ADP, or Average Draft Position, is an important factor to consider when building fantasy football best ball teams because it reflects the current market value and perceived skill level of a player among other fantasy football enthusiasts.
Similar to the old saying in the stock market ‘buy low and sell high,’ good fantasy football managers can identify which players are being drafted too early or too late relative to their perceived value by understanding ADP data.
That allows them to make more informed decisions about which players to target or avoid.
The Problem With Using Best Ball Past Results
Many studies have been done on the best ball genre of fantasy football over the last few years, and many of those use last year’s data to decide how to build teams in the present.
But that can present a problem.
What happens if the positional ADP drastically changes from year to year? The data that worked last year is constantly changing as new information becomes available.
When drastic changes occur and a position group costs more than last year, blindly following what worked the year before is not adjusting to what is happening this year.
Considering the sample size, the same strategies might not work even if the positional ADP is the same or similar to last year’s.
As much as things change, we should look to use last year’s information as a guide but not as a rule book.
Hayden Winks of Underdog Fantasy has an interesting article covering what has changed from last year to this year in terms of positional ADP.
He discusses the topic in depth during the first episode of the Sharp Best Ball Podcast, but there are a few big takeaways.
Best Ball Strategies for 2023
Best Ball Strategy #1: Quarterbacks are going much earlier than last year. The top quarterbacks are going two-to-three rounds earlier, and the top three have gotten especially expensive.
Last year’s advance rates were good from these top guys. Patrick Mahomes teams advanced at a 32% rate, Jalen Hurts at 29%, and Josh Allen at 24%.
The average advance rate is 17% at all major sites running best ball tournaments – two of 12 teams advance.
There were other factors at play in those good rates besides just having a top quarterback. Most notably, the health of all three and the historic collapse of the second tier of quarterback.
For instance, Russell Wilson played far below his career expectation, and both Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford missed time.
When one tier of players at a position underperforms, it will obviously affect how successful others at the position are.
It is an important factor to consider as these things are tied together.
Best Ball Strategy #2: Running backs are going later than last year with value stretching throughout the draft. That offers an opportunity to grab a position that is more valuable in general than the field may realize in a half-PPR setting.
Best Ball Strategy #3: Wide receivers are going slightly earlier than last year, and tight ends are going a bit later overall.
The exception is Travis Kelce, who had historic results last year for similar reasons as the top quarterbacks. Kelce performed well on his own, and the second tier of tight ends collapsed.
Kyle Pitts massively underperformed and then got hurt. Both Mark Andrews and Darren Waller missed extended time as well.
Blindly drafting the top three quarterbacks and Kelce because that is what worked last year could set up a huge disappointment this season.
There is no guarantee the second tier fails like it did last year or that the top players perform to the level they did last year
That is especially true of Kelce, who is entering his age-34 season.
While what happened last year can certainly give us insight, adjusting to the new realities with new strategies and not blindly following what worked last year is very important in trying to figure out the puzzle that is best ball ADP in 2023.