The first involves the simple idea of hubris: that you yourself know more than everyone else. In other words, owners can assess the current ADP levels and determine if the broader fantasy football playing market has under- or over-valued particular players. In doing so, owners can determine where they think they can pick up steals on the cheap, catching the fantasy landscape by surprise.
The third approach involves the old idea of value investing and probably represents the smartest of all of the three. By showing up to your draft with an up-to-date ADP chart, you can compare who is on the board when your draft position arises. For example, say you are up with the 19th pick and Frank Gore (ADP No. 14) is still on the board. Whether or not Gore is your boy or not, you select him because he offers value. It takes the emotion out of the game and this systematic approach can often lead to a great draft.
Over the course of the next couple weeks, we'll take a look at all three of these approaches. The first will of course just be my own hubris, so take it as you will. For the second, we will look at the current trends (something we will certainly revisit closer to the draft as well), and finally, the third, I will utilize an ADP list in a FanHouse mock draft and report the results. So stay tuned and we'll give you a look at each of these approaches to analyzing ADP.
Today we'll get the ball rolling with the first approach, simply assessing the players whose ADPs fall below where they should. In other words, these guys are underrated.
Brandon Jacobs (ADP No. 18)
Why Brandon Jacobs falls outside the first round makes little sense to me. Derrick Ward left and the Giants have one of the elite offensive lines in football. Sure, Ahmad Bradshaw should be more involved this season, particularly in the passing game, but Jacobs should continue to be a monster on a run-first offense. Keep in mind without Plaxico Burress, the passing game may struggle more than expected. In 13 games last season, Jacobs scored 15 rushing touchdowns and broke 1,000 yards rushing. At No. 18, Jacobs is a steal.
Peyton Manning (ADP No. 27)
If you don't already know, Peyton Manning wins fantasy championships. Falling into the third round is a joke. Marvin Harrison is gone, but this is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game, and this season he comes to camp healthy and with Jeff Saturday. The slow start last season probably had more to do with the bursa sac issue than people seem to recall, so expect a return to true form this season.
Pierre Thomas (ADP No. 31)
Reggie Bush came into camp nearly 100 percent, but he has since already had the knee drained. Coming off microfracture surgery, this looks a little sketchy for Bush's outlook this season. Alternatively, it makes Pierre Thomas look all that much better. The Saints look pretty dead set on putting the running game on Pierre's shoulders this season, so at No. 31, this is a great spot to grab your second running back.
Thomas Jones (No. 36)
The Jets backfield is starting to look a bit crowded with Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene and Leon Washington, but coming off 1,312 yards and 13 touchdowns, there is no reason to expect Jones to fall off so much to merit a late third-round pick. The Jets still have a great offensive line and a young quarterback. This ground game will be kept busy and remain productive.
Roy Williams (No. 45)
With Terrell Owens out, Roy Williams inherits the No. 1 receiver tag and will be catching passes from a good quarterback in Tony Romo. There is some uncertainly here, but at No. 45, the upside far outweighs the risk.
Marshawn Lynch (No. 47)
Lynch's ADP exhibits a wide variance, with some owners drafting him as high as 26. It is really the cautious haters that are pulling his ADP down. Obviously, there's the three-game suspension to deal with, but this is still a starting running back who gets lots of touches and scores a good deal of TDs. He also bulked up this offseason to take on a heavier workload -- great news from a fantasy standpoint. Last season certainly proved a bit disappointing, but that was as a first-rounder. As a fourth-rounder, Lynch is a steal.
LenDale White (No. 71)
Chris Johnson gets all the love from fantasy owners in this backfield, but don't sleep on White. He has some good things going for him, the key being he stopped drinking tequila by the pint glass and dropped a lot of weight. Tangentially, I gotta believe that being sober occasionally will be good for his game. White also heads into a contract year, and he scored 15 times last season despite only 200 carries. At No. 71, this looks like a great add.
Felix Jones (No. 79)
Without Terrell Owens, it's a foregone conclusion that Dallas will run the ball hard and more often this season. Jones comes in behind Marion Barber, but he got off to a fast start last season before the injury. If he stays healthy, he can compete and possibly outplay Barber. Even as a No. 2 running back for Dallas, at ADP No. 79, this is a flat out bargain with huge potential.
Jamal Lewis (No. 92)
I'm starting to see a theme here. There are a lot of guys with less than glamorous fantasy reputations coming off pretty mediocre seasons down in the lower half of the stack, but starting running backs in the 8th or 9th round are always a good bet. Remember, the Browns had a strong line last season led by Joe Thomas and they added a star in center, Alex Mack, so Lewis might provide a pleasant surprise as a No. 3 runner.
Julius Jones (No. 107)
Do I really need to repeat myself? Jones is a clear-cut starter on an offense that really wants to re-establish the run this season. Jones looks like another great No. 3 running back add.
Visanthe Shiancoe (No. 147)
Shiancoe caught seven touchdowns and 42 passes last season, but served mainly as a waiver wire fill-in guy. Expect more improvement and an ascent to the Top 5 in the game. He makes a great, late No. 2 tight end and a reasonable starter should you wait long to fill this slot.
Derrick Mason (No. 161)
Derrick Mason sits way down here under the radar, but this probably won't last. The main reason this anomaly exists is because Mason announced his retirement and subsequent return. Mason is back at practice and looking good (although he did hurt his finger), so he might be a sneaky undervalued score if your opponents are not up to date on this story.
Kevin Boss (No. 167)
The dude can't block, but from a fantasy standpoint, Boss remains the clear No. 1 in New York and Eli Manning will certainly look his way regularly this season. At No. 167, what's to lose by picking him up late?