When it comes to average draft position, there are many different sources. FantasyPros recently launched their ADP page, which is currently an aggregate of three sites: RT Sports, NFBC, and Fantrax. Once we've conducted enough drafts, you'll find CBS there as well. This is definitely a useful tool for anybody who would like to follow early draft trends.
For most of the offseason, the only data we had to use was the NFBC, which launched 2021 drafts back on October 1. Yes, there are sickos out there who enjoy drafting that early. I should know because I'm one of them. What you need to know about this ADP data is that it isn't created equally. The NFBC predominantly runs high stakes 5x5 rotisserie leagues so if you play in a H2H points or H2H categories format, this data could be quite different than your league's draft. Does that make this data irrelevant? Far from it.
What's so unique about the NFBC ADP page is that you can sort by date. You see where I'm going with this, right? I wanted to track the most recent players who have been rising and falling in drafts and try and figure out why. So, what I did first was grab the ADP from their Draft Champions format (15-team, 5x5 Rotisserie draft-and-hold leagues) from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30. That included 23 drafts that took place during that time frame. Next, I grabbed the ADP from that same format from Dec. 1 to Jan. 11, which included 30 drafts. From there, I compared and contrasted the results to see what I found.
Top ADP risers
Let's start with the biggest risers. As you'll see from the table below, the most common themes were players that signed, closer candidates, and sleeper starting pitchers, which makes sense. Seeing as how this is a 5x5 Rotisserie league, everybody is trying to find saves. As for the starting pitchers, I think you see those specific players rising up draft boards as managers continue to do more research this offseason. If that's the case, you should probably lean into these starting pitchers as sleeper/breakout types, as long as the cost doesn't rise too far.
What you need to remember for this data, however, is that not all risers should be judged the same way. It should be a sliding scale. While Ketel Marte only climbed 11 spots in ADP, those 11 spots mean much more inside the top 100 picks compared to Rowdy Tellez climbing 36 spots in the mid-200s.
With that, here are the 25 biggest risers in ADP since Dec. 1. I highlighted the 10 that stood out most to me below.
Ketel Marte 2B
ARI Arizona • #4 • Age: 27
Ketel Marte's career year in 2019 sure looks like the outlier to this point. Perhaps people are buying Marte because they believe he played through injury this past season. He landed on the injured list with left wrist inflammation in September. Even with that, Marte showed flashes with his 115.9 MPH max exit velocity, which ranked fifth among qualified hitters. I'm more skeptical than most. Marte's career year in 2019 came with the juiced ball in play.
TOR Toronto • #13 • Age: 27
Over Gurriel's last 162 games, he's batting .285 with 35 home runs, nine steals, and an .855 OPS. He's just rock solid. He's posted an average exit velocity over 90 MPH in each of his first three seasons. In 2020, he actually lowered his strikeout rate 4% while hitting line drives a career-high 25.9% of the time. Projected to bat in the middle of an improving lineup, this is a rise I can get behind.
Byron Buxton CF
MIN Minnesota • #25 • Age: 27
What do we do with Byron Buxton? While he ranked in the 85th percentile or better in exit velocity, hard hit rate, expected slugging, barrel rate and sprint speed, he walked just two times and his plate discipline was all over the place. He posted career-worst marks in chase rate (51.2%, league average is 30.6%) and swinging strike rate (17.4%, league average is 11.4%). The tools are tantalizing but his injury history coupled with inconsistency has me shying away.
Joe Musgrove SP
SD San Diego • Age: 28
If you know anything about me it's that Joe Musgrove is bae. He's continuously let us down for Fantasy and then does just enough over the final month to pull us back in. Over his final five starts after returning from the injured list, Musgrove pitched to a 2.16 ERA with 13.7 K/9 supported by a massive 16.3% swinging strike rate. So much of Musgrove's value is that fastball hovering around 93 MPH. If he can maintain that velocity with increased slider/curveball usage, the breakout is imminent.
Tyler Mahle SP
CIN Cincinnati • #30 • Age: 26
Mahle finally put it together in 2020, pitching to a 3.59 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with 60 strikeouts across 47.2 innings. His 11.3 K/9 was by far a career-best, supported by his 13.8% swinging strike rate. Mahle completely changed up the pitch mix, too, bringing back a slider he used back in 2018 to go along with a splitter and mid-90s fastball. There's a lot to like here. I support the rise.
ARI Arizona • #12 • Age: 24
Varsho was quite bad in his debut in 2020, batting just .188 with a .653 OPS. Despite this, he still managed three home runs and three steals across 37 games. It's worth noting that the NFBC is predominantly rotisserie leagues with two starting catchers. With Varsho expected to spend most of his time in the outfield, he'll play more consistently than most catchers. Varsho is worth a top-150 pick in leagues that start two catchers.
Austin Riley 3B
ATL Atlanta • #27 • Age: 23
Austin Riley took the league by storm as a rookie in 2019, hitting 14 home runs the first two months he was up. Then reality set in. He wound up batting .226 with a 36.4% strikeout rate. While the power took a step back this season, Riley improved tremendously, lowering his strikeout rate to 23.8% while raising his walk rate to 7.8%. According to Statcast, Riley also hit the ball harder in 2020, evidenced by his 91 MPH average exit velocity. BUY!
TEX Texas • #65 • Age: 22
Speed, speed, and more speed. That's what we're searching for in rotisserie leagues. Well, Taveras racked up eight steals in just 33 games in 2020 and had 32 steals in the minors in 2019. While his 32% strikeout rate was worrisome, he didn't whiff as much in the minors and has a strong eye at the plate. I'm not buying much power here but could see 20-25 steals as the leadoff hitter. That's good enough for him to be a top-200 pick.
MIN Minnesota • #76 • Age: 23
Alex Kirilloff made his debut in the postseason of all places, going 1-for-4 with a single against the Houston Astros. Between Nelson Cruz remaining unsigned and Eddie Rosario being non-tendered, Kirilloff seems set for near everyday at-bats. Across 279 career minor-league games, Kirilloff is batting .317 with 36 home runs and an .863 OPS. I think we continue to see his ADP climb and I support it.
Rowdy Tellez 1B
TOR Toronto • #44 • Age: 25
I think this rise is a case of people not realizing just how good Rowdy Tellez was in 2020. While he only played 35 games, he batted .283 with eight home runs and an .886 OPS. He cut his strikeout rate nearly in half from 28.4% in 2019 to 15.7% this past season. And for anybody who's worried about Tellez platooning, he posted an .811 OPS against them in 2020 and an .831 mark in 2019. I would be fine with Tellez as my corner infielder in deeper leagues.
Top ADP fallers
For the fallers, you're mostly looking at unsigned players, concerns over the National League DH, and prospects. That doesn't tell the entire story, though. I can't really explain why somebody like Giancarlo Stanton is falling outside of injury risk (more on him later). Ultimately, you might want to look a little deeper on these players to figure out what's going on. Maybe you disagree with the market. That's where buying opportunities are created.
Here are the 25 biggest fallers since Dec. 1 with a deeper explanation on the 10 players I found most interesting.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #27 • Age: 31
This one I don't fully understand. Coming off a 2019 season where Stanton played just 18 of 162 games, his ADP was 63.6 in 2020. Now he played 23 of 60 games in 2020 and his ADP is down to… 131? I agree with being risk averse early in drafts and I'm usually not a Stanton guy but his is fantastic value. He was also a different hitter in 2020, posting career-bests in line drive rate (26.5%), chase rate (23%) and swinging strike rate (10.5%). You won't really find any hitters who can provide 40+ home runs in that range of the draft.
Julio Urias SP
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #7 • Age: 24
Dodgers pitchers are falling and it makes sense as we await actual confirmation David Price will opt back in. He's suggested he will but it has not been made official. With Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and the aces still around, it's very crowded out there in Los Angeles. While Julio Urias was special in the postseason, his underlying numbers still leave a lot to be desired.
Nelson Cruz DH
MIN Minnesota • #23 • Age: 40
I've long been a fan of reaping the rewards that come with Cruz being annually undervalued because of his age. I'm getting closer to passing on him. He'll turn 41 years old this season, his 27% strikeout rate and 46.5% ground ball rate were both career-highs in 2020 plus he's starting to deal with nagging injuries. Cruz could very easily fall off a cliff for Fantasy purposes. Let's wait to see where he signs but overall, I agree with this fall.
MIA Miami • #73 • Age: 22
Sixto Sanchez made seven starts in 2020 and, for the most part, was really good. The highlight of his season came when he struck out 10 Rays back on August 28. It's what happened after that, which has my attention. Over Sanchez's final five starts he managed just a 6.3 K/9. He's fun to watch, has prospect pedigree, throws strikes, and induces a ton of ground balls but between his lack of strikeouts and workload concerns, 132.7 is a more realistic price tag for him.
SEA Seattle • #7 • Age: 28
Since the start of 2019, Marco Gonzales has 23 wins, tied for third most among starting pitchers with Shane Bieber. How? Gonzales consistently goes deep into his starts. He went 5+ innings in 10 of 11 starts in 2020 and 6+ in seven of 11. He's able to go deep into starts because he pitches so efficiently. In the 69.2 innings he pitched in 2020, he walked just seven. That was best among qualified starting pitchers last season. He may be dropping in NFBC drafts because people are shooting for upside but in a season where we have workload concerns, Gonzales is pretty safe.
HOU Houston • #53 • Age: 23
On the surface, Cristian Javier had a great 2020 backed up by his 3.48 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. Everything else was completely out of whack. His 8.7% swinging strike rate and 26.3% O-Swing were way below league average. There's regression coming on his .194 BABIP and his 86.2% strand rate. Plus, he allows fly balls 52% of the time. Javier may have lucked his way through the shortened season but a deeper dive tells us a different story.
Kyle Lewis CF
SEA Seattle • #1 • Age: 25
Kyle Lewis' September swoon has everybody reeling. Over his final 22 games, Lewis hit just .147 with a 37% strikeout rate. It wasn't all bad, however. During that same time, he walked 14% of the time, made harder contact, and suffered from bad BABIP luck. I think Lewis falling is a correction from his early ADP but if he falls further, I'd be willing to invest.
Nick Senzel CF
CIN Cincinnati • #15 • Age: 25
Nick Senzel's fall can likely be attributed to the National League DH. As things currently stand, Senzel finds himself on the outside looking in. Even with that, the Reds are shopping multiple infielders, according to reports. That could open up playing time for Senzel as well. Personally, I'm not giving up. Across 127 career games, Senzel is batting .245 with 14 home runs and 16 steals. If he can ever stay on the field for 130 or even 140 games, we could see a 20-20 season. Buy the dip.
Gavin Lux 2B
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #9 • Age: 23
We don't usually see a bunch of players from the defending World Series champions falling in ADP but when you're stacked like the Dodgers are, I guess it makes sense. Even with Enrique Hernandez a free agent, the Dodgers have Chris Taylor penciled in as their starting second baseman. Lux is loaded with talent but through his first 42 career games, he's batting .210 with a .655 OPS. There's still a lot of talent here but it might take an injury for Lux to earn everyday playing time.
CLE Cleveland • #26 • Age: 23
There likely hasn't been enough time since the Francisco Lindor/Carlos Carrasco trade but Triston McKenzie is firmly entrenched in Cleveland's rotation. No doubt there are durability concerns for McKenzie but he was awesome in his debut. Across 33.1 IP, McKenzie had a 3.24 ERA, 0.90 WHIP with 42 strikeouts to just nine walks. He likely won't deliver more than 120 or 130 innings in 2021 but those could be really strong innings. I would be looking to load my bench up with a bunch of pitchers just like McKenzie this season.