Every once in a while, I see, hear or read about an idea in the world of dynasty fantasy football that really makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it first. This happened a few years ago when Bryan Fontaine of ProFootballFocus began putting together full dynasty mock drafts for the purpose of gathering average draft position data. For years prior, I had tracked ADP by following as many dynasty startup drafts as I could find, yet I hadn’t thought of putting together a group of dynasty players for the purpose of a mock draft.
I recently had a feeling of déjà vu. As you may know if you follow me on Twitter or read much of my writings, I have become enamored with “devy” dynasty leagues, those leagues allowing owners to draft and roster players while they are still in college and then transfer them over to the active roster once they hit the NFL. These leagues have added a new element to the dynasty experience for me. So, when my friend Scott Fish, who owns and runs FF Oasis mentioned starting some devy mocks, I couldn’t have been more interested in participating and I especially was looking forward to the draft data that would come from these mocks. More than anything, I had that “why didn’t I think of this?” feeling. I shouldn’t be surprised though, since Scott was basically the inventor of developmental leagues many, many years ago.
Anyway, over the past month, Scott put together four devy mocks and was kind enough to let me write about some of the findings. One of the things that most impressed me about these mocks was the sheer number of knowledgeable participants. Sometimes, the devy community feels like a rather small group, but it is clear that this format is growing and becoming one of the more popular league features in dynasty leagues
Let’s dig into some of the ADP data and find what we can learn from it.
This is what the first round of a devy draft might look like, if all players are available. Of course, that is not usually the case. Either some of these players will already be on a roster, or your league may have limits allowing only players who are draft eligible to be selected and rostered as a devy player. Either way, your devy draft will likely not be this top heavy. Here are some things I noticed as I studied this data.
- Half of the players chosen in this first round are either just concluding either their freshman season or, in the case of running back Leonard Fournette, are still in high school. The other youngsters joining Fournette are Jameis Winston, Derrick Henry, Laquon Treadwell, Thomas Tyner and Corey Clement. Of that group, only Winston will be eligible for the 2015 NFL draft, meaning owners selecting these players early in their drafts are looking at a minimum wait for two years before they can add that player to their active NFL roster.
- This infusion of youth also shows the level of infatuation that devy owners have with youth, and I’m as guilty as anyone. I mentioned it in a recent newsletter, but it seems like more and more owners are paying close attention to college recruiting and following those top players through their college years, even if they may not end up starring for their teams. Owners have a higher awareness level than ever before and that is just a way to challenge the other owners in the league to step up their activity level.
- This shouldn’t be a surprise, but one-fourth of the first round hails from the University of Alabama. Sophomores TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper were both top picks in devy drafts a year ago, so it’s no surprise to see them both maintaining that value. It may surprise some though to see true freshman back Derrick Henry as the third member of the Crimson Tide. Henry finished the season on a tear, with an especially strong performance in the team’s bowl game. With Yeldon, Henry, soon to be junior Kenyan Drake and incoming freshman Bo Scarbrough, head coach Nick Saban has a good problem on his hands, finding a way to get all four of these stud backs touches in the Tide offense.
- I know many of you may not have the time to devote each Saturday to become a devy league scout, and that’s understandable. Might I suggest focusing on the games in the Southeastern Conference? Eight of the top twelve players call that conference home. Along with the aforementioned Alabama trio, we also have Todd Gurley, Dorial Green-Beckham, Fournette, Treadwell and Mike Davis.
- Speaking of Green-Beckham, it was his finish among these players that surprised me the most. Yes, I am a huge believer in him as a player, but this series of mock drafts began soon after his drug arrest, which was his second drug related offense in his time with Missouri. We’ve seen off the field issues greatly hinder the dynasty value of many young players the past few years and for owners to tab Green-Beckham as the third most valuable devy player, and the top receiver overall, was a major surprise.
- It’s not often you see a quarterback valued highly among devy players. After all, most leagues allow owners to choose from all college players and most can easily find a running back or wide receiver they believe in rather than spending an early pick on a quarterback in a start one league, but here we see Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston being selected fifth overall, on average. After the three running backs who are often viewed as “sure things” and are all draft eligible in 2015, we have Winston coming off the board. I can only assume that his upside as a prospect, along with being available a year or more earlier than some of the players being drafted immediately after him made Winston feel like somewhat of a safe draft pick.
Check back next week when I explore the second round and more of the devy ADP.
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