I kicked around several ideas for my first article at DLF. Do I try to come out with guns blazing, trying to solve everyone’s dynasty issues in one single article or, maybe, I should start off with barely a whisper and build up over time? So many ways went through my head as to how I wanted to introduce myself to the DLF community as the newest staff writer.
Ultimately, I decided on just writing the best articles I can about subjects I find interesting and letting the pieces fall where they may. Below is my first foray into what I hope will be a long career here at DLF. I hope everyone out there enjoys it and I look forward to interacting with as many of you as I possibly can. Now then, with all the sappy stuff out of the way, let’s get down to business!
In the coming weeks, a vast majority of existing dynasty leagues will begin holding their yearly rookie drafts. It’s a time in every league when owners look towards the future for success and break with past failures. Maybe it’s the fact these drafts tend to fall during springtime, when flowers are blooming and baby animals are being born that cause people to feel all warm and fuzzy for a rebirth for their team.
Snap out of it, it doesn’t happen!
What actually happens is very little in terms of shifting the balance of power within most leagues and most savvy owners out there know that already. Outside of the first round of these drafts, very little actually happens to change a team. Traditionally, by the end of the first round of a fantasy draft you’re looking at roughly the middle of the second round of the NFL Draft in terms of offensive talent. That’s not to say there aren’t gems to be found after the first round, but the drop off is undeniable.
As my subject, I’ll be using a dynasty league I’m a part of. The league is fairly standard with no real anomalies in the scoring that would make it anything other than a run of the mill league. The owners are all fairly knowledgeable and the league is well run. All in all it’s a very vanilla league and likely not much different than any league you, the reader, may be a part of. This league is a good barometer to illustrate my case because it’s been running over two years; it has owners familiar with the scoring system and has many of the kinks worked out of it.
In this league, the owners had a fairly successful first round where the average player drafted scored 151.8 points when removing Mikel Leshoure and Ryan Williams from the group due to preseason injuries. The 151.8 points scored would place the average player drafted in the first round at the rank of 120th overall – right between Jermaine Gresham and Early Doucet. The same group had a median score of 146.15, or 127th overall, placing them between DeMarco Murray and Greg Little, fittingly two players drafted in the first round. If we include the injured Leshoure and Williams into the equation as simply part of doing business, the average drops down to 128.45 or a rank of 154th overall, squarely in between Santana Moss and Sam Bradford. The two players brought the median down to 176th or 114.70 points, roughly between James Starks and Mario Manningham – not exactly blockbuster numbers in any scenario and far from the immediate game changers some may expect.
The scenario doesn’t get any prettier as the draft goes on with the average second round through fourth round pick yielding players which rank 311th, 287th and 387th, respectively.
I hear many of you now saying, “Whoa, whoa Ghost, you’re looking at it totally wrong. The draft isn’t meant to deliver immediate success. It’s meant to help build your team over time.” Sure, that’s the theory, but let’s see if that theory holds any water. Many teams have a fire sale after a bad year and attempt to “rebuild through the draft.” It’s a common strategy in professional sports, but how about in fantasy sports? In this same league, let’s look at how the players selected two and three years ago fared this season.
The draft class from two years ago posted an average this year of 123.30 or 162nd overall this year. That score places the average player selected in the first round last year between Jake Ballard and Davone Bess. The median score of 112.70 ranks 179th overall, exactly the same score as Jahvid Best, a player who missed ten games last year! Coincidentally, Best was selected fourth overall that year.
Going even further back, the third year class posted an average of 176.30 or 91st overall, right between Nate Burleson and Dustin Keller. The median of this group was 185.5 or 79th overall, again coincidentally, the exact score that Darrius Heyward-Bey posted this year as the 11th pick overall in that draft three years ago.
As you can see, the value of first round picks isn’t very high when considered against the players those picks produce. The average player recently selected in the first round rarely cracks the top 100 overall at any point in three years of production. Granted, there are amazing players to be had every year and the value of a first round pick is specific to the owner who possesses it. However, from an objective view, the value is much, much lower than that of which many dynasty owners place upon the average first rounder.
Anecdotally, I’ve heard accounts of some dynasty owners turning down trades which offered them a player who finished in the top ten the previous year. I’ve routinely seen with my own eyes many owners turn down trades offering a player who finished in the top 50 the prior year. When I see these offers, and the rejections that accompany them, I simply have to shake my head. Given the opportunity to get a top 50 player in many of my leagues, I’d gladly trade my entire draft class and be thrilled about it.
The perfect analogy to these picks is the purchase of a new car. When on the car lot and awaiting purchase, the value of all the cars is high. However, the second you make your selection and take ownership of that car, the re-sale value drops as the miles tick on. Sure, some cars actually get more valuable as time goes on, but a vast majority of all vehicles never regain the value at which they were purchased at.
The point here is clear and simple – if you are captivated by a player you are absolutely sure will make a big splash in the NFL and you are certain you can get him, then by all means, hold on to your pick and walk away happy. However, before selecting that player, do your research, double check that research and then perform even more research! Before you pull the trigger on your first round pick be absolutely, positively sure about that player. Be sure to weigh the potential value of that player against any and all offers you are presented with. If you spot even the smallest of flaws that could present a problem for your chosen player, do your team a favor and get the most for the pick as you possibly can. You’ll thank yourself, and hopefully me, when you ride your new stud, or studs, into the playoffs and repeat the process year in and year out with the last pick in the first round.
For all you dense people out there, that means you’re the champion of your league. You’re welcome!
TheFFGhost can be found on Twitter at @TheFFGhost.