Could you imagine going to the grocery store for a gallon of milk, and paying a couple of extra bucks just for the heck of it? The price tag says “$3.50”, but you just say, “hey, I’m going to pay an extra dollar for this” when you get to the checkout line.

Or let’s say you’re on Ebay. There’s a “Buy It Now” option on this laptop that you really want, but instead of buying it for it’s “Buy It Now” price, you decide to “Buy It Now” plus a couple hundred dollars.

Why would you ever do that?

Well, this is what thousands and thousands of people do in every fantasy draft. They neglect market value, or average draft position, and pay far too high a cost on a player.

Don’t just fill your starting lineup

Many drafters out there like to fill their lineups before getting bench depth. Me? Well, if you’ve read my book or have seen any of my blog posts, you know that I wait until the final two rounds to get a defense and a kicker, and my tight end usually will be drafted just before those.

It sounds strange to some, but it’s the concept of drafting for value. Why would I get a quarterback in Round 5 if that same caliber player is available in Round 9? Just because I need to fill my lineup?

Go back to the gallon of milk example. If you really need a gallon of milk, are you going to pay more than what the price tag indicates? No, you’ll pay the price on the tag, because you don’t want to overprice, or overvalue, that gallon of milk.

It’s the same logic in fantasy football. You shouldn’t overvalue a player because you need that position. You should understand where he typically gets drafted, maybe get him a round prior to that if you really want him, and draft depth in the meantime.

This is why average draft position is important. You can understand the market value – the price tag – and go just a little above that to get the player you want.

Draft for the full season, not just Week 1

The clear issue that people have with position filling is that they fail to see the value in a deep bench. If you monitor chat rooms in mock drafts, you’ll consistently see people bragging about their teams because they focus solely on their starting lineups.

Don’t neglect the bench.

The importance of a lineup surely rests within the lineup itself. But what you can do with a bench is unprecedented. While so many drafters will overvalue players during the draft, you can sit back and build depth on your bench. In doing so, you’re essentially devaluing players that others will soon value.

Let me give a quick hypothetical example. You’re faced with a choice in Round 6 to either draft your starting quarterback or your first bench player. You go with Eric Decker instead of getting one of the Manning brothers.

Eric Decker, to you, is a WR3. He’s sitting on your bench, because your flex spot is occupied by a running back. But to your buddy that ended up getting a quarterback in Round 3 – he’s got a 7th round wide receiver as his WR3. It seems like a small difference…but is it? According to current ADP’s, that’s the difference between Eric Decker and Reggie Wayne. That’s potentially pretty big.

Once the season begins, the manager that got a quarterback early, sacrificing his depth at receiver and running back, will scramble once one of his receivers or running backs goes down to injury or flops. You, on the other hand, will have Eric Decker sitting comfortably on your bench. You’re more willing to give up a legitimate starter compared to others in your league because he’s not a legitimate starter on your own team. Because you’ve got the best depth in the fantasy league, and nobody else can make an offer to the early-round quarterback guy, you’re in the perfect spot to add value to your team.

The lesson here, and how it relates to ADP, is that you must realize that the fantasy football season is long. Building value is how you win. If you’re filling your lineup, and hence neglecting your bench, you’re not putting yourself in the best spot to win. ADP allows fantasy football owners to recognize value. We can see what we can get late in a draft. In turn, we’re able to draft players for value over need.

Compare Average Draft Positions

Let’s pretend that you’ve got a big draft happening on next week. You feel prepared, doing mock drafts and studying up on players as much as possible. While your drafting, you notice that a running back somehow dropped to Round 5 when you’ve seen him leave the board in Round 3 in plenty of mock drafts. He just completely slipped your mind.

How does this happen? Well, while you’re used to looking at average draft positions on plenty of other sites, you failed to realize where the gap in ADP is between those other sites and the place you’re drafting.

It’s simple, really. Go take a look at the site that you’re drafting at, and take a look at their rankings. Compare them to your list of ADPs on other sites. If there are any significant gaps on players that you value, then try to obtain that value in the actual draft.

Before the Trent Richardson injury, ESPN had him valued as the 36th best player. That’s a late 3rd round pick in a 12-team league, and a 4th rounder in a 10-teamer. This is a perfect example of the kind of value you can get from an ESPN league. Even if you’re not incredibly high on Richardson this year, you could’ve gotten a lot of value out of him. (It’s a shame he has knee issues.)

Now, this technique isn’t as favorable if you’re drafting with people that aren’t going to rely on that particular site’s rankings. But, in most cases, we’re all swayed in one way or another during our 45 seconds of selecting a player. It’s convenient when a player is on the top of a list. Average draft positions help you dig a little deeper and not rely so heavily on looking at the top of that list.

Use your brain

ADPs are meant to guide your drafting decisions. While each of the points above can vary depending on league structure, size and scoring, you have to remember that, regardless of league type, you have to use your head. You have to study up and understand who to draft.

Use average draft positions to your advantage. Don’t reach, and don’t devalue your team. And, of course, always remember that your bench creates value during the season when trading.

Every player that’s draftable has some sort of value. But this value is only created if you select a player at the right time of your draft. Let ADP help you do that.