Rookies around the NFL are reporting to their first training camp, which will thrust them back into the limelight they experience in February thanks to the NFL Combine and again in the late April NFL Draft. As dynasty players, we can gain information and learn about those players during those early off-season events, but when the pads come on, we truly get a sense of these individuals as players.
It seems that dynasty players spend most of every off-season analyzing and evaluating these incoming players, hoping to make the best move for their respective dynasty rosters. Recently, as I thought about some specific rookies and their situation, I wondered how the NFL Draft and actually learning which teams these rookies will be suiting up for can alter their short-term dynasty value. We all know rookie fever runs rampant in the off-season, but how much does what’s viewed as a good or bad landing spot affect player value, based on dynasty startup ADP? That is what I sought to find out.
Top Tier Rookies
I began by looking at the top tier of players. While these have been a few changes, this top tier has been established for the past few months. First, let’s look at how the player ADP changes from April, before the NFL Draft, to our early May data. With only a few days to process all of the new information provided to us on draft weekend, would players move much in either direction?
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Top Tier Rookie ADP Change (April-May)
|Name||April ADP||May ADP||Change|
Considering each of these top seven rookies were being drafted in the top six rounds prior to the NFL Draft, it is no surprise to see that the majority of them essentially maintained their pre-draft value even after we learned which NFL team they would be playing for on Sundays. The player who obviously stands out here is Giants receiver Sterling Shepard. Prior to the draft, he was routinely being drafted behind Ohio State’s Michael Thomas, but landing in New York and expected to hold down the WR2 spot bolstered Shepard’s value immediately. He made a round and a half move and easily bypassed Thomas, who also had a favorable landing spot in New Orleans.
Let’s jump ahead two months to our current July data. Not only have we had time to process the players’ respective landing spots and draft position, but we’ve also seen OTA practice reports and expected depth chart statuses for each of these players.
Top Tier Rookie ADP Change (April-July)
|Name||April ADP||July ADP||Change|
New Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott continues to climb, despite an already high ADP even in April, and Shepard continues his rise up the draft boards. The other change of note since looking at May’s ADP is the flip flop of Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman. The initial reaction of many when Coleman was picked by the Cleveland Browns was gloom and doom, but the reality is that Coleman will have every opportunity to lead the team in all receiving categories as a rookie, while Doctson, already 23 years old, will be stuck behind DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon for the next year, at least.
Second Tier Rookies
The effect on top tier players in unsurprisingly minor, but what about players drafted later in dynasty startup drafts. Obviously they have much more room to grow. The second tier of rookies this year is a deep one, stretching into the third round, according to some. This parity inside the tier allows for players who find themselves in favorable situations to quickly vault up ADP and dynasty rankings. For these players, let’s look directly at their change from the pre-draft April data to our current July ADP and then assess the cause for value change.
Second Tier Rookie ADP Change (April-July)
|Name||April ADP||July ADP||Change|
The first thing I notice from this group is that the players at the top of the tier, like the players drafted in the earlier rounds, are largely unchanged. Kenneth Dixon, Tyler Boyd and Will Fuller all have nearly the exact same ADPs they had back in April. Meanwhile, Leonte Carroo was pegged as an early round pick in dynasty rookie drafts, but after being selected by the Miami Dolphins, who already have young receivers DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry on their roster, he took a hard fall. I do think Carroo can succeed in Miami, even with the competition at the position and I’m trying to take advantage of his slide since the draft.
Beyond the two round Carroo fall, the most noticeable move on this list involves Raiders running back DeAndre Washington, who went from undrafted in our April mock drafts to an ADP of 129 in July. Drafted by Oakland, many view Washington as the immediate favorite to backup starter Latavius Murray. While Murray had a solid year in 2015, it appears he failed to cement the job long-term and now some dynasty owners are projecting a large role for Washington out of the gate. While he had an impressive college career, I’m not ready to rely on Washington as a fantasy starter, or even a bye week fill-in. I liked Washington a lot more when he was a third round rookie pick, but now that he has moved up to the mid-second round range, but he can still prove to be a value at his current ADP.
Finally, I think it is important to note that outside of Carroo and Broncos running back Devontae Booker, every other player in this tier has gained value since the NFL Draft and the majority of those moved up at least two rounds. The take away here is that investing in rookies or rookie draft picks early in the off-season can pay off. The majority of dynasty startup drafts are held after the NFL Draft, but in the rare occasion you’re drafting in February or March, load up on mid-round rookies.
Late Round Rookies
On average, around 50 rookies are being drafted each month in our mock draft series. That’s over 20% of the total players being drafted. Scanning the top players being selected as dynasty cornerstone players might remind you that some of those players were once late round fliers in rookie and startup drafts. Therefore, we don’t want to ignore players with late ADPs. Here’s the data!
Late Round Rookie ADP Change (April-July)
|Name||April ADP||July ADP||Change|
While the top tier and even second tier rookies look like a safe bet to maintain or even gain value following the NFL Draft, the late round rookies are predictably a mixed bag. Multiple players gained nearly four rounds worth of value, based on our ADP. These include Tyler Ervin, Josh Ferguson, Paxton Lynch and Tyler Higbee. On the other hand, some players lost that much value, including Braxton Miller and Alex Collins, who were once viewed as a potential first round picks in dynasty drafts. Based on the range the majority of these players were being selected during pre-NFL Draft mocks, I might be willing to gamble on one or two, but the success rate here just isn’t high enough to earn a large investment.
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