ADP Draft Values: ESPN

A look at where players are going in the average ESPN draft

A few years back, ESPN changed their default league settings to points leagues instead of categories/rotisserie. Their scoring system is fairly basic and is designed to attract more casual fans. Last year, they adjusted their default settings even further by trimming roster spots and altering their scoring structure again — again, to make things simple. Here’s how their points settings are configured for 2024:


Hitter Categories Point Value Pitcher Categories Point Value
Runs 1 Pitcher outs 1
Total Bases 1 Hits allowed -1
RBI 1 Earned Runs -2
Walks 1 Walks Issued -1
Strikeouts -1 Wins 2
Steals 1 Losses -2
Saves 2
Holds 2

To understand ESPN’s ADP, you need to know a few things about how this points system shakes out.

  1. High strikeout rates will kill your hitters – Have a dynamic player like Elly De La Cruz? If he strikes out 175 times in a season, that will be -175 points that your player has to dig out of to be useful.
  2. Power over speed – Steals are worth a single point, whereas a solo home run is worth 6 (4 total bases + 1 Run + 1 RBI). Which should you prioritize?
  3. A walk is as good as a singleMax Muncy might hit .200 this season, but he also might get 100 walks. That works out just fine here.
  4. A good start will help you, but a bad start will destroy you – say your SP gets rocked and leaves the game with this line: 3 IP, 5 ER, 10 H, 2 BB (and gets the L). You just got -15 points!
  5. Closers are essentially worthlessDevin Williams had a brilliant season with a 1.53 ERA, 36 Saves, and 87 K’s in 58.2 IP. He was outscored in points by Bryan Abreu and Taijuan Walker.

Of course, ESPN still supports Rotisserie and H2H Category leagues. Fortunately, they have a separate set of rankings for those. But they report a single ADP across all their league types, which are heavily skewed toward points league drafts. And since ADP is going to be a byproduct of the points league rankings, you have to understand these biases to know where to strike and where to steer clear, depending on the league you’re in.

So let’s dive in and see where you can take advantage.


Where ESPN ADP is Lower than the Consensus

Here are a few players where the Worldwide Leader is a wee bit different from the rest of the industry. If you’re playing with their basic points system, a lot of them make sense. But if you’re not, you should put these guys in your queue and take them when the time is right.


Hitters inside the top 100

Player ESPN ADP Consensus ADP Difference
Julio Rodríguez 20 2.6 17.4
Bobby Witt Jr 14 4.2 9.8
Austin Riley 33 18.6 14.4
Elly De La Cruz 75 28.0 47
Luis Robert Jr. 71 32.0 39
Adolis García 81 39.4 41.6
Royce Lewis 100 55.2 44.8
CJ Abrams 136 47.8 88.2
Jazz Chisholm Jr. 159 66.2 92.8
Oneil Cruz 170 67.0 103
Josh Lowe 164 77.6 86.4

(Note: ADPs are taken from FantasyPros consensus list as of March 12, 2024)

As you’ll notice, most of these players fit into similar profiles: they steal bases and strike out. But Austin Riley, Adolis García, and Luis Robert Jr. are also harshly discounted, so they should be on your radar. And if you believe Royce Lewis can stay healthy and Oneil Cruz can sustain his lower K-rate, they deserve far better than what ESPN is giving them.


Pitchers inside the top 100

Player ESPN ADP Consensus ADP Difference
Devin Williams 57 50.6 6.4
Josh Hader 60 53.4 6.6
Jhoan Duran 78 71.0 7
Bobby Miller 94 78.0 16
Cole Ragans 104 98.8 5.2
David Bednar 103 90.6 12.4

This list largely makes sense as it’s mostly relievers. Again, if you’re in the ESPN default points league, you should ignore closers altogether. A decent holds guy with 80-100 innings and good ratios will be more valuable than your best closer, and they’ll be free in drafts.

What’s most important here is what you don’t see: every single top 20 Starting Pitcher has a higher ADP on ESPN than the consensus. Only Bobby Miller and Cole Ragans have a lower one among all SPs within the top 100 overall players taken.

The reason for this is simple — ESPN’s scoring system is so volatile (and so punishing to bad outcomes) that great pitchers are REALLY great. But more on this in a bit.

Looking beyond the top 100, ESPN’s default settings have shallower rosters than most — 9 hitters, 5 pitchers, and 3 bench slots. So that’s 17 total, and if you’re in a 12-team league that’s 204 players in the draft. If you expand the rosters and/or have additional teams, here are some players of note.

Hitters outside the top 100

Player ESPN ADP Consensus ADP Difference
Spencer Torkelson 140 103 37
Josh Jung 194 111 83
Jordan Walker 192 115 77
Esteury Ruiz 196 124 72
Zack Gelof 201 140 61
Christian Encarnacion-Strand 207 141 66
Riley Greene 202 149 53
Jarren Duran 210 179 31
Christopher Morel 236 187 49
Kerry Carpenter 269 200 69

The pattern continues here, as most of these players either have K-rates at or above 30%, are speed guys, or both. Of these, Jordan Walker and Riley Greene stand out the most as a bargain, whether you’re playing the ESPN default rules or not.

As for pitchers worth noting, we’ll ignore closers and just look at SPs this time. Most of ESPN’s starter ADPs are still above consensus — some WAY above, as you’ll see in the next section — but there are several that are well below:

Pitchers outside the top 100

Player ESPN ADP Consensus ADP Difference
Justin Verlander 171 127 44
Gavin Williams 215 165 50
Bryan Woo 231 191 40
Shota Imanaga 220 200 20
Brandon Pfaadt 258 205 53
Shane Baz 332 222 110
Christopher Sanchez 336 242 94
Taj Bradley 324 249 75
Michael Wacha 333 272 66

There’s a less discernible pattern here, other than ESPN appears to greatly discount hurt players (Verlander, Williams, Baz, and Bradley have all had recent injury news). Most others on this list are young and unproven with the potential for blow-up starts, so drafters are staying away.

Still, a few of these are curious — Michael Wacha can produce exceptional ratios, along with Christopher Sanchez. Justin Verlander has always carried a low WHIP as well, even if past his prime and expected to start on the IL. I would be buying these discounted players way more than not.


Where ESPN ADP is Higher than the Consensus

We now have a pretty thorough understanding of what ESPN’s point rankings — and subsequent ADPs — don’t like. But let’s look further into what they favor — in some cases with their twisted scoring they’re not favoring them enough.


Hitters inside the top 100

Player ESPN ADP Consensus ADP Difference
Juan Soto 3 8.4 5.4
José Ramírez 9 15.2 6.2
Adley Rutschman 25 44.0 19
Manny Machado 45 52.6 7.6
Paul Goldschmidt 52 56.8 4.8
Alex Bregman 42 71.8 29.8
Nolan Arenado 62 82.2 20.2
William Contreras 65 83.2 18.2

As with pitchers ranked lower than the consensus, there aren’t too many hitters ranked higher, at least not in the top 100. Of the names listed, there is a slight lean towards reliable veterans getting higher bidding than trendy breakout players and new faces. Remember, ESPN caters to a wider fanbase than say FanTrax or Underdog, so you will get more casual players who pick more recognized names.

On the pitching side, there are some big jumps — as I mentioned, every single top-20 starter is higher than consensus, many by a round or 2. Here are the ones that stand out:


Pitchers inside the top 100

Player ESPN ADP Consensus ADP Difference
Zack Wheeler 15 27.6 12.6
Kevin Gausman 18 31.0 13
Luis Castillo 17 34.6 17.6
Logan Webb 30 50.2 20.2
Framber Valdez 34 55.4 21.4
Freddy Peralta 43 57.4 14.4
Logan Gilbert 49 68.0 19
Jesús Luzardo 55 82.2 27.2

There are two statistics to look at when drafting a pitcher in an ESPN points league: Innings Pitched and WHIP. Almost nothing else matters. Though strikeouts are nice, they often come at the expense of walks, so keep an eye more on the K/BB ratio (or K% — BB%, whichever you prefer) rather than just the strikeouts by themselves.

A bit surprisingly, there are 2 names not on this list that should be WHIP specialists: Tarik Skubal and Max Fried. Both can be league winners given that they won’t come at much of a discount, even if they should. Apparently, ESPN drafters are a little spooked by their injury histories, a reason Tyler Glasnow stays around the consensus.

If we go deeper down the draft board, you’ll see another pattern emerge on the hitting side.


Hitters outside the top 100

Player ESPN ADP Consensus ADP Difference
Ketel Marte 50 105 55
Yandy Díaz 58 118 60
Marcell Ozuna 107 138 31
Luis Arraez 56 142 86
Ian Happ 116 156 40
Masataka Yoshida 109 167 58
Brandon Nimmo 90 183 93
Steven Kwan 75 195 120
Keibert Ruiz 111 209 98
JP Crawford 145 255 100

Just with pitching, points leagues love volume, which is why you see a lot of leadoff hitters here. But notice it’s a certain type of leadoff hitter — if you’re batting at the top of the order and slapping singles around without striking out, you will find your way into an ESPN draft. It’s these high-average (or high-OBP) hitters who have great bat control and decision-making skills that are highly rewarded with spiking ADPs.


Pitchers outside the top 100

Player ESPN ADP Consensus ADP Difference
Chris Bassitt 83 122 39
Merrill Kelly 82 134 52
Mitch Keller 101 150 49
Bailey Ober 124 155 31
Cristian Javier 125 165 40
Nick Pivetta 133 185 52
Reid Detmers 169 225 56
Marcus Stroman 198 255 57

For the most part, the trend here is ’safety’. As mentioned in the intro, a bad outing for a pitcher can net you a negative outcome, sometimes in the -15 to -25 range. If your entire team is scoring 300 points a week on average IN TOTAL, that would be devastating. So the bias is clearly on the side of command specialists who don’t walk a lot of people. And truthfully, ESPN’s ADP doesn’t bias these players enough — so lean into players like Bailey Ober and Merrill Kelly, even if they come at a premium.

Scott McDermott

Scott lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, two daughters, and a couple of furballs. When he’s not dissecting box scores and pondering over the optimal starting lineup for the Cincinnati Reds, he covers fantasy baseball for Pitcher List. He’s also the author of the award-winning book series 'Election 2064', available on Amazon.

2 responses to “ADP Draft Values: ESPN”

  1. Matthew says:

    Great article for us in ESPN points leagues, thanks for the write-up!

  2. Scott Van Bourgondien says:

    Loved your “point” about ESPN’s catering to the casual fan by promoting name value over talent in many cases. Great article.

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