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According to the Data: Comparing Expert PPR Rankings to ADP

Jonathan Bales

Jonathan Bales

Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series. In addition to RotoWire, Jonathan also provides content to the New York Times, Dallas Morning News, DallasCowboys.com, and NBC.

Comparing Expert PPR Rankings to ADP

I'm a big believer in the power of aggregate rankings. In taking the average (or median) of independently-generated expert opinions - known as "wisdom of the crowds" - you can factor out individual biases (hopefully) to get a more accurate picture of reality.

And composite rankings have proven to be really accurate in the past. If you have a player ranked far from the expert consensus, you really need to assess your decision for any potential faults. You don't need to conform for the sake of conformity, but if a bunch of people disagree with your projection for a particular player, you need to be more confident in that projection than normal to maintain your ranking.

I have running back Marshawn Lynch ranked at No. 37 overall in PPR leagues, for example - way below his current ADP of No. 11 overall. There are all kinds of reasons I foresee a down year for Lynch - I'm really confident in my assessment of him - but if I were a bit more unsure, I'd rank him higher just because I could be wrong. Composite rankings can help us account for our own fallibility.

In the past, I compared the RotoWire standard top 50 to average draft position in order to see which players the experts like more than the general public. If a handful of experts have independently ranked specific players well ahead of or below their ADP, it's probably a good chance to exploit a market inefficiency.

Today, I'm going to compare the RotoWire team's PPR Top 50 Rankings to current ADP.

Rank Player ADP Difference % Change
3 C.J. Spiller 5 2 40
11 Brandon Marshall 16 5 31.3
47 Shane Vereen 65 18 27.7
44 Torrey Smith 60 16 26.7
42 Jordy Nelson 55 13 23.6
10 Dez Bryant 13 3 23.1
48 Mike Wallace 61 13 21.3
46 Giovani Bernard 58 12 20.7
16 Demaryius Thomas 20 4 20
33 Danny Amendola 41 8 19.5
30 Vincent Jackson 37 7 18.9
31 Lamar Miller 38 7 18.4
28 Victor Cruz 34 6 17.6
5 Calvin Johnson 6 1 16.7
20 Maurice Jones-Drew 24 4 16.7
22 Larry Fitzgerald 26 4 15.4
39 Cam Newton 46 7 15.2
45 Hakeem Nicks 52 7 13.5
26 Roddy White 30 4 13.3
27 Andre Johnson 31 4 12.9
7 LeSean McCoy 8 1 12.5
8 Trent Richardson 9 1 11.1
43 Eddie Lacy 48 5 10.4
50 Vernon Davis 54 4 7.4
13 A.J. Green 14 1 7.1
40 Dwayne Bowe 42 2 4.8
14 Julio Jones 19 5 2.6
49 Ryan Mathews 50 1 2
1 Adrian Peterson 1 0 0
2 Doug Martin 2 0 0
4 Jamaal Charles 4 0 0
12 Matt Forte 12 0 0
15 Jimmy Graham 15 0 0
29 Randall Cobb 28 -1 -3.6
24 Aaron Rodgers 23 -1 -4.3
23 Drew Brees 22 -1 -4.5
18 Chris Johnson 17 -1 -5.9
38 Peyton Manning 35 -3 -8.6
36 David Wilson 33 -3 -9.1
41 Darren McFadden 36 -5 -13.9
37 Frank Gore 32 -5 -15.6
21 Steven Jackson 18 -3 -16.7
25 Reggie Bush 21 -4 -19
35 DeMarco Murray 29 -6 -20.7
34 Darren Sproles 27 -7 -25.9
32 Stevan Ridley 25 -7 -28
9 Ray Rice 7 -2 -28.5
17 Marshawn Lynch 10 -7 -70
19 Alfred Morris 11 -8 -72.7
6 Arian Foster 3 -3 -100

The players ranked at the top are those who are ranked higher in our composite rankings than in ADP. I chose to use the percentage change because I believe a three-spot drop in the first round is way more important than a three-spot drop in the fourth round. Arian Foster is getting drafted at No. 3 overall, for example, yet we've ranked him at No. 6 overall. That's a very meaningful drop.

Looking at the data, I think there's a trend with running backs. For the most part, the experts are very bullish on speedy running backs (Spiller and Miller), while slower backs like Ridley, Lynch, Morris and Foster dominate the bottom of the list. That's awesome to see since there seems to be a very strong correlation between running back success and straight-line speed.

It's also interesting to see some of the league's top pass-catching backs ranked so low. Jackson, Bush, Murray, Sproles and Rice all rank in the bottom nine, meaning the experts are lower on them than most. It's intriguing because I recently did some research that suggested that pass-catching backs are actually undervalued in PPR.

And in the event that you would rather assess these numbers in terms of the actual numerical difference between rankings as opposed to the percent change, here are the top five players on whom the experts are bullish and bearish relative to ADP.

Bullish

1. Shane Vereen
2. Torrey Smith
3. Jordy Nelson
4. Mike Wallace
5. Giovani Bernard

Bearish

1. Alfred Morris
2. Marshawn Lynch
3. Stevan Ridley
4. Darren Sproles
5. DeMarco Murray

Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series. He also runs the "Running the Numbers" blog at DallasCowboys.com and writes for the New York Times.