Before we get into furthering your advantage on mastering the ADP ecosystem to annihilate your Best Ball league mates, let us take a step back in game theory. I am a strong believer that finding certain methods to study the path and characteristics of an ADP, is a pillar of importance in Best Ball.
We need to be cognizant of the rationale in weighing your logic to make decisions. Your decisions to draft a layer should depend on a multitude of decision points, each one weighing differently in your process; an athletic profile, production history, ADP, roster construction, offseason team moves, etc. There are drafters that incorrectly take players based on too few decision points. Whereas the others understand the decision process and probabilities relating to percentages.
A very smart financial trader once described mastering the market as, “trying to hold a theoretical giant down to the ground with just rope.”. The rope, represents your knowledge base. One rope will not hold the giant down. If you learn another skill set applicable to the market, you get another rope. You gather 20 ropes, and you now can hold the giant to the ground.
You need to build a knowledge base of skills and apply them in tandem, knowing when to, and when not to use some of your skillsets. So, when I discuss ADP and attacking it, understand that the purpose is to add more tools to my toolbelt. Not a singular decision process. For most drafters, ADP is odorless Carbon Monoxide leaking in their house, altering their decisions and lulling their points to sleep, without them even knowing it.
Best Ball ADP Ecosystem- Use of Rankings
Imagine if we did not have ADP (or rankings), how different drafts would appear. There would be no next player available. However, we came out with a crowd-sourced method to assist drafters, displaying an Average Draft Position. Given zero change in the situation, in theory, if we could hold everything constant, we should obtain a more concentrated ADP with a greater number of data points as we get closer to the actual event occurring. If I asked five drafters where they would draft Will Fuller in April, I may get five different answers. But I would create my ADP data from there. If I asked 500 drafters in August, I would certainly see a cleaner, more concentrated crowd-sourced average answer.
As we get closer to week one and are building up a larger dataset, we notice a refined final, narrower ADP range. Now let us think about early season Best Balls, post-Super Bowl, but before training camp. There may be an early season rank to go off of, but it is on the initial drafters to start that ADP process. One would assume an early drafter understands the ADP is still very immature. Therefore, more adept to draft closer to their personal projections versus what the market is telling them the consensus is.
Of course, Christian McCaffery has the lowest St Dev in the league, as close as any other player will get to zero. Will Fuller is volatile and has a St Dev of about eight to 10. Amari Cooper has half that. As soon as the draft matures past the initial rounds, your snake positional random gate order dissipates. Someone later in the draft with a lower Std Dev is a pretty agreeable ADP among the crowd’s equal opportunity. If you think of Will Fullers ADP in context to the distribution, people on the same day, in different drafts, have drafted well over, and under, his usual ADP at length. We have reaches and value dips potentially happening at the same time in two simultaneous drafts.
Best Ball ADP Ecosystem – Early Drafting
So, what does all this mean for earlier drafting? A wider dispersion. I could have similar Means in a more mature-dated ADP, but a much wider set of peaks and valleys. One can assume, early in the season, I can obtain Will Fuller at a wider range of ADP. It would be difficult to buy a more mature ADP dip in August, versus earlier in the off-season. I can take advantage of buying players “cheaper”. It gets more difficult to obtain value in certain players as that ADP concentrates, getting closer to the season.
Let us get a visual to help us see the dispersion. In the image below, we have an entire year’s worth of ADP data from FFPC Best Balls, courtesy of Rotoviz. We can see the wide dispersion at the beginning of last off-season, and that the concentration of ADP get more focused as we approach the start of the season. Will Fullers St Dev should slow as we get closer to kickoff.
If we look closely at the 2021 data, we can even see a slightly narrowing dispersion as more drafters enter the frame. The circles show us how concentrated the ADP is near the average, and the arrowed lines show the size range of said extremes. If we study the ADP, we can let the draft come to us. You cannot just look at your player’s rank. Or a current singular ADP figure and know the ecosystem of that ADP. Knowing a car is capable of travel at a speed of 75 MPH/120 KMH, does not tell me much if I do not know how long it took to get up to that speed.
Let’s say I want 10% exposure to Will Fuller. That is moderate+ for a WR. In context, I am not drafting Will Fuller 90% of the time. So why would I draft a player at his average ADP, if I wanted just a taste? Especially in a non-tournament format, where I do not have to reach for mission-critical stacking opportunities in the top quarter of the draft. It is so important to, not only know a players ADP, but know how the ADP trending and what little can alter these decisions.
ADP Movement on News
For instance, Myles Gaskin just escaped the draft without a player of consequence being taken. His pre-draft ADP was a baked-in crowd-sourced idea on his value, waiting for the impending news that never came.
People were trying to obtain value if he escaped the draft, and a tepidness in case he got a new teammate. He is in the clear now. Myles Gaskin ADP will see a significant bump directly after the draft from his good fortune. So you need to use that context when evaluating ADP. That is the definition of when you want to reach for a player ahead of ADP. Not on a random no news Tuesday in the middle of the summer. Think about it. Unless you want over 50% of a player, you cannot reach ahead of ADP, especially if the ADP is generally flat, which relates back to how the ADP is trending.
An ADP trajectory that is bullish, like this year’s Kyle Pitt’s ADP explosion, is harder to gauge. Do not view dips as a cause for concern in a player; take the dips as opportunities in other owner’s roster construction. Most day-to-day reasons for a player falling past their ADP, are not driven from negative news. Once you draft a few dozen teams, you understand that the higher volatility players bounce around. Those outliers in ADP that fall on the tail ends of the trend, have nothing to do with bad news.
It is fortune that another league mate skipped Will Fuller because he wanted CeeDee Lamb in his stack, and that other person forgot to take an RB early so he went Chase Edmonds instead of Fuller. Buy the dip, embrace the imperfect nature of a snake format and let the draft come to you. Just play it cool. Emotionless and withdrawn ego, concentration, and anticipation. Use your league mate’s poor picks to be your treasure to their garbage.
Lets take a look at a flatter ADP plot to grasp that last point. You guessed it, a flatter ADP for an example, can be found easier earlier on in drafts. You will not have the same volatility as a later drafted player, but for this example, it helps illustrate the point. Austin Ekelers ADP has been generally flat, so we can see the outliers. Below shows us Austin Ekelers ADP data from 2020. The boxed portion shows the outliers in his ADP, represented by the bottom 15% within the rectangle.
Note again, the dips are not because of Ekeler’s sentiment. We can see his ADP move from the first round, to the third then back to the first, in one day! If we wanted 15% Ekeler exposure, we could let the draft come to us and select him later if our random assignement allowed us. We know that it is possible based on the history of when he gets drafted, his ADP, and the volatility within the ADP.
We do not care what position we get in snake because you need to draft many instances of random assignment to smooth that noise out. I have never understood people who invest so much time into Fantasy Football, only to draft a few teams. We know based on historical win-rates, your randomly assigned draft spot can matter greatly in certain years. You have to view this as a portfolio and draft instances of each draft slot. This detracts us from foaming at the mouth to obtain your favorite player. If you do this exercise enough times, you will find value dips every single draft. Understand before the draft, what your targeted exposures are, so you can squeeze as much out of the player’s juice at a discount to your league-mates.
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Image Credit: Darren Yamashita – USA TODAY Sports