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.

If you know the draft order, you can use ADP to eliminate players you know won’t be there at your pick. If your third-round pick is 3.06, you can 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.

Eliminating players from consideration in a draft is valuable because this enables you to narrow your focus to a smaller group of players. Once the draft starts, you are on the clock with each pick. You simply don’t have enough time to consider a large pool of players, so you can keep a smaller number of players on your draft board.

I use ADP to create a reasonable list of players I would want to draft in each round. Of course, I am always ready and able to adapt as the draft progresses and pivot if necessary. There are always surprises – players I never expected to be available that are still on the board. This happens more often in baseball, than football.

In football, 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 four rounds, you should consider taking a running back in the fifth round no matter what.

Baseball is even more complicated because you are filling spots for various position players and pitchers. Based on my experience, football drafts are more predictable and easier to manage than baseball. Football drafts are also more important to your success in that season because the season is shorter and the pool of players smaller.

ADP is helpful in informing you when an available player presents tremendous value. Your list of targets for each round should be players you believe you can get in those rounds. However, you should be able to recognize a situation where a player with a significantly lower ADP is unexpectedly still on the board when it’s your turn.

Before I draft, I study ADP rankings frequently and attempt to memorize the rankings of the players I have already identified as those I’d like to own at the right price. If I’m not willing to do the preparation work, I have no way to identify a bargain draft pick. ADP is the tool I use to help determine what the right price is.

If you’re serious about drafting a good team, you should take time to create your own personal rankings and see how they deviate from ADP. They may deviate significantly. This doesn’t mean you’re wrong and the public is right, but you must ask yourself why the others got it wrong and you got it right on a particular player.

Remember, ADP is only a draft tool – not the gospel. You can use ADP in tandem with your rankings to maximize the draft. You want to draft as many of your favorite players as you can. By using ADP and understanding what other owners are likely to do, you can intentionally draft your players out of order to better your odds of securing more.

When looking at ADP rankings, look at various drafting platform. You will find significance variance – especially 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 they can be drafted at a value on your platform.

In baseball, ADP still a valuable tool but not as important as in football. It’s useful to know how the overall market views the available player pool in baseball. But the sample size is smaller because less people play fantasy baseball. 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 only 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, he’s a bargain.

When using ADP as a tool, be sure you stay up to date with the current ADPs rankings. These ratings will change dramatically as the season progresses in both baseball and football. When I go back and look at the ADP of the players I drafted last February, before the shutdown, I am amazed at how much the rankings have changed.

Thomas Seltzer in also a regular contributor to CREATiVESPORTS. You can follow Thomas on Twitter.




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