Gut Check No.343: Complete ADP Desirability Rankings

Photo by James Santelli.
Photo by James Santelli.

Sigmund Bloom and I have a lot of conversations throughout the course of a week. One vibrant, on-going topic is the state of fantasy football rankings. There’s value to a linear set of rankings spanning 1-250 that are based on statistical modeling. It’s the safest way to create a blueprint for a draft.

There are also notable gaps with this format. Rankings are harder for the user to see the draft with a broad perspective that tiers offer. Not that you can’t look at various possibilities at one time with a vertical list, but tiers make the decision-making tree of long-term cause and effect easier to see.

Most rankings based on statistical projections don’t incorporate the value of upside. Dorial Green-Beckham and Eddie Royal might be within five picks of the other, according to an ADP list or ranking, but the potential for Green-Beckham to produce fantasy-dominant scores with his big-play ability is much higher than Royal. What about Stevan Ridley versus Antone Smith? Both have a similar range in ADP, but Smith has a far lower chance of becoming a 15-touch-per-game starter than a healthy Ridley.

Then there’s confidence factor. A fantasy owner or analyst may have DeAndre Hopkins among his top-15 receivers based on projections, but when asked about Hopkins they may also tell you that they are so concerned about Houston’s quarterback situation and the Arian Foster injury that they pass on the Texans’ receiver in every draft. Or, like me, you might like Falcons tight end Jacob Tamme’s potential so much (even if you can’t truck with the idea of projecting production that, like me, places him as a starter on your tight end board) that his ADP of 242 factors into your overall draft strategy.

Straight up and down rankings lack a lot of valuable context. It also creates a lot of layers of conventional thought that create barriers to taking players that you really want on your team. Some barriers are healthy, because the logical thought baked into the rankings process helps you realize that some of your views are too impulsive or risky for the good of building a team.

But there are unintentional barriers baked into the conventional thought process of linear rankings that discourage you from recognizing the value of strategies that don’t fit into a traditional ranking process. Bloom and I have been discussing these issues within the context of tiers vs. rankings and using my tiers article with the safe, balanced, and high-risk builds as a starting point. The conversational evolved to a point where Bloom came up with an idea about creating a Desirability Ranking.

Something about typical fantasy rankings has been bothering me lately. By listing all relevant players in order of draft desirability, we still don’t really have anything actionable until we add a denominator of ADP. If I tell you a player is my #5 running back, that doesn’t tell you whether I would recommend drafting him or not. When you add the dimension of ADP, it becomes clear right away who my rankings recommend targeting and who my rankings recommend avoiding. This leads to an experiment idea of rethinking rankings. Instead of ranking players by draft desirability (or projected end of year finish), why not rank players by desirability of drafting them at ADP? This table will show you the rough ADP of a player, and where I would consider drafting the player. This ranking should help when prioritizing targets pre-draft and understanding the next best outcomes when targeted players go off the board ahead of you. Any and all feedback welcome!

Bloom’s ADP Desirability Rankings are simple. It involves the player, his ADP, and where you would pick the player to ensure you got him. Bloom uses these three pieces of information to create a ranking. In this scenario, Andre Ellington might have an ADP range of the 4th round, but you value him enough to take in the 3rd and it makes Ellington the third-most desirable running back on your draft board.

As you can see, this is not a ranking format for the conservative, “I need to see hard numbers” drafter. It’s an experiment. I’ve told Bloom it’s like trying to cut through all the traditional movements of old-school Fantasy Kung Fu and create our own version of Fantasy Jeet Kune Do.

I like this idea, but I wanted to see if I could use statistical projections for my traditional rankings as the backdrop? Could I convert my traditional rankings into ADP Desirability Rankings?

This article is the result of my efforts. It may not be the best way to do it, but it’s taking another step forward in exploring this big room for the first time. I’ll share the process of creating the rankings, rankings at each position, and three teams I selected by using these rankings.  Read the rest at 

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