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Mining ADP Data for Late-Round RB Gold

With the NFL 2015 preseason in full swing and the regular season fast approaching, fantasy football draft season is finally upon us. After months of mock drafts and tweaking rankings it’s finally time for the real thing.

This time of year always sends me down memory lane a bit as I reflect on the number of times I have sat down to draft a fantasy football team. For the sake of full disclosure I once had a team with both Barry Sanders and Dan Marino on it.

Yes, I am old.

While we didn’t have to write our teams down on cave walls we did have to wait for the Tuesday edition of the USA Today to come out for our commissioner to ‘officially’ add up the points scored.

Yes, that is the way it used to be and my how things have evolved and improved.

Now I am privileged to be able to contribute to the print edition of the USA Today Fantasy Football Magazine. Talk about things coming full circle.

Having participated in many, many (the old thing again) fantasy drafts I have tried every conceivable draft strategy with varying degrees of success.

The proliferation of information at owners’ fingertips now is a bit mind blowing to those of us that once relied on newspapers and magazines for our draft prep. It’s certainly a brave new world and easily allows us to analyze the NFL and fantasy football like never before.

That got me to thinking about draft strategies and if there were any ideas that I hadn’t tried after all these years and what could they possibly be. Using Average Draft Positions (ADP) immediately came to mind. This was a tool that was unavailable until that ‘innerweb’ took off and something that has really blown up since its inception.

This brings to mind a quote from the classic 1986 film ‘Heartbreak Ridge’ when Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway (expertly played by Mr. Clint Eastwood) told his platoon, “You’re Marines now. You adapt. You overcome. You improvise.”

Having a tool that allows fantasy owners to see just where certain players are tending to be drafted on a regular basis is definitely a valuable asset in assembling a draft strategy. It’s vital to be able to analyze how a draft is unfolding and then being able to take advantage is who is left on the board at positions of value. One position that particularly intrigues me is the running backs.

The NFL has indeed become a pass-happy entity with the proliferation of rules to protect the quarterback and allow wide receivers more room to operate. Sure it’s exciting and fun to watch for a lot of folks, but this shift has also redefined the usage of running backs as well as their fantasy relevance.

‘Go running back early’ was once as common a phrase as “Wazzzup!” but has gone the way of the Budweiser frogs. Hey, a mixed metaphor can really jump start an article…I read that in Cosmo

Just like Bruce Jenner, the days of riding stud running backs drafted in the first three rounds to fantasy victory are long gone. So as fantasy draft day fast approaches, I decided to take a look at just what sort of patterns I could find when analyzing ADP that could possibly help fantasy owners (myself included) navigate the murky waters of the running back position for 2015.

More importantly, I went into this piece looking for late-round values at running back as it’s there I believe that fantasy leagues can be won or lost. Snagging that running back late that ends up outperforming his draft position by a wide margin can exponentially help a fantasy squad take home that championship.

About Wally Spurlin

Wally Spurlin is a Fantasy Football Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writer Association (FSWA). Spurlin’s work has appeared in print publications, including the FSWA award winning 2014 USA Today Fantasy Football magazine as well as the 2015 edition. Wally is also a weekly co-host on the Fantasy Football Feeding Frenzy pod cast on Fantasy Sharks Radio at Blog Talk Radio.Follow him on Twitter @WaltonSpurlin