RotoWire Staff Vegas League -- ADP Analysis for Round 1-5

One of the events I most look forward to during the MLB All-Star break is the annual RotoWire trip to Las Vegas. It’s a time to take a breather from the extensive coverage we do and get a chance to get together to spend some time with so many whose sole communication with each other throughout the year is done via email, text, Twitter and Facebook. The company headquarters are centrally located and have offices filled with editors, content contributors and technical specialists, but the vast number of beat writers and other contributors are spread out around the country. The trip is always a great time.

But while a trip to Vegas is always filled with socializing at the pool, poker tournaments, steak dinners and trips to the sports book to watch the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, one of my favorite activities is the annual RotoWire Vegas League fantasy football draft. As we all know, drafting online is quick and easy, but to me, there’s nothing like putting a bunch of idiots (and I use that term in the most loving sense as it includes me, probably the biggest idiot of them all) in one room and running a draft. The buffet at the hotel is our choice of venue and the frequent appearance of onlookers seeking out free advice for their own drafts can be entertaining in its own right. I’m pretty sure I even saw one guy tell his wife to go ahead while he jotted down a few notes on a paper napkin.

And now that the draft has come and gone after three-plus hours and fourth and fifth servings for some of us (sooooooo much bacon!), it’s time to share some of the results with you and see how many of us actually put our money where our mouths are. Obviously, many of us have differing opinions, but in truth, our picks should come fairly close to coinciding with the ADP you’ll see on Mock Draft Central and some of the other main sites. We all do a great job of practicing in private what we preach in public, but even those of us who make a living analyzing the game aren’t immune to the occasional homer pick. Remember, ADP is a guideline, not the gospel.

So with that, I’ve broken down the all-important first five rounds of our draft. I’ve matched up our picks with the ADP data from both the National Fantasy Football Championships (NFFC) as well as the data from Mock Draft Central. I’ve listed both for a couple of reasons. The Vegas League is a 16-team, standard scoring league with starting rosters of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 K, and 1 team defense. The data from Mock Draft Central is for standard scoring leagues, but, for the most part, the leagues that are drafted on the site are generally 10 or 12 teams. As you move further into the draft, position needs become quite different for everyone and one might bypass a higher ranked (overall) player for another strictly because of that.

The use of NFFC data is due to the size of their leagues which may help adjust for league size. Leagues in the NFFC are made up of 14 teams, so while it’s not an ideal match, it comes a lot closer throughout the draft. The big negative, though, is that the NFFC uses PPR scoring so there will obviously be a number of players who will go higher in PPR play than they will in standard scoring. So while neither comparison is perfect, each should be sufficient here in the early goings of ADP analysis

I’m sure you’d like to know which picks belong to the greats like Peter Schoenke, Chris Liss, Jeff Erickson and more, I’m going to keep them anonymous to spare them the hordes of emails asking why they took Player A over Player B, but I’ll open myself to specific questions and tell you that I had the fourth pick of the draft. I’ll discuss my picks first and then go through the top ADP risers and fallers of each round compared to both NFFC and MDC data.

Round 1

Pick Player Pos Team NFFC ADP Diff. MDC ADP Diff.
1 Adrian Peterson RB MIN 1.49 0.49 1.00 0.00
2 Doug Martin RB TB 2.32 0.32 3.75 1.75
3 Calvin Johnson WR DET 3.62 0.62 5.50 2.50
4 Marshawn Lynch RB SEA 11.00 7.00 4.50 0.50
5 Jamaal Charles RB KC 4.54 -0.46 8.00 3.00
6 Aaron Rodgers QB GB 17.22 11.22 11.25 5.25
7 Arian Foster RB HOU 3.95 -3.05 2.00 -5.00
8 A.J. Green WR CIN 11.62 3.62 15.00 7.00
9 Ray Rice RB BAL 7.70 -1.30 12.00 3.00
10 C.J. Spiller RB BUF 7.08 -2.92 7.50 -2.50
11 Trent Richardson RB CLE 8.84 -2.16 7.50 -3.50
12 Dez Bryant WR DAL 13.89 1.89 14.25 2.25
13 Alfred Morris RB WAS 15.86 2.86 9.50 -3.50
14 Julio Jones WR ATL 15.57 1.57 17.50 3.50
15 LeSean McCoy RB PHI 8.68 -6.32 18.50 3.50
16 Matt Forte RB CHI 16.43 0.43 26.50 10.50

My Pick: Marshawn Lynch (1.4) – Sure, Arian Foster and Jamaal Charles were still on the board, but I’m a big Lynch fan and actually rode him in the Vegas League last year. Besides, he was the third highest scoring running back behind Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris last season. AP was gone and Lynch has a much better track record than Morris. Only 23 receptions is the likely reason for the lack of love in the NFFC, but those at MDC know his value.

Against NFFC Data

Aaron Rodgers (+11.22) – I know quarterbacks are going a bit earlier than usual this season, but this already seems like a reach/homer pick. With just four points for a passing touchdown and a suspect offensive line in Green Bay, Rodgers should have been left for later.


LeSean McCoy (-6.32) – Shady usually has a better value in PPR play, but he also likely takes a hit due to injuries and the presence of both Bryce Brown and Felix Jones.

Against MDC Data

Matt Forte (+10.00) – Hard to say that Forte is much of a reach here unless you really think that Michael Bush will poach more goal line work this season. Forte had just six touchdowns but that was more due to an increased passing attack which defenses will try to keep more in check this year.

A.J. Green (+7.00) – Half a round sooner isn’t too crazy, especially when you’re talking about a commodity like Green. The eighth pick is usually when people start debating between second-tier backs and elite receivers, so with Megatron off the board, this seems plausible.


Arian Foster (-5.00) – I passed up on him due to injuries and the heart condition that popped up late last year, so perhaps others were thinking the same thing.

Round 2

Pick Player Pos Team NFFC ADP Diff. MDC ADP Diff.
17 Drew Brees QB NO 18.14 1.14 11.75 -5.25
18 Maurice Jones-Drew RB JAC 28.49 10.49 24.25 6.25
19 Chris Johnson RB TEN 23.70 4.70 26.25 7.25
20 Cam Newton QB CAR 50.27 30.27 35.00 15.00
21 Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 18.97 -2.03 28.25 7.25
22 Jimmy Graham TE NO 18.54 -3.46 33.75 11.75
23 Brandon Marshall WR CHI 12.16 -10.84 15.50 -7.50
24 Roddy White WR ATL 29.95 5.95 32.25 8.25
25 Robert Griffin QB WAS 76.16 51.16 70.75 45.75
26 David Wilson RB NYG 36.49 10.49 40.50 14.50
27 Larry Fitzgerald WR ARZ 29.70 2.70 20.50 -6.50
28 Jordy Nelson WR GB 43.16 15.16 47.75 19.75
29 Andre Johnson WR HOU 26.49 -2.51 23.00 -6.00
30 DeMarco Murray RB DAL 31.03 1.03 43.00 13.00
31 Victor Cruz WR NYG 36.78 5.78 43.25 12.25
32 Dwayne Bowe WR KC 46.65 14.65 40.75 8.75

My Pick: Andre Johnson (2.29) – Elite wide receivers came flying off the board, nine in total by the time it was my pick. That fact plus a quick glance at the ADP told me it was the right time to make this move. The Texans may be a run-first team these days, but with a legit receiving complement like DeAndre Hopkins in-house, AJ won’t see so much blanket coverage this year.

Against NFFC Data

Robert Griffin (+51.16) – Huge reach here. Huge. Between the scoring for quarterbacks and the severity of last year’s knee injury, the only reason you take RG3 here is because you own his jersey and there’s a Fathead of him on the wall in each and every room of your house/apartment.

Cam Newton (+30.27) – Slightly more understandable than the RG3 pick. Slightly.

Jordy Nelson (+15.16) – With no Greg Jennings, Nelson is the new number one stud in Green Bay. He probably loses some value in the NFFC with Randall Cobb being the go-to guy for third downs and short yardage gains.


Brandon Marshall (-10.84) – Highest target percentage in the NFL last season and the only receiving option they brought in during the offseason was TE Martellus Bennett. Based on his numbers last year, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s PPR or standard scoring. He’s an elite player and there are few I would take over him at this point. Maybe our league just hates Jay Cutler. But whose league doesn’t?

Against MDC Data

We can skip the thoughts on RG3, Newton and Nelson, right? Very much the same thought process in a standard scoring league.

DeMarco Murray (+13.00) – Most people are nervous about the injury history. That’s either not the case here or just the mark of a desperate man who took a receiver with his early first-round pick

Victor Cruz (+12.25) – A bit of a jump in comparison to the data, but likely taken for the same reasons I grabbed Johnson earlier than I normally would.


Marshall ends up a faller here as well, as does AJ, so just take note.

Larry Fitzgerald (-6.50) – Only a slight drop in ADP here for Fitz, but that’s probably just a matter of preference for some coupled with a lack of trust in Carson Palmer lasting a full season.

Round 3

Pick Player Pos Team NFFC ADP Diff. MDC ADP Diff.
33 Torrey Smith WR BAL 68.89 35.89 73.75 40.75
34 Marques Colston WR NO 47.92 13.92 61.25 27.25
35 Stevan Ridley RB NE 38.46 3.46 24.25 -10.75
36 Frank Gore RB SF 38.81 2.81 31.75 -4.25
37 Vincent Jackson WR TB 39.59 2.59 31.25 -5.75
38 Steven Jackson RB ATL 20.84 -17.16 18.75 -19.25
39 Randall Cobb WR GB 28.41 -10.59 44.75 5.75
40 Darren McFadden RB OAK 27.78 -12.22 46.00 6.00
41 Lamar Miller RB MIA 46.51 5.51 38.50 -2.50
42 Rob Gronkowski TE NE 43.08 1.08 26.25 -15.75
43 Reggie Bush RB DET 26.41 -16.59 61.75 18.75
44 Percy Harvin WR SEA 27.62 -16.38 53.75 9.75
45 Montee Ball RB DEN 57.14 12.14 28.50 -16.50
46 Hakeem Nicks WR NYG 48.62 2.62 45.50 -0.50
47 Le'Veon Bell RB PIT 68.16 21.16 50.25 3.25
48 Eric Decker WR DEN 51.08 3.08 51.25 3.25

My Pick: Frank Gore (3.36) – Yes, he’s 30-years old and yes, he’s had his share of injuries in the past. But Gore is the heart and soul of this team and will get his fair share of carries. He may be spelled by the tandem of LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter late in games, but he’ll have already racked up enough fantasy points each week by then.

Against NFFC Data

Torrey Smith (+35.89) – Receivers seem to be going higher than usual on the whole, but this seems like a bit of a reach for Smith considering the fact that he'll probably see stronger coverage without Anquan Boldin in-house. Maybe the thought here is that he would see more targets, and he may very well, but defenses are going to key in on him more.

Le’Veon Bell (+21.16) – Bell has decent hands, so he should see some passing work on offense. That means that his lower ADP in the NFFC is likely due to his rookie status and having both Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman still loitering in the backfield. Our guy doesn’t seem to mind.


Steven Jackson (-17.16) – No one seems to care that he’s in a much better situation in Atlanta right now. It’s all about being on the wrong side of 30 and injuries. Personally, I like him this year, but I liked Gore more.

Percy Harvin (-16.38) – Obviously a better play in PPR leagues than in standard scoring, but there’s also the injury risk. Us content writers know the pain of migraines as we stare at computer screens all the time. Hard to imagine catching a ball with one, let alone taking a hit. Then there’s also the leg injury question.

Against MDC Data

Smith stays a reach picks on this side too, but then there’s also…

Marques Colston (+27.25) – Perhaps a glance at his numbers from last year soured some people, but he was banged up for a good amount of time early on. The back could be a lingering issue for the duration of his career, but he’s still going to put up big-time numbers in that offense which is what our guy is obviously banking on.

Reggie Bush (+18.75) – The standard scoring makes a world of difference in ADP for Bush, doesn’t it? Our guy has him right in the middle.

SJax drops in comparison here as well

Montee Ball (-16.50) – He’s listed as the number one back in Denver and Willis McGahee is gone. But there’s still Knowshon Moreno lurking and we all know what happens with running backs in Denver. Ball will have to dramatically separate himself from the herd during camp for us to be believers.

Rob Gronkowski (-15.75) – Obviously this has everything to do with surgery and recovery time. No need to go any further than that.

Round 4

Pick Player Pos Team NFFC ADP Diff. MDC ADP Diff.
49 Ahmad Bradshaw RB IND 103.92 54.92 129.75 80.75
50 Peyton Manning QB DEN 29.76 -20.24 17.00 -33.00
51 Tom Brady QB NE 41.03 -9.97 38.25 -12.75
52 Danny Amendola WR NE 46.08 -5.92 50.00 -2.00
53 Ryan Mathews RB SD 50.00 -3.00 55.25 2.25
54 Mike Wallace WR MIA 61.35 7.35 50.50 -3.50
55 Colin Kaepernick QB SF 63.59 8.59 42.50 -12.50
56 Vernon Davis TE SF 83.65 27.65 98.25 42.25
57 DeSean Jackson WR PHI 85.84 28.84 103.75 46.75
58 Matthew Stafford QB DET 66.11 8.11 69.00 11.00
59 Rashard Mendenall RB ARZ 84.11 25.11 61.25 2.25
60 Andrew Luck QB IND 72.08 12.08 70.25 10.25
61 Matt Ryan QB ATL 50.22 -10.78 32.50 -28.50
62 Cecil Shorts WR JAC 82.54 20.54 82.25 20.25
63 Tony Romo QB DAL 73.19 10.19 68.75 5.75
64 Russell Wilson QB SEA 67.62 3.62 40.50 -23.50

My Pick: Matt Ryan (5.61) – The late fourth/early fifth round is usually where I like to grab my quarterback and given the way that so many had already jumped off the board before my pick, I was ecstatic to get Ryan. As you can see in the ADP comparisons, he is going a lot quicker in other drafts and unlike this one, he’s going before running QBs like Griffin, Newton and Colin Kaepernick. Like I said, ecstatic.

Against NFFC Data

Ahmad Bradshaw (+54.92) – The massive increase found here, as in other ADP analysis we’ve looked at in this current series, is due to his signing with Indianapolis. Though Vick Ballard is still there, Bradshaw is slotted as the lead back.

DeSean Jackson (+28.84) – He’s not really a PPR guy so that partially explains his low ADP in the NFFC, but in truth, it comes down to injury history and a lack of reliability. His numbers have dropped every year since 2009 and the only reason he probably goes this high is because so many receivers have come off the board through these first four rounds.

Vernon Davis (+27.65) – Maybe the absence of Michael Crabtree helps increase the value of Davis or maybe Greg Roman continues to be unimaginative and leaves him running the same routes as a decoy. If it’s the former then this is a great pick. If it’s the latter, then it doesn’t matter how thin the tight end position looks. This pick could be a big bust.


Peyton Manning (-20.24) – The drop here is simply because we in the Vegas League are not over-valuing quarterbacks like some people. OK, so we’re not over-valuing all quarterbacks.

Against MDC Data

Bradshaw, Davis and Jackson are also risers here, so let’s talk about…

Cecil Shorts (+20.25) – He’s actually a riser in NFFC play as well by about the same margin. Receivers seemed to have been overvalued in this draft and whether that is right or wrong is yet to be determined. But in the meantime, Shorts blossomed last year and posted double digit points in eight games. Unfortunately, his quarterback situation leaves little to be desired which is probably why his ADP is so low.


It’s the quarterbacks that are the fallers here. No surprise, is it? I know…Tom Brady falls to the fourth? Probably the lowest he’s gone since his rookie year.

Round 5

Pick Player Pos Team NFFC ADP Diff. MDC ADP Diff.
65 Shane Vereen RB NE 75.65 10.65 96.50 31.50
66 Eddie Lacy RB GB 67.16 1.16 75.00 9.00
67 Eli Manning QB NYG 91.16 24.16 104.25 37.25
68 Antonio Brown WR PIT 59.57 -8.43 70.75 2.75
69 Dennis Pitta TE BAL 86.43 17.43 81.75 12.75
70 Steve Johnson WR BUF 71.89 1.89 98.50 28.50
71 Jeremy Maclin WR PHI 75.76 4.76 94.50 23.50
72 Darren Sproles RB NO 27.81 -44.19 64.50 -7.50
73 Pierre Garcon WR WAS 63.95 -9.05 65.75 -7.25
74 Josh Gordon WR CLE 90.00 16.00 98.50 24.50
75 Danario Alexander WR SD 86.81 11.81 66.50 -8.50
76 Giovani Bernard RB CIN 84.78 8.78 122.50 46.50
77 Steve Smith WR CAR 65.78 -11.22 81.00 4.00
78 Mark Ingram RB NO 97.16 19.16 81.75 3.75
79 Mike Williams WR TB 88.51 9.51 76.50 -2.50
80 Jason Witten TE DAL 53.49 -26.51 83.00 3.00

My Pick: Antonio Brown (5.68) – Based on the ADP comparisons, this was a well-timed choice to make. With Mike Wallace out of the picture, Brown takes a step forward as the number one stud in Pittsburgh. He was a big threat in PPR leagues last year but failed to get much work inside the red zone. Granted, Heath Miller is still one of Ben Roethlisberger’s main targets down there, but without Wallace, perhaps Brown gets more touchdown work this time around.

Against NFFC Data

Eli Manning (+24.16) – Wait. What? A quarterback in the risers section? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures and with the top 12 quarterbacks off the board in a 16-team league, Eli was, by far and away, the best option available. A must-grab really.

Mark Ingram (+19.16) – With running backs running thin the need to grab someone who could/should see the majority of touches in the backfield becomes paramount. The Saints are still a pass-first team and have Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas lurking but Ingram should hopefully see consistent double-digit touches.

Dennis Pitta (+17.43) – With the Patriots’ tight ends hurt or (potentially) behind bars, the depth at the position runs pretty thin. Therefore, the need to grab one becomes significantly less because the ones who are out there are fairly interchangeable.  But Pitta started the season hot and then finished the season strong with a good showing in the playoffs. Though he’s not much for PPR league, he’s an excellent play in standard.


Darren Sproles (-44.19) – With the dramatic reduction in carries he received last season, is there any surprise that his value outside of PPR leagues is scant? I didn’t think so.

Jason Witten (-26.51) – He’s usually a monster in PPR leagues even with Dez Bryant taking up much of the attention last season, so like Sproles, it’s not much of a surprise to see him drop in a standard league; even at a much thinner position.

Against MDC Data

Giovani Bernard (+46.50) – Despite a decent showing late in the season, BenJarvis Green-Ellis is apparently not long for the starting job in Cincinnati. At least that’s what the RotoWire folk think. The thought process is that Bernard will share carries early on and eventually take over the job, so you should make your plans to acquire him for sooner rather than later.

Shane Vereen (+31.50) – The running back position runs pretty thin in a 16-team league and with the understanding that Vereen, a fantastic pass-catching back, will be used much more now that Brady’s targets have been reduced, he’s an obvious riser. His value in standard leagues is solid and his value in PPR play will be even higher.


An eight-pick difference in the fifth round doesn’t really constitute a faller, so we’ll just leave Danario Alexander and the others with a negative differential alone for now.


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


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