ADP Trends: WR Dominated Top-50

Next up in the ADP series is a look at what’s happening in the early rounds of fantasy drafts. It feels like there’s been a big shift in positional value since I started following average draft positions for these preseason posts in 2014. So, I want to see if the numbers match that.

2016 Positional Breakdown

QB: 3 (6%)
RB: 15 (30%)
WR: 30 (60%)
TE: 2 (4%)

In 2014 and 2015 the positional breakdown was pretty stagnant. In fact, the percentages were exactly the same, but there were more running backs at the very top in 2014. Things look very different, however, from 2015 to 2016. There are again three quarterbacks in the top-50 and only two tight ends compared to three. All of the variance comes with running backs and wide receivers. The fantasy community is clearly moving from running back to wide receiver early in drafts and it’s easy to see why, given the volatility of the former last season.

Last year just under half of the top-50 were receivers. In 2016, that number rose to 60-percent. If we go back to 2013, it was maybe the last time we’ll ever see more running backs (24) than wide receivers (20) being selected among the first 50 players.

Looking at just the top-10 in comparison to last season’s July ADP, there are still four running backs and six wide receivers. Only one back, though, (Le’Veon Bell) was in the top-50 at all in 2015. The three other backs being drafted among the first ten picks in 2016 are standout rookies from last year (Todd Gurley and David Johnson) and a rookie this year (Zeke Elliott). Overall, five new ball carriers show up on the list — the three already mentioned, plus third-year back Devonta Freeman and Doug Martin, who has re-joined the party going into his fifth NFL season, even though it feels like he’s been around a lot longer.

On the flipside, 21 of the 24 receivers from 2015 return to the top-50 in 2016. One of the three who fell from the list is retired future HOF’er Calvin Johnson. Andre Johnson and Emmanuel Sanders are the other two. That means there are nine new wide receivers in the first 50 picks, signifying not only the faith fantasy owners have in the consistency of the position, but also the influx of young talent in recent years.

Other notes:

  • Antonio Brown repeats at the most coveted asset in re-draft leagues. Brown is on a ludicrous run, averaging 125 catches for 1677 yards and 10.3 touchdowns over the last three seasons.
  • Cam Newton takes the top spot among quarterbacks, just sneaking inside the top-40. Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck return, but at a much lower price point than 2015. Drew Brees falls from the list, but only about 10 spots to No. 60 overall.
  • Gronk still headlines the tight end position. He hovers at the round one-two turn in 12-team drafts, just as he did a year ago. Jimmy Graham and Travis Kelce fall off. Jordan Reed is the newcomer with an ADP of 34.25. Greg Olson (52.63) has just missed the top-50 once again.
  • Only one rookie, Ezekiel Elliot, appears in the pre-camp top-50. With a 9.75 ADP, the former Buckeye is going higher than any rookie in recent history. No rookies were drafted among the top-50 in 2014. Amari Cooper was the only first-year player on this list last year, when he was being selected in the 40’s.

Below is the full 2016 top-50 ADP from NFFC and some takeaways. Again, this data is from 12-team PPR leagues.

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Avg Pick

1 Antonio Brown (WR, Pit) 1.13
2 Julio Jones (WR, Atl) 2.13
3 Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, NYG) 2.75
4 DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Hou) 5.25
5 Todd Gurley (RB, LA) 6.13
6 David Johnson (RB, Ari) 6.88
7 Le’Veon Bell (RB, Pit) 7.13
8 A.J. Green (WR, Cin) 7.63
9 Dez Bryant (WR, Dal) 9.5
10 Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Dal) 9.75
11 Allen Robinson (WR, Jax) 10.63
12 Brandin Cooks (WR, NO) 13.75
13 Adrian Peterson (RB, Min) 14.13
14 Keenan Allen (WR, SD) 14.63
15 Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE) 14.63
16 Lamar Miller (RB, Hou) 15.25
17 Jordy Nelson (WR, GB) 16
18 Devonta Freeman (RB, Atl) 19.5
19 Alshon Jeffery (WR, Chi) 19.63
20 Mike Evans (WR, TB) 20
21 Amari Cooper (WR, Oak) 20.63
22 Brandon Marshall (WR, NYJ) 21.5
23 T.Y. Hilton (WR, Ind) 23.25
24 Demaryius Thomas (WR, Den) 24
25 Jarvis Landry (WR, Mia) 25
26 Jamaal Charles (RB, KC) 26.13
27 Mark Ingram (RB, NO) 27.75
28 Randall Cobb (WR, GB) 28.88
29 Sammy Watkins (WR, Buf) 29.25
30 Eddie Lacy (RB, GB) 31.38
31 Golden Tate (WR, Det) 32.75
32 Doug Martin (RB, TB) 33.75
33 Jordan Reed (TE, Was) 34.25
34 Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Car) 34.25
35 Jeremy Maclin (WR, KC) 35.5
36 Julian Edelman (WR, NE) 36.88
37 Cam Newton (QB, Car) 39.75
38 Jordan Matthews (WR, Phi) 40.25
39 C.J. Anderson (RB, Den) 40.88
40 Donte Moncrief (WR, Ind) 41.5
41 Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB) 41.63
42 Doug Baldwin (WR, Sea) 42.13
43 LeSean McCoy (RB, Buf) 42.75
44 Michael Floyd (WR, Ari) 44
45 Matt Forte (RB, NYJ) 44.5
46 Larry Fitzgerald (WR, Ari) 44.88
47 Eric Decker (WR, NYJ) 47.63
48 Andrew Luck (QB, Ind) 48.25
49 DeVante Parker (WR, Mia) 48.25
50 Carlos Hyde (RB, SF) 48.88