Today we’re going to continue looking at the repercussions of APE, the ADP Principles of Equivalence. If you are new to the site and need to catch up, I introduced the concept HERE and talked about it in terms of position scarcity HERE. The next focus will be on ADP or average draft position.
The Internet is now overflowing with essays hammering the concept of ADP. I’ve got a few of them out there myself, which is ironic since I was producing ADP’s from National Fantasy Baseball Championship satellite leagues for our Platinum customers before they were even produced by the NFBC. At the time, they were helpful. As with any strategy or tool to gain an edge, it is most effective when no one else is doing the same thing or using the information. ADP’s are everywhere so they are no longer the drafting tool they were five years ago.
A few of the conventional reasons cited when making the case why ADP’s are no longer the cat’s meow are they often are a mishmash of different league formats and rules. Some are biased by the default ranking of the site administering the mock draft or even the inclusion of computer-drafted teams. Some include mocks previous to decision altering information being made public such as the recent PED scandal, the pause around Felix Hernandez signing his extension and even Michael Bourn signing with Cleveland. In short, the credibility of the ADP is questionable.
All of this is well and good, but my main beef with ADP’s is the perception of what they are and what they should be used for. Let’s say we generated an ADP using the same league format, within a short time frame so the information was all the same. The result is not a guide to help you rank players like many appear to believe, but merely a quantification of how the market ranks the players. I realize this may seem to be one and the same, but here’s the difference. If you want an opinion on something, who do you ask? I hope it is someone well edified on the subject, so their answer is credible. Now think about an ADP. With due respect to those generating it, and I don’t care if this is an NFBC ADP, do you really trust each and every person’s opinion that goes into producing the ranking? Think about it – only one person wins a league. There are 14 losers. To be blunt, an ADP aggregates the opinions of more losers than winners. If you use an ADP to help rank a player’s potential production, you are misusing it. You should be coming up with your expected production independent of the ADP, then perhaps gauging market value using an ADP that best resembles the league of interest. To base your picks on the ADP is a big mistake.
I and others have been preaching this and similar arguments for a couple of years but I still hear things like ”that was a great pick, you got him at pick 90 and his ADP is 72” or “you took him way too early with the 52nd pick, his ADP is 67.” In fact, a feature of the NFBC draft room is to grade your draft relative to the current NFBC ADP. That drives me nuts.
Much like the scarcity argument posed last week, it’s one thing to continually make a point anecdotally to a populace that likes numbers while it’s another to actually use numbers – so let’s use numbers to help make the point sink in.
Reviewing the concept of APE, you determine the dollar value of each player like you would an auction and then line them up highest to lowest. Given that this is not the same as a properly constructed draft list, if you assign a round number to each value corresponding to where they fall (in a 15 team draft, the 15 highest values would be round one, the next 15 round two, etc) and multiply that by three, the resulting number represents the amount of players above and below that pick player are fundamentally the same, or at least they have the same value. Same value is defined as anything within two dollars. In other words, a $16 player and an $18 player are basically the same guy. Expected performance, thus the corresponding value is best thought of as a range of outcomes. Outcomes with $2 worth of value are the same. Going back to the rankings, a sixth round player would have eighteen players above and below that can be considered to be equal in value.
Let’s use an example. In a 15-team league, pick 80 is the fifth pick of the sixth round, so the players ranked between 62 and 98 are all the same as player 80, assuming you agree a player +/- $2 is the same player. What would happen if at that pick, you chose a guy with an ADP of 95? You’d be chided for taking him too early, but did you? According to APE, you took a guy within the two dollar range, so no, it was not too early. Now think if this were the tenth round, there would be thirty players above and below. If you took a player with an ADP 27 picks later, hysterical laughter would ensue and insults would fly – all unwarranted.
Going back to pick 80, what if player 65 was still on the board and you drafted him, what would the reaction be? Everyone would be lauding what a great value pick you just made – or was it? He’s also within that two dollar boundary, so was it really that great a pick? Not according to APE it wasn’t.
I realize there are fallacies in this argument. The ranking by dollar values does not necessarily mesh with the projected dollar values if you order them via ADP, but they’ll be pretty darned close. At minimum, they are close enough so the notion of APE can still be applied.
The bottom line is I no longer need to use straw man arguments why I feel ADP’s being misused, I can demonstrate it mathematically. Even if the ADP is a perfect reflection of the market and is generated by a group that really knows their stuff, the application of the ADP is faulty. It’s not a judge of the quality of the pick unless the choice was so egregious it falls out of the limits set by APE. And even then, the intrinsic value of the pick could make it viable.
This is a good place to stop as the next installment of this series is going to focus on intrinsic value and how the proper use of ADP helps you acquire the most intrinsic value. Please feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to respond.