Throw ADP out the Window

Throw ADP Out the Window

Aside from rankings, fantasy football owners often look for the release of the Average Draft Position (ADP). This nifty tool gives fantasy owners an idea where players are most likely drafted, and, often, a trade value gauge. For writers, the ADP is a source of articles and podcast materials. But here I am to tell you to Throw ADP out the window

Hello? Anyone still there? Cool, for you who want to hear me out in processing the rest of my arguments I will deconstruct this ADP monster. The ADP is a tool like any other you may find to help you in your fantasy football experience. However, it is often used in a manner that is not as helpful when things matter; ala your draft. The ADP is just as its name implies, an averaging out of mass mocks or live drafts that gives people an idea of what hundreds and thousands of fantasy players would do in a given round and pick. The idea behind ADP is, if you have studied statistics, that given enough sample data, you can predict just about what rounds player X will most likely be taken. This should not be news to you, nor should what I am about to say next be anything ground breaking. The averaged position has an error score in it; meaning that in any given mock/live draft player X could’ve been drafted a few rounds earlier or later than the average position stated in an ADP. Are you following me so far? See below for a visual representation.


We’re going to use Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins as an example, whose current ADP (5/10/16) is at 7.01 in a data using PPR scoring and 12-team leagues according to The peak of the curve represents 7.01 or 75th player overall. All the empty space below the curve represents the various areas that Jay Ajayi could’ve been drafted in. For example, he might be drafted in 6.05 or 8.02 etc. All of these points state that those are the normal ranges where most people would draft Jay Ajayi, hench “Normal Distribution Curve”, once you get to either tail end of the curve’s extreme, you’re beginning to wander into outlier territory. So, someone’s leagues might’ve had someone who was crazy stupid blindingly in love with Jay Ajayi, this owner decided to draft him in the 3rd round, passing up on talents such as Kelvin Benjamin, Jarvis Landry, Eddie Lacy, etc. Now this is rare, but you have to be open to the idea that this does happen, so that would fall under the standard deviation (i.e. deviating from what is typical). It can go the other way of course. You find yourself in a league where all 12 owners think that Jay Ajayi sucks and won’t touch him until he falls to the 12th round. That would be considered the other extreme end. Some ADP tools does possess the outlier information, showing you what the earliest a player is taken and when the latest.

So now that you have a basic understanding of how ADP is more or less calculated let’s consider what the issues are.

Your draft is only one data point under the Normal Curve

Unless you plan to participate in 100 live draft, you should be open to the possibility that player X could be taken just about anywhere; whether your sleeper is taken 1 or 2 rounds too early or too late (considered normal) or 4-5 rounds too early/late (outlier). ADP doesn’t predict what owners will do or must do, only the range of possibilities. The only exception to this are mostly players in the first two or three rounds of the draft. These players are at a ceiling value, and it is quite easy to predict where they would be taken in a draft as they also have the smallest possibilities of outcomes (short of a season ending injury prior to the draft). Personally, I discard the usefulness of ADP beginning round 4 or 5 of the draft, because a lot of weird things usually happen in these rounds.

Implications: Depending on your level of experience in the different fantasy draft, this may be obvious to you. But for me, I often still find myself a little rattled whenever my sleeper gets taken way earlier than I had anticipated or when I’m overly upraised a player I didn’t plan to draft had fallen extremely far in the draft. This can derail an owners draft plan. The advice is always be flexible and ready to make adjustments on the fly.

Well, so far this isn’t necessarily a reason to throw ADP out the window. But here are two reasons why I do not like to use ADP.

ADP adjusts slow to new information

Whether it’s an injury or suspension, once news breaks ADP data doesn’t reflect this immediate change. According to the underlying assumptions of ADP, it should take another 100+ mock/live draft data after news has broken for the new ADP to show a more “accurate” value. Outdated information are particularly less useful in trade talks.

ADP information is tied to general format

Using ADP as value isn’t helpful for value gauging past the top 3-4 rounds. Again, when you consider live draft and mocks, each owner is trying to either fill out their starting positions or collecting depth. It’s unpredictable what owners generally do. So, for example, in the 8th round, Joe might be trying to draft his 3rd RB Matt Forte, but Sam is picking his 4th WR in the 9th in Marvin Jones. By no means would this automatically mean that Matt Fote is worth Devin Funchess. In most 1 QB format, I would rather hold on to Devin Funchess as a 3rd WR/Flex option than give him up for Forte.

Moreover, if your league format is a 16 team league, an ADP constructed through 12 team mocks makes even less sense to rely on. Just imagine, in a 12 team league, when the 2nd round comes about, team 10 is picking his 2nd player (15th overall pick), and could be thinking about doubling up on RB or WR, whereas in a 16-team league, team 10 isn’t getting his 2nd player until 2.06 (22nd overall pick). Just an increase in league size changes the landscape of what players will be available for you to create your team, thus the information is again not translating over to be useful as a draft prep or a trade value gauge.

If you want an Average Team, then draft according to ADP

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. In essence, I have yet to encounter any live draft that follows the ADP after the first 1.5 rounds. It also doesn’t mean you should go wild and start reaching for players that are true “sleepers”. In essence, I think all dynasty owners and to a degree redraft owners should ground themselves in a type of philosophy. One that helps you know when to take risk and jump ahead for a certain player, or how many % of your team should be high risk/reward players. Otherwise, you’ll put yourself in a bad position where you’re perpetually plugging holes while new ones appear. A team construction philosophy is infinitely more important than

ADP limits you psychologically

Somewhat related to the last point. ADP has a psychological effect on owners (as does rankings). We dislike it when people tell us we reached in our draft, but we also kick ourselves when we let someone else jump in to swoop the player that “I would’ve taken with my next pick”. In essence, ADP is an imaginary audience we create in our head that judges your ever single draft move. We want to please this imaginary crowd by showing them how we masterfully waited until the right time to snipe someone else, or how we showed patience and let the draft come to us. All these thoughts has no immediate benefits to you (except maybe releasing a great deal of dopamine), because a.) your league mates are not likely very impressed as they are more concerned with their own team, b.) you’re more likely to experience paralysis by over analysis. Do yourself a favor, consult the ADP for a rough estimate of a draft and then based on it create your own Ranking System or the better yet a BIG BOARD (ask me what it is), and then throw ADP out the window.


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