As we noted in one of our draft strategy articles, value is king when deciding which players to select in your fantasy football draft or auction. Every year there are certain players that are picked too early or are available late for various reasons. Sometimes a player’s outlook is generally being regarded more optimistically than it should be or perhaps an injury or change in a team’s personnel has caused a player’s stock to fall.
Analyzing average draft position (ADP) data is a great way to find value in your league’s draft or auction. In 2008, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner provided outstanding value because his ADP was the ninth pick in the 11th round in 12 team leagues, one spot below Jon Kitna, then of the Detroit Lions. This despite the fact that Warner had put up outstanding fantasy seasons previously with the high powered Rams offense, that it was widely known he was going to start over Matt Leinart because of Leinart’s meltdown in the team’s third preseason game and that the team was stacked with outstanding players at the offensive skill positions. Nonetheless, Warner was generally available as a backup fantasy quarterback.
Owners were rewarded with a great season. Warner was remarkably consistent (at least one TD pass in 15 games, 11 games with at least 250 yards passing) and finished as the 4th ranked fantasy QB. Throw away a game against the Patriots in a blizzard in New England when most owners likely benched him and he would have finished as the 2nd ranked fantasy QB.
Matt Ryan, ATL (ADP 6.07) – Quite predictably, the 2nd year pivot is being overdrafted in fantasy leagues this year. He finished a respectable 15th in the fantasy rankings as a rookie but is going off the board as the 9th best QB this year. Although 9th seems a bit optimistic, the biggest problem is that he’s going in the middle of the 6th round ahead of decent quality third receivers and running backs. In Atlanta’s run heavy offense, he doesn’t provide much opportunity for a top five performance but he’s being drafted as such.
Brett Favre, MIN (ADP 9.11) – He’s already banged up, he looked awful in his debut, the team lacks a true number one wide receiver and they will run the ball plenty. Favre is at best a low quality backup with limited upside. Players that figure to be high quality backups are still available when Favre comes off the board. Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassel and David Garrard are a few examples of players with much more upside and less risk who are available after Favre gets drafted.
Peyton Manning, IND (ADP 3.02) – It’s hard to put Manning in here but the bottom line is that he’s being drafted ahead of Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Kurt Warner, each of whom should be ranked ahead of Manning, and he simply isn’t worth a high 3rd round pick. Manning’s points per game have declined from 23 to 21 to 19 over the past three seasons and the Colts no longer possess three quality wide receivers. Manning is remarkably consistent and never misses a game but his ADP does not represent solid value.
David Garrard, JAX (ADP 12.01) – Some players are undervalued every year and Garrard is one of those players. Perhaps it’s because he not a glamour quarterback, he doesn’t play in a big market and the team has never had a true number one wideout during his tenure. Of course, he was the 9th ranked fantasy QB in 2008 and 15th in 2007 when he only played in 12 games. Based on average points and excluding players with a minimal number of starts, he was ranked 12th in 2007. Plus, the team added Torry Holt in the offseason, who, even though he is clearly in decline, represents Garrard’s most reliable wide receiver over the last two years.
Matt Hasselbeck, SEA (ADP 10.01) – Hasselbeck’s age (34 in September) and wonky back are certainly cause for concern in fantasy circles. However, his current ADP makes him the 15th quarterback off the board although there is a solid chance that, if healthy, he will crack the top 10 or 12. With Seattle’s run game a mess and the team possessing three solid receivers as well as an excellent pass catching tight end, look for the Seahawks to throw the ball plenty in 2008. The Seahawks followed a similar strategy in 2007 when Hasselbeck finished as the 7th ranked QB.