Understanding ADP

When you prepare to draft a seasonal fantasy team, whether it’s baseball, football, basketball, hockey, or tiddlywinks, it’s important to know the average draft position. ADP is nothing more than the average number pick that a certain player is being drafted across the combined results of multiple drafts conducted on a specific platform.

ADP is the industry standard, and it provides valuable information to you on how a player is being drafted across all leagues. Once drafting season begins, all the major sites (ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, Fantasy Pros, etc.) will compile their own ADP lists. It’s a valuable tool but it just a tool. The fact is that the public gets it wrong sometimes.

For example, let’s assume we want to calculate Christian McCaffrey’s ADP. There are 10 fantasy football drafts to date, and McCaffrey was drafted No. 1 overall in all 10 of them. McCaffrey’s ADP is 1.0. However, if McCaffrey was drafted No. 1 in five of those drafts and No. 2 in the other five, he would have an ADP of 1.5.

In addition to overall ADP, it is also frequently calculated by position. Currently, Aaron Jones’ ADP is 14, but he also has an ADP of RB9, which means he’s the ninth running back to be drafted on average. The more drafts, the more meaningful the information because a larger sample size is always more reliable than a small one.

When looking at ADP rankings, look at various drafting platform. You will find significance variance – especially as you move further down in the rankings. But if you have an average of all the large platforms, this is more significant. You will want to know the ADP of the players you are interested in to see if a player can be drafted at a value.

In baseball, ADP is also a valuable tool. It’s useful to know how the overall market views the available player pool, which is larger than football. But the sample size is smaller because less people play fantasy baseball than football. With baseball, I am more interested in seeing how the professionals view the players than the general public.

The National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) is widely viewed by fantasy players as the best collection of fantasy baseball players. The NFBC’s Main Event is the industry’s equivalent of the World Series of Poker. The entry fee is $1,700, so you can bet these are not casual players competing for the $150,000 first prize.

You can learn a lot from studying NFBC and other professional drafts. There is the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) and Tout Wars, to name a couple more. I find these drafts and their corresponding ADP numbers valuable in confirming some of my suspicions about players I might want to draft in the later rounds.

When I enter a draft, I have already identified 20 or more players I’m interested in. But I want to draft these players at the right price. The reason is because the cost of an early-round pick is much greater than a late-round pick. If I know a player I like has an ADP of 50, and he’s still on the board for the 75th pick, that’s valuable information.

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