targets, and found the end zone six times…and that was with Jarvis Landry on the roster. As far as 2018 is concerned, Landry is a Cleveland Brown, DeVante Parker has yet to establish himself as a productive NFL wideout, Danny Amendola is a slot receiver, and Albert Wilson is a question mark. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Stills will be the Dolphins’ most valuable pass catcher in 2018, and his WR53 ADP is a market inefficiency that is begging to be exploited.
I like Kelvin Benjamin’s outlook more than most, but that has more to do with volume than situation. Benjamin appears locked in as the team’s top wideout and is coming off an impressive 4-59-1 performance in the preseason opener. Corey Coleman, Zay Jones, and Jeremy Kerley will get their targets, but Benjamin looks like the number one option. As the WR52 in CBS drafts, he’s an immense value even if you aren’t sold on the Bills’ quarterback situation.
DeSean Jackson has long been one of the premier deep threats in the league and could enjoy a bounce-back season, but it’s becoming difficult to predict how the Bucs’ depth chart will shake out. Mike Evans is the WR1, but with uncertainty surrounding the starting running back position, the distribution of tight end snaps, and the rest of the wideout depth chart, I’m hesitant to make a prediction. I will say that I think his ADP has dropped too low, and he could be special if his chemistry with Winston improves.
Tyler Lockett is an upside pick this year. Russell Wilson is one of the best signal callers in the NFL, the Seahawks lost Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham in the offseason, and Doug Baldwin is hurt. Furthermore, Seattle’s defense is depleted, so the franchise will likely trail more often and be forced to throw a lot in 2018. Brandon Marshall and Jaron Brown will compete for the number two role, but it should be Lockett’s to lose.
CBS Sports ADP Likes Him More
More often than not, big-name players and rookies tend to have higher ADPs than expert rankings, and this is doubly true in this group of wideouts. Julian Edelman has long been a highly productive weapon for Tom Brady, but he’s coming off a torn ACL, facing a four-game suspension, and finds himself in a crowded pass-catching group in Foxborough. Now 32, his WR28 cost is much too steep, particularly in standard formats. I think his value lies somewhere in between his ADP and consensus ranking.
Jordy Nelson had a down year in 2017. Some people blame it on age, while others point to the absence of Aaron Rodgers. What is certain, is that this time around he will have to build a rapport with a new quarterback outside of the Hall of Famer he’s accustomed to. As a secondary passing game option in a Jon Gruden offense that will likely attempt to establish the run, his ADP is inflated. Virtually all of this applies to his new teammate Martavis Bryant as well.
Rookies Calvin Ridley, Anthony Miller, Michael Gallup, and Courtland Sutton are all being drafted more aggressively than their rankings might warrant, but I don’t necessarily have a problem with it. Sometimes, you have to reach a round or two to get a rookie option, and I think Gallup and Miller, in particular, have sneaky year one upside. With that said, both Ridley and Sutton have established wideout duos in front of them, and each man’s 20-plus slot difference between ECR and ADP is a clear sign of rookie fever.
Kenny Golladay looks ready to break out in a big way, but he’s still firmly behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones in the pecking order. However, Eric Ebron is out of town, vacating 86 targets (12 in the red zone) in the process. The man J.J. Zachariason dubbed “Babytron” actually played over 75% of the Lions’ offensive snaps in each of the team’s final five games — a clear sign that his role in the offense is growing. I like his ADP where it stands.
Geronimo Allison has flashed a bit at the NFL level, and with Nelson out of town, has a realistic shot at being the Packers number three wideout. Randall Cobb’s injury history could also lead to extended playing time for the third-year wideout. However, I tend to agree more with the ECR on this one. Try as I might, I can’t find a reason to move him ahead of the other wideouts in front of him, especially when there are so many other young wideouts competing for playing time in Green Bay. While he has a legitimate shot at the third receiver slot, the passing game should flow through Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham, and the aforementioned Cobb.
ECR Likes Him More
Cameron Brate enjoys a surprisingly high consensus ranking as the TE16. This seems a bit lofty, as he only played 54% of the Bucs’ snaps a season ago, which ranked 34th among NFL tight ends. While he has displayed some chemistry with Winston, his numbers dropped precipitously over the second half of the season. The Bucs have O.J. Howard, a dynamic first-round talent, on the roster, and his future is bright. Howard surpassed 50 receiving yards in three of his final five contests and found the end zone three times over the same span before an ankle injury ended his season in Week 15. Howard is ranked 14th in ECR, and I’m much more inclined to invest in his upside.
Charles Clay was the Bills’ most reliable pass-catcher in 2017, but isn’t getting much love on draft day. Currently being selected as the TE24, much of the decline likely has to do with the general uncertainty surrounding the team’s offense more than anything attributable to Clay himself. The starting quarterback has yet to be determined, McCoy’s playing status isn’t entirely clear, and the receiving corps is crowded. Clay is being approached with caution, through no fault of his own.
CBS Sports ADP Likes Him More
Here’s another situation where rookies enjoy a better ADP than consensus ranking — I’m not complaining, though. While rookie tight ends don’t generally step into the league and dominate right away, the position is filled with upside dart throws in 2018. Hayden Hurst is coming off an impressive appearance in the Hall of Fame game, in which he snared three of his four targets for 14 yards and a touchdown, and he also caught his only target in Week One of the preseason. At 25, he’s more mature than most rookies, and his raw talent makes him worth a gamble.
Meanwhile, Mike Gesicki has shaken off a rough start in camp and is reportedly establishing some chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. While he didn’t catch either of his two targets in the preseason opener, he did draw the start, and his ridiculous athleticism was on full display when he nearly came down with an insane touchdown catch. I like the idea of reaching a bit for either of these rooks in the later rounds of the draft.