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The Perfect PPR Draft? Man vs. ADP

I recently took part in a draft with the sole intent of selecting each player at a discount relative to their current Average Draft Position. Basically, I wanted to see what a team looked like if drafted soley on value.  The draft I took part in was a 12-team PPR draft. Rosters consisted of 10 starters (1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 D/ST, 1 K) and eight bench players. I had the fifth pick. Below are the results of that draft, along with the thought process behind each of my selections.

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The Perfect PPR Draft Results

Since there is a consensus top-four in most drafts, I will not be able to beat ADP with my first-round pick. Unless…

Round 1 (1.05, #5 overall) – Alvin Kamara, RB (#4 overall according to ADP)

I swear this was 100 percent legitimate. Alvin Kamara really did fall to me with the fifth pick. It made my job easy because he was the only player whose ADP made him a bargain. I can only assume that the person who took DeAndre Hopkins fourth overall is living the Zero-RB life. I can get behind this strategy in theory because there are a lot of running backs you can get late who can produce solid numbers in PPR formats. But I would be hard-pressed to pass on any of the Big Four (Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, or Kamara) in a draft. Getting Kamara fifth in a PPR draft felt a bit like stealing.

Round 2 (2.08, #20 overall) – Antonio Brown, WR (#19 overall according to ADP)

Antonio Brown and Dalvin Cook were the only top-20 players based on ADP who were available to me at pick #20. I think going with Brown here was the logical choice considering that I already had Kamara. A lot of times, I like to assess things based on combinations of players as opposed to a simple one-on-one comparison. I prefer my tandem of Kamara and Brown over a Hopkins and Cook pairing, for example. My duo scored 33 touchdowns in 2018 as opposed to the 15 that Hopkins and Cook totaled. I expect that spread to shrink this season, but I love the start I have gotten off to.

Round 3 (3.05, #29 overall) – T.Y. Hilton, WR (#27 overall according to ADP)

T. Y. Hilton is another player with tremendous upside who I was very happy to snag here. Amari Cooper was a candidate as well. Cooper showed what he could do following a midseason trade to Dallas, but I ultimately decided to go with the Colt in this spot. Hilton is far more consistent. He has averaged over 90 receiving yards per game in each of the last two seasons Andrew Luck has played. Hilton also scored at least 10 fantasy points in 12 of 14 games played last season. He may not get into the end zone as much as some of the truly elite wideouts in the game, but he is a rock-solid contributor.

Round 4 (4.08, #44 overall) – Derrick Henry, RB (#36 overall according to ADP)

Derrick Henry is coming off the board as the 36th player overall in PPR leagues, and 32nd in standard leagues. Either way, he fits here as a nice value. I suspect his ADP will creep up with recent news that the Titans will wisely feature Henry in their offense, so I was very happy to snag Henry at a small discount here. The fourth round is when wide receivers started flying off the board. Henry was one of several running backs who I was a bit surprised were available at this point. Josh Jacobs and Sony Michel would have also qualified here.

Round 5 (5.05, #53 overall) – Cooper Kupp, WR (#46 overall according to ADP)

With the run on wide receivers at full throttle and this being a PPR draft, I decided to pass on a few running backs I liked to nab my third wide receiver. Kupp is coming off a torn ACL but he has WR2 upside when healthy. He finished 25th in PPR scoring in 2017 and was 18th among wideouts last season before the injury. Early news suggests he will be close to 100 percent by the time the season begins, so I will gladly take a player with his upside as my WR3.

Round 6 (6.08, #68 overall) – Sony Michel, RB (#42 overall according to ADP)

I just mentioned the wide receiver run that took place. It was quite a whirlwind. A total of 17 receivers taken in in Rounds 4 and 5. That run changed the dynamic a bit, especially given the restrictions on who I allowed myself to draft. I could have taken Sony Michel two rounds earlier and still “beat” his ADP, so I was pleasantly surprised he was still available this late. Michel and Henry do not figure to catch a ton of passes, but they will do enough damage on the ground to make them starter-worthy backs even in a PPR draft.

Round 7 (7.05, #77 overall) – Tarik Cohen, RB (#50 overall according to ADP)

At this point, there were no wide receivers I could have taken here based on the self-imposed ADP parameters. Even though I had already selected three running backs in a league where I can start a maximum of three running backs, I simply could not pass on Tarik Cohen here. Honestly, I have no idea how he fell this far, especially in a PPR draft. He finished 11th among running backs and 28th among non-quarterbacks in PPR scoring last season. I like David Montgomery as much as the next person, but I don’t envision Matt Nagy suddenly ignoring a weapon like Cohen. I think he is the perfect complement to Henry and Michel and there will be plenty of weeks Cohen starts ahead of either or both.

Round 8 (8.08, #92 overall) – David Njoku, TE (#88 overall according to ADP)

By the time the eighth round rolled around, there were no wide receivers I could have selected who were considered ADP bargains. There were still a ton of running backs available, including Derrius Guice, Tevin Coleman, and Miles Sanders to name a few. However, I already had drafted four at this point, so I thought taking another this early would be overkill. My limited number of options led me to select tight end David Njoku. I have Vance McDonald rated higher than Njoku, but Njoku is currently the 88th player taken as opposed to McDonald, who is 96th. That disqualified McDonald for this exercise. Njoku fits a need and should be a consistent contributor.

Round 9 (9.05, #101 overall) – Jared Goff, QB (#104 overall according to ADP)

I guess technically I cheated here, but there were no quarterbacks available who fit the criteria. At the time, I did not see the point in taking a fifth running back this early. In hindsight, I feel like I should have. Since everyone had already selected a quarterback, I could have waited a bit on Jared Goff. Several running backs were still available, including Jordan Howard and Darrell Henderson. However, if I had gone the running back route, I probably would have selected Latavius Murray (#97 overall according to ADP) here. Murray is an obvious handcuff to Kamara, but I believe he will have plenty of standalone value this season as well.

Round 10 (10.08, #116 overall) – Mecole Hardman, WR (#106 overall according to ADP)

This is the first time where I felt that this experiment led me astray. Mecole Hardman was the only wide receiver who was available after his ADP since I selected Kupp in Round 5. I expect Hardman’s ADP will to continue to drop as it appears Tyreek Hill’s suspension will be shorter than many had anticipated. This means that the “discount” I got here is not even likely to be there much longer. I do not love Hardman as my WR4 by any means and suspect he will ride the bench most weeks.

Round 11 (11.05, #125 overall) – Dion Lewis, RB (#112 overall according to ADP)

Running backs continued to be available in the later rounds of this PPR draft. As much as I like my crop of running backs, you really can afford to wait, especially in a PPR setting. There are a ton of potential values at the position. Ekeler, Dion Lewis, and Nyheim Hines all went off the board with consecutive picks in the 11th round. I think each can be an RB3 or better in PPR leagues. Lewis has finished in the top-30 among running backs in PPR scoring in each of the last two years. He comes off here as the RB42. Lewis also provides a buffer for me in case Henry goes down or does not dominate backfield touches in Tennessee.

Round 12 (12.08, #140 overall) – Chris Herndon, TE (#121 overall according to ADP)

Once again, the restrictions placed prohibited me from taking a player I wanted in this spot. As much as I like Chris Herndon and his potential upside, there is no way I am taking a second tight end who is facing a four-game suspension to start the year at this stage in a draft. My wide receiver corps is painfully thin, but there are still no wideouts who would be considered bargains based on ADP. The ones who came closest are Mohamed Sanu (#152) and Jamison Crowder (#162). I would be fine with either of those players as Flex plays in a PPR league. Hopefully, my three starters can remain upright. As I alluded to earlier, this would have been the ideal spot to take Goff at, rather than three rounds prior.

Round 13 (13.05, #149 overall) – Carlos Hyde, RB (#131 overall according to ADP)

I suppose if I am going to lack depth at wide receiver, I should bolster my depth elsewhere, right? It is crazy how late running backs were going. Carlos Hyde was my sixth RB, and I could have taken one or two more in previous rounds. Meanwhile, I could not find a wide receiver who is considered a bargain based on ADP if my life depended on it. I love me some Damien Williams this year, but there is a non-zero chance he flops. If he does, Hyde would likely be the primary beneficiary. Hyde is nothing special at this stage of his career, but people will argue that about Williams as well. Hyde has a lot of potential depending on how things break in Kansas City.

Round 14 (14.08, #164 overall) – John Brown, WR (#164 overall according to ADP)

This is the closest I came to finding a value pick at wide receiver relative to ADP since Hardman in Round 10 and Kupp in Round 5. Still, I would hardly consider myself the world’s biggest John Brown fan. I prefer him as more of a Best Ball target than someone I would trust in PPR leagues. But I needed wide receivers badly and beggars can’t be choosers.

Round 15 (15.05, #173 overall) – Mitchell Trubisky, QB (#142 overall according to ADP)

I was hoping I could take two more wide receivers to make up for my holes at the position, but there were still no receivers I could select. That meant I could only select one more wideout, as I still needed to draft a D/ST unit and a kicker with two of my final three picks. Gross. Anyway, back to Mitchell Trubisky. I think having another full year to acclimate himself to the offensive system and the weapons around him will be a great benefit to the third-year player. I do not necessarily feel the need to draft a backup quarterback in most cases, but Trubisky seems like a worthy flier here all things considered.

Round 16 (16.08, #188 overall) – Kansas City D/ST (#173 overall according to ADP)

A wide receiver value had yet to emerge, so I decided to take my D/ST unit here. I prefer to stream defenses, but the Chiefs make a decent early-season candidate for this strategy as well. They open the year with games against Jacksonville, Oakland, Baltimore, and Detroit.

Round 17 (17.05, #197 overall) – Greg Zuerlein, K (#136 overall according to ADP)

There was finally a receiving option available here. Two, in fact. Travis Benjamin (#195 overall) and Jaron Brown (#197) were at or ahead of their current ADP, but I decided to go with Greg Zuerlein here. I figured I would rather have a slight advantage at kicker than grab a player who I can only hope will never see my starting lineup.

Round 18 (18.08, #212 overall) – Albert Wilson, WR (#198 overall according to ADP)

Finally, another wide receiver! Maybe if this draft went 24 rounds, I could have some decent depth at wideout. Benjamin and Brown were still here, but I passed on them in favor of Wilson. Wilson showed flashes last year, averaging nearly 13 points per game over seven contests in 2018. Granted, there was a different offense in place with a different quarterback, but at least the potential is there for some big games.

Final Roster

QB – Jared Goff, Mitchell Trubisky
RB – Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, Sony Michel, Tarik Cohen, Dion Lewis, Carlos Hyde
WR – Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton, Cooper Kupp, Mecole Hardman, John Brown, Albert Wilson
TE – David Njoku, Chris Herndon
D/ST – Kansas City
K – Greg Zuerlein

Overall Impressions

I think it is fair to say this is not the perfect PPR draft, but I am happy pretty happy with my team. The biggest strength of my roster is my depth at running back. I love my starting wide receivers, but it gets ugly quick after my top three. Making matters worse is that both the Browns and Hilton have the same bye week. I usually do not concern myself with that sort of thing during the draft, but that is a problem given my lack of depth at the position.

My PPR draft strategy forced me into some decisions I would rather not have made. The most obvious example was selecting Mecole Hardman in Round 10. Despite his current ADP, I do not consider him a value at all. If I was drafting under normal circumstances, I would have gone a different route for my WR4 spot. I should have waited to select a quarterback since everyone had drafted one relatively early. Even if someone had chosen Goff as a backup, I could have found a suitable replacement. I also would not have selected Herndon in Round 12. Herndon is not worth drafting at all in most formats. It’s not the worst thing in the world with an eight-man bench, but I would much rather reserve those spots for extra running backs and wide receivers than a tight end who possibly will not see the field until Week 6.

Overall, I thought this was a very interesting exercise. Of course, beating ADP should never be your primary focus heading into a draft. But I always like to try new strategies and test new theories when drafting. Being able to adapt to different circumstances and settings is what helps strong drafters stand out from the pack. This exercise proved something we already know, which is that relying solely on ADP can lead to problems. You should come to the draft table prepared with a set of player values that caters to your specific league. This will help you find bargains throughout your draft regardless of where players are being selected. The fantasy player who only looks at ADP would likely be disappointed by someone like Hardman while missing out on better values.

Did Mick pull off the perfect PPR Draft? Head on over to the 2019 Fantrax Fantasy Football Draft Kit for more great strategy, analysis, and rankings.

Mick Ciallela has been writing for FantraxHQ since July 2017. He has also written for Bleacher Report. He is a lifelong sports fan and has been an avid fantasy sports player for many years. Mick was the Overall Champion of both the 2016 Football Challenge – Roto and 2017 Play 3 Football contests hosted by CDM Sports. Mick was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York and currently resides in New London, Connecticut.

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