I have a confession to make. I am not a football scout. I can watch a football game and notice which players are playing at a high level and others that might be struggling. I enjoy watching college games in hopes of finding the stars of tomorrow. I’m even part of the Dynasty Scouts team here at Dynasty League Football, but in the end, I’m no different than most of you when “scouting” players.
This time of year, the majority of dynasty players transform into wannabe NFL scouts, watching clips on DraftBreakdown as their form of grinding tape and taking notes on what they see. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. In fact, I encourage all dynasty players to do as much research as possible and form independent opinions on the incoming rookie class. There are many scouts, professional and amateur alike, that I respect and trust and I use their opinion to help form my own valuation of each future NFL player.
With this overload of information, we often ignore one of the most important pieces of data we have – what NFL teams tell us about players. There is a growing sentiment that dynasty players could be just as successful in rookie drafts by letting the NFL teams make decisions for them, based on the draft capital spent on incoming rookies. I’ve had some discussions on Twitter about this idea with smart people like Adam Harstad and Russell Clay, but wanted to delve deeper into the idea myself.
In some ways, this comparison is apples to oranges. After all, NFL teams are not making every pick with yards from scrimmage and touchdowns as the priority. Blocking, special teams and situational deep threats are all priorities for NFL teams at different portions of the Draft. On the other hand, dynasty owners are making decision based on college production, NFL Combine metrics and team situation. While this can hinder a head-to-head comparison, it has to be considered for those suggesting dynasty players abandon their own evaluations and default to the NFL Draft order.
I began by looking at the past four draft classes and ranking all running backs, wide receivers and tight ends based on their overall NFL Draft position. I chose to leave out the quarterback position from this study since NFL teams and dynasty owners have such a wide and understandable gap in the value of this position. With this data, I hope to find if drafting based simply on NFL Draft order alone could be as successful, or even more fruitful, than the order dynasty players actually chose these rookies. After collecting this NFL Draft information, I gathered rookie dynasty ADP from MyFantasyLeague via Rotoviz for the past four seasons. Here’s what that looks like.