NFL

# Fantasy Football: Which Players Do Our Projections Like Most and Least at Their Average Draft Position?

Using historical average draft position data, which players are numberFire's projections higher and lower on this season?

Did you know that numberFire's projections are available for consumption? Well, they are. And you should take a look.

How you use our projections is up to you, but I'll help you out a bit. Over on FantasyFootballCalculator.com, tons of drafts have happened over the last month, providing us fantasy football nerds with some average draft position (ADP) data. And utilizing this data can help extract which players -- running backs and wide receivers, specifically -- the numberFire projections think are most and least valuable in fantasy football today.

Let me explain. Over the last seven years, we've seen the following relationship between average draft position and PPR points scored at the running back (blue) and wide receiver (orange) positions.

The trendlines above are showing us expectation. At Pick 50 in a draft, we'd expect a running back to score fewer than 150 points while a wide receiver would be expected to score closer to 175.

So what does this mean for 2018? Well, we can use Fantasy Football Calculator's ADP data and associate each player being drafted with their projected point output, courtesy of numberFire. Todd Gurley is the top overall pick, for example, with an ADP of 1.9. At that draft cost, given history, we'd expect Gurley to score 292.62 PPR points. numberFire's projections, though, have Gurley at 318.53 points, making him a value (of about 26 points) at his ADP.

Doing this for all players results in the following 10 guys as the best values when relating their projected point totals to their ADP.

Name Pos Team Overall ADP Expected Points Projected Points Difference
Christian McCaffrey RB CAR 18.2 187.39 271.24 +83.85
Le'Veon Bell RB PIT 2.4 281.74 360.82 +79.08
Melvin Gordon RB LAC 10.6 212.57 288.26 +75.69
LeSean McCoy RB BUF 20.5 181.85 257.38 +75.53
David Johnson RB ARI 3.8 260.34 334.84 +74.50
Rex Burkhead RB NE 85.8 115.18 185.06 +69.88
Ronald Jones RB TB 122.1 98.75 163.01 +64.26
Golden Tate WR DET 49.8 175.76 238.24 +62.48
Devonta Freeman RB ATL 18.7 186.13 244.72 +58.59
Kareem Hunt RB KC 9.4 218.16 276.71 +58.55

Because the trendlines from the historical data above include players who were injured, the numbers are naturally going to be lower than what we'd expect from projections. In other words, the projections for players aren't ultra-pessimistic. They don't assume players will miss six or seven games in a season.

That's a big reason we see many early-round running backs on this list. But the specific names may be a little surprising, like the one at the top, Christian McCaffrey. Despite the Panthers signing C.J. Anderson, numberFire's algorithm has CMC with a projected 271.24 PPR points when, at his current 18.2 overall ADP, he'd be expected to score about 187. That difference is the largest among all players being drafted on Fantasy Football Calculator.

Rex Burkhead also makes the list as numberFire's projections see him as a bigger part of the New England backfield mix than most. And then Ronald Jones is on there as well, not because numberFire's projections seem super high on him, but because Fantasy Football Calculator's consensus ADP appears quite low.

Here's what we've got on the other side of the spectrum:

Kerryon JohnsonRBDET76.5120.5266.18-54.34
Geronimo AllisonWRGB156.8109.5669.80-39.76
Sony MichelRBNE46.9143.31107.22-36.09
Matt BreidaRBSF150.189.1353.46-35.67
Christian KirkWRARI160.4108.2574.58-33.67
Calvin RidleyWRATL115.1127.40106.45-20.95
Peyton BarberRBTB153.188.2173.17-15.04
Mike WilliamsWRLAC128.9120.87106.34-14.53
Josh DoctsonWRWAS138.8116.60104.40-12.20
Cameron MeredithWRNO132.2119.41109.61-9.80

numberFire's model clearly doesn't love rookies.

And from a projections standpoint, that does make sense. It's tough to know how a first-year player will do and if he'll even see the field. That's why Kerryon Johnson -- who, to me, is a perfect mid- to late-round target -- tops this list. He's in a backfield with lots of competition, so his projection doesn't look very hot. But if he beats out some of that competition, watch out. That's what makes him a great medium-risk, high-reward player, but he's still one who isn't being forecasted to have a huge season thanks to his backfield teammates.

Clearly, if the projections are higher on players like Ronald Jones and Rex Burkhead, then they're more than likely going to be down on their counterparts. That what we're seeing here as Sony Michel and Peyton Barber are overrated, according to the projections.

And this list also includes a handful of questionable wide receivers. Some are rookies, but others are being pushed into new roles, resulting in higher-variance outlooks. That explains why they'd be overvalued: the projections are looking at one single number, not a range of numbers.

As we inch closer to the regular season, these names will surely change. We'll gather new information, and numberFire's model will adjust. But for now, these are some players you may want to target and avoid in drafts.