Drafting Rookies 101

Now that the Super Bowl is over and the NFL Combine is scheduled to start February 26th, it’s time for the NFL to start there annual “Hype up Rookies” campaign. Don’t buy into it! Of course, there are diamonds out there in the 4th and 5th rounds, there always is, but it is rare at best. There are so many people out there that think they know better than everybody else. “Buy my cheat sheet”, or better yet “I’ve been doing this for 10 years, buy mine”. Truth be told unless you are willing to do the grunt work and study film (usually available on YouTube.com) you are just taking someone else’s word for it.

Let me start off by introducing myself, I’m Phil Anderson, I’ve been in my Dynasty League for about five years now. I was able to pull out a championship my 2nd year in, but believe me when I say there was whole lotta luck involved in that win. It has taken me that same amount of time to really have a true understanding of how to build a Dynasty Team and to optimize every draft pick. Your draft picks are so much more valuable the most Dynasty Owners give them credit for. One guy in my league goes as far as referring to his draft picks as “lottery tickets”. However, if you really use your time wisely to evaluate these players with your own eyes, you can find studs in every round of your rookie draft and that is what I want to help you out with here today, maximizing each one of your Rookie Picks.

I have a philosophy when it comes to drafting rookies. If I do not feel that I will be able to plug and play a rookie week one, I will not draft him in round one, it’s that simple. My first round picks are reserved for immediate impact players. With the number 3 overall pick last year, I chose Sony Michel. He’s the 18th ranked RB for the year according to profootballfocus.com. I almost selected Nick Chubb, who is ranked number 1 in pro football focus’s grading system, but I knew I couldn’t use him for the start of the season, and let’s be honest that horrible knee injury worried me. I want to plug and play players in the first round. I would suggest taking a Strong Safety or a Linebacker (as long as he’s not an edge rusher), and obviously Running Backs. I have three 1st round picks this year (rebuild mode) and I guarantee you one of them will be Devin White from LSU. I know he’ll start day one, he will be an immediate impact player. Let all the hyped up wide receivers go to other fantasy teams. The hit rate on WR’s is so low that I just can’t do it anymore. A year I went away from my own strategy was 2015. I had the 6th overall pick and I drafted Kevin White with it. Fast forward to today and his career has been plagued with injuries so much so that no one knew if he would even make a roster last year. Let’s look at John (4.22) Ross in Cincinnati. Ross was drafted two years ago in the first round. Last year he had 58 targets with a reception total of a whopping 21 to go with a drop rate of 25%, that’s borderline not make the team numbers. Take players in the first that can make an impact on your team right away.

The second round is when other teams are taking their defensive players, but if you’re smart you have already taken the best one off the board. Take a wide receiver at this point, trust me there’s still plenty of meat on the plate if you’ve done your homework, or if there’s another RB with some potential, take him. Then let the next few rounds be for Tight-ends, Wide Receivers and whatever else is sitting on your board. Last year, I took Dion Cain in the 5th round. Yeah, he tore his ACL, but the potential is there for him to succeed. I’m a lot happier with myself if a player I took in the 5th round ends up working out then if a player I took in the 1st is a Bust.

When playing in an IDP Dynasty League I’ve seen two different methods. One, trade your picks for proven NFL talent, or two, build your team through the draft. I think the best method to build a contending team is to build through the draft. That is how you will be able to build a true Dynasty Team. However, if I am going trade for players, it is going to be for proven players. I’m not into swinging and missing. Even if your team is stacked on Linebackers and Running Backs take that position in the 1st because of the trade value they possess. If you deem it necessary, you can trade them for proven NFL talent to help fill the final gaps in a championship roster.

So I say keep your first round picks for players that you know will kill it from day one, and cut down on the potential bust factor. Use the next few rounds to pick up potential studs in any department you deem necessary.  If you are going to trade, trade for proven Wide Receivers…. Your roster will thank you for it.

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