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Tip Drill: The folly of the early-round reach

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Shipping Down to Philly (US Presswire)

We'll start off today's fireside chat with a look back at Pretty Woman. No back talk and snippy comments; it was one of my mom's favorites.

In the film, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere strike a deal where Roberts, a call girl, will spend the week with Gere for $3,000. Righteous bucks.

"I would have stayed for two," Julia later admits, sassily.

"I would have paid four," Gere counters.

Takeaway? It pays to know your market. I know ADP is a dirty word in some circles, but on some level you have to be aware of it.

Consider the LABR Mixed League draft that went down a week and a half ago. Clay Davenport came out with a controversial pick in the fourth round, snagging Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon. That's 4.02 on the spreadsheet, the 47th overall pick, the first reliever taken. The selection was quickly questioned in the onlooking Twitterverse (ah, the Internet).

Misguided pick? Average Draft Position sure thinks so — and the marketplace as a whole agrees.

Papelbon's current ADP is 101.48 on Mock Draft Central. He's not even the top closer on the board — he's the fifth name on the list, after Craig Kimbrel, Drew Storen, John Axford and Mariano Rivera. Papelbon's pricier in the Yahoo! draft world, checking in at 67.6.

Okay, but Davenport isn't drafting against the public at large — he's up against industry folks. How does the industry price Papelbon?

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Let's go over to Fantasy Pros for the answer to that. Thirty-five professional pundits have their ranks listed on site, with most of the industry leaders represented (all of your favorite Yahooligans are there). Papelbon's highest overall ranking is 64 (no one else puts him in the Top 70), and his average rank is 90.

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Road Hog

Maybe you don't want to do ADP research before the draft, and maybe you don't want to scout out the opinions of your opponents. That's fine if you prefer to play it that way; sometimes Mr. Magoo wins, too. But if nothing else, take note of the player ordering in the draft room. If the player you want is one of the top names on the default ranks, you might have to act quickly. If he's buried under 10 feet of snow, you can almost certainly wait.

In the case of Papelbon, he's 99th on the current Mock Draft Central default ranks (the LABR mixer was held at MDC), the standard list you'll be working off if you don't import your own sheet. This is another reason why Papelbon shouldn't have seen the podium in the fourth round of an industry draft; his name wasn't flashing in front of the room.

I never bother to input my own rankings into any draft software because I want the default list available to me (most people won't bother to input their own sheet; it's too much work). I want to know what names are showing to my opponents. Sure, I also want to know where the buried treasure is — I'll do plenty of pre-draft auditing, and sometimes I maintain a separate list while the exercise is going on. I know how to toggle around when needed, and I'll be constantly be adding to the queue as well, formulating my own external (and internal) plan. But knowledge of the standard sheet, or the ADP order if you prefer, has a distinct value.

Bottom line, if you don't have a clue on the pricing flow of the room, you've not going to make smart picks. Never mind the scouts; it's the economists you have to worry about. There's no need to pay 3K when you don't have to. And there's no reason to tap into a tier that everyone is likely to ignore it for a while. (As for the other top closers, here's how they went in the LABR mixer: Kimbrel 63, Axford 95, Rivera 106 and Storen 110. Know thy enemy, gamers.)

Two more takeaways before we wrap up class for the day:

• As the draft gets later and later, the price of reaching gets less and less — and in the late rounds it basically goes away completely. If you are antsy for your 17th-round sleeper in the 14th or 15th round, knock yourself out. You're not flushing much value. But major reach picks in the early rounds are far more costly; you're throwing resources down the drain.

• If you can't help yourself from reaching in the early rounds, at least go for a player who can make a strong impact in four or five areas. I would never reach on a closer in the early rounds, no matter his track record, team setup or recent history. They don't carry a strong influence over enough categories.

Okay gamers, I've had my say. Show me your soul.

(PS: Clay Davenport is a Meteorologist and by all accounts, a very smart man. I took one Weather and Climate course in college and wound up dropping it. Draw your own conclusions.)

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