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Mind the Gap: RBs to Target and Fade Using ADP Disparity

There’s EV to be gained by reading between the ADPs in fantasy football.

In this piece, I’ll be following up on some work done by RotoViz O.G. Charlie Kleinheksel in recent years which uses gaps in same-team RBs to identify both expensive fades and late-round buys at the position.

He first explored the idea of using ADP to sort RBs into four types back in 2014 and by last year had fine-tuned his methodology. I highly recommend reading both pieces — the second one, in particular, does a great job of breaking down what kind of backs you should be targeting and why.

For the uninitiated, here is a quick primer.

Buy the Cheaper Committee Backs

We’re going to use Fanball ADP to separate the top-two backs from each team into four categories:

  • B1: Lead backs who have a big gap in ADP to the guy behind them, a la Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott
  • B2: The RB at the other end of that big gap– you could also call him a handcuff
  • S1: The first RB drafted in a “small ADP gap” situation; ie, the lead back in what the market deems a committee situation, like Sony Michel and Phillip Lindsay in 2019
  • S2: The second RB drafted in an RBBC

What Kleinheksel’s research found was that cheap S2 backs yield a win rate in best ball leagues almost as high as drafting stud B1s.

Backs are put into the “S” bucket when the difference in their ADP is less than the average gap of all same-team RBs, which this year is 104 spots. 

RB Type Avg ADP Top 6 Finish Win Rate
B1 32.4 24% 9.1%
B2 186.9 12% 8.5%
S1 63.4 25% 7.6%
S2 114.8 25% 9%

B1 stud backs had a 9.1% win rate, but the price of acquisition is high and the opportunity cost when they bust is crippling.

What jumps out is that S2 backs – the cheaper target in an RBBC – had almost the exact same win rate as B1 backs while being considerably cheaper and finishing in the top-six of fantasy scoring at a higher rate.

Handcuffs (B2) were cheapest of all but also finished in the top six less than half as often as S2s.

Meanwhile, lead committee backs (S1) were relatively bad investments — rather pricey with poor win rates.

The takeaways? B1 backs, though expensive, are always worthy of consideration. The cheap B1s make a good target. After that, we want to be collecting S2 backs while fading those in the B2 and S1 buckets. 

Let’s look at what kind of target/fade list that gives us for 2019.

2019 RB Targets & Fades

I’ve created my own list of targets and fades based on this methodology which you can filter via the T and F column. And you can, of course, use this table to create your own list of targets.

PlayerTeamADPTypeNote
Saquon BarkleyNYG1.2B1
Christian McCaffreyCAR2.5B1
Ezekiel ElliottDAL2.9B1
Alvin KamaraNO3.6S1
David JohnsonARI6.3B1
Melvin GordonLAC6.7S1
Le'Veon BellNYJ10.2B1
James ConnerPIT13.5S1
Joe MixonCIN13.6B1
Todd GurleyLA14.4S1
Dalvin CookMIN18.2B1
Nick ChubbCLE20.3S1F
Damien WilliamsKC26.6S1
Leonard FournetteJAC27.6B1
Marlon MackIND31.3S1F
Aaron JonesGB31.7B1T
Devonta FreemanATL34.2S1F
Derrick HenryTEN35S1
Kerryon JohnsonDET36.7B1T
Josh JacobsOAK38.6B1
Mark IngramBAL45.3B1T
Sony MichelNE45.8S1
Phillip LindsayDEN46.1S1
Kenyan DrakeMIA49.4B1T
James WhiteNE52.4S2
Tarik CohenCHI52.6S1
Chris CarsonSEA55.7S1F
David MontgomeryCHI56.6S2
Derrius GuiceWAS60.3S1F
Tevin ColemanSF66.5S1F
Lamar MillerHOU70.3S1
Rashaad PennySEA72.1S2T
Darrell HendersonLA74.7S2
Latavius MurrayNO78.7S2T
Miles SandersPHI80.5S1F
Royce FreemanDEN85.3S2T
Jordan HowardPHI87.6S2T
Jerick McKinnonSF91.3S2
Ronald JonesTB104S1T
LeSean McCoyBUF104.3S1
Jaylen SamuelsPIT105.7S2
Austin EkelerLAC105.9S2T
Nyheim HinesIND106.6S2T
Kareem HuntCLE111S2
Ito SmithATL114.3S2
Carlos HydeKC121.8S2T
Dion LewisTEN122.7S2
D'Onta ForemanHOU127.4S2T
Devin SingletaryBUF140.1S2T
Justice HillBAL152.6B2
Peyton BarberTB154.5S2
Adrian PetersonWAS162.2S2T
Kalen BallageMIA165.4B2F
Jalen RichardOAK168.8B2
Jamaal WilliamsGB174.4B2F
Alexander MattisonMIN176.5B2
C.J. AndersonDET192.1B2F
Wayne GallmanNYG204.5B2
Ryquell ArmsteadJAC207.1B2
Giovani BernardCIN208B2
Chase EdmondsARI212.9B2
Elijah McGuireNYJ215.4B2
Tony PollardDAL216.5B2
Elijah HolyfieldCAR221.8B2

I’ll go more in-depth into some of these targets and fades in future pieces, but for now, here’s a quick rundown of the results.

Targets

  • The cheapest B1 “lead” backs I like are Aaron Jones, Kerryon JohnsonMark Ingram, and Kenyan Drake
  • Top S2 targets include Rashaad Penny, Latavius Murray, Royce Foreman, Jordan Howard, Austin Ekeler, Nyheim Hines, Carlos Hyde, D’Onta Freeman, Devin Singletary, and Adrian Peterson
  • We know that the S1 bucket doesn’t bring a lot of value, but I’m willing to make an exception for Ronald Jones, who remains relatively cheap with an ADP of 104 and has a lot of upside in good offense and only Peyton Barber as competition

Fades

  • Nick ChubbMarlon Mack, Chris Carson, and Tevin Coleman, Devonta Freeman, Derrius Guice, and Miles Sanders are the most expensive S1 RBs which, as Kleinheksel puts it, are the “lead backs about whom drafters have the least confidence.”
  • Handcuffs (B2) that are a bit overpriced and have little league-winning upside are Kalen BallageJamaal Williams and C.J. Anderson.

Conclusion

ADPs will re-shape and sharpen up as we get deeper into the summer, and some of these buckets will change.

For now, this serves as a solid jumping off point for creating a list of summer RB targets who are both affordable and have league-winning upside.

Image Credit: Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Rashaad Penny.

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