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Running Back ADP Differential: 2014 Review

Last season we ran a pair of articles that investigated the difference in ADP between same team running backs, and I’d like to build on that work in this article.

First, a review. In fantasy drafts, nearly every NFL team has at least two RBs selected. The difference in their ADPs, or “ADP gap,” tells us something about what the fantasy community thinks of those players. Some teams’ RBs sport a larger than average ADP gap (big gap RBs), while other teams exhibit a smaller than expected (small gap RBs) ADP gap:

[The] theory here is that ADP represents the “wisdom of the crowd”. The Large Gap RB1 is a player about whom there is near-universal agreement that they will not only dominate the team’s RB touches, but be really productive with those touches. The Small Gap RBs represent collective uncertainty. Whether the uncertainty stems from unclear roles, injury, or past performance concerns, the crowd isn’t clear which back to own.

2014 Review

In looking at data from 2011 through 2013, some trends are apparent:

Cohort Characteristic FPG
B1 High scoring at a premium ADP. “Stud RBs.” 15.3
B2 Low scoring at the cheapest ADP. “Handcuffs.” 5.8
S1 Moderate scoring, with upside, at a moderate ADP. “Lead committee backs.” 11.6
S2 Moderate scoring, with upside, at a cheap ADP. “Committee backs.” 8.9

How did 2014 play out? It conformed to the same patterns exhibited in the previous three seasons.

Big Gap RBs

These are the backfields where one RB (B1) was drafted much earlier compared to the team’s second RB (B2). Historically, handcuffing a B1 RB hasn’t been a good move.

Year B1 RB FPG B2 RB FPG Leading Scorer
2014 L.McCoy 13 D.Sproles 9.8 B1
2014 J.Charles 17.1 K.Davis 7.9 B1
2014 A.Peterson 11.3 J.McKinnon 8.6 B1
2014 M.Forte 21.7 K.Carey 2.7 B1
2014 E.Lacy 17.3 J.Starks 5.5 B1
2014 D.Murray 22.6 L.Dunbar 3.5 B1
2014 M.Ball 7.7 R.Hillman 12.8 B2
2014 G.Bernard 14.5 J.Hill 13.4 B1
2014 L.Bell 23.2 L.Blount 6.7 B1
2014 A.Foster 21 A.Brown 0 B1
2014 D.Martin 7.3 C.Sims 7.8 B2
2014 A.Ellington 15.1 S.Taylor 5.3 B1
2014 Z.Stacy 7.6 T.Mason 11.4 B2
2014 A.Morris 11.7 R.Helu 9.9 B1
2014 T.Gerhart 5.9 S.Johnson 4.2 B1
2014 B.Sankey 6.3 D.McCluster 5 B1
2014 T.Richardson 8 A.Bradshaw 15.9 B2
2014 Ave 13.6 Ave 7.7 B1 – 76.5%

Not every B1 back is a league winner, as Bishop Sankey drafters can attest. But once again, as a cohort, they handily out perform their late-drafted handcuffs, outscoring them over 76 percent of the time. In most cases, the B2 backs generally had no weekly utility, or a really short period of relevance that was hard to identify in advance.

Even in cases where the handcuff outscored the lead back, it would have been difficult to profit from those scenarios. Ronnie Hillman was better than Montee Ball, but in turn CJ Anderson was better than both. In Tampa Bay, Bobby Rainey was arguably a better fantasy asset than Charles Sims. Only Tre Mason and Ahmad Bradshaw broke the mold and both outperformed their team’s B1 back, and any other backs on the team.

In short, handcuffing a RB who is drafted much earlier than average vs other RBs on his team seldom pays off.

Small Gap RBs

These are situations where a team either has a “backfield committee,” or there is collective uncertainty about which back will have which role. RBs from the same team are drafted much closer together than average, and the first-drafted (S1) doesn’t consistently out produce the second-drafted (S2).

Year S1 FPG S2 FPG Leading Scorer
2014 M.Lynch 19.1 C.Michael 2 S1
2014 C.Spiller 7.5 F.Jackson 13.3 S2
2014 R.Bush 9.7 J.Bell 13.3 S2
2014 S.Vereen 10.4 S.Ridley 8.7 S1
2014 R.Mathews 11.2 D.Woodhead 4.1 S1
2014 R.Rice 0 B.Pierce 4 S2
2014 R.Jennings 12.8 A.Williams 9.1 S1
2014 C.Johnson 7.3 C.Ivory 9.6 S2
2014 B.Tate 6.9 T.West 8.2 S2
2014 F.Gore 10.2 C.Hyde 5.4 S1
2014 P.Thomas 11.2 M.Ingram 14.9 S2
2014 L.Miller 14.3 K.Moreno 7.5 S1
2014 M.Jones-Drew 2.5 D.McFadden 7.7 S2
2014 D.Freeman 5.6 S.Jackson 9.4 S2
2014 D.Williams 5.2 J.Stewart 11.4 S2
2014 Ave 8.9 Ave 8.6 S2 – 60%

In aggregate, the S1 and S2 backs performed nearly identically. And a team’s lower-drafted back outperformed the higher-drafted back 60 percent of the time. In some cases, the S2 back even posted RB1 fantasy numbers. In most cases, the S2 back had consistent fantasy relevance.

These scenarios are ripe for exploitation, I think. In situations where a team’s RBs are drafted in relative proximity to each other, the lower-drafted back generally offers as much as the higher-drafted option.

Again, not every scenario works out that way. But if you play many leagues, diversifying your exposure to these S2 backs can really help.

Overall Performance by Cohort

Adding the 2014 data to the 2011-2013 data gives us the following averages. The total data set is included below. Up next, I’ll look at 2015 ADP gaps and provide some analysis.

RB PERFORMANCE BY ADP GAP

YearRB TypePlayerFPG
2011B1M.Turner14.6
2011B1R.Rice23.3
2011B1M.Forte18.7
2011B1C.Benson11.1
2011B1P.Hillis11.2
2011B1F.Jones9.9
2011B1J.Best18.8
2011B1A.Foster23.8
2011B1M.Jones-Drew19.2
2011B1J.Charles9.5
2011B1D.McFadden18
2011B1L.McCoy22
2011B1F.Gore12.3
2011B1C.Johnson14.2
2012B1L.McCoy17.1
2012B1C.Johnson13.7
2012B1R.Rice17.7
2012B1D.McFadden13
2012B1T.Richardson17
2012B1R.Mathews11.7
2012B1M.Lynch17.1
2012B1S.Greene11.8
2012B1D.Murray15.4
2012B1B.Green-Ellis11.9
2012B1S.Jackson12.4
2012B1M.Jones-Drew12.7
2012B1D.Brown6.6
2012B1F.Gore14.2
2012B1A.Peterson21.8
2012B1R.Bush13.2
2013B1S.Jackson12.4
2013B1R.Rice12
2013B1C.Spiller10.6
2013B1M.Forte21.3
2013B1D.Murray18.6
2013B1R.Bush17.7
2013B1E.Lacy16.3
2013B1J.Charles25.5
2013B1L.Miller7.9
2013B1L.McCoy20.8
2013B1M.Lynch17.3
2013B1F.Gore12.3
2013B1C.Johnson15.3
2013B1A.Morris11.6
2014B1L.McCoy13
2014B1J.Charles17.1
2014B1A.Peterson11.3
2014B1M.Forte21.7
2014B1E.Lacy17.3
2014B1D.Murray22.6
2014B1M.Ball7.7
2014B1G.Bernard14.5
2014B1L.Bell23.2
2014B1A.Foster21
2014B1D.Martin7.3
2014B1A.Ellington15.1
2014B1Z.Stacy7.6
2014B1A.Morris11.7
2014B1T.Gerhart5.9
2014B1B.Sankey6.3
2014B1T.Richardson8
2014B1B1 2014 AVE13.6
2011-14B1B1 2011-2014 AVE14.8
2011B2J.Snelling4.3
2011B2R.Williams4.9
2011B2M.Barber8
2011B2B.Scott4.6
2011B2M.Hardesty5.3
2011B2D.Murray11.2
2011B2M.Leshoure0
2011B2B.Tate9.4
2011B2R.Jennings0
2011B2T.Jones3.6
2011B2M.Bush14
2011B2R.Brown1.2
2011B2K.Hunter5.9
2011B2J.Ringer5.9
2012B2D.Lewis2.9
2012B2J.Ringer2.8
2012B2B.Pierce4.7
2012B2M.Goodson5.8
2012B2M.Hardesty3.7
2012B2R.Brown7.7
2012B2R.Turbin4.8
2012B2B.Powell7.1
2012B2F.Jones7.7
2012B2B.Scott1.8
2012B2I.Pead1.3
2012B2R.Jennings7.2
2012B2V.Ballard8.2
2012B2K.Hunter5.8
2012B2T.Gerhart3.9
2012B2D.Thomas7.3
2013B2J.Rodgers9.6
2013B2B.Pierce5.5
2013B2F.Jackson14.6
2013B2M.Bush3.8
2013B2J.Randle7.6
2013B2J.Bell13.8
2013B2J.Franklin3.7
2013B2K.Davis4.4
2013B2D.Thomas7
2013B2B.Brown4.1
2013B2C.Michael2.6
2013B2K.Hunter5.3
2013B2S.Green5.8
2013B2R.Helu7.2
2014B2D.Sproles9.8
2014B2K.Davis7.9
2014B2J.McKinnon8.6
2014B2K.Carey2.7
2014B2J.Starks5.5
2014B2L.Dunbar3.5
2014B2R.Hillman12.8
2014B2J.Hill13.4
2014B2L.Blount6.7
2014B2A.Brown0
2014B2C.Sims7.8
2014B2S.Taylor5.3
2014B2T.Mason11.4
2014B2R.Helu9.9
2014B2S.Johnson4.2
2014B2D.McCluster5
2014B2A.Bradshaw15.9
2014B2B2 2014 AVE7.7
2011-14B2B2 2011-2014 AVE6.3
2011S1B.Wells12
2011S1F.Jackson21.3
2011S1D.Williams9.7
2011S1K.Moreno5.6
2011S1R.Grant8
2011S1J.Addai6.1
2011S1R.Bush14
2011S1B.Green-Ellis9.8
2011S1M.Ingram9.3
2011S1A.Bradshaw16.1
2011S1S.Greene12
2011S1R.Mathews17.2
2011S1T.Hightower12.4
2012S1K.Smith4.8
2012S1J.Stewart8.7
2012S1B.Wells7.1
2012S1C.Benson10.9
2012S1I.Redman6.9
2012S1F.Jackson12.3
2012S1A.Bradshaw13.2
2012S1J.Charles15.4
2012S1D.Sproles16.5
2012S1R.Helu3.9
2012S1W.McGahee14.5
2012S1S.Ridley13.1
2012S1M.Turner11.1
2012S1A.Foster19.1
2012S1D.Martin19.6
2012S1M.Forte14.9
2013S1D.Williams11.1
2013S1G.Bernard14.1
2013S1M.Ball7.6
2013S1A.Foster13.3
2013S1A.Bradshaw13.9
2013S1S.Ridley9.7
2013S1D.Richardson6.8
2013S1R.Mathews13.3
2013S1L.Bell16.9
2013S1C.Ivory7
2013S1D.Wilson4.7
2013S1D.Sproles11.8
2014S1M.Lynch19.1
2014S1C.Spiller7.5
2014S1R.Bush9.7
2014S1S.Vereen10.4
2014S1R.Mathews11.2
2014S1R.Rice0
2014S1R.Jennings12.8
2014S1C.Johnson7.3
2014S1B.Tate6.9
2014S1F.Gore10.2
2014S1P.Thomas11.2
2014S1L.Miller14.3
2014S1M.Jones-Drew2.5
2014S1D.Freeman5.6
2014S1D.Williams5.2
2014S12014 S1 AVE8.9
2011-14S12011-2014 S1 AVE10.9
2011S2R.Williams0
2011S2C.Spiller9.9
2011S2J.Stewart12.2
2011S2W.McGahee11.1
2011S2J.Starks8.8
2011S2D.Carter3.5
2011S2D.Thomas6.4
2011S2D.Woodhead5
2011S2D.Sproles17
2011S2B.Jacobs9.5
2011S2L.Tomlinson9.5
2011S2M.Tolbert13.8
2011S2R.Helu11.3
2012S2J.Best0
2012S2D.Williams9.2
2012S2R.Williams5.6
2012S2J.Starks6.4
2012S2R.Mendenhall6.6
2012S2C.Spiller16.3
2012S2D.Wilson5.2
2012S2P.Hillis4.1
2012S2M.Ingram6.2
2012S2A.Morris16.1
2012S2R.Hillman3.9
2012S2S.Vereen6.5
2012S2J.Rodgers8.8
2012S2B.Tate5.1
2012S2L.Blount2.8
2012S2M.Bush6.8
2013S2J.Stewart4.9
2013S2B.Green-Ellis14.1
2013S2K.Moreno18.5
2013S2B.Tate10.7
2013S2V.Ballard6.8
2013S2S.Vereen16.8
2013S2Z.Stacy14.3
2013S2D.Woodhead14.2
2013S2J.Dwyer2.4
2013S2B.Powell8.7
2013S2A.Brown12.2
2013S2P.Thomas13.3
2014S2C.Michael2
2014S2F.Jackson13.3
2014S2J.Bell13.3
2014S2S.Ridley8.7
2014S2D.Woodhead4.1
2014S2B.Pierce4
2014S2A.Williams9.1
2014S2C.Ivory9.6
2014S2T.West8.2
2014S2C.Hyde5.4
2014S2M.Ingram14.9
2014S2K.Moreno7.5
2014S2D.McFadden7.7
2014S2S.Jackson9.4
2014S2J.Stewart11.4
2014S22014 S2 AVE8.6
2011-14S22011-2014 S2 AVE8.8

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