2020 NFL Mock Drafts – Advantage with Rankings
Ethan Cowlbeck

The NFL off-season has been all we could possibly ask for. It is for this reason that we are extremely lucky; the concept of football being the most relevant sport at the end of March is completely unprecedented, so being able to witness the fireworks show of names like Brady, Gurley, Hopkins, and others being moved around is the best case scenario.

Buccaneers acquire Tom Brady in free agency from Patriots

I think this is a great time to take a step back and analyze any mistakes we made in the previous fantasy season, and take note of how to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes next year. Often during the season, I think of general rules of thumb to remember for drafts in upcoming years; “Consider the quality of the team when assessing the correctness of an ADP”, “Don’t avoid player’s just because of injuries. Consider it case to case”, etc. These are a few of my biggest regrets, but feel free to use yours in their place.

Cooper Kupp returns from ACL tear to finish WR#4 in 2019

However, simple rules of thumb like these are mere tokens of experience. A much cloudier subject in the month or two leading up to kickoff is often how to value positional rankings. On a surface level, they’re super fun to make. Taking positions and having unique opinions on where to rank players is an enjoyable and exciting part of the game. Drafting is a completely different challenge though. The magic of fantasy football drafts is that you have to account and cover for all positions on your team at the same time as your league mates, and rankings are often hard to stick to in this regard.

Lamar Jackson will likely be the first QB off of the board, but how do you determine where to draft him?

There are two extremes of drafting strategies that will always fall short:

Strategy 1. The Robot: “I have a fixed order for how I draft my positions. RB, RB, WR, RB, WR, TE.”

Strategy 2. Gut Feeling: “(Insert player here) is still available, and I’ve got a gut feeling he’ll do well, so I’ll take him.” This process repeats every round

Strategy 1 is not the answer because there were likely one or more very good players that were passed up on in order to comply with the drafter’s set order, and strategy 2 misses the mark because it involves assuming a player might have a good year instead of taking a player who is trustworthy and almost certainly will have a good year. My goal is to determine a way to draft that is guided by a process but still involves human decision.

The reason that ranking players and drafting solely off of those rankings doesn’t work is because ADP is not factored in. Drafting is a chess match between you and your league mates to see who can get the best players they want as late in the draft as possible. This is why you would benefit from ranking players two different ways. The first way is the standard method of ranking. Head to head, starting at the best, and working down with what’s left. These will obviously change as news about teams and players come out leading up to the draft, but that is to be expected.

Joe Mixon severely under performed relative to his mid-second round ADP

The second way is where ADP comes into play. Look at players and their average draft positions and color code their value. Green if you would draft them way ahead of their position, blue if their value matches their ADP, and red if you think they’re overvalued. In 2019 fantasy drafts, Todd Gurley was drafted frequently at the beginning of the second round. Many (myself included) thought this was much too high considering the arthritis in his knees. However, even if a player is overvalued at their ADP, there still comes a point where you would draft them. In one of my drafts, Gurley fell to the back of the third round in a 10 man PPR. While it was unsettling, I took him.

So how does this process look all put together? The first round is pretty simple. Most people have a hierarchy of players they will take, and base their following rounds on what they already have and what’s left. For those following rounds, Look for the players you have ranked highest on your head to head rankings, and of the high-ranking players, see which ones are color coded with the most green while addressing positional needs on your team. Draft prep like this prevents you from boxing yourself into set rules and giving you the freedom to draft how you choose, while eliminating the stress and panic of picking and drafting on the fly.

Thank you for reading! Any questions or comments?

Did I miss something? Let’s talk about it!

Find me on Twitter right here! https://twitter.com/DetroitBeastie?

Or on DFScheatsheets.com https://twitter.com/dfscheatsheet1

Check out Ethans other work here https://www.dfscheatsheet.com/2020-mid-round-mock-madness-rounds-5-8/nfl/03/

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