What Are the Odds That a Particular Running Back Will Fall to You in Your Fantasy Football Draft?
If you own a television and/or have an internet connection, you probably saw the sickly, drool-inducing run by Ameer Abdullah against the New York Jets. That's got his average draft position (ADP) jumping off the heezy with people wanting his goodness on their roster.
Now, let's say you have been overcome by the spirit of Abdullah and decided you must have him on your roster no matter what. At what point should you do so?
As with every selection you make within your fantasy football drafts, there should be an element of game theory involved. If you know that Abdullah is going to be on the board when you make your fourth-round selection, it would make no sense for you to select him in the first. You want to take as many steps as you can to minimize the opportunity cost of each selection, and you can do so by waiting as long as possible to take a certain player.
Obviously, this is going to conjure the question: when exactly is the right time? How do I know the player I want will still be on the board when I make my next selection?
The simple answer is that you can't. Every draft is unique, and there's always the chance some selfish ding-dong in your draft could deviate from ADP and snag the puppy you were targeting. But you can at least give yourself the best odds to maximize your value.
The fine folks over at Fantasy Football Calculator not only list the average draft position of each player, but they also include the standard deviation of the selection spot. Bless you, peeps. This allows us to find the probability that the player you're targeting will still be on the board your next turn through the order.
You can find the full probabilities in a Google doc by clicking here.
Because ADP fluctuates (I'm looking at you, Ameer), I'll update this sheet at the beginning of each week until Week 1. These numbers are based on 12-team standard, non-point-per-reception league drafts from August 15th to the 17th.
Now that you have the data, how exactly do you go about utilizing it? Let's say that you're picking 10th in a 12-team draft. You value Latavius Murray more than you do DeMarco Murray, so you're deciding between the two with your second-round pick (15th overall). Now, if you were given the choice between the two, knowing you could not take both, you'd take Latavius because you value him more. But that, in this scenario, is a moot point as you can potentially get both.
So, as you look at the sheet, you see that the odds that DeMarco is on the board when you make your third-round pick are non-existent. Latavius, on the other hand, has an ADP of 35.3, meaning there is a better than 50 percent chance that he will be on the board for your next pick. With this in mind, should you roll with Latavius or DeMarco in the battle of the Murray's?
This depends on a few things, namely the gap between your value in Latavius and your value in DeMarco and the asset you will receive assuming you only end up with one of them.
Let's say you think that Latavius is a candidate to be the best player in the league, but you don't value DeMarco nearly as much. Then you might be inclined to roll with Latavius as those 60 percent odds could be a bit scary.
That, however, is an extreme scenario. If you have that big of a gap between the two players, you may want to reevaluate your thoughts to see why they deviate so heavily from those of the rest of the people drafting. I, personally, would go with DeMarco almost every time and hope that I can snag the other person I like with my next pick and double my pleasure.
As I had mentioned, there is also the element of what you'd be getting in the event you can't get both. If the drop-off is ginormous after these two players, you may want to ensure you get the top choice just to maximize your expected production. However, if I can get a comparable player in the third round no matter what, I'm going to roll the dice and see if I can hit a home run by getting both of the assets I covet most. That will be the case more often than not.
Basically, the intent of all of this is to maximize the value of each selection. There's something to be said about ensuring you get the players you want, but for me, I'd rather get them at their peak value. You don't have to use this strategy or the accompanying doc of probabilities by any means; it's just one that I have found helpful for myself when I have been piecing together my drafts, and I hope it'll do the same for you.