How to draft in ESPN leagues using FTN fantasy football rankings


One of the challenges of fantasy football today is that information is everywhere and even your average league mate probably isn’t that bad on draft day. 

But this is where you can use a hack to gain an advantage. If many of your leaguemates are going to use the generic built-in ADP data to form their draft list, you can compare that ADP data to rankings from top-tier fantasy pros, such as FTN’s Jeff Ratcliffe and Matthew Freedman.

That’s exactly what we’ve done. This article will compare ADP from ESPN fantasy football leagues to the FTN Fantasy PPR rankings to help you find the players the community is either over drafting or under drafting to help you sail through your draft. While the generic site ADP data is a decent guide, it’s still created from the general public and is not as efficient as top-tier rankers.

Here are 8 players to draft and 8 players to avoid (at cost) in the first 10 rounds of ESPN fantasy football leagues in 2021.

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8 players to draft in ESPN fantasy football 2021 based on ADP

These players are falling lower in ESPN fantasy football draft than they should.

  • Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team (ADP 18, rank 14). Gibson is going toward the middle to end of the second round based on ADP, but our rankers say he’s a fine pick at the 1-2 turn or early in the second round. Gibson has the profile of a top-five fantasy RB.
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP 27, rank 19). Edwards-Helaire represents the final “bell cow” RB coming off fantasy draft boards in 2021. He was a disappointment last season, but the role is still there in 2021. Our rankers have him ranked accordingly, but the community if a bit “off” him due to recency bias.
  • Trey Sermon, RB, San Francisco 49ers (ADP 125, rank 70). Sermon is not currently the lead back in San Francisco, but he’s an ideal “Zero-RB” draft candidate “behind” the oft-injured Raheem Mostert. And he’s not as behind Mostert as the general public thinks: Sermon has played full series with the starters this preseason.
  • D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers (ADP 55, rank 31). Moore has back-to-back seasons with over 1,150 yards, just ostensibly upgraded at the QB position, and is on an overall ascending offense. He’s going far too low in ESPN leagues and is a steal at his current ADP.
  • Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP 75, rank 59). The general public isn’t sure what to make of Pittsburgh’s crowded passing room. Claypool’s ADP has fallen a round behind where he should be properly valued as a result. He scored 9 TDs in a part-time role last season that is going to grow in 2021.
  • Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP 73, rank 52). The preseason woes of Chase — a top-five pick in the 2021 draft — have been well documented. Our rankers say to bank on the talent and the opportunity more than camp drops.
  • Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets (ADP 100, rank 89). Davis has been a riser this preseason, emerging as the clear-cut favorite of rookie QB Zach Wilson and being a target dominator in Jets preseason games. Davis is firmly in the WR3/flex tier now, but his ADP has yet to catch up.
  • Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams (ADP 130, rank 118). According to our rankers, Higbee is going about one rounds too late in ESPN fantasy football drafts. If you wait to draft at the TE position, Higbee, who no longer has to contend with Gerald Everett for snaps, is target likely to slip late into the draft.

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8 players to avoid in ESPN fantasy football 2021 based on ADP

These players are being drafted too high in ESPN fantasy football leagues. They aren’t bad players, but they are reaches at their current ADP.

  • Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP 19, rank 40). Virtually every QB is being drafted far too early, when compared to our rankings, but we’re specifically calling out Mahomes, who is being drafted 20 spots ahead of his ranking — and he already has a top-40 ranking to begin with!
  • Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP 88, rank 104). You won’t find a bigger 2021 Fournette stan than yours truly, but he’s going two rounds too early in typical ESPN drafts. He’s a great zero-RB target, but not at that price.
  • Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals (ADP 59, rank 71). I’m on board with Edmonds as a seventh-round pick — very on board — but pulling the trigger on him in the late fifth (his current ADP) is unthinkable.
  • Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP 34, rank 43). Sanders is going a full round (plus some) too early based on our ranks. Sanders will have to contend with Jalen Hurts for rushing market share and looks set to lose passing down work to Kenneth Gainwell.
  • Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings (ADP 41, rank 49). Thielen is a big name on the likely downside of his career, but the general public is still drafting him like a top fantasy option with a mid-fourth ADP, but our rankers view him as more of a fifth-round pick. Thielen was abundantly reliant on TDs last season, with a 19% TD rate.
  • Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (ADP 81, rank 90). Thomas has huge upside, but we also have no idea when he’s going to see the field in 2021. The ADP and rank are off by a full round, showing that our rankers are more on the cautious side, while the general public is a bit more optimistic.
  • Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers (ADP 85, rank 114). Tonyan’s big 11-TD season is drawing people in, pushing his ADP nearly 30 spots (2.5 rounds) ahead of his FTN rank. Tonyan is a 2021 breakout TE candidate, but you shouldn’t have to pay up this much to get him.
  • Logan Thomas, WR, Washington Football Team (ADP 66, rank 98). Thomas is an excellent value at 83 overall, which is where he’s ranked. He’s a big reach at No. 66 overall, his current ADP. We like Thomas’ potential this year, but not if you have to pull the trigger 1.5 rounds early.
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