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Earmarking the ADP of the Trendiest Fantasy Football Picks

If you followed this ADP series during the preseason for fantasy baseball, you’ll recall my affectation with discussing the rising ADP of some of the season’s most trendy picks and how their popularity essentially ruins their value on draft day. Quite often, a variety of players become the darlings of many a fantasy pundit and after a number of write-ups about an impending breakout season, the masses get so swept up in the possibilities, that they begin to reach in drafts for these players rather than patiently wait to take them in their appropriate round. Suddenly a player who was a sleeper in the 15th round becomes a well-known commodity and people begin taking him in somewhere around the 10th round for fear of losing out on him. Well, just like in baseball, football has the trendy picks as well and today we’re going to look at a few of them, discuss both their ADP and expected draft trends and mark them for tracking over the next month.

Montee Ball, RB DEN – He’s probably the most popular rookie running back this season and even before OTAs started off in June, fantasy players had him earmarked for starting duty and a relatively high draft pick. The Broncos got rid of Willis McGahee in the offseason and incumbent backs such as Knowshon Moreno (last year’s second-half waiver darling), Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball were all returning for back-up duty/limited roles. Ball, Montee that is, currently has an ADP of 45.27 in standard scoring leagues and 55.87 in PPR play (according to data provided by the NFFC). That number has actually dropped in standard leagues since June where he had a 25.53 on MDC but took a slight increase from the mark of 60.00 in PPR leagues. The change in ADP in PPR leagues is relatively negligible and while the change in standard is significant, the drop had more to do with the number of drafts the data was being pulled from than it did Ball’s performance. His current ADP is more in line with where he should be drafted, but as we move closer to the season, should he take a more lead role in training camp, that ADP is going to climb fairly quickly.

Colin Kaepernick, QB SF – While fantasy owners love the gunslingers, a sturdy quarterback with a great arm and a strong ability to run is like fantasy gold these days. Kaeperniock showed last year that he was capable of doing both, but it’s his touchdown poaching that has caught everyone’s eye. He rushed for 415 yards with five touchdowns last year and there’s growing speculation that with no Michael Crabtree and with Frank Gore turning 30-years old, Kaepernick could take it on himself to do even more with his legs. Similarly to Ball, Kaepernick’s ADP on MDC is fluctuating as we continue to increase the sample size of the data we are using, but he’s actually seen a steady rise in NFFC play as many are turning to QBs a little earlier. The interesting thing about Kaepernick, with respect to the anticipated ADP increase, is that he is expected to repeat, if not improve upon, his level of play from last year even in the absence of his number one target. While most QBs in his situation would see a drop (see Tom Brady), Kaepernick is holding steady right now and is expected to see an increase the closer we get to the start of the season.

Shane Vereen, RB NE – This is more for PPR leagues as Vereen is expected to poach a ton of work from Stevan Ridley and become the new Kevin Faulk, so to speak. Without his usual tight end targets and with only Danny Amendola and an unproven Andre Dodson as the main targets for Brady, many are expecting an increase in check downs that will result in even more work for Vereen. His ADP in PPR leagues has steadily climbed over the last few weeks but hasn’t gone up by more than two rounds yet, hovering around the 72 mark currently. But he is one of the few to see such an increase at this point and is likely to see an even bigger climb once his role in the offense becomes a little more well-defined.

Tavon Austin, WR STL – We’ve said before how it can be difficult in the NFL for a rookie to make a huge impact in his first year, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping people from locking in on Austin, particularly in PPR leagues. His current 77.32 ADP in NFFC play is up by more than a full round since late June and his 81.89 ADP in standard leagues is up by about eight picks since last we looked back in late June. The steady increase began when OTAs started for the Rams and now several are speculating that he will become Sam Bradford’s new go-to guy now that Amendola is gone. Once the masses start seeing the two hook up during training camp, we’re likely to start seeing an even bigger increase as he becomes more popular.

Vernon Davis, TE SF – Everyone, including yours truly, predicted a breakout season for Davis last year and had the season been just four weeks long, we all would have been right. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and he disappeared as the season progressed with defenses cutting off his routes and preventing him finding any open field. This year, with Crabtree out of the picture for most of the year, many are again expecting Davis to light it up. With the Patriots’ tight ends out of the picture, some owners are elevating the remaining tights end in the top 10 and Davis has seen his ADP climb in both standard and PPR play, going as high as a fourth round pick in leagues of 12 to 14 teams.

So mark these names down as we’ll be re-visiting with them from time to time over the next month. In some cases they are right where they should be, but with a few nudging endorsements from the writers, they are sure to see an increase in all drafts. In-camp performance may justify the ADP increase these guys will take, but if they merely toe the line this summer and still see an increase in ADP ranking, you may want to back off and let someone else make the reach while you select a much more sensible player.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com.

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