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 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.
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.
- The cheapest B1 “lead” backs I like are Aaron Jones, Kerryon Johnson, Mark 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
- Nick Chubb, Marlon 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 Ballage, Jamaal Williams and C.J. Anderson.
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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