ADP Watch: Ameer Abdullah Is Rising Fast
Average draft position (ADP) data can be your best friend during your fantasy football draft. No, it's not the end-all to valuing players in fake football, but it's helpful -- it gives you an idea of where players should be drafted based on how folks are actually drafting them.
With the preseason underway and injuries becoming more and more common, ADP data is fluctuating quite a bit. And to help guide you through the mess, I'll be sporadically posting this ADP Watch piece up through the start of the NFL's regular season.
Let's take a look at some risers and fallers, and whether or not these changes are warranted.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
Today, he's a fourth rounder.
When words like "greatness" are used to describe a rookie athlete, that'll happen. And it doesn't hurt that this occurred during the Lions' first preseason game.
But does this jump in ADP make sense?
I think so, especially for owners looking for upside after starting their draft with, say, a pair of wide receivers.
The Lions' depth chart currently has Joique Bell and Theo Riddick on it, two players who really shouldn't scare anyone. While Bell has found fantasy success over the last two years, he's been completely average in terms of Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP), and his 29-year-old body has been battling knee and Achilles injuries that's kept him sidelined, allowing Abdullah to shine. Meanwhile, Riddick is a scatback who played wide receiver in college, and shouldn't be any sort of threat to significant touches.
Add in the fact that the Lions should be a top-half offense in terms of efficiency with a healthy Calvin Johnson, and you've got a great situation for Abdullah to thrive in. If he takes on the Reggie Bush role as many expect -- specifically one similar to what a healthy Bush saw in 2013 -- you're looking at 50-plus reception and 200-plus attempt upside. Given the drop in talent in fantasy drafts after the first two rounds, a strong case can be made that Abdullah is still a decent buy at his 4.04 ADP. Just know that you're drafting him for his ceiling, not his floor.
Our numbers aren't as high on him right now, but that will change if it's made clear that he'll be seeing more opportunity than Bell this year, or if Bell doesn't get healthy. I, however, am all about that Abdullah life.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As a rookie, Sims carried the rock 66 times. He accumulated a -16.03 Rushing NEP total, and only Devonta Freeman, among 60-plus attempt rushers, was less efficient per touch.
That's Doug Martin's biggest competition.
So it makes sense that Martin has seen his ADP spike, especially with news that he's in the best shape he's been in since his breakout rookie campaign. As I wrote about earlier this offseason, it's not so much that Martin's been horrible since his first year in the league, it's that our expectations have been too high. During that breakout season, his Success Rate -- the percentage of runs that contribute positively towards a player's NEP -- was 40.13%. Among backs with 10.00 or more Rushing NEP in a single season since 2000 (130 of them), that rate was fifth worst.
In other words, he was accumulating NEP -- or fantasy points, if you want to think of it that way -- via long, unsustainable runs.
The reason you're drafting him in the fifth round now is because of volume. His ADP seems fair at this point as long as he does get starter carries, but it seems a little foolish to think he'll be in rookie year form since it would be mathematically difficult to do what he did once again.
John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Even before Michael Floyd dislocated his fingers, John Brown was a common sleeper (is that a thing anymore?) among fantasy circles. But since the injury, Brown's ADP has shot up to the beginning of the eighth round, and he's being selected ahead of veterans like Steve Smith and fellow teammate Larry Fitzgerald.
We know Bruce Arians loves his small receivers (see: T.Y. Hilton, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders), and Brown finished the back half of 2014 with 57 targets, good for a little over 7 per game. Without Floyd's looks in that offense -- or a reduced role for him -- that number should only be greater heading into 2015.
But with that being said, don't overstate what Brown can do for you (get it?). Our numbers see him as a WR54, and while that's a more pessimistic view than how I personally feel, drafting him over players with sure targets like Smith, Fitzgerald or even Anquan Boldin is a tad risky. If I'm investing in Brown at 8.02 in PPR leagues, I'd love to do it as a WR4 or WR5 on my team, not a player I'm flexing from the start.
Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans
It took just one preseason game for people to start feeling iffy about Bishop Sankey's 2015 potential. And that's because rookie David Cobb completely outperformed him in said contest, rushing for 53 yards versus Sankey's 15.
Now, that's not in identical scenarios, but since the game, more talk has been centered around Cobb than there was before. Sankey's ADP hasn't changed a ton according to Fantasy Football Calculator, but it shouldn't surprise anyone to see a slight shift in the wrong (or right, if you're a Sankey person) direction.
Sankey gets a lot of hate for being a high-ish fantasy draft selection last year that didn't pan out. I wish I could say our numbers loved him, but they don't. In 2014, he finished with a Rushing NEP per rush of -0.10, which was similar to Bernard Pierce and Ben Tate. Not great, Bob!
The upside with Sankey is that Marcus Mariota could end up bolstering his numbers with the rush similar to what we saw from Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris during their first year's in the league. But given the competition and ineffectiveness last year, spending any sort of legitimate equity on Sankey doesn't make a ton of sense.