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Fantasy Football ADP (Average Draft Position) Explained

by Jason Katz | @jasonkatz13 | Featured Writer
Aug 3, 2020

For the most hardcore fantasy gamers, fantasy football is a year-round project. Other than perhaps taking January off to just enjoy the NFL playoffs, the moment one fantasy season ends, the next one begins.

Approximately 60 million people play fantasy football. For the majority of them, early August is about when they start to get involved. There’s nothing wrong with that. For the fantasy football veterans out there, you can probably skip this article as you already know everything in it. For the more novice crowd, this will serve as a good primer on how ADP should factor into your draft strategy. Given that this season is going to be unlike any other, understanding ADP is even more important.

Check out our consensus ADP to identify values across the most popular league hosts >>

What Is ADP?
ADP stands for Average Draft Position, which is exactly what it sounds like – the average position in which a player is drafted across a (presumably) very large sample of drafts. With our ADP page, you have the option to not only isolate ADP from an individual site, but to select from a number of other sources as well. You can organize it based on which type of league you are in (half ppr, full ppr, or ::gulp:: non-ppr). You can sort by overall ADP or position specific, but either one will also provide you with the other number so you don’t have to jump back and forth.

Why Do I Need to Know ADP?
It is essential to your preparation to know when players are being drafted. ADP represents what the majority of fantasy owners are doing. Not every league is the same and not everyone is going to follow ADPs exactly, but you can safely project that your fellow fantasy owners will be drafting players around where they are supposed to be drafted. This information allows you to predict what players will likely be available at your pick in each round and to plan your approach accordingly.

The deeper into the draft you go, the less sticky ADP becomes. If you pick at 1.04, you can predict with 100% certainty that one of Ezekiel Elliott or Alvin Kamara will be there. If you pick at 1.09, you ca predict with 100% that Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Elliott, and Kamara will be gone, but you can be reasonably confident in being able to draft one of Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, or Nick Chubb.

Given the positional requirements of fantasy football rosters, you need to know whether you are likely to favor a wide receiver or a running back with a specific pick. To do that, you need to know what players will be available. ADP allows you to prepare for each pick before your draft even starts, while also equipping you with the knowledge necessary to audible if things skew towards one position or another.

How Can I Use ADP?
On a very basic level, you use ADP to eliminate players you know for sure won’t be there at your pick. Let’s say your third-round pick is 3.06. You can safely and confidently remove about 22-24 players from your projected player pool. In other words, you can prepare as if you already know those players have been drafted and you have no chance at acquiring them. That allows you to narrow down your focus to a smaller group of players.

Continuing on that front, you can use ADP to create a reasonable list of players you want with each pick. Of course, you must always be willing to adapt to the draft room. Your list of players you want for each round will likely include both running backs and wide receivers (and sometimes quarterbacks and tight ends). If the best player on your board ends up being a wideout for the first six rounds, eventually you are going to have to take a lesser overall player to grab another position.

ADP is also crucial in informing you when a player presents tremendous value. Your list of targets for each round should exclusively be players you believe you can get in those rounds. I recently had this happen to me in a mock draft, so it will serve as a good example here.

Say you have Adam Thielen on your list of targets for your third-round pick (which you should, by the way). You end up going in a different direction because there was someone you liked better. Then, somehow, Thielen is still there at your fourth-round pick. There’s a good chance you weren’t considering Thielen in the third round in the same way you wouldn’t consider someone like Julio Jones or DeAndre Hopkins in the third round – you know they won’t be there. But what if they are? Since ADP led you to put Thielen on your list of third-round targets, you know that his presence as an available player in the fourth round, especially if it’s the back half of the fourth round, is an incredible value. A player you were targeting in an earlier round will always be a superior option to the players you are targeting in later rounds.

Using ADP in Tandem with Your Rankings
This is perhaps the most important concept to understand. Your personal rankings will likely deviate from ADP. They may deviate significantly.

There are situations where ADP may dictate that you take a player you prefer less in order to secure two players you want. This is more likely to occur later in drafts. Here is an example.

Let’s say you really believe in T.Y. Hilton having a tremendous bounce back year. Let’s say you, like me, have Hilton ranked way above consensus. It’s the fourth round and Hilton is the best wide receiver on your board. However, you also like A.J. Brown. You like Hilton more, but you’ve started with three running backs and you really want both of these receivers. If you pass on Brown, there is almost no chance you will get him because he has a mid fourth round ADP. You prefer Hilton to Brown, but with a mid fifth round ADP, there’s a more likely than not chance you can get Hilton with your next pick.

To be clear, I am not saying you should automatically forego the player you really want in order to try and maximize value. If you take the lesser player on your board and end up not getting your guy, you’ve made a mistake. With that being said, you should always try and maximize value. Use ADP in tandem with your rankings to construct the best team you can. You want to draft as many of your highest ranked players as you can. By using ADP and understanding what other owners are most likely to do, you can intentionally draft your players out of order to better your odds of securing both.

Every situation is different, but understanding ADP equips you with the knowledge to make an informed decision; to take a calculated risk if you so desire, rather than blindly following your own rankings.

Final Thoughts
Make sure you stay up to date with the current ADPs. It is early August. Training camp has just begun. We had no rookie minicamp and no real actionable information prior to just recently.

This is the part where I normally advise you to monitor the impact preseason football has on ADPs. All it takes is for a player to have one highlight-reel play or one impressive drive to spike an ADP. All it takes is for a projected starter to not be on the field with the ones in a preseason game to send his ADP plummeting. Except we will have none of them. All we will have are beat reporter accounts of who is getting reps with the first team and who is putting on a show in t-shirts and shorts.

This could play out one of two ways. ADP could remain mostly stagnant due to the lack of real live football, which is most effective on changing public perception. Or, the uncertainty and confusion amongst fantasy gamers not having it be business as usual could send ADP into a frenzy, shuffling positioning based on the limited information we will have.

My advice to you is to stay vigilant. Understand what matters and what does not. When a coach talks about how well all of his players are performing in practice, tune that out. When a coach talks about the mistakes a player is making, pay attention. Remember all the negative reports about Dante Pettis prior to the 2019 season? Negative information is more likely to be actionable than positive information. Pay attention to how the public reacts to everything. See how ADP moves. Remember, ADP is a tool in your arsenal. Use it effectively to thrive in your drafts. Good luck this season!

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Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.

Jason Katz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive or follow him @jasonkatz13.

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