DRAFT STRATEGY: ADP IS GPS, SO GET THE 411 ASAP

KNOWLEDGE DROP – August 10, 2018

ADPs ARE YOUR GPS — KNOW YOUR ROUTE BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Every Fantasy player is focused on his or her first pick. Most players, I would guess, spend more than 50 percent (some closer to 75-80 percent) focusing on that first pick, the foundation of the team.  And with good reason.

But my advice? Start with the 10th round.

Huh?

I don’t mean think about who your 10th round target is; I do mean: know the draft, have a general outline for your first ten picks, study the ADPs.  Your 10th round pick may have a lot to do with who you pick in the first round. To prepare, here is my advice:

  • Know your philosophy. When the draft is over I want the other teams to say “You have the best running backs by a mile (or receivers or QB).” If you dominate a position, and build depth at RB and WR, you will have flexibility in-season. It’s okay to have a mediocre WR corps or unspectacular QBs because your depth at RB can help you upgrade later. What is your draft philosophy? Balance? Gronk first and questions later?
  • Outline your first 10 picks. After 10 rounds, how many players to you want to have at each position?
  • Study/Memorize the ADP data. How and when is the best time to acquire those positions within the first 10 rounds.  Surely you won’t wait until the 6th round to pick a RB, based on the distribution of talent via ADP. But know where the runs tend to be and the distribution of positions in the draft.

Take my example.  Just today, I drew the 10th pick in my 10-team 2-QB PPR league, and in a separate less conventional league.  I love this spot because of my ability to take two players at once. I will be subject to positional runs, but I know the ADPs of 2-QB leagues and I’ll become familiar with the specific ADPs of the site we use to draft (which is the most important list to know).

My initial thought was that I could take a top WR and and maybe the sixth or seventh RB off the board, but that was before I looked at the data.  Picks 30 and 31 are as important – and have a huge impact – on that first pair of picks.  I have to evaluate the likely talent on the board at the end of the 3rd round before committing to a first round choice.  So let’s do that.

Here are the top 100 players by ADP and we’ll break it down positionally below that.  Remember this is for 2-QB leagues:

# Pick Name Pos
1 1.02 Todd Gurley RB
2 1.02 LeVeon Bell RB
3 1.03 Ezekiel Elliott RB
4 1.04 David Johnson RB
5 1.05 Antonio Brown WR
6 1.06 Aaron Rodgers QB
7 1.07 Alvin Kamara RB
8 1.08 Saquon Barkley RB
9 1.09 DeAndre Hopkins WR
10 1.1 Melvin Gordon RB
11 1.11 Kareem Hunt RB
12 1.12 Odell Beckham Jr WR
13 2.01 Leonard Fournette RB
14 2.02 Dalvin Cook RB
15 2.02 Deshaun Watson QB
16 2.03 Julio Jones WR
17 2.05 Russell Wilson QB
18 2.06 Michael Thomas WR
19 2.07 Devonta Freeman RB
20 2.08 Keenan Allen WR
21 2.09 Carson Wentz QB
22 2.09 Tom Brady QB
23 2.1 Davante Adams WR
24 2.11 Christian McCaffrey RB
25 2.12 A.J. Green WR
26 3.02 Jordan Howard RB
27 3.02 Cam Newton QB
28 3.03 Rob Gronkowski TE
29 3.04 Mike Evans WR
30 3.05 Drew Brees QB
31 3.06 Joe Mixon RB
32 3.06 LeSean McCoy RB
33 3.08 Jerick McKinnon RB
34 3.09 Stefon Diggs WR
35 3.1 T.Y. Hilton WR
36 3.1 Jimmy Garoppolo QB
37 4.01 Kirk Cousins QB
38 4.02 Derrick Henry RB
39 4.02 Tyreek Hill WR
40 4.03 Travis Kelce TE
41 4.04 Matthew Stafford QB
42 4.05 Adam Thielen WR
43 4.06 Andrew Luck QB
44 4.07 Doug Baldwin WR
45 4.08 Derrius Guice RB
46 4.09 Josh Gordon WR
47 4.09 Jared Goff QB
48 4.12 Ben Roethlisberger QB
49 5.02 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR
50 5.02 Matt Ryan QB
51 5.02 Kenyan Drake RB
52 5.03 Amari Cooper WR
53 5.03 Zach Ertz TE
54 5.03 Philip Rivers QB
55 5.05 Brandin Cooks WR
56 5.06 Pat Mahomes QB
57 5.07 Lamar Miller RB
58 5.07 Allen Robinson WR
59 5.08 Larry Fitzgerald WR
60 5.11 Marcus Mariota QB
61 6.01 Mark Ingram RB
62 6.01 Alex Smith QB
63 6.01 Demaryius Thomas WR
64 6.02 Sony Michel RB
65 6.04 Derek Carr QB
66 6.04 Alex Collins RB
67 6.04 Rashaad Penny RB
68 6.05 Jarvis Landry WR
69 6.06 Jimmy Graham TE
70 6.08 Golden Tate WR
71 6.1 Dak Prescott QB
72 6.11 Alshon Jeffery WR
73 6.12 Julian Edelman WR
74 6.12 Ronald Jones II RB
75 7.01 Evan Engram TE
76 7.01 Greg Olsen TE
77 7.05 Marvin Jones WR
78 7.05 Corey Davis WR
79 7.05 Jay Ajayi RB
80 7.06 Jameis Winston QB
81 7.07 Sammy Watkins WR
82 7.08 Marlon Mack RB
83 7.1 Dion Lewis RB
84 7.11 Mitch Trubisky QB
85 7.12 Kyle Rudolph TE
86 7.12 Royce Freeman RB
87 8.01 Case Keenum QB
88 8.01 Robert Woods WR
89 8.01 Jordan Reed TE
90 8.04 Delanie Walker TE
91 8.04 Carlos Hyde RB
92 8.05 Michael Crabtree WR
93 8.06 Will Fuller WR
94 8.07 Eli Manning QB
95 8.08 Tarik Cohen RB
96 8.1 Chris Hogan WR
97 8.11 Devin Funchess WR
98 8.12 Tevin Coleman RB
99 9.01 Trey Burton TE
100 9.02 Marquise Goodwin WR

 

Here’s the overall breakdown of the first 100 picks:

Position Number drafted
RB 32
WR 34
QB 24
TE 10

 

Thankfully no defenses, on average, were drafted in these first 10 rounds of a 10-team league.  These overall numbers are not surprising – everyone has about 3 RB, 3 WR, a TE and both QBs.  Let’s drill down deeper, first looking at the top 50, then the 51-100 picks:

Position Number drafted in top 50 Number drafted 51-100
RB 18 14
WR 16 18
QB 14 10
TE 2 10

 

So what we see is a slightly higher emphasis on RBs in this top 50 and the next 50 we see TEs fill in for the fewer numbers of RBs and QBs.

Let’s go round-by-round in that top 50:

Position 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50
RB 7 4 2 4 1
WR 2 4 3 3 4
QB 1 2 4 2 5
TE 0 0 1 1 0

 

So everyone is getting at least one back in the first two rounds.  With so few bell-cow backs you really must try to lock a great one down, two if you can, early on. Those who don’t covet Aaron Rodgers generally make sure they grab a QB in rounds 3-5 and WRs are pretty steady after the first round.

Let’s get back to me – just the way I like it.  I have a pair of #10 picks and I know the ADPs I’m working with, so I can solidly plan my first 10 rounds. After that in the draft, ADPs don’t mean much.  Grab talent or upside that you like to either make skill positions deeper or to have backups at every position, depending on your preference.

I will pretend this league is complete redraft (in reality I’m probably keeping two WR)

Rounds 1 & 2 (#10/#11): I always want a running back in Round 1 or at the latest round 2. My instincts tell me to grab a running back and one of the top WRs here.  So I look at the ADPs around #30 to see which running backs will be available, should I choose only one here. Joe Mixon, LeSean McCoy, Jerick McKinnon and Derrick Henry.  I don’t love any of these names. Further down the list (#51) is Kenyan Drake, whom I love this year.  I think Drake is a top 20 player and borderline top 10 running back this year. So here’s what I do: I’m Assuming Gurley, Bell, Elliott, D. Johnson, Kamara and Barkley are gone (though I would pass on Barkley. Round 1 is no place for an unproven commodity for me.) My top available backs are Gordon, Hunt, Fournette, Cook and Freeman.  I select Leonard Fournette and Michael Thomas.  (I know what I want to do at 3 and 4 already, which helped me dictate this move.)

Rounds 3 & 4 (#30/#31): I take Stefon Diggs and I “reach” for Kenyan Drake. I believe by Labor Day, Drake’s ADP will have climbed to about #37 (remember this is 2QB), and I like him sizably more than any other RB here. Diggs and Thomas make a great combo.  If Diggs is gone I would consider Tyreek Hill but not Mike Evans (burn me once…).  I’d pass in TY Hilton – his inconsistency and my fears about Andrew Luck scare me away. I don’t think Davante Adams or AJ Green quite fall this far, but if QBs go off the board faster than expected I would jump for one of them here. If ADPs hold I’d consider Hill or my first QB (Drew Brees) here. The QB/WR combo excites me more than it scares me – and my fiercest rival in the league is a Saints fan and I want to blister him with Saints.  I’m a jerk like that.

Players on my roster so far: RB Fournette, WR M. Thomas, WR Diggs, RB Drake

Rounds 5 & 6 (#50/#51): I often like to have top QBs in 2-QB leagues – they are generally the most proficient scorers and bad QB play almost never results in a Fantasy football win. I must get my hands on a QB in this spot. According to nearby ADPs, I might have a shot at Jared Goff (47), Ben Roethlisberger (48), Matt Ryan (50), Philip Rivers (54) and Marcus Mariota (60).  So at #50 I’ll take Rivers as my QB1, knowing I’ll need a strong QB2 to have a competitive duo at the position. This is an area of the draft where I usually look for another RB – they’ll be dropping off soon.  But I don’t love the group of Lamar Miller, Mark Ingram, Sony Michel, Alex Collins and Rashaad Penny. Too much speculation for my liking.  I’m actually going to take my first “risk” of the draft with WR Allen Robinson. He missed virtually the whole season last year, he’s the clear top WR in Chicago (it’s all about the targets baby) and he has loads of talent.  With Thomas and Diggs in the fold, I see this as an easy choice. Normally I’d take 2QBs here because of the long wait back, but I feel okay with a pretty consistent Rivers and the available talent later.

Through six picks: Fournette, M. Thomas, Diggs, Drake, Rivers, Robinson.

Rounds 7 & 8 (#70/#71): I don’t have a tight end yet but, according to ADPs, only four players have been taken at this position so far. This is a tough spot for me.  I love, love, love Evan Engram (#75 ADP) yet I also love Trey Burton (#99) who should be available at my next turn. I need another QB and I have only two RBs and really need to bolster that position. I like Ronald Jones II at ADP 74, but Jay Ajayi at 79 is too delicious without Legarrette Blount in the backfield anymore.  Sure the Eagles have Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, but I see Ajayi getting a lot more touches this season.  And touches = points. I select Ajayi in the 7th round and Engram in the 8th.  (Note: my league is a keeper league, so I always take the better prospective keeper with the 2nd of back-to-back picks.  Note also: Because we have keepers, these players will be off the board earlier).

Through eight picks: RBs Fournette, Drake, Ajayi; WRs M. Thomas, Diggs, Robinson; QB Rivers; TE Engram

Rounds 9 & 10 (#90/#91):  I have to draft my 2nd starting QB.  This would represent the latest in any draft I’ve ever owned to 2QBs. And in fact, I’ve hurt my team by not doing so.  I’ll have to draft Eli Manning, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, or Andy Dalton. In reality, when push came to shove at 70/71, I probably would have passed on Engram to take Dak Prescott or Jameis Winston, though I don’t love either of those players, and selected Burton here. Here’s what I am going to do:  I draft both Manning and Taylor. This of course assumes that Taylor starts the season as the Browns starter.  If not, I might take Bortles.  But knowing my 2nd QB would be on the bench for other team, I want a quick 3rd QB for flexibility.  Tyrod Taylor can provide pretty good value for, say, 6-8 weeks. And not being an Eli guy, I will need options.  Remember you’re not drafting for Week 16 in August or early September. You’re essentially drafting your team for the first four weeks of the season. Knowing QB is likely to be an ongoing situation and a streaming/mix and match situation, I’m okay with my trio.

First 10 Players: RBs Fournette, Drake, Ajayi; WRs M. Thomas, Diggs, Robinson; QBs Rivers, Manning, Taylor; TE Engram

Thoughts:

  • I don’t love this (unfinished) team. I like it, but love is strong. You should never love your team on Draft Night. Sure, be pleased, hopeful and anxious to play. But if you totally love your team, you will be too slow to pull the trigger on necessary changes. Know the weaknesses and where you are not deep.
  • I have the Manning/Engram connection which I do love. Engram is essentially the 2nd receiver on the Giants and although they will run the ball more with Barkley in the fold, I think Engram will be wide open on play-action all season long.
  • Six RBs and WRs combined is about right. Other seasons, I might have seven of them without a TE or a 3rd But when I do the numbers I know that there are only so many QBs and according to ADP, only eight TEs are gone. So passing on a TE and taking two of them between rounds 11 and 14 often works out just fine.
  • The rest of the draft will go like this: Defense and Kicker in the final two rounds (we have 19 rounds) and I will draft almost exclusively RBs and WRs otherwise.
  • If I do have Taylor on my roster, I will unofficially target Mayfield as well. If Taylor struggles, that’s a natural roster drop later, and if he’s lights out, I can either trade or release the rookie during the bye weeks.
  • Stop relying on ADPs around the 10th If you like a player, go get him. While many of the late round players will be expendable, take the ones you feel good about and don’t apologize.
  • It’s your roster and I’ll bet you nobody is thinking more about its total construction, from top to bottom, than you are. So Tyrod Taylor in the 10th is “silly” but you know that your QBs are not very strong and you needed his insurance for at least the first part of the season.
  • Do know which players are being taken late or not typically drafted. If you’re like me, and you should be, you’re drafting defense and kicker late (with no backups since streaming them is just as effective) – you might miss out on someone you identified as a sleeper weeks ago, but you don’t have the roster spot for him.
  • It is acceptable to take a defense before the final two rounds, but know the top drafted defenses rarely finish as top units at the end of the season. But look at the first four weeks’ strength of schedule and reach a bit for a defense with golden early matchups. But don’t fall in love with that defense.

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