Welcome to part two of Weaponizing ADP. In part one, I looked at the changes in ADP from September to December of players drafted between 2012 and 2016. In part two, it’s time to look at the ADP changes of the 2017 draft class. We can use this data to learn several things:
- Expectations for the 2017 class based on the changes found in part one.
- Players who are valued, perhaps unjustifiably, high.
- Players who are currently valued too low.
It sounds simple, but just because a player doesn’t do anything in their rookie year isn’t a good enough reason lower their value. If a player does well, their value should increase, but proportionally to the risk of small samples and positional trends. So let’s step outside the hype and focus on the players. What have they done, what have they not done, and where are people overreacting to the possibilities?
ADP is not stable and will change. So stay up to date on those changes at DLF as well how analysists are valuing players in their own rankings. The first round of off-season mock drafts are already underway at DLF thanks to Ryan McDowell. He also offers up to date information of these changes on Twitter (@RyanMc23).
Rookie ADP changes in 2017
The first thing to know is that we have doubled down on ADP for the 2017 class and allowed very few to fade after one season. Of the 58 rookie players drafted between September and December, 46 of them have increased their fantasy draft position. 38 of those players have seen it increase by a full round (which I’m defining as 12 spots in ADP) or more.
Only two rookies drafted in September went undrafted in December: Josh Malone and Robert Davis. On the other hand, six rookies are being drafted in December who were not drafted in September (Aaron Jones, Corey Clement, Amara Darboh, Matthew Dayes, Donnel Pumphrey, and Chad Kelly).
Only eight rookies still drafted in December have fallen in ADP, and only one fell by more than a full round (Jamaal Williams). Of the 38 players who increased their ADP by more than a round:
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- – 13 increased their ADP by one round
- – Six increased their ADP by two rounds
- – Six increased their ADP by three rounds
- – Five increased their ADP by four rounds
- – Three increased their ADP by five rounds
- – One player increased their ADP by six rounds (Dede Westbrook)
- – Two increased their ADP by seven rounds
- – One player increased their ADP by eight rounds (Deshaun Watson)
- – One player increased their ADP by 13 rounds (Aaron Jones)
Keep in mind that not all of these changes are created equal. For instance, Josh Malone being undrafted has more to do with the few of us who like Josh Malone finding value elsewhere and doesn’t really indicate a clear loss in value. Corey Clement’s five-round jump from being undrafted in September to going in the 14th round in December isn’t nearly as significant, or comparatively significant, as Dalvin Cook’s jump from the third round to the second.
Lessons learned from part one
In part one, we saw that over the next five years over half of the rookies drafted between September and December this year are very likely to be on the waiver wire. In response to this trend, we have actually increased the number of rookies from this year’s class drafted in December. This makes more sense than it may at first seem as four rookies were not drafted in September but broke out to some degree anyway (like Jones and Clement). But not all of them did (Ryan Switzer), which demonstrate that the “mystery” of “newer” players encourages us to take shots on the most recent draft class beyond reason. This is an inefficiency we could exploit in dynasty by focusing more on sleepers from past years – who we have more data on – than ones from more recent draft classes.
Rookie Players drafted in September and December of 2017.
As we know, the players we draft from each year changed over time as UDFAs and other players have broken into and out of dynasty ADP. Also notice that we “lose” players from each year evenly.
Players drafted in one month who were not drafted in the other.
In other words, five players were drafted from the 2012 draft class in September who were not drafted in December, but only three were drafted in September who we did not draft in December. So, we were much more accurate with the player pool the further back we go and find ourselves drafting more players in December who we didn’t identify as “draftable” in September from the most recent draft classes after a season of watching them play.
A season teaches us a lot and it’s normally to sharpen our understanding of who is actually valuable from any rookie class. What I think we can take from this is that we are less likely to be right about the most recent draft classes.
The New First Round
Based on December ADP, this is the new first round draft order for 2017 rookies. I’ve included both their startup and rookie draft ADPs, as well as by how many rounds their startup ADP has changed.
Notes on each of the new first-round rookies
Leonard Fournette has fallen half a round in ADP but remains the rookie 1.01. Depending on much you liked him in the preseason (Corey Davis was my 1.01) some more research is necessary to decide if you are going to fall in or out of confirming your perception compared to the average. Personally, I thought his injury history and lack of passing game work in college made it likely he would be a limited NFL player. He certainly proved to be a good runner and fun to watch, but both his passing game usage and injuries did keep him limited. So is this confirmation bias or just confirmation? With little to no real difference in his ADP, I doubt I’m going to try to invest in him this off-season to find out.
Alvin Kamara has risen five full rounds and become the number two rookie from the 2017 class. I think his efficiency this season is going to lead a lot of us to avoid him at his elevated ADP. I feel I am justified in doing this and yet at the same time still think I’m a sucker. He was spectacular in 2017.
Dalvin Cook has basically stayed the same in terms of his rookie ADP, but he has increased his startup ADP but a full round. I’m conflicted. I wasn’t drafting him at 1.03 in the preseason but my main concern – that he couldn’t transfer his skill to the NFL with the level of athleticism he displayed at the combine – was proven ill-founded (even in a four-game sample size). I’d be happy to take him at this ADP but would be hesitant to trade for him at full value.
Kareem Hunt’s ADP is in the late second round and I think that’s low. I know the middle of the season sucked but that was about usage, not performance. I think if Cook or Fournette had produced the same full season numbers they’d be a locked top six pick by now. I’m eager to see the January ADP to see if this holds. I’m going to try and trade for him and see if his middle season slump can let me correct how few teams I have him on.
Davis, Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon have all fallen significantly in ADP after the 2017 season. That makes them green light trade targets for anyone who was high on them before the season. I liked all three, so I guess I better get busy. Be prepared to pay up, however, since none of them have dropped even half a round in startup ADP. It just might be enough to loosen an owners grip if you are willing to pay full price. But there is no discount.
Evan Engram, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Deshaun Watson have all increased dramatically in ADP and therefore are perceived as much more valuable after the 2017 season. I’d split this group and be willing to pay up in trade for Juju while just swallowing the miss on Engram and Watson. The quarterback and tight end position just aren’t valuable enough to justify trading for them at this value. At most I’d send a fair offer on Engram and wait for it to be rejected.
Cooper Kupp is now perceived as a sixth-round startup pick value according to his December ADP. If you want to pay up with a sixth-round value for Kupp, I can’t stop you. But while I’m happy Jared Goff has a plethora of options in the middle of the field – and will always welcome more competent players in the NFL – I think we just saw his ceiling. I’d want more than an older, low-level WR2 for that kind of value.
Mike Williams has fallen to the bottom of the first round in perception but risen a round in startup ADP. Bless their little cotton socks. These are the types of decisions which let the rest of us win championships. Fade Mike Williams. Then sell his ADP, fade it again and then sell the chair you were sitting on just in case.
The New Second Round
“Second round” doesn’t really do this list justice. I’m having a hard time identifying any player – given reasonable expectations – who disappointed in 2017. Did Kenny Golladay become the new Calvin Johnson? No, but his playing time increased and he had moments of production that made me more than hopeful. Did Samaje Perine – someone I was a lot lower on than consensus in the preseason – become a first tier running back? No, but he proved effectively given volume. Even the rookie tight ends were better than we can expect for rookie tight ends as long as you don’t hold them all to the new “Evan Engram standard.”
I’ve yet to do a great deal of rookie research for 2018. But if I don’t feel as strongly about the depth in 2018 I’d be more than happy trading away picks to take shots on this group of players.
Notes on second-round rookies
John Ross is the only player to have dropped in startup ADP which makes him the most obvious potential value. He still hasn’t’ dropped a round in startup ADP, but it is significantly more than Corey Davis (0.9 rounds for Ross vs 0.3 for Davis) so there could be more wiggle room if you want to target him in trades.
Dede Westbrook and Tarik Cohen are the only players in this round to have increased in rookie ADP. Both did more than Mike Williams or Corey Davis in their first season. This could be a product of serval things but a few of them are faulty so it’s worth reassessing your own ranks or valuations. If draft capital and hype during the pre-season are the only things keeping these players below others then they are both targets at this ADP.
For my part, I’d mark both Cohen and Westbrook as targets based on their rookie seasons and current perceived value. If you can promise me the kind of season either of them had for my second round rookie pick in 2018 I’d trade it without hesitation. The chances of finding a productive player drop exponentially after the first round and it’s worth keeping that in mind while reviewing some of the impressive players this new second round has to offer.
The New Third and Fourth Round
New ADP’s to Target
Jamaal Williams dropped in value. No, really, he dropped in value. As a “lifelong” member of Aaron Jones fan club, even I say that’s not right.
Taywan Taylor pretty much has the same value he did before the season. I was gobbling him up in the second round of rookie drafts this preseason and it felt like stealing free money. Now, it feels like I’m being paid to steal free money
Matt Breida is basically Chris Thompson if Thompson had been productive in college. I mentioned this to some people in one league and I think they are still laughing. But are they laughing because Thompson is now so obviously a good dynasty running back? Because he wasn’t this time last year. Breida can catch the ball, has a much higher college dominator then Thompson, he’s about the same size and in a similar situation. He’s also 22 years old and very athletic.
As for Josh Reynolds, the wide receiver corps of the Rams is deep. We can say that now! Still, when a fourth-round pick earns playing time, my ears perk up. He didn’t break 40 receiving yards and only caught one touchdown, but a different player in the same situation may not have seen the field.
Chad Williams increased in startup ADP and is still basically free. I’ll continue to covet his athletic and production profile until he proves he can’t play.
New ADPs to Fade
Carlos Henderson’s ADP has risen by a round despite not have played a single game or scored a single fantasy point. I appreciate the enthusiasm to buy in on a player you like – especially since he hasn’t done anything to become less valuable either – but I think this ADP is soft. If you want Henderson, I’d wait. His perceived value is more likely to drop after the 2018 draft.
Jonnu Smith’s ADP has risen seven rounds in ADP since December. I don’t like having to argue against targeting players who I like, but his ADP rise from 228.83 to 138.5 makes him the third-highest riser in ADP of this rookie class. It can’t last. Even if Delanie Walker was to retire he’d still be an outside shot as a fantasy prospect in 2018. If you’re thinking, “yeah, but he will be one day”, I agree. But ask Eric Ebron fans how hard it is to keep the faith for three years. Or how many times they would have traded him for less
Mack Hollins‘ ADP is fine, but I think the chances of him maintaining it through the off-season, and after another rookie class, are slim. He’s more likely to be available on the waiver wire in 2018 than he is to pay off the cost of the roster spot it would take to hold him right now.
I’m going to drop Mike Williams, Evan Engram, Cooper Kupp, and Deshaun Watson down further in my valuations than most. At the same time, I intend to “buy-in” on JuJu Smith Schuster’s ADP as well as Aaron Jones and Dede Westbrook.
For those who had little opportunity, or limited playing time in 2017, I’m holding on to my initial impressions in the preseason. If I liked a rookie profile in the preseason I will accept their new ADP and be happy to take them for that perceived value. If I didn’t like them before the season, then I won’t.
What I hope is that you have your own process to evaluate players so you can come up with your own impression on these ADP changes. Mostly so that I can win, but also so that if I don’t win then you do and you’re not mad at me.
So that’s it: as complete and as concise an overview of the 2017 rookies based on their ADP changes this season as I can offer in under 3,000 words. Of course, the exciting thing is we can do this all again next month…. yay?
As I said at the beginning, narratives will rise and fall this off-season and so too will players’ dynasty stock long after the last snap. ADP is a useful tool that sometimes gets lost in the murky waters of predicting the future. But it lets us see the perceived value of players and where our opinions differ from consensus.
I’d like to thank Ryan McDowell, one more time. He is the one who organizes these drafts, and it’s awesome.
Phew, that was fun. I hope to be back soon with more, but you can find me on Twitter anytime.
Thanks, again, for reading.
UDFA's matter | British ex-pat | Writer of things
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