There is a scene in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" I really love.
In it, Brian opens a window in his house that opens into a courtyard. To his surprise, his new minions have assembled en masse, awaiting their new savior to speak and impart wisdom.
BRIAN: "…You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves. You're all individuals!"
FOLLOWERS: "Yes. We are all individuals."
BRIAN: "You've all got to work it out for yourselves!"
FOLLOWERS: "Yes! We've got to work it out for ourselves!"
FOLLOWERS: "Show us how!"
Hughes you can use? Take him.
Well, I sort of feel about ADP the way Brian feels about being followed.
In fact, over the weekend, at Ron Shandler's wonderful First Pitch in Burlingame, Calif. (for the Bay Area session: there are six more set across the country), I got a couple of questions regarding ADP usage, coincidentally, as I was involved in a series of tweets regarding the same subject.
Coincidentally, this year Ron's program was indeed challenging us to think outside the proverbial fantasy box, something that has never been problematic for me. In fact especially in the fantasy realm, I have sort of built a reputation based upon just that.
So, I felt completely in my element.
Using the Twitter thread as a starting point, a question was posed about ADP, and that elicited a response from industry mate Mike Gianella that he did not play in draft leagues, and had never used ADP, and I basically commented as bluntly (but at I least I hope politely) as I know how, saying "ADP is useless. I don't follow them and I don't care. Once the draft starts, it matters not."
A tweet was fired back that it is always nice to know what the going rate is. Which is not untrue, however, again, ADP is an average where players are being selected, while the draft is actually where a player is picked.
I noted back that in playing devil's advocate, wanting to know why that is helpful, for either the player you want is there, or not. And, the objective is to build a team.
The retort was that if a drafter had Phil Hughes, for example, on his wish list, and were the ADP for Hughes the 14th round, if Hughes is there in the 9th, then he could beat the crowd, taking him in the 10th round.
Which is all again true.
However, though I do find the concept of ADP interesting, like any other stat and mean associated with baseball, but as a tool to use for drafting, I cannot imagine anything not only more useless, but more deceiving.
I also understand that in any discipline, people like to have a comfort zone, and understand the baseline better, and ADPs, like proposed dollar values, do provide that sort of guideline.
The thing is, you want to draft against statistics, building a team out of them that can contend, and while ADP gives the illusion of value, things like three-year regressions are what actually show what a player is capable of producing over a prescribed period of time.
So, if one really wants to complete a roster of targeted numbers - like 185 home runs to be competitive - that end cannot be achieved in any way by looking at the average place when a player is popular. It can only be gained by looking at the statistic base - combined with a player's potential, and opportunity to play - and building those factors toward the goal.
So, in that context of, as Ron and First Pitch suggest in challenging how we think about the game, take that step and trust what you know about the player, and how you think he will perform, and then how he fits within the context of your team.
In other words, if Hughes is available at a time when selecting a pitcher with the Yankees right-hander's profile works, then by all means take him. But, that should drive the selection, as opposed to a mean collected to drafts that are ultimately disconnected.
If you have done your draft homework, and know your players, and the league rules, and especially if you are not new to your league, you should already have a feel for just how much a player will cost, or when your league-mates will pick particular players.
Just remember, it is your team. Not the ADP's. And the results should reflect the team you think will win. Not the ADP's.
Hey, now you can get me on Twitter @lawrmichaels!
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Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.