Never-too-Early ADP Observations: My First Draft of 2018

By Jen Ryan
Jen Ryan Yes, it is only February. Yes, there are currently live bestball drafts happening now on a few different platforms. Yes, I am drafting (and quite happy to be doing so!). This early on, ADP is essentially non-existent, and that’s what makes observing it not only fun but valuable. We are out here making (hopefully) educated guesses that will translate to profit. As ADP is created on the fly we can use this early data to get a glimpse as to where the field is on some players. Trends, predictable and unpredictable, are being created.

I am currently in a 10-person, 18 round bestball draft with .5PPR scoring. Again, ADP does not really exist at the moment, just site-offered rankings. Here is a round-by-round breakdown on the first half of this draft, where I am picking from the sixth spot.

Round 1: Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, DeAndre Hopkins, David Johnson (me), Antonio Brown, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon

The run on running backs in the first round is expected after the 2017 season. It is odd to see names like Odell Beckham and Julio Jones make it out of the first round, but this is where we are after a low year for receivers. Gurley is no surprise as the first overall pick, but Alvin Kamara at two shows just how much dual-threat running backs are worth right now. There was no way I was passing on David Johnson with the sixth pick, who we must remember is coming off a a wrist injury. His legs are just fine, and he has the upside to finish as the top back in fantasy football in 2018.

Round 2: Odell Beckham, LeSean McCoy, Julio Jones, Christian McCaffrey, Devonta Freeman (me), Dalvin Cook, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, Travis Kelce, Keenan Allen

The run on running backs continues, with some pass catchers sprinkled in. Early indications through two rounds are your hand may be forced in selecting a running back early in 2018, whether you want to or not. The receivers in this round feel like value picks in the second. Dalvin Cook, a special talent no doubt, intrigues me. Will Latavius Murray just go away after his 2017 effort?

Round 3: Jordan Howard, Aaron Rodgers, Derrick Henry, Carlos Hyde, AJ Green, Rob Gronkowski (me), Kenyan Drake, Mike Evans, Joe Mixon, Dion Lewis

If this is how wide receiver value is going to shake out, I will be drastically increasing the amount of bestball drafts I participate in this year. I am not thrilled with my Gronkowski pick here, and heavily debated Adam Thielen with the sixth pick of the third round. Gronkowski’s upside far outweighs his injury risks for me, and that upside in the third round was too good to ignore.

Round 4: Tyreek Hill, Adam Thielen (darn!), Brandin Cooks, Zach Ertz, Jarvis Landry (me), Jay Ajayi, Greg Olsen, Davante Adams, Jamaal Williams, Deshaun Watson

I suspect Landry may have gone a round earlier had this been a full point PPR format, but 2017’s WR4 still feels as if he fell to me here, having finished as WR13 and WR11 in the two years prior to last season. At this point, however, I am feeling a ton of regret after missing out on Thielen, and I told myself I have to be aggressive going forward. Deshaun Watson as the QB2 is an interesting pick and one that stands out here.

Round 5: Doug Baldwin, Josh Gordon, TY Hilton, Russell Wilson, Stefon Diggs, Marvin Jones (me), Tom Brady, Alshon Jeffery, Amari Cooper, Lamar Miller

Finally, a run on receivers, in the fifth round. We still live in a world where Amari Cooper is being drafted ahead of Michael Crabtree. Cooper is young, the dynasty crowd is lurking in the lobby, and Crabtree is a player the Raiders could conceivable move on from. Still, notable that he has outperformed Cooper for three straight seasons but here we are. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate finished as WR11 and WR12 respectfully last season. It is too early to tell if I reached on Jones here, but considering 70% of the picks in this round were receivers, I grabbed the one coming off of the highest finish of all selected in this round. Five rounds in we have four quarterbacks off the board, late-round quarterbacking be damned.

Round 6: Julian Edelman, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chris Thompson, Demaryius Thomas, Golden Tate (me), Tevin Coleman, Evan Engram, Marquise Goodwin, Jordy Nelson, Allen Robinson

Receivers continue to fly off the board in the sixth round, which bound to happen after the running back run in the first three rounds. My favorite pick of the round is Chris Thompson. Receiving running backs made a fantasy statement in 2017, and they are an integral part of these fast-paced offenses we are seeing. I went with the Detroit Lions receiver stack, which can be an acceptable strategy in bestball. I just have to be sure to snag Matthew Stafford in a few rounds.

Round 7: Cam Newton, Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant, Hunter Henry, Robert Woods, Marlon Mack (me), Cooper Kupp, Alex Collins, Jimmy Garappolo, Matthew Stafford

I missed out on Stafford and I am fine with that. There are a handful of quarterbacks still available and it is a position I am not willing to roster before the double-digit rounds in most cases. I am on a self-imposed Dez Bryant diet for a few weeks, mainly because I am so curious to see where his ADP settles over the next few weeks, and the seventh round could be the going rate for him this season. My Marlon Mack pick is a bit bold, arguable a bit early, but I am at the point in this draft where ADP, existent or not, no longer constrains me. If Frank Gore is no longer a part of the Indianapolis Colts plans for next season, Mack has immense upside, even if his new head coach rolled out one of the more frustrating timeshares of 2017.

To reiterate, ADP really does not exist quite yet. The crowd drafting right now is throwing darts from start to finish. This early crowd is creating what will be early ADP. These drafts are for money and I am playing competitively, but I am also paying $10.00 to start to figure out where these players will be available once these draft lobbies begin to be flooded with drafters. Again, it is early, but really it is never too early. Once this draft wraps up, we will take a look at how the rest of if shakes out and what my first draft of 2018 looks like in terms of average draft position. See you in the lobby!