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The Numbers Game

Average Draft Positions

by Ryan Knaus
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Today's column explores average draft positions (ADPs), providing insight into broad trends and perspectives on player values. If the hive-mind of fantasy GMs at Yahoo have given Jae Crowder an ADP of No. 72 (they have), you're less likely to need to reach for him in the 40-50 range. Be mindful, however, that ADP data is only good as a general roadmap to values.   For one thing, the ADPs are an amalgam of many different types and depths of leagues. There are also wide disparities in the intensity of leagues -- some require painstaking research and strategies to snipe valuable players from knowledgeable opponents, while some are casual affairs where a little bit of planning goes a long way. Nevertheless, ADP is a useful tool for getting the temperature of the room, as it were.   Before looking at the top-150 players, in terms of ADP, let's look at how they break down by position. Every time I run this type of analysis, I find that PFs and SGs are relatively abundant, while PGs and Cs are relative scarce. Let's see if the picture changes when viewed through the lens of ADP.

 

Yahoo
PG 44
SG 47
SF 49
PF 56
C 50

 

Yahoo is very lenient with position eligibility and the breakdown here is balanced enough to seem intentional (as a footnote, the average position-per-player is 1.64, almost identical to what it was last year). There are enough players at each spot that you shouldn't be doomed if you miss out on, say, a SF in the first three rounds.

 

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At the other end of the spectrum, ESPN is quite strict with player positions. This breakdown refers to single-eligibility for players:

 

ESPN
PG 36
SG 29
SF 26
PF 30
C 29

 

Without multiple eligibility, there is actually a surplus of point guards in the top-150 here. My guess is that fantasy owners tend to stock up on point guards relative to other positions, which drives more PGs into the top-150, but either way it's worth considering when drafting in an ESPN league.   The list below compares ADP data from Yahoo and ESPN, with a column comparing the (absolute) difference between the two. For instance, Blake Griffin is going in the late second round in ESPN leagues, but falls to the middle third round in Yahoo with an ADP difference of 8.2. LaMarcus Aldridge is almost the exact opposite, going 8.0 spots higher in Yahoo.   A total of 20 players made one list but not the other, suggesting a lack of consensus about their fantasy worthiness. They are (in no particular order): Alex Len, Brandon Jennings, Evan Turner, Wilson Chandler, Tim Frazier, Taj Gibson, Joe Johnson, Marcus Smart, Matt Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Pat Beverley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Ian Mahinmi, Mirza Teletovic, Willie Cauley-Stein, Denzel Valentine, Zaza Pachulia and Chris Bosh

 

For that group of players, I defaulted to '150' for their ADP on the site that did not include them.

 

Player YAHOO ADP % Drafted (Yahoo) ESPN ADP % Drafted (ESPN) ADP Difference
Stephen Curry GS  1.8 100% 3.6 100% 1.8
Kevin Durant GS  2.6 100% 4.7 100% 2.1
Russell Westbrook OKC  3.1 100% 1.4 100% 1.7
James Harden Hou  3.3 100% 2.7 100% 0.6
Karl-Anthony Towns Min 6.3 100% 4.8 100% 1.5
Kawhi Leonard SA  7 100% 9.1 100% 2.1
Anthony Davis NO  7.7 100% 10.4 100% 2.7
LeBron James Cle  8 100% 5.9 100% 2.1
Chris Paul LAC  9.6 100% 8 100% 1.6
Giannis Antetokounmpo Mil  10.5 100% 12.9 100% 2.4
Paul George Ind  10.7 100% 14.2 100% 3.5
Damian Lillard Por  11.7 100% 11 100% 0.7
Hassan Whiteside Mia  13.8 100% 14.4 100% 0.6
DeMarcus Cousins Sac  13.9 100% 10 100% 3.9
Jimmy Butler Chi  15.4 100% 19.6 100% 4.2
Paul Millsap Atl  17.5 100% 21.2 100% 3.7
Draymond Green GS  19.2 100% 19.6 100% 0.4
Al Horford Bos  19.8 100% 27.4 100% 7.6
John Wall Was  20.3 100% 15.5 100% 4.8
Kyrie Irving Cle  20.5 100% 17.1 100% 3.4
Kyle Lowry Tor  20.7 100% 18.4 100% 2.3
LaMarcus Aldridge SA  22 100% 30 100% 8
Klay Thompson GS  23.2 100% 24 100% 0.8
Kristaps Porzingis NY  25.6 100% 31.9 99% 6.3
Victor Oladipo OKC  26.2 100% 31 100% 4.8
Kemba Walker Cha  27.1 100% 25.2 100% 1.9
Carmelo Anthony NY  28.7 100% 28 100% 0.7
Blake Griffin LAC  28.8 100% 20.6 100% 8.2
Serge Ibaka Orl  29.3 100% 40.9 97% 11.6
Derrick Favors Uta  32.4 100% 45.8 97% 13.4
Brook Lopez Bkn  32.7 100% 35 99% 2.3
Kevin Love Cle  33.5 100% 36.9 99% 3.4
C.J. McCollum Por  33.9 100% 29 99% 4.9
Isaiah Thomas Bos  34.6 100% 25.7 100% 8.9
Eric Bledsoe Pho  35 100% 28.7 98% 6.3
Nikola Jokic Den  36.8 100% 51.1 88% 14.3
Jonas Valanciunas Tor  38.8 100% 82.2 87% 43.4
Andre Drummond Det  41.6 100% 27.3 100% 14.3
DeMar DeRozan Tor  41.6 100% 37.5 100% 4.1
Andrew Wiggins Min  41.9 100% 41.7 98% 0.2
DeAndre Jordan LAC  42.7 100% 32.4 100% 10.3
Mike Conley Mem  43 100% 60.9 91% 17.9
Tobias Harris Det  45.4 100% 77 87% 31.6
Rudy Gobert Uta  47.9 100% 45.7 96% 2.2
Ricky Rubio Min  49.7 100% 80.1 85% 30.4
Gordon Hayward Uta  49.8 100% 39.7 97% 10.1
Pau Gasol SA  50.9 100% 36.5 99% 14.4
Trevor Ariza Hou  51.3 100% 55.6 92% 4.3
Nikola Vucevic Orl  52.8 100% 48.8 96% 4
Gorgui Dieng Min  53.4 100% 65.8 85% 12.4
Dirk Nowitzki Dal  55 100% 60.5 94% 5.5
Jeff Teague Ind  55.4 100% 53.7 94% 1.7
Nicolas Batum Cha  56.7 100% 41.9 98% 14.8
Marc Gasol Mem  57.1 100% 42.1 99% 15
Goran Dragic Mia  57.5 100% 52.9 93% 4.6
Myles Turner Ind  59 100% 75.8 80% 16.8
Nerlens Noel Phi  62.4 100% 60.6 90% 1.8
Otto Porter Was  62.5 100% 105.4 68% 42.9
Rudy Gay Sac  63.3 100% 63.1 93% 0.2
Jabari Parker Mil  63.9 100% 70.4 90% 6.5
Marcin Gortat Was  64 100% 66.7 89% 2.7
Khris Middleton Mil  65.2 45% 150 0% 84.8
Zach LaVine Min  65.9 100% 70.3 90% 4.4
Reggie Jackson Det  66.8 100% 59.9 88% 6.9
Rajon Rondo Chi  67.4 100% 44.8 97% 22.6
Darren Collison Sac  68.3 100% 95.2 75% 26.9
Steven Adams OKC  68.4 100% 111.1 54% 42.7
Aaron Gordon Orl  71.3 100% 95.1 76% 23.8
Danilo Gallinari Den  71.7 100% 77.1 86% 5.4
Jae Crowder Bos  72 96% 66.5 90% 5.5
Ryan Anderson Hou  72.1 100% 80.5 80% 8.4
Dennis Schroder Atl  72.8 100% 61.1 83% 11.7
Dwight Howard Atl  74 100% 52.7 96% 21.3
Greg Monroe Mil  74.7 100% 64.3 92% 10.4
Dwyane Wade Chi  76.4 100% 50 97% 26.4
Brandon Knight Pho  78 100% 69.2 88% 8.8
Bradley Beal Was  78.1 100% 75.5 90% 2.6
Thaddeus Young Ind  78.7 100% 72.7 88% 6
Nikola Mirotic Chi  79.6 100% 117.8 41% 38.2
Chandler Parsons Mem  79.9 100% 69.1 88% 10.8
Enes Kanter OKC  80.1 100% 71.9 90% 8.2
Evan Fournier Orl  80.7 95% 52.2 91% 28.5
D'Angelo Russell LAL  81.3 100% 57.3 89% 24
George Hill Uta  81.9 100% 97.1 74% 15.2
Avery Bradley Bos  82.9 100% 89.7 81% 6.8
Monta Ellis Ind  85.7 100% 75.9 89% 9.8
Devin Booker Pho  88.2 100% 56.1 93% 32.1
Kenneth Faried Den  88.2 100% 93.4 82% 5.2
Robin Lopez Chi  89.9 100% 106.9 67% 17
J.J. Redick LAC  91.5 100% 88.3 84% 3.2
Jordan Clarkson LAL  91.8 100% 88.5 83% 3.3
DeMarre Carroll Tor  93.4 100% 102.5 69% 9.1
Wesley Matthews Dal  93.7 100% 111.9 62% 18.2
Jahlil Okafor Phi  95.1 100% 84.6 85% 10.5
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Bkn 95.2 75% 150 0% 54.8
Jrue Holiday NO  95.4 100% 118.4 51% 23
Jeremy Lin Bkn  97.2 100% 84.8 70% 12.4
Harrison Barnes Dal  98 100% 79 85% 19
Danny Green SA  98.7 100% 118 39% 19.3
Ben Simmons Phi  99.7 96% 82.3 73% 17.4
Kent Bazemore Atl  101.8 100% 76.2 71% 25.6
Chris Bosh Mia  102.1 93% 150 0% 47.9
Rodney Hood Uta  104 100% 111.9 65% 7.9
Zach Randolph Mem  104.5 100% 107.6 73% 3.1
Robert Covington Phi  104.6 100% 106.6 38% 2
Marvin Williams Cha  106.6 85% 112.5 58% 5.9
Jusuf Nurkic Den  107.7 77% 108.5 26% 0.8
Bismack Biyombo Orl  107.9 100% 112.8 22% 4.9
Derrick Rose NY  108 100% 86.1 87% 21.9
Clint Capela Hou  109.5 100% 150 0% 40.5
Julius Randle LAL  109.6 100% 83.1 86% 26.5
Gary Harris Den  110.1 99% 115.2 45% 5.1
Deron Williams Dal  114.3 100% 115.8 49% 1.5
J.R. Smith Cle  114.8 100% 107.4 54% 7.4
Tristan Thompson Cle  115.4 91% 81.7 77% 33.7
Luol Deng LAL  116.1 99% 112.5 58% 3.6
Elfrid Payton Orl  116.9 100% 103 72% 13.9
Patrick Beverley Hou  117.3 99% 150 0% 32.7
Tyreke Evans NO  117.9 97% 109.2 52% 8.7
Marcus Smart Bos  118.4 100% 150 0% 31.6
Markieff Morris Was  119.2 100% 107.7 48% 11.5
Eric Gordon Hou  119.8 100% 118.6 41% 1.2
Brandon Ingram LAL  120.8 98% 94.5 75% 26.3
Kyle Korver Atl  121.1 100% 113.6 29% 7.5
Al-Farouq Aminu Por 121.7 100% 110.7 59% 11
Joakim Noah NY  121.8 99% 112.4 54% 9.4
Joel Embiid Phi  121.9 78% 103.7 52% 18.2
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Det 122.8 100% 104.4 70% 18.4
Andrew Bogut Dal  123 98% 113.6 48% 9.4
Mason Plumlee Por  123.5 98% 104.1 62% 19.4
Michael Carter-Williams Chi 124.3 92% 106.6 65% 17.7
Al Jefferson Ind  125.8 88% 112.8 61% 13
Tony Parker SA  126.2 65% 108.6 30% 17.6
Emmanuel Mudiay Den  126.5 98% 115.4 62% 11.1
Justise Winslow Mia  128.5 80% 113.2 24% 15.3
Buddy Hield NO  128.8 97% 99.6 72% 29.2
Jared Sullinger Tor  129.1 92% 140 18% 10.9
Ian Mahinmi Was  131.4 31% 150 0% 18.6
Jamal Crawford LAC  131.5 55% 109.7 50% 21.8
Tim Frazier NO  132.3 70% 150 0% 17.7
Marcus Morris Det  132.4 68% 118 31% 14.4
Will Barton Den  132.6 58% 116.7 33% 15.9
Wilson Chandler Den  134.2 36% 150 0% 15.8
Andre Iguodala GS  135 44% 108.3 46% 26.7
Taj Gibson Chi  135.6 54% 150 0% 14.4
Ish Smith Det  136.4 24% 119.7 30% 16.7
Timofey Mozgov LAL  136.5 31% 108.3 20% 28.2
Denzel Valentine Chi  136.6 6% 150 0% 13.4
Dario Saric Phi  137.3 49% 117.4 28% 19.9
Kris Dunn Min  137.5 57% 90.7 62% 46.8
Alex Len 150 0% 100.8 70% 49.2
Brandon Jennings 150 0% 112.2 35% 37.8
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 150 0% 113.2 30% 36.8
Zaza Pachulia 150 0% 113.9 28% 36.1
Clint Capela 150 0% 116.2 31% 33.8
Matt Barnes 150 0% 116.8 16% 33.2
Lou Williams 150 0% 118.6 27% 31.4
Joe Johnson 150 0% 118.7 25% 31.3
Willie Cauley-Stein 150 0% 122.8 34% 27.2
Mirza Teletovic 150 0% 123.3 37% 26.7
Evan Turner 150 0% 106.2 64% 43.8

 

 

Note that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Marcus Smart both missed the cut for ESPN with ADPs of 140 (for whatever reason, ESPN lists everyone outside of the top-150 as having an ADP of 140). That should not happen in a competitive draft, even after Smart's unfortunate ankle sprain in Boston's preseason finale (early estimates give him a two-week timetable). Khris Middleton came in outside the top-150, likely because owners with IR spots were stashing him in the final rounds -- it's a worthwhile strategy, but it means that if some of your key players gets hurt during the year, you may face a tough decision with no available IR spots (or at least one fewer).   Some players who did not make the top-150 in Yahoo include Trey Lyles, Seth Curry, Dario Saric, Alex Len, Timofey Mozgov, Ish Smith, Cody Zeller and Wilson Chandler. A few less-deserving players would have the cut, like Channing Frye and Paul Pierce, but I eliminated anyone who was drafted in under 15% of leagues. That demonstrates why it's important to also consider ownership rates -- Frye was drafted in 2% of leagues and Pierce in 3% of leagues, so it was a tiny demographic driving up their perceived values.   Khris Middleton has an ADP of 65.2 in the Yahoo data, which must be a product of early drafts anchoring his value. As we'll see below he's much lower in ESPN data...presumably the latter site uses ADP data from a recent time-span (like the past 14 days), whereas Yahoo is using longer-team data. I'm not positive about that, since the methodology isn't explained on either site, but it's an interesting wrinkle to consider.   Some questions raised here beg further exploration. Why is Jonas Valanciunas coveted in Yahoo leagues, but banished to the late-middle rounds in ESPN? Why is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson going 55 spots earlier in Yahoo, while Alex Len is going 50 spots earlier in ESPN? The main reason is how they are pre-ranked in each league. RHJ is somewhere around the top-120 in ESPN's projections, with an assigned auction value of $1, whereas Yahoo has them ranked either 79 ("Expert pre-season ranks") or 62 ("Rank based on [9-cat] settings"). 

 

That highlights the importance of doing some research before you get in the draft room...if you have 60 seconds to make a pick and you're furiously scrolling through 100+ names to find the guy you think you want, odds are you're going to make some mistakes. To avoid this, check out Mike Gallagher's two-part series, Abusing the Ranks, as well as Jonas Nader's excellent Top Value Picks column. Regardless of the site you use, the depth of your league, or the specific scoring settings, a little bit of preparation can go a long way. Good luck!

Ryan Knaus
Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.