Best Ball ADP Inefficiencies (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Like with the stock market, you can find success in fantasy football by exploiting market inefficiencies. As it applies to fantasy football drafts, Average Draft Position (ADP) is one of the data points we can use to find value. There is a tremendous amount of information out there that fantasy football drafters can use, but ADP can guide you on whether you’ll need to reach on a player or when you can wait for an extra round or two to get the guy that you want.
Each fantasy provider has its own ADP data, and for the purpose of this article, I’ll be comparing the ADP from BestBall10s to FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) in order to identify the current discrepancies in data. If you want to run an analysis like this of your own, check out FantasyPros’ Dissenting Opinions tool!
While the ADP data and ECR will both surely change over the coming months, it will help us get a sense of who players are already lower or higher on relative to the rankings. It’s early in the 2020 redraft fantasy preparation process, but how fantasy football drafters feel about players now will often translate similarly to draft season.
ECR likes him more
Surprisingly, there aren’t many discrepancies among quarterbacks at this point in the offseason. As a result, I’ve chosen two quarterbacks at opposite ends of their careers. Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, is trying to rejuvenate his career as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer (that still feels weird to write). From a fantasy perspective, he hasn’t really been the same player the past couple of years, finishing outside of the top 15 in points per game each of the past two seasons. But now he’ll be equipped with one of the best set of weapons he’s ever had in Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Rob Gronkowski. Both experts and the public seem to think he’ll return to being a reliable fantasy option, and he’ll have to do so through the air since he adds little value running the ball.
Joe Burrow, meanwhile, is entering the NFL after throwing for 60 touchdowns, winning the Heisman Trophy, and leading LSU to a National Championship victory in his senior season. He’ll also have the benefit of playing with an excellent supporting cast in A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon. He, like every other number one overall draft pick, will begin his career with monumental expectations. That said, many have tempered their expectations for Burrow as it relates to fantasy football success, pegging him to finish far outside the QB1 range. Experts seem to be buying in slightly more than the public, but neither thinks that he’ll be able to live up to the hype in his first year.
ADP likes him more
Similar to Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger are closer to the ends of their careers. Name recognition is likely driving Rodgers’ draft cost up a bit despite a lackluster fantasy season (for his standards), as he finished at QB10 last year. The Green Bay Packers shocked the NFL community when they failed to draft a wide receiver in a loaded 2020 class. This will leave Rodgers with the same core of weapons as last year, making experts think he’ll finish around the same as he did in 2019.
Roethlisberger missed nearly the entire season due to an elbow injury. That said, he was a top-10 quarterback in points per game for five straight seasons prior to last season. QB17 is quite a steep discount for someone who has played as well as he has, and the public seems a tad more optimistic about his potential to return to form in 2020. The Steelers also added Eric Ebron to help Roethlisberger in the red zone, and the emergence of second-year receiver Diontae Johnson should help Big Ben get his groove back.
ECR likes him more
The first running back on this list is rookie J.K. Dobbins, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the NFL draft a couple of weeks ago. The experts seem to think that he’ll be able to take over Mark Ingram’s starting role sooner rather than later. If that does happen, then Dobbins could be a highly valuable pick, as Ingram finished as the RB8 in fantasy points per game last season.
On the flip side, Damien Williams finds himself trying to maintain his starting role and hold off incoming rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. After a terrific postseason run, the Kansas City Chiefs rewarded him by picking up his 2020 option, but they’re now sending him mixed signals by drafting a running back in the first round. That ambiguity on top of his recent injuries could be factored into the discounted draft price. Regardless of who it is, the Chiefs’ starting running back will be a fantasy football star. And right now, Williams is the cheaper of the two, going 25 spots later than Edwards-Helaire.
Finally, Tevin Coleman began the 2019 season as the San Francisco 49ers’ lead running back but was taken over by playoff-star Raheem Mostert toward the end of the year. Another committee-heavy approach is expected from the 49ers in 2020, and drafters seem a bit wearier about taking someone involved in an RBBC than the experts do. If there’s one thing going for Coleman, it’s that he was able to produce when given the opportunity to do so. In the seven regular-season games that he got at least a dozen touches, he averaged just under 14 fantasy points per game.
ADP likes him more
The running backs that ADP prefers includes one running back that has had an injury-riddled career as well as a pair of backs from the same team. The first back, Derrius Guice, has been an interesting case through his first two seasons. When he’s been on the field, he’s been one of the most explosive backs. Unfortunately, being on the field has been his biggest problem, as he’s only played in five games. Fantasy football drafters appear to be a little bit more confident that he’ll finally be able to string together some healthy games, while his ECR suggests that he’s a fringe-RB3.
Jordan Howard and Matt Breida both joined the Miami Dolphins this offseason in hopes of adding some burst to the backfield. Last year, the Dolphins’ leading rusher was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick — just let that sink in for a second. Hopefully, Howard and Breida can provide some stability to the running back position in Miami, because no Dolphins running back saw more than 75 carries last year. Each of them will have an opportunity to take over as the lead back, which, regardless of the team, is a valuable position in fantasy football.
ECR likes him more
The list of receivers that experts prefer over ADP is a trio of guys who have shown plenty of promise in their short careers. Last season, Cooper Kupp set career highs in all of the major categories. There was some concern midway through the season when he saw his production take a slight dip, but for the most part, he was a near-elite receiving option. He finished the season by scoring a touchdown in each of the final five games on his way to a WR4 overall finish.
Kupp’s NFC West companion, D.K. Metcalf, was more boom-or-bust, but he proved to be a valuable fantasy asset several times throughout the 2019 season. Metcalf got increasingly better as both a fantasy option and as a wide receiver as the year went on. He went from seeing 5.6 targets per game in the first half of the season to 6.9 targets per game in the second half. If an increase in targets continues, then he could be more boom than bust in 2020.
The aforementioned Diontae Johnson is the last player on this list, and he had an under-the-radar rookie season. He led all rookie receivers as well as the Steelers team in receptions with 59. Despite his rookie performance, drafters are heavily discounting him as he’s going ten spots later than where experts expect him to finish. He’s currently projected as the Steelers number two receiving option behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, but the Big Ben-led Steelers have shown in years past that they can support multiple receiving options.
ADP likes him more
Each of the wide receivers favored by ADP are out of the WR2 range for the experts. T.Y. Hilton leads this list, and he’s the most prominent wide receiver of the three. Unfortunately, Hilton’s 2019 campaign was marred by injuries, and he only played in 10 games because of them. Even when he was on the field, he didn’t have nearly the same success as he’s had in the past, finishing as the WR36 on a fantasy points per game basis. The Indianapolis Colts brought in Philip Rivers in hopes of providing some rejuvenation to the offense, and Hilton could benefit from the upgrade at quarterback.
John Brown was an underrated fantasy football asset last year, and he finished as the WR20. But this offseason, the Buffalo Bills brought in another deep threat in Stefon Diggs, and Brown must compete with him for downfield targets. Both Brown and Diggs had an average depth of target over 14.5 yards, so they each play in similar parts of the field. Another reason why ECR may be discounting him is the Bills’ run-first tendency, which they signaled will continue by drafting Zack Moss in the third round. Volume speaks greatly in fantasy football, and that may not be there for Brown this year after he averaged 7.7 targets per game in 2019.
Finally, Sterling Shepard, similar to Hilton, missed several games due to injuries in 2019. That said, he performed much better than Hilton when he was on the field. His 14.2 fantasy points per game were good enough to make him a WR2. Furthermore, he commanded a 23 percent target share — by far the highest on the team — when both he and Daniel Jones played. Shepard is quite a bit underrated by experts, and I tend to lean closer to ADP, as the New York Giants will definitely be throwing the ball plenty in 2020.
ECR likes him more
Experts prefer tight ends on new teams more than fantasy players do. One of the greatest to ever play the position, Rob Gronkowski, is joining Tom Brady in Tampa Bay after sitting out the 2019 season. Though he had a dominant 10-year career up to this point, the last time we saw Gronkowski, he was not the same type of elite fantasy option that we were used to seeing. He finished the 2018 season as the TE11 and looked like a shell of his former self. But now he’ll be joining one of the most pass-happy teams after a year of rest and recovery, poised to make fantasy owners happy once again.
Similarly, the Atlanta Falcons traded a second-round draft pick for Hayden Hurst in hopes of finding their Austin Hooper replacement. Hurst spent most of his tenure in Baltimore as an afterthought behind Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle, despite his first-round pedigree. Now he joins a team that has over 30 percent of its targets up for grabs thanks to the departures of Hooper, Devonta Freeman, and Mohamed Sanu. Hurst could provide some value on draft day if he’s as good as the experts think and if he gets as many opportunities as Hooper did last year.
ADP likes him more
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Evan Engram as someone that ADP prefers over the experts. If he can return to producing like an elite tight end — as he showed in his eight games played last year — then taking him early will be well worth the cost. On a points-per-game basis, Engram finished sixth among tight ends last year, but his ability to stay healthy remains a concern, reflected in his ECR.
Noah Fant showed some similar upside in his rookie season, but he may not have the same opportunities as many would expect. It’s likely that the Denver Broncos’ decision to draft both Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler — two viable pass-catching options — is hurting Fant’s value. He’s the only tight end that will see relevant targets for the Broncos, but it may be hard for him to produce TE1 numbers if he’s averaging just over four targets per game, which is where he was at last year.