2019 MLB Draft Guide: Understanding ADP
Too many people substitute Average Draft Position (ADP) for rankings. Howard Bender explains exactly what it is and how best to use it during your fantasy baseball drafts.
As the General of the Mock Draft Army, my whole offseason world revolves around Average Draft Position (ADP). Each week I run a series of mock drafts and then spend my weekend tabulating ADP numbers by hand with the hopes of providing you with what should be considered a valuable tool to use both in your draft prep and while you’re inside the war room. But often times people get confused by ADP and how to actually use it, so allow me to offer up this very simple crash course.
1. What is ADP?
The definition of ADP is pretty straightforward. It is a number calculated based on where a player is drafted in a series of mock drafts. Usually the number is taken from a series of drafts on a particular site so that when someone says Anthony Rizzo has an ADP of 36 on ESPN, it means he is usually being drafted somewhere in the third round of 12-team drafts on ESPN.com. To oversimplify just a bit, you can take a player’s ADP and divide by the number of teams in a league and that gives you a rough estimate as to in which round he is being taken.
2. Why do you use ADP?
The main function of ADP is to get a look at where most people are taking a particular player in their drafts. It has everything to do with public perception and absolutely nothing to do, or at least it shouldn’t, with how a player is ranked. If a low-ranked player seems to be climbing up draft boards and has a steadily increasing ADP each week, you know that people like him enough to start taking him earlier and earlier in drafts. Conversely, if a guy’s ADP is dropping each week, he is obviously falling out of favor with the public. For example, Mallex Smith ’s ADP was hovering around 160 just a month ago, but with the panic about stolen bases being at a premium coupled with the glowing opinions from some of the industry’s finest pundits, his ADP continues to climb (drafted as high as 99th overall) because everyone is rushing out to grab him. Imagine how high it could jump once he’s officially named as a starting outfielder without a platoon coming of spring training. Be on the lookout for Mock Draft Army ADP Trends & Analysis and you’ll be able to see which players are rising and which are falling each week.
3. Know the source of your ADP
Unfortunately, too many people just blindly accept ADP numbers as truth without ever understanding where the numbers actually come from. The reason I started the Mock Draft Army was because I was seeing far too many computer players in mock drafts on the bigger sites. I was also seeing a lot of people start the draft, take players through the first six rounds and then flip to auto-pick and leave the draft room. The big problem with that is the ADP numbers simply become an extension of the site’s default rankings. If the computer players are making selections or people are on auto-pick, then all they are doing is pulling players off the board in the same order the site has them ranked. For me, the two best sources are the Mock Draft Army ADP (coming soon) and the numbers from the National Fantasy Baseball Championships (NFBC). Every draft has a live player making their own selections for the entire draft.
4. ADP is a guideline, not the gospel
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve repeatedly witnesses is when someone really wants a player but says, “well, their ADP says I don’t take them until the next round, so I’ll wait.” When someone snipes their player, they get frustrated and start complaining about ADP numbers and how stupid they are. No. Not the case at all. First of all, my philosophy has always been, if you want a particular player, get him. Don’t be stupid and use a first-round choice on a guy you can probably get in the sixth or seventh round, but if a guy’s ADP says eighth round, you can take him in the sixth or seventh if you really want him and don’t think he’s going to make it back to you. No harm in that. It's supposed to be a fun game anyway, isn't it?
Second, you need to remember that most ADP numbers are made up from a variety of different style drafts. There’s standard roto, head-to-head, mixed leagues, AL-only, 12-team, 15-team, etc. You must ALWAYS take into consideration your league’s rules and roster guidelines. You need to remember things like ‘no trading’ in the NFBC which tends to elevate the ADP of certain players such as starting pitchers. You can look at a player’s ADP for a rough estimate of where he is going, but you have to look at the flow of your draft. Are people drafting in accordance with typical ADP numbers or is the Phillies fan in your league drafting Rhys Hoskins much earlier than his ADP numbers dictates? Your draft is a very fluid thing and your use of ADP should be used accordingly.
That about covers it. It’s really not that complicated. Mock drafts are an awesome way to prepare for your big day and using ADP will help you as you hone your draft skills. Keep a copy handy when you’re in the war room, but again, use it properly. If you do, you’ll be unstoppable.
And if you'd like to join the Mock Draft Army, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.