This series explores rankings and ADP to find advantages for our dynasty leagues. This week, I want to look at how I tried to apply my rankings to an actual startup draft recently.
In this series we have, several times, run into the roadblock of: “What are rankings?” Are they startup draft orders? Value projections, trade values? Or maybe all three.
It’s my hope going through the first seven picks of my most recent startup might help with that.
I haven’t drafted perfectly, I’d change some things if I tried again, or if I could have known exactly what would happen after my picks. In other words, a typical draft. But that’s all part of the reality of trying to play dynasty. So, let’s look at it.
The Draft Board
While everyone enters a draft with a default set of assumptions or ideas, most, or most good players I know, try to adapt to the landscape of the league as they learn it. As we draft players, we see where positional runs are happening and make decisions about which direction we want to take, one pick at a time.
Here is the current draft board for reference.
The first thing I know about this draft is all these players are experienced, skilled, and have their approaches.
So, I expected them to know ADP and therefore that when they make a strong decision against it, it wasn’t a “mistake” but information about their ideas.
My initial thoughts:
I write down draft picks as they happen to get a sense of if I’m seeing what I think I am. I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes get lost during a draft, and it’s harder for me to understand and compare without a draft sheet. It also means I don’t miss players because of the site’s default ADP.
The first thing that became obvious is that everyone was guarded against letting young players go later. As much as ADP expects, quarterbacks were going thick and heavy, and the wide receiver position heavily empathized quickly. This has, we’ve seen, been a strong conflict between ADP and rankings here on DLF as well.
This is important because it encouraged me several times, I think, to make good decisions. But also, because it helped me make – what I think in hindsight – was a mistake.
1.02: Josh Allen, QB BUF
Picking Allen was an easy decision. If I have an early pick in a superflex draft, I am likely going to take a quarterback.
APD and rankings heavily suggest I don’t let them pass me by early in the draft. While Patrick Mahomes is the 1.01 in most leagues, and rankings, I’ve often had Allen as my first overall because, well, he’s scored more points.
So, this pick was easy.
2.11: Kyler Murray, QB ARI
This pick was awkward. I had to think for a while to be honest. I have Murray much higher in my rankings, but the draft at this point has sucked up all the wide receivers and youth slightly above average that I usually assume I can rely on if I take him early.
By the time the draft came back to me, the only players who had fallen were running backs Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Taylor. Amon-Ra St. Brown, my highest ranking value this year, had been taken ten spots above his ADP, ending any chance for me to snag him on the turn.
This made me think about this series. As hard as I try to make my “favorite” players the highest values in my ranks, the fact is… sometimes you don’t have the right pick or value you need to get the players you want.
Murray would be in the top tier of the quarterback position if he hadn’t been injured, or the rumors of his “work ethic” weren’t flying around Twitter. While he may not play a lot this year, and while rumors can quickly turn into fact, I try to rely on results and player arch trends first. Or that’s what I told myself as I hit the draft button.
3.02: Christian McCaffrey, RB SF
With a solid value pick in the second round, I’d passed up the opportunity to snag both ADP fallers. However, outside of elite players at the prime dynasty value positions (wide receiver, and quarterbacks in superflex), I’m very happy to lean into what a draft is trying to give me. So far, it felt like the league was going to offer a strong path to roster points and running backs for this season.
Could I have learned further to value? Yes, I could have taken Kyle Pitts as a very fair pick according to ADP. However, Jonathan Taylor and McCaffrey were both still on the board when it came back to me, so I took my running back one.
I did consider taking another quarterback, Daniel Jones for example, but Murray is the last potential “elite’ value on the board for me and making a third-round pick to make up for the starter value of my second-round pick would be a step backward.
McCaffrey, when healthy, has more of those to offer than any other player. Unfortunately, the next 24 picks spooked me.
4.11: Quentin Johnston, WR, LAC
Estimating the draft, I felt there would be more wide receivers and running backs falling because of age over the next few rounds. This has largely been true. However, my plan of action was to try and directly balance that direction (targeting older players and running backs) with one last big swing on value with Jordan Addison.
As the picks unfolded, I became less certain of my direction as Cooper Kupp and Stefon Diggs quickly fell off the board. But the Jaxon Smith-Njigba pick helped confirm that my timing was right. Addison is often selected shortly after him in drafts, and I have the two very close together in my ranks.
But I was completely derailed when, right before my pick, my friend Evan Brown – from the Dynasty Debates podcast (@FFEvanlution) – snipped Jordan Addison. This was about 14 picks ahead of his ADP. I overreacted to this and took my next-ranked rookie wide receiver, letting Kyle Pitts fall past me again. My justification for this was: rookies were going off the board quickly, so this was a reach on a player I like, at a value that this league could sustain.
Unfortunately, Zay Flowers has yet to be selected over the next few rounds. I think I just fell victim to a positional run-on rookie that only happened in my head.
5.02: Nick Chubb, RB CLE
Chubb was an attempt to get back on track, or continue the original idea, and just pretend I hadn’t overreacted. I took the value available.
He is my fifth-highest running back value, and the only one in the first 11 rounds inside my top 12 values. In other words, I felt very comfortable taking Chubb above ADP in this range, because if I’m getting a running back, I want the one with the most points.
I’m building a very scatterbrained team, but I think I still see a path to being competitive in 2023.
With my quarterbacks and, hopefully, a good rookie wide receiver, I’m re-centering myself to push more for 2023 with this pick.
6.11: George Kittle, TE SF
This was always the plan. If I don’t get Kittle, I’m going to reach way too early on Pat Freiermuth because I either want TE1 upside, or the youngest member of the middle class of starters I can get.
Since I’m focusing on points, the Kittle pick just continues moving me in the same direction.
7.02: Marquise Brown, WR ARI
I wasn’t trying to stack Arizona, I just think Marquise Brown, at his age, with his production, is underrated. That nicely fits into both sides of my scatter-brained team right now.
I feel good about Brown’s ability to produce some top 12 weeks, at least, especially when Kyler Murray is healthy.
Below you can see how these picks compare against ADP and my own ranks.
As you can see, I either took players below their ADP, or players my rankings are significantly higher on. I tried to do both with every pick. While I still feel I reached too far on Johnston, it’s relatively proportional to my rankings vs ADP difference.
Am I drafting from my rankings? Or do my rankings reflect how I draft? Both.
They are not a draft order. I am, of course, following ADP. But I’m also looking to adjust to the league. Ultimately, I’m trying to catch the best player I can find, learning the value (ADP vs the league draft order) that’s being offered, while looking for places to catch the players I particularly like overall this season.
I feel my largest misstep is when I leaned too far into the latter and was not willing to take advantage of the former.
I think that’s the best way I can demonstrate how “rankings” compared to ADP for values and drafts. There is no list of any ranker who can offer to direct someone else’s draft. It’s a fluid situation and the order and preferences change as picks are made.
But let me know what you think.
Thanks again for checking out this series. I hope it’s useful and informative. I’m afraid that’s about all I have for you this week. Make sure to check the DLF trade finder for ideas on how or what to send for these players in offers or contact any of our rankers for explanations or ideas as to why they may be good targets.