I’m going to take you on a journey of average draft position. It may sound like the worst possible journey next to a Carnival cruise, but it’s really not all that bad. We’re going to take a look at how well ADP predicted actual fantasy numbers.
I’m a firm believer that if you take good ADP rankings and compare them to well thought out rankings from really smart people, you’re still going to come up with similar results. Unfortunately I’m no mathmagician and trying to quantify that possibly wildly inaccurate claim is beyond my ability, so I thought we would get in the way back machine and see how well ADP worked for 2012. We’ll start with quarterbacks, the most loved and hated of the football playing kind.
For the sake of sticking with the theme “average” we’ll go with ESPN’s standard scoring and Fantasy Pros’ average of six sites’ ADP for analysis.
Aaron Rodgers – ADP 1 (Finish 2) – Rodgers was by far the first quarterback to come off the board in the summer of ’12. His ADP was second overall, which, as you know is darn high for a quarterback. But at least with Rodgers his high ADP wasn’t based on one big season, but a slow burn of great fantasy seasons topped off with an MVP effort. Depending on your scoring, Rodgers had been the number one or two fantasy player in each of the four previous seasons. That kind of consistency is appealing to those who have been burned by early round running backs over and over.
So did he live up to his number two overall ADP? Well, if you look at the numbers in a vacuum he sure did. But of course that means Drew Brees should have been the number one overall pick and that you should get out of that vacuum. Rodgers ended up tied for second with Tom Brady in overall scoring, but we all know that his numbers didn’t live up to expectations. From week 8 to 14 he had sub-20 point fantasy point games in all but one. That is quite a turnaround from 2011 when he had just one game with less than 20 points all season.
But if you made the fantasy playoffs with him, he did come up big with two top-5 games in week’s 15 and 16. Looking back his consistency rating was fifth for quarterbacks on the season with nine startable (top 10) games. That’s good, but not top-2 overall good. And nothing compared to his 2011 when he led the league with 15 of 15 startable games!
He will most likely be the top quarterback taken or at least fight Drew Brees for that honor in 2013, but we might see people once again backing off the first round quarterback after jumping on them due to the huge numbers of 2011.
Tom Brady – ADP 2 (Finish 2) – Brady was picked 5th overall on average, which does seem odd with Drew Brees having clearly been the number one or two fantasy quarterback in 2011, but it does seem people were slightly scared off by Sean Payton letting the Bounty Gate hit him on his way out and buoyed by the addition of Brandon Lloyd to Patriot Way. Brady ended up finishing behind Brees, but tied for second with Rodgers.
Brady was slightly more consistent than Rodgers, but didn’t put up the huge numbers you need for a quarterback to torch the competition. Looking back here is how he ranked each week against his fellow quarterbacks, going from week 16 to 1 -- 11, 4, 3, 24, 2, 4, 12, 2, 7, 9, 8, 1, 15, 20, and 11. Brady’s consistency rating was third for quarterbacks with 10 startable games, which gives him the slight edge over Rodgers on the season. So even though they finished with the same number of fantasy points, Brady was a better pick than Rodgers who went before him, but still taken too high in the grand scheme of fake football (which is to dominate all fantasy takers).
Drew Brees – ADP 3 (Finish 1) – Mr. Brees wasn’t the best real quarterback in 2012 as seen in wins and losses and interceptions, but he was the best fantasy quarterback across the board. The lack of an acceptable Saints’ defense allowed Brees to throw the ball in comeback style and hit that 5k yards, 40+ touchdown mark once again. He was also the most consistent fantasy quarterback with 11 startable games paired with the most stud games (top 2) for a quarterback with four.
Brees went off the board seventh overall, which is too high for me, but looking back, was a safe pick. Like Rodgers, he’s been extremely consistent, and that dome coupled with a pass happy offense is a breeding ground for fantasy points. Of course he still finished 16th overall in ESPN’s consistency rankings and seventh in “stud” games, which means running backs and receivers were the true studs last season. If I were drafting with my Grays Sports Almanac in hand, I probably still wouldn’t have owned Brees with his first round ADP.
Cam Newton – ADP 4 (Finish 4) – Talk about a weird season for Mr. Newton! Ok, sure, that’s what I’m here for. Newton’s 2012 was a tale of two seasons, or more likely, a tale of three big games between weeks 12-14. Newton actually landed firmly in fourth overall in fantasy scoring, just in line with his ADP. But if you ask his fantasy owners how they feel about his 2012, you’ll get a wide variety of answers depending on how far behind the eight ball he placed their teams.
Newton was a top ten quarterback in just half of his games and a top two quarterback in half of those. Three of those top two performances came at the end of the fantasy football season, which was most likely too late for many. So if you were in a total points league (I know, few are, but more should be) Newton gave you a miraculous comeback! But for the most part, his QB ADP of four was too high.
Newton’s overall ADP ranged from 7 to 22, so as we get further down in ADP the ranges from site to site and draft to draft, fluctuate much more than they did with the top guys. Newton at 22nd overall in the right league settings could have been a great pick, but overall he most likely hurt your team if you drafted him in the first round.
But with that strong finish, there is a good chance his ADP will once again be high. We know he has the ability, but will he have the consistency? How about you start up a cumulative scoring league and draft him early? And then spread the word to all my friends that cumulative scoring is the bee’s knees and/or elbows.
Matthew Stafford – ADP 5 (Finish 10) – Oh Matt, Matt, Matt, why did you have to do us like that, that, that? Bro Stafford, much like Drew Brees, threw the ball more than any human should have to throw a ball, but unlike Mr. Brees, Stafford had a much harder time converting those throws into fantasy points. Stafford finished the season tenth in fantasy points and first in pass attempts. That’s a monumental task in itself.
Stafford didn’t come close to living up to his ADP, even with the top 10 overall finish. He had seven startable games and only one top 2 game. In a down year for quarterbacks, that wasn’t at the bottom of the pack, but if you grabbed him at his overall ADP of 10, you are still crying hard and often.
There were many factors for his poor season, but his inconsistency was the leading one. He still has him arm attached after throwing the ball 727 times and the last I heard Calvin Johnson is still on the Lions and those two things point to a nice bounce back season in 2013.
Michael Vick – ADP 6 (Finish 27) – Remember Michael Vick? You know, that guy who in 2010 led many leagues in fantasy points, but only played in 12 games? Yeah, I think many of us were remembering that guy when we drafted back in August.
It was a poor season for Vick without a doubt. He only played in ten games and finished 27th in quarterback scoring. If you extrapolate his numbers out to a whole season, he still only finished around 14th overall. If you take out the Dallas game in which he was injured it helps him a little, but overall he was not a top tier fantasy quarterback when healthy.
But he still is at least a top-10 fantasy quarterback when healthy, unfortunately “when healthy” is the operative phrase you can’t get around. This season he will be much cheaper and much easier to take a gamble on in drafts and if I’m gambling on backup quarterbacks in 2013, it’s on one that can run.