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Let's Talk About ADP

While, for some of you, the notion that it’s already time to start prepping for your fantasy baseball league may seem a bit obsessive, but in truth, given the extensive hot stove action we get every winter, it’s never too early. Gathering all of the necessary information – from player movement to projected rotations to potential draft strategies – is paramount to your success each year and the earlier a jump you get on it, the more likely you’ll be the one standing on the top of the mountain once the season is over. It may only be the second week of January, but if you haven’t already been studying up, you’re already behind.

Setting yourself up with a preferred set of rankings and projections is likely the first place you’ll want to start. You can either crunch the numbers yourself to set up your own or you can find yourself a trusted source and use theirs. They should prove to be an invaluable tool. However, with so many different projection systems and opinions out there, player values can be inconsistent at times. Maybe one site is higher on Jose Fernandez and his expected sophomore campaign while another thinks his innings increase is going to hurt him this year. The first site says he’s easily worth a third round choice and the second tells you that he won’t earn a positive value if taken anywhere earlier than the seventh. So where do you go from there?

That’s where Average Draft Position (ADP) comes into play.

What better way to determine where you should be a taking a particular player than to match his projected value with the public’s perception of his expected value? Public perception will play a huge factor in almost every draft strategy and you’ll need to know just how popular or unpopular a selection someone may be to determine how fast (or slow) you need to act on Draft Day. You may be really high on a certain shortstop, but if the public doesn’t share the same opinion, then there’s no rush to grab him in your draft. Take your time, fill some other holes and then grab him in a lower round. If you’re right about his value, then you’ve stolen him for a bargain price. If you’re wrong, at least you didn’t overpay.  

Or how about a player that everyone seems to love? You get a few fantasy pundits who tout a particular player’s talent and put him on their sleeper lists and suddenly, that player becomes insanely popular. Fantasy owners who buy into the hype start getting antsy at their draft, and for fear of losing out on them, they take them earlier than they should. If you’re tracking ADP values, then you’ll be able to see who is becoming a more trendy pick and just how overvalued they are becoming.

For the introductory piece this season, let’s take a look at some of the current ADP values of the (for now) top 50 fantasy picks this season. Because it is still early in the year, ADP values on Mock Draft Central and some of the other major sites in the industry are, for lack of a better term, insufficient. There haven’t been enough drafts, both real and mock, to provide us with a real accurate representation. The small sample sizes we are working with will create greater swings in the ADP Trend Report (our way of tracking risers and fallers in drafts) and misrepresent a player’s popularity.

So because of that, we will use the ADP values from the National Fantasy Baseball Championships (NFBC). Those who play in the NFBC are ponying up a decent amount of money to participate and those who have already drafted have, we assume, done as much of their homework as they can right now. The sample size isn’t ideal just yet, but it’s probably the best you’re going to find right now.

NFBC ADP – Top 50

Rank Player Team Pos Avg Pick Min Pick Max Pick
1 Mike Trout LAA CF 1.29 1 2
2 Miguel Cabrera Det 1B 1.75 1 3
3 Paul Goldschmidt Ari 1B 3.08 2 4
4 Andrew McCutchen Pit CF 4.42 3 6
5 Clayton Kershaw LAD SP 6.13 4 18
6 Chris Davis Bal 1B 7.75 4 14
7 Robinson Cano Sea 2B 9.33 4 20
8 Carlos Gonzalez Col LF 9.38 3 15
9 Hanley Ramirez LAD SS 9.75 5 22
10 Adam Jones Bal CF 10.08 7 18
11 Ryan Braun Mil RF 11.21 6 20
12 Troy Tulowitzki Col SS 12.33 4 21
13 Jacoby Ellsbury NYY CF 13.08 4 25
14 Bryce Harper Was LF 14.96 8 23
15 Joey Votto Cin 1B 15.75 8 25
16 Yu Darvish Tex SP 16.63 7 25
17 Prince Fielder Tex 1B 16.75 11 22
18 Edwin Encarnacion Tor 1B 17.96 12 25
19 Adrian Beltre Tex 3B 19.25 5 27
20 Evan Longoria TB 3B 20.54 14 28
21 Jason Kipnis Cle 2B 21.46 15 35
22 Yasiel Puig LAD RF 22.63 16 28
23 Freddie Freeman Atl 1B 23.04 13 31
24 David Wright NYM 3B 25.21 11 34
25 Giancarlo Stanton Mia RF 25.67 14 39
26 Carlos Gomez Mil CF 26.58 16 33
27 Max Scherzer Det SP 27.13 12 40
28 Jean Segura Mil SS 28.17 16 43
29 Jose Fernandez Mia SP 29.38 20 41
30 Jay Bruce Cin RF 30.58 21 43
31 Dustin Pedroia Bos 2B 32.67 21 43
32 Adam Wainwright StL SP 33.04 19 42
33 Stephen Strasburg Was SP 33.67 24 49
34 Alex Rios Tex RF 35.33 23 53
35 Jose Reyes Tor SS 36.71 23 59
36 Ian Desmond Was SS 37.75 26 57
37 Buster Posey SF C 38.75 26 48
38 Craig Kimbrel Atl MR 41.21 32 57
39 Albert Pujols LAA 1B 42.04 22 53
40 Jose Bautista Tor RF 42.17 29 56
41 Justin Upton Atl LF 43.17 31 61
42 Matt Kemp LAD CF 43.21 19 70
43 Felix Hernandez Sea SP 43.38 33 53
44 Justin Verlander Det SP 43.42 35 56
45 Cliff Lee Phi SP 44.79 23 61
46 Shin-Soo Choo Tex CF 46.25 25 64
47 Madison Bumgarner SF SP 48.04 34 60
48 Hunter Pence SF RF 49.5 30 64
49 Matt Carpenter StL 2B 50.79 21 73
50 Chris Sale CWS SP 51.13 41 58

While this list is a great representation of what’s happening now, there are going to be a lot of changes between today and the start of the season. Here are a few initial thoughts on players to illustrate my point.

Clayton Kershaw, SP LAD  (6.13) – There’s no denying that the Dodgers ace is an asset with massive value in the fantasy game, but a starting pitcher with the fifth or sixth pick in your draft? Given the fact that fantasy baseball is more offensively driven coupled with the astronomical depths at the starting pitcher position, his rank is going to fall. He could certainly stay in the first round, depending on the number of teams in your league, but he’s still only out there for you every fifth game.

Chris Davis, 1B BAL (7.75) – How many people believe that he’s going to continue to be a 50-home run threat? Probably not many. While Davis’ offensive production should remain strong enough for everyone to covet, it’s difficult to imagine that he’s going to produce at such a high level that he’ll be head and shoulders above the rest of the first basemen available. If you truly believe that he will plateau and even stay above the 40-homer range, then by all means, grab him whenever you feel like it, but if you have any doubt, it’s too deep a position to commit to a guy who’s only done it once.

Yasiel Puig, OF LAD (22.63) – That was quiet the debut season, was it not? Puig batting .319 with 19 home runs and 11 stolen bases over just 432 plate appearances was a major boost for those who landed him last year, but with questions about his attitude, he could start to lose his luster, especially if he doesn’t come out raking during the spring. His latest run-in was a reckless driving charge and if he continues to have too many off-field problems, owners aren’t going to want to take the risk with him.

Jean Segura, SS MIL (28.17) – While he also has just the one-year track record, picking up that kind of proven speed with a splash of power at the shortstop position is huge. The power may not be sustainable for him, but the speed sure is. With a solid batting average, great speed and the public’s fear of position scarcity, his ADP could easily climb up more.

Jose Fernandez, SP MIA (29.38) – As stated up above, there are going to be plenty of people fearful of his innings increase last year and that’s going to drive down the price down. The other day, I watched him fall to the sixth round of a 12-team draft and that was with a bunch of fantasy experts. Once some of them start talking him down a little, his price tag will almost certainly drop.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks, so stay tuned for a whole lot more. We’ll be discussing ADP rankings and trends over the next few months and by the time you get to your draft, you’ll be an expert yourself. Good luck and I’ll see you in the money this year!

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for well over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him directly at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com.

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