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When Do Rankings and ADP Matter Most?

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Nov 6, 2019

The real-life MLB playoffs hadn’t even begun yet, but there I was, knee-deep in fantasy baseball research for the 2020 season. What played a big part in that was the #2EarlyMocks that FanGraphs’ Justin Mason organized, which had six leagues made up of 15 experts mock drafting for the 2020 season. It’s a nice exercise to see what the early (too early, if you will) consensus is for next season. If you want to see the results, Smada did a great job of tracking the ADP.

But the majority of the collected ADPs were based on drafts that were happening in the last week of September and the first week of October. They feature a lot of reactionary picking based on what has recently happened, and they don’t really allow the dust to settle.

That begs the question then: when do rankings and ADP matter most?

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If we are being completely honest here, rankings and ADP in October and November are great for one thing and one thing only — click rate. That’s it. It’s a good SEO tool to get those diehard fantasy baseball fans who aren’t ready to say goodbye to the current season yet to look ahead to next year. 

For me, the best time that rankings can be applied and when I start to work on my own is in January. It’s after the Winter Meetings, after most of the free agents have signed, and it’s a month before Spring Training. 

If you’re looking at rankings before free agency, what’s the point? Is it to find the try-hard who has Mike Trout ranked outside of the top two players? Is it to see speculation on who could earn the fifth rotation spot on a team that is going to be heavily involved in free agency? It’s worth looking at the current organization and who can fit which holes, but it’s more speculation than anything. Rankings shouldn’t be done until those holes are filled, and we have a good idea of who will be making the trip to Florida and Arizona for Spring Training.

As far as ADP goes, that’s where it can get a little bit tricky, and you really have to apply it to your own draft situation. For instance, the NFBC drafts are already starting, so there is a small sample of ADP that will be coming from those. 

If you draft early, it’s good to use the NFBC high-stakes leagues as your guide for where players are going. Drafting early before those Spring Training battles are settled or before a key sleeper becomes wide awake to the rest of your league mates is a great way to get a head start on your competition.

On the other side, though, drafting a week out from Opening Day has its advantages and disadvantages, too. 

The ADP and rankings will be as accurate as possible to what we will see when the first pitch that counts is thrown, and you won’t be subjected to injury risk as much as those who drafted early and lost a pitcher to forearm tightness. 

On the flip side, though, that key sleeper (think Fernando Tatis or Chris Paddack in 2019) won’t come at the nice early-spring discount that you could have had them for. Instead, you’ll pay top dollar for them since they won’t be the best-kept secrets in even an average-skilled league. 

It’s never too early to start your prep for the upcoming season, but the dates I highlight on my calendar for when the rankings and ADP really matter are right after the Winter Meetings, mid-January when free agency has really taken shape, and a week or two before the trucks are packed up for Spring Training.

From there, be sure to check FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings to see where the best minds in fantasy have their rankings to help you get a step-up on your competition. 

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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