Fantasy Baseball 2018: Strategy – A Dangerous Procedure for Tiering

Matthew Selz shares his Fantasy Baseball knowledge with you and helps you get a better understanding on how to prepare for your upcoming draft!   You can follow him on Twitter @theselzman!

 

As the title of the piece might suggest, ADP (Average Draft Position) is the topic this week and why it shouldn’t be relied on to tier positions. We are getting down to the nitty gritty now with just two weeks left until opening day and for most this is the key draft window for their home leagues. Up ‘til now we’ve been researching and gathering projections and news and what have you decided about the players in the pool, but now it’s time to get your draft in order with tiers and a strategy of where you are going to draft who and how your roster will come together. Every site offers their own take on tiers and where guys slot into each position based on a compiling of things, but a lot of fantasy owners will simply rely on ADP data to give them the picture of where guys are going inside each position.

However there are dangers with that method of tiering and it can lead you to reach or wait on guys that you may want or be forced to take because a run happened when you didn’t expect it.

If we take second base for example, sorting by ranking in a pre-made tier the top-10 are as follows: Jose Altuve, Jose Ramirez, Dee Gordon, Brian Dozier, Rougned Odor, Robinson Cano, Jonathan Schoop, Eduardo Nunez, Ozzie Albies, and Whit Merrifield. Now going based off ADP only, the top-10 looks this way: Jose Altuve, Jose Ramirez, Dee Gordon, Brian Dozier, Jonathan Schoop, Whit Merifield, Daniel Murphy, Robinson Cano, Chris Taylor, and Rougned Odor. Notice any differences? Well to break it down by rank you’d get 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 6, 15, 5. So as you see several players are switched around and Daniel Murphy makes it into the top-10 on ADP but he’s the 12th-ranked second baseman and falling because he won’t be ready for Opening Day.

The same thing holds true looking at outfield where the top-10 based on ADP comes out this way in terms of rankings: 1, 2, 5, 3, 6, 4, 8, 9, 11, 7. So most of the top-10 ranks are in there, save for #10 but they are still switched all around and if I had continued you’d see the next 10 has numbers 19, 26, and 30 all in the 11th-20th spots based on ADP alone. 

While it is the case that many positions have a few clear-cut top options and then the next several are all similar enough they could be slightly interchangeable, making ranking based on just one thing or the other is a recipe for danger on draft day. Rankings are put together taking into account full-season projections, their value across all the categories, and their value relative to the other players in that position, ADP meanwhile is simply an average of what overall pick that player has gone over the course of every draft to that point on a particular site, in this case the ADP I have used is from the NFBC. ADP can more easily be affected by league rules and type as well as a bias towards recent outcomes. A perfect example of this comes with Shohei Ohtani. Some leagues allow for him to be drafted twice, once as a hitter and once as a pitcher, some leagues only allow for him to be a pitcher, and some allow for him to be switched weekly between the two roles. Because of that his NFBC ADP is 76.1, meaning he goes in the 6-7th round in a 12-team format, however he is the 80th ranked starting pitcher according to several sites. So what do you do? Well you have to look at his projected totals in all categories he could help you in in your specific league format and slot him appropriately, but simply looking at ADP and seeing that he’s the 76th best player available will fool you into drafting him much higher than is potentially necessary. Another example of this in the opposite way is Austin Barnes. Heading into draft season it was presumed that he would be the starting catcher in L.A. with Grandal being the backup given the how the year ended down the stretch. So Barnes was a top-five ranked catcher with Grandal back in the mid-teens, however now that it’s becoming clearer that Grandal will be the one to see more at bats, the two’s ADP are closing in on each other, with just 20 spots between them.

Using the rankings as a baseline, so long as they are updated to injuries and playing time concern is a good place to start, and then use ADP as a guide for a value pick while in the draft. So if you’re in round 10 and there’s a guy still on the board who you have ranked in the top-five of their position and the ADP says they should’ve been gone five rounds ago, you can look at your notes and see why people are passing on him, whereas if you simply stick to ADP you wouldn’t know that he’s losing playing time or dealing with an injury that will keep him out for a month or something of that nature. The two should be used together to formulate a plan but overall stick to your knowledge, notes, and position tiers and use ADP to adjust on the fly for value grabs and you’ll be just fine.

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