New ADP data always forces me to reflect on where each player was ranked previously and how they got to where they are. One of my great joys is watching all of the fluctuation in player stock over this time and attempting to take advantage of the ups and downs before they ‘even out’ when the football begins. Throughout the offseason we hear…
“Player X will break out”
“Player Y won’t match last year’s production”
“Player Z is in a great situation to thrive”
… and a great deal of how we value a player is driven by what we read/anticipate rather than what we have seen from the individuals. Every year, we get some right and we get some wrong (kudos, Jeff Miller), and I wanted to look at some players whose ADP moved and see if we can learn any lessons from them.
Note: ADP data is not necessarily true reflection of the feelings of the dynasty community as it only takes one owner to select a polarizing player early (think Cordarrelle Patterson and Christine Michael) and drive up their ADP when the majority don’t feel the same way – but it is a great guideline.
Running Backs in Great Situations
The main group of players I keep an eye on when startup draft time comes in August/September are the running backs who are ‘destined’ to break out because they have been handed a starting role. We see it every year (Lamar Miller and David Wilson being 2013 examples). I have always been wary of it and always will be. These were the 2014 risers and some mid-season thoughts:
Montee Ball, RB DEN
March ADP: 45, August ADP: 25 (+20)
Peyton Manning’s starting running back will always produce. Or so we presumed. The summer consisted of: “Ball is making great strides… had a great training camp… is ready to be a full-time starter” but when game time came, he disappointed. I don’t feel I appreciated of the production of Knowshon Moreno even when I was seeing it happen with my own eyes, whereas it was just expected of Ball to do the same thing without proving it first. A friend stated “I never thought he was good and I’m annoyed with myself that I started to believe it.” Hard to argue with that.
September ADP: 31
Andre Ellington, RB ARI
March ADP: 50, August ADP: 36 (+14)
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On one hand, we must be cautious of running backs given the starting role without doing anything on the field, but when they do amazing things on the field; it is a different story. Ellington averaged 5.5 yards per carry in his rookie year including eight runs of 20-plus yards. Outstanding production in small sample sizes doesn’t always translate, but he is really becoming a star. Don’t be too concerned with his touchdowns being ‘vultured’ – his long touchdown plays will make up for it.
September ADP: 35
Bishop Sankey, RB TEN
March ADP: 97, August ADP: 42 (+55)
Due to a combination of rookie fever and a starting role being handed to him, Sankey shot up from being available in the second round of rookie drafts at the beginning of the off-season to the first dynasty running back taken and potential top five rookie draft pick. While I am a big believer in Sankey long term, his 50-plus ADP rise was based on the assumption that he could step right in as a starter, and going from the 11th-ranked rookie in March to the fourth by August may have been too rich. He hasn’t fallen too much in the September ADP data, but if he continues to underwhelm then he is a great post-hype candidate heading into 2015.
September ADP: 49
Christine Michael, RB SEA
March ADP: 58, August ADP: 48 (+10)
It was not a major ADP rise, but it got to a point that is worth noting. It seems like there will be one owner in every draft that loves Michael and takes him where others would consider it too early – there was no way we should have been touching Michael at this price with Marshawn Lynch still in the picture. He dropped to 70 in the September ADP which is much more reasonable, and if I have him I’m likely to hold as I do believe his time will come.
September ADP: 70
Toby Gerhart, RB JAX
March ADP: 205, August ADP: 61 (+144)
We should never just assume the starting running back is a starting running back. Gerhart has the second half of the season to make up for the first-half train wreck, but he is another great example of the unwarranted offseason rise. If you were a Gerhart owner at the end of 2013 (knowing he was an impending free agent) you would have a player who rose a whole twelve rounds in value – the perfect opportunity to cash out.
September ADP: 112
Other Notable RB Risers
Jeremy Hill, RB CIN
March ADP: 124, August ADP: 79 (+45)
The summer talk that the Bengals would run the ball ‘early and often’ with both their backs shot Hill up boards. He hasn’t hit the early heights expected, but it looks like the Bengals would like to involve him and he has looked good when given the chances. However, with a September ADP so high, I am wary of the Christine Michael effect behind a stud like Giovani Bernard.
September ADP: 45
Joique Bell, RB DET
March ADP: 109, August ADP: 85 (+24)
Bell proved that he could be effective in a tandem with Reggie Bush, but has done a great job with Bush missing extended periods of time. Bell is a trusty vet who holds good value for contenders.
September ADP: 82
Terrance West, RB CLE
March ADP: 151, August ADP: 82 (+69)
I mentioned West as potentially being “slightly overvalued and overdrafted because of the situation he is in.” after a 2QB mock in June, and August could have been a chance to move him for someone with a more clear role. However, I think he has showed real promise in his action so far for the Browns and I see him as a starter down the road. I would be happy as an owner of West.
September ADP: 90
Rashad Jennings, RB NYG
March ADP: 158, August ADP: 109 (+49)
September ADP: 89
Andre Williams, RB NYG
March ADP: 180, August ADP: 112 (+68)
September ADP: 113
They ended up with similar ADPs in August, but Jennings is the clear starter when healthy. Williams has been extremely ineffective and if he has a good game while Jennings is absent, I would advise selling – I believe his value is already too high.
Jerick McKinnon, RB MIN
March ADP: 240, August ADP: 147 (+93)
I was a huge fan of McKinnon throughout the draft process, but dropped him a bit due to his landing spot as Adrian Peterson‘s backup. His acceleration and athleticism is rare and he put it together on the field in college. As our Russell Clay said, “it’s only a matter of time before he breaks an 80-yarder. I don’t want to miss out on that week.” Amen, brother. He continued to rise a lot in the mid-season ADP and I don’t expect it to slow down.
September ADP: 99
Devonta Freeman, RB ATL (March ADP: 134, August ADP: 92), James White, RB NE (March ADP: 231, August ADP: 123), Bryce Brown, RB BUF (March ADP: 170, August ADP: 143), Pierre Thomas, RB NO (March ADP: 163, August ADP: 119), Lance Dunbar, RB DAL (March ADP: Undrafted, August ADP: 156)
The jury is still out on many of these players, especially the ones who have only now been given the chance to strut their stuff on the field. Eight weeks is not indicative of a whole career, but generally the best players consistently perform and those who don’t; get replaced. But it is important to be mindful of a few things as the season unfolds in front of us:
1) Remember how you feel now when you see players playing and there is actual football being played on the field. Players who underwhelm and don’t look good may not suddenly thrive just because they are given more opportunities. The best players earn those opportunities and do the most with what they are given. Build your dynasty team on the guys that provide quality.
2) Anticipate and identify free agents who may hit the market and be thrust into a starting role in 2015, whether you believe they are extremely talented or not. CJ Spiller, Ryan Mathews, Mark Ingram and Stevan Ridley could all have starting opportunities on new teams next year so investing now could lead to a healthy payoff (in points or trade value).
3) Similarly to point two, identify the backfields that don’t have clear starters and research who may seize the role in 2015. For example, the ‘Patriots RB1’, ‘Rams RB1’ or ‘Bills RB1’ roles could hold value going in to next season, but who will be the players to own? Sometimes we have to gamble on players waiting in the wings getting their chance to be the guy – and I would expect Bryce Brown, Tre Mason and James White all to see their ADPs rise next summer.
What did you learn in the offseason? Reflect, evolve and talk lessons learned with James on Twitter @JS_Football.
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