Fantasy Football Rankings vs. Underdog ADP. Identifying Targets and Fades.
I’ve got a million-dollar idea for the fantasy football industry: an ADP Rosetta Stone.
Think about it.
Once we get into August, everyone’s drafting while using multiple platforms to build their squads. And with different scoring systems or formats, we’re almost talking separate languages when we refer to draft costs. Depending on the site, even a 1.02-Kelce pick can seem somewhat defensible.
I’ll leave the Rosetta Stone idea to someone smarter than myself, but let’s talk about something better: how to leverage ADPs. The Fantasy Life crew has spent months honing their rankings. And after comparing them to some average draft prices, I’ve found some values and overpriced targets for the 2023 season.
I did a similar exercise in May using Dwain McFarland’s Top 150. I started with a 10,000-foot view of the market by looking at which positions he was higher on compared to the market. The results made sense, given the timeframe.
We didn’t know much about any offense back then. Other than where the rookies landed and a rough outlook projection based on draft capital or team fit, situations were still fluid. The RB position was especially interesting, with multiple backfields up for grabs. However, after analyzing preseason data, our team better understands what we can expect once the regular season starts.
In short, the last few weeks have been illuminating. Starting snaps and route participation rates have narrowed the range of outcomes for multiple rushing attacks. However, on the flip side, any mid- or late-round WR could be worth a stash on your roster. Regardless, I’ve found three under- and overvalued players we should target for spot starts or avoid unless they fall in drafts.
Ryan Tannehill, QB - Titans
- Consensus Rank: QB28
- Overall ADP: QB27
Regardless of format, late-round QBs need some upside for us to draft them. And I’m not talking about anything data-driven (of course, I’ll get to that). We need vibes.
I preached from the gospel of Sam Howell back in May, but his pass-catching options were what initially caught my eye. Kenny Pickett is entering his first season as a starter but has Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth at his disposal. So these guys need something.
And, for 2023, Ryan Tannehill has something.
Despite being in command of an aging offense, the Titans still have the potential to be potent. DeAndre Hopkins was Top 20 in target share, air yards, YPRR and TPRR across his active weeks at 30. Treylon Burks notched a top-20 mark in YPRR over the back half of the season. And everyone wants to get Chiggy with it.
So Tannehill has the weapons. But we need more than passing stats in fantasy. Pickett had a 6.3% scramble rate in ’22, and Howell was 9.1% during the preseason. We need some mobility for our late-round QB, and luckily Tannehill still has the juice.
Tannehill was 12th in red-zone rushing attempts despite playing injured throughout the season. And now, with an offseason to get healthy along with an improved passing game, Tannehill should be able to beat his QB27 price on Underdog, as he has easy stacking options. And in redraft Tannehill comes off the board even later with streaming potential as early as Week 1.
Khalil Herbert, RB - Bears
- Consensus Rank: RB34
- Overall ADP: RB35
Honestly, I overlooked Khalil Herbert over the offseason. I favored his backfield competition with D’Onta Foreman (RB54) and Roschon Johnson (RB58) joining the Bears. And it wasn’t just because of their reduced gap in ADP.
Herbert challenged David Montgomery for more touches in 2022. The former sixth-rounder garnered 30.6% of the team carries, with Montgomery leading the Bears at 39.3% after dominating the totes in ’21. However, even with the additional work, Herbert could only muster three top-24 finishes. Justin Fields was too good. But Herbert’s peripherals were encouraging:
- Yards after contact per attempt (min 100 attempts): 3rd
- Forced missed tackle rate: 9th
- Explosive run rate: 1st
So when I saw Foreman and Johnson added to the mix, I looked elsewhere when Herbert’s ADP approached. Foreman was fifth in yards after contact per attempt after the Christian McCaffrey trade. He also posted top-20 marks in forced missed tackles and explosive run rate. Given their similar skills, I expected a near-even split, but the preseason has proved me wrong:
While we should expect the Bears to rank higher than 32nd in pass rate over expected (PROE), Herbert should see more touches than in seasons past. With more clarity on Herbert’s role, his ninth-round ADP on Yahoo or eighth-round cost in NFFC drafts marks him as a clear RB3-4 candidate with RB2 upside as Chicago’s offense improves.
Jahan Dotson, WR - Commanders
- Consensus Rank: WR37
- Overall ADP: WR38
I doubt Jahan Dotson will remain a value in drafts after a productive preseason, but let’s pretend your leaguemates don’t watch football in August. Let’s start with an analytical view of the sophomore WR:
He looks good!
Dotson missed five games due to a hamstring injury but still put together a strong rookie campaign. He had the highest aDOT of the WR trio (15.4) and finished 18th in first downs per target and 22nd in YAC per reception amongst all receivers. And Washington knew what they had, as the former Nittany Lion had the highest target share for the Commanders over their last six games of the season (24.0%).
And Dotson’s already back to earning a significant portion of the offense in ’23.
Terry McLaurin’s toe injury, combined with Sam Howell’s improved play, will put the spotlight on Dotson. But if you happen to be drafting on RealTime Sports, you can snag him at the 8-9 turn. Regardless, Dotson should be in everyone's queue, with the Commanders having a Week 1 matchup against the Cardinals at home.
You can start getting shares of Dotson before his ADP climbs on Underdog Fantasy, where you can get a 100% deposit match of up to $100 when you sign up below with promo code LIFE!
Potential Land Mines
Javonte Williams, RB - Broncos
- Consensus Rank: RB27
- Overall ADP: RB23
I believe in Javonte Williams’ talent. However, I have a tough time squaring his situation. And I’m not just talking about this year. He’s shared the Denver backfield with someone else since joining the team.
Was Javonte the better rusher in his rookie season?
Yep! Williams led the duo in every metric other than success rate.
Did Williams’ superior efficiency lead to more work?
Nope. Well, the rookie did earn more targets (53 to 38). But the critical touches (inside the 10-yard line) still went to Gordon. The veteran went on to fumble away a win on a red-zone carry in Week 18 of the ’21 season.
Did things change in 2022?
Heck no! Denver brought Gordon back, and the backfield remained split. And still, the Broncos’ coaching staff deferred to Gordon in the red zone. However, we saw more of Williams as a receiver.
The then-sophomore had a 21.2% (!!!) target share before his Week 4 injury. A 12-target outing against Seattle in Week 1 buoys this stat, but it was good to see a bump in usage somewhere.
Regardless, we’ve long assumed Williams would be the guy. Meanwhile, the team has consistently told us they view him differently. And this season’s no different, even with a new coaching staff.
Of course, things will likely change during the season as Williams gets back into the offense. HC Sean Payton can tell us Williams is 100% all day, but Perine working in on a similar number of snaps (plus 85.7% of the third-down snaps) doesn’t lend much confidence to a breakout year for Williams. However, we can work around this.
Here’s where platform or scoring settings become critical. Williams may have only a slight majority on the totes, but he earned over half of Russell Wilson’s targets. I’m not expecting a 55.6% target share on the season, but in PPR leagues on Yahoo, his seventh-round ADP is more palatable than the fifth-round cost you’d incur in an NFFC draft. Otherwise, your best bet is to aim for Perine if Williams’ price proves to be too much.
Romeo Doubs, WR - Packers
- Consensus Rank: WR59
- Overall ADP: WR52
Romeo Doubs functioned as the team’s X-receiver in ’22. He took 77.6% of his snaps from the perimeter and saw the third-most targets of 20 air yards or more. And his profile fit Aaron Rodgers’ aggressive passing tendencies.
But Jordan Love is under center now.
In Love’s lone start in ’21, his 7.8 aDOT ranked 18th on the week, and he targeted the slot on 44.1% of his passes. He’s been slinging during the preseason, but look at the types of pass-catchers Green Bay has (or has added) to help Love transition into the starting role:
- Christian Watson: 4th in YAC per reception in his rookie season
- Aaron Jones: 11th in YAC per reception amongst all RBs
- AJ Dillon: 17th
- Jayden Reed: top 30 in YAC per reception during his breakout season
The Packers built their offense to take as much off Love as possible. Their interior options (Watson, Reed, Musgrave) will all have critical roles to keep them ahead of the chains. But Doubs doesn’t factor into those plans.
Doubs will be starting in two-receiver sets, and he has earned the second-most targets throughout the preseason. However, given the downfield nature of his role, drafters should look elsewhere before considering the Packers’ perimeter player.