If you're playing fantasy football in 2013, there's a good chance you've had at least one league draft by now. And if you play in multiple leagues (or if you regularly make use of the available "mock draft" options online, such as this one on NFL.com) you've probably discovered this simple fantasy fact: The best way to prepare for one draft is with another one.
By extension, the results of hundreds of drafts would be particularly helpful…and that's what we call "ADP," or average draft position. If you draft online, you'll see this concept in action, as you pick from a list of players usually ranked by projected totals but also identified with their average draft action for that particular site, be it Yahoo!, ESPN, NFL.com or one of the others.
Of course, it would also help to know how those numbers are trending. If a particular player's ADP is 4.12 (the 12th pick in the fourth round of a standard-format 12-team league) and he was averaging a sixth-round pick a month earlier, that would indicate that his stock is on the rise. You might not be able to snag that player if you wait until the end of the fourth round.
Fortunately, we can study those trends, too, and a site called FantasyFootballCalculator.com is at least one resource that makes it easy. Use that resource if you wish, or as a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, simply enjoy this bit of information we've already gleaned from the FFC graphs: Buccaneer players are on the rise, in the minds of the fantasy football throngs, at least.
There are four Buccaneer players who are likely to be taken in any fantasy draft in which you compete: QB Josh Freeman, RB Doug Martin and WRs Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Martin is almost certain to be a first-round selection, with Jackson following in the next few stanzas. Freeman and Williams are going a bit later, generally in the draft range that would make them reserves on fantasy teams. Here's a look at what has been taking place with the draft stock of each of those players, at least according to the hundreds of drafts compiled by the Fantasy Football Calculator site.
RB Doug Martin
There isn't much room for Martin to rise, given that he is a top-five pick in the majority of drafts. In the amassed FFC drafts, he has the second-highest draft average – 2.9 overall – after Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson.
Still, his stock has been on the rise. We've been paying attention to the ADP of those four players since late July, right before the start of the Buccaneers' training camp, and Martin's perceived value is higher now than it was then, now that many more drafts have been conducted and compiled. Martin was averaging 1.04 (rounding down, that is, as his average was between 1.03 and 1.04) on July 24, when the Bucs reported to training camp, and as of the middle of this week, midway through the NFL preseason, he was up to 1.03. The FFC chart actually shows Martin hovering between 1.02 and 1.03 at the moment, and that's up quite a bit (in the context of the little room his ADP has to maneuver) since just two weeks ago. On August 9, Martin's stock had dipped almost all the way 1.04, his low point overall.
Again, Martin can't go much higher, and he's not going to unseat Peterson at the top, but recent draft returns suggest that the overall fantasy football playing public is confident that Martin can at least repeat his amazing rookie season.
WR Vincent Jackson
This is the Bucs' steadiest climber over the last month. If you're playing in a standard-format 12-team league, keep in mind on draft night that you might have to commit a third-round pick for Jackson if you want him on your squad.
That's where Jackson's stock is headed, to the end of the third round, at least. On July 24, as the Bucs gathered at One Buc Place for the camp prerequisite conditioning test, Jackson was going at the average draft spot of 4.04, or the fourth pick in the fourth round. Assuming your draft is of the standard serpentine variety, that would mean he is most often the fourth pick of a team that picked late in the opening round.
He may soon be the third pick of the same range of teams. As of August 22, Jackson's ADP was at 3.12, or the last pick of the third round. That's the average, which means he is clearly going in the third round in a good number of drafts. And, while Martin's stock has jumped up and down within his limited range, Jackson has pretty much just made a slow rise from the spot he occupied a month ago. He was at 4.03 by July 30, at 4.02 by August 10 and at 4.01 by August 20. His most steep climb has been in the last two days, when he has shot up another spot to that 3.12 spot.
WR Mike Williams
Viewed on the same chart, Williams' line – the tracking of his ADP over the last month – has been a bit more volatile than Jackson's. That's not surprising, given that Williams is being drafted, on average, somewhere between the eighth and ninth rounds and the deviation is going to be larger as the round numbers grow higher. Overall, Williams' ADP is several spots higher than it was on training camp reporting day, but it has come down since peaking around the time of the first preseason game.
Williams' ADP on July 24 was 9.01, or the first pick of the ninth round. Over the next two weeks it made a very steady climb, hitting 8.07 by August third and the aforementioned August 10 peak of 8.05. Since then, the decline has been almost as steady. He was back down to 8.07 by August 16 and as of Thursday, was at 8.11.
That means, overall, the fantasy football populace is just a bit more confident in Williams than it was a month ago. If you were hoping to snare the Buccaneer receiver, who is a proven touchdown producer, in the eighth or ninth rounds, that strategy will probably still hold.
QB Josh Freeman
Of the four prominent Bucs in fantasy football, Freeman's ADP has held the steadiest since a month ago. On July 24, he was being drafted at the average spot of 13.10, or late in the 13th round of a 12-team league. On Thursday, that ADP was still right at 13.10, though it had gone through some ups and downs in the interim.
In fact, Freeman's ADP nearly climbed out of the third round by the end of the first week of training camp. On August 1, his spot peaked at 13.02. It held fairly steady in that range for another week or so, landing at 13.05 on August 11, but then dropped after the Buccaneers' second preseason game in New England. On August 18, it had hit a low point of 14.09, which means that he was close to going in the 15th round. That would seem to represent pretty significant draft value for a quarterback who ranked 13th in fantasy points a year ago and would thus qualify as one of the most targeted backups in a 12-team league, and perhaps as a borderline starter.
It's possible that the underwhelming performance of the Buccaneers' starting offense in the first two games affected Freeman's draft stock. That would be short-sighted, if it was the case, because most football insiders agree that preseason results are of little predictive value. Moreover, Freeman and his fellow starters have only played a very small handful of snaps over the two games combined.
Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano says Freeman has had a very strong training camp, and he hasn't been deterred from his optimism regarding how the fifth-year passer will fare in 2013. In fact, Schiano thinks Freeman has advanced significantly since a 2012 season in which he topped 4,000 passing yards and threw 27 TD passes.
"Well his understanding – and not only understanding of our offense which he has a much better grasp on, but understanding of the game of football, situational football, down and distance, time remaining, score, weather conditions – all that stuff he has a much better grip on how that effects what he has to do and what the offense is going to be able to do," said Schiano. "But that's the maturation of a quarterback, in my opinion, so he's doing that."
Fantasy football players may be coming to the same conclusion in recent days. Since Freeman's ADP hit that low-water mark four days ago, it has already climbed back up to 13.10. A month ago, you may have believed you could get Freeman as your reserve QB – and potential breakout candidate – somewhere in the 12th, 13th or 14th rounds. It looks like that strategy will still hold as the regular season nears.