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Fantasy Football PPR Rankings: Expert Consensus vs. ESPN ADP (2020)

by Sam Hoppen | @samhoppen | Featured Writer
Aug 28, 2020

Like the stock market, fantasy football success can be found 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 is highly relevant because it 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 ESPN 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!

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ECR likes him more

Quarterback ECR ADP Diff.
Josh Allen (BUF) 7 10 3
Jared Goff (LAR) 17 20 3

ADP likes him more

Quarterback ECR ADP Diff.
Deshaun Watson (HOU) 6 3 3
Tom Brady (TB) 11 7 4

Jared Goff is one of the guys I’ve been pounding the table for this offseason because I think he’s tremendously undervalued, as evidenced by his lower ECR and ADP. Last season, Goff threw the ball 626 times and only had 22 touchdowns for an exceptionally low 3.5 percent touchdown rate. Prior to last season, his career touchdown rate was 5.2 percent — even if he doesn’t hit that rate exactly, he’s bound to have more passing touchdowns in 2020.

Josh Allen, while not as undervalued, is being discounted by ESPN drafters. Last year, Allen, the QB6 in fantasy football, was one of the most consistent fantasy quarterbacks. He finished with 13 games of at least 15.3 fantasy points (second-most only to Lamar Jackson). With a new bonafide number-one wide receiver in Stefon Diggs added to the team, Allen could continue to be a valuable fantasy asset, especially if he improves as a passer.

Deshaun Watson finds himself in the second tier of quarterbacks behind Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, which also includes Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, and Russell Wilson. While ECR thinks he should be the last of those quarterbacks taken, ESPN drafters seem to have more confidence in him. Watson obviously lost his most reliable pass-catching option in DeAndre Hopkins, but he got a plethora of new weapons in Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, and David Johnson. None of these are on Hopkins’ level, but they should provide enough support for Watson to have another solid year.

Tom Brady, however, is now playing with one of the best receiving corps that he’s ever had now that he’s a Tampa Bay Buccaneer (that still feels weird to type out). Last year, Brady finished as the QB12, despite playing on a team that threw the ball on only 59 percent of its plays. In contrast, Tampa Bay threw it on over 62 percent of its plays. The last time Brady finished as a top 10 quarterback was in 2017, which was the only time in the past four seasons that he’s thrown for over 4,500 yards. If he is to return to near-elite status, he’ll need to have one of his best passing seasons in a while, especially since he adds nothing on the ground.

Running Back

ECR likes him more

Running Back ECR ADP Diff.
Joe Mixon (CIN) 10 14 4
Matt Breida (MIA) 33 39 6

ADP likes him more

Running Back ECR ADP Diff.
Nick Chubb (CLE) 14 8 6
Devin Singletary (BUF) 26 22 4

Joe Mixon, entering the final year of his rookie contract, is on the bubble of being an elite running back. That said, the ECR is more confident than ESPN drafters that this could happen, and that Mixon could return to playing the way he did in the second half of 2019. During the final eight games of last season, Mixon was the RB4 in PPR leagues. He did this while averaging over 22 carries per game over that eight-game stretch. With Joe Burrow hopefully bringing a spark to the offense, Mixon has a great path to returning value on his RB14 ADP.

A little further down the draft board, you’ll find Matt Breida, who is being discounted as a new member of the Miami Dolphins backfield. While some may label Breida as a threat in the passing game, that may be overstated, as he’s only averaged just over two targets per game in his three-year career. However, Breida is one of the leagues’ most elusive rushers. He has a career average of 5.0 yards per carry and has posted 21 total breakaway runs over the past two seasons — that’s good for breakaway run rates of 6.5% (6th) and 8.5% (4th).

Both of the players that drafters prefer will be facing increased competition in their respective backfields this season. For Nick Chubb, it’s a full season with Kareem Hunt taking away backfield touches. Unfortunately for Chubb, Hunt is one of the few “handcuffs” that is also a threat to take away early-down touches. But there’s a reason why Chubb is a first-round pick this year — he competed for the rushing title last year and averaged over 90 rushing yards per game. Now, with a new coach, there’s reason to believe his play could get better, even with Hunt.

In the case of Devin Singletary, the Buffalo Bills replaced old man Frank Gore with Zack Moss, drafting him in the third round. It was a tale of two halves for Singletary, as he struggled to get a workhorse role in the first half of last year with Gore in town, but he finished the regular season with six-straight games with at least 14 rushing attempts. The primary concern with Singletary is his lack of work near the goal line, as he only had three carries inside the 10-yard line (compared to 18 and 11 for Gore and Allen, respectively). If Moss is truly to take the Frank Gore role, including the goal-line touches, then Singletary may struggle once again to get into the end zone.

Wide Receiver

ECR likes him more

Wide Receiver ECR ADP Diff.
Allen Robinson (CHI) 7 13 6
D.J. Chark (JAC) 21 27 6

ADP likes him more

Wide Receiver ECR ADP Diff.
Adam Thielen (MIN) 14 9 5
Courtland Sutton (DEN) 23 15 8

Allen Robinson’s ADP value at ESPN is one of the most shocking to me. Throughout his career, Robinson has performed well with lackluster play from his quarterback. That didn’t stop him from posting the second WR1 season of his career in 2019. Shockingly, Robinson saw a career-high 154 targets, turning that into 98 receptions and his second 1,000-yard receiving season. With Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky pushing each other and competing to be the QB1, there’s a good chance that the Bears, and subsequently Robinson, will have better quarterback play this year.

D.J. Chark was one of last year’s breakout receivers for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he could see a similar path to relevance in 2020 as the aforementioned Robinson did when he was with Jacksonville. With the lowest projected win total and a crumbling defense, the Jaguars are poised to be throwing the ball a lot. Last year, Chark commanded nearly 22 percent of the teams’ targets, and without much major competition being brought in, he could see a similar level of attention in 2020.

Leading the way of players preferred by ADP is Adam Thielen, who enters the 2020 season as Kirk Cousins’ primary target. Without Stefon Diggs around to take valuable targets away from Thielen, we finally get to see what he can do as the team’s true WR1. Thielen battled through injuries last year, causing him to miss six games, but he still wasn’t nearly the player we had seen the two years prior when he was healthy. Even though the Minnesota Vikings drafted Justin Jefferson, Thielen’s chemistry with Cousins increases the probability of a healthy target share this year.

Third-year wide receiver Courtland Sutton posted his first 1,000-yard receiving season on 124 targets last season. He got a chance to be the Denver Broncos’ lead wide receiver when they sent Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers midway through the year, and he certainly got the attention of one. Sutton averaged nearly eight targets per game and over 60 receiving yards per game in the final nine games of the season. ESPN drafters seem to think that Sutton’s second half is a sign of things to come for the sprouting pass catcher.

Tight End

ECR likes him more

Tight End ECR ADP Diff.
Hayden Hurst (ATL) 9 13 4
Mike Gesicki (MIA) 11 15 4

ADP likes him more

Tight End ECR ADP Diff.
Rob Gronkowski (TB) 13 6 7
Noah Fant (DEN) 15 11 4

Hayden Hurst and Mike Gesicki are two of my favorite breakout candidates at tight end this year, so it’s fitting that ECR is higher on them than the public. Hurst has a new home in Atlanta after spending the first two years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens. Atlanta invested a significant amount in Hurst, trading away a second-round pick to acquire him. Hurst will immediately fill the gap left behind by Austin Hooper, who left in free agency. With 158 vacated targets, Hurst will have plenty of opportunities to be a top tight end.

Gesicki is also entering his third season, and he showed a great deal of potential in 2019. Notably, Gesicki was third among tight ends in routes run (behind only Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz) and was fourth among tight ends in total air yards. Despite the litany of additions that the Miami Dolphins made this offseason to bolster both their offense and defense, they figure to be throwing the ball quite a bit once again. Fortunate for Gesicki, he doesn’t line up to block that often, so he’ll be found running routes when the Dolphins do pass the ball.

I’m as big of a Rob Gronkowski fan as any, but to think he’ll return to elite status seems a bit foolish. The last time we saw Gronkowski in 2018, he averaged just over 10 PPR fantasy points per game, good enough for TE9 in points per game. While that pace would land right in the middle of ECR and ADP, recent reports have indicated that Gronkowski may not even lead Tampa Bay tight ends in snaps. After a year off, Gronkowski also joins a team that targeted the tight end position on 19 percent of its passes, which was in the bottom half of the league last year.

Another Broncos pass-catching option finds himself being favored by ESPN ADP over ECR, which may say more about ESPN drafters’ confidence in Drew Lock to perform well than anything. In any case, Noah Fant is an electric tight end who enters his second year with plenty of hype. In 2019, Fant had over 15 percent of Denver’s air yards (which tend to travel further because of the elevation), which was ninth-most among tight ends. If Lock plays as well as people expect, then Fant could be in for a big year.

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Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Fantasy Football Draft or head to more advanced strategy – like When is it Okay to Reach on Draft Day? – to learn more.

Sam Hoppen is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @SamHoppen.

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