Dynasty Stock Market: 2017 Rookie Draft Do-Over, Part One

Ryan McDowell

Believe it or not, the fantasy football playoffs are right around the corner. In fact, they’ve already started in many dynasty leagues. While many dynasty players are looking ahead, hoping to bring home a title, others have entered a retrospective period, analyzing things that went right and wrong over the past several months.

Oftentimes, the fate of our respective fantasy seasons can be traced back to rookie drafts, so this seemed like an ideal time to bring a crew of fantasy writers together and take part in a rookie draft do-over.

Although I sat this one out, I was able to gather some of the folks I respect the most in this hobby of ours, listed here in the order they drafted…

  • Dwayne Brown, Dynasty League Football
  • Matt Williamson, Dynasty Blueprint
  • Brian Malone, Dynasty League Football
  • Mike Clay, ESPN
  • Heath Cummings, CBS
  • Adam Harstad, FootballGuys
  • Matt Harmon, NFL Fantasy
  • George Kritikos, Pro Football Focus
  • Curtis Patrick, Dynasty League Football
  • Rich Hribar, Rotoworld
  • Sigmund Bloom, FootballGuys
  • Russell Clay, Dynasty Command Center

These 12 agreed to participate in a three-round 2017 rookie mock draft based on what we know 12 weeks into the season. As you might expect, a lot has changed since the preseason. Here are the results of the first round.

1.01 – Leonard Fournette, RB JAX

Pre-season ADP: 1.01

Even a recent cold streak and a reoccurrence of the ankle injury that bothered him throughout his final college season couldn’t push Fournette out of the top spot. If he continues to struggle and/or battle injuries, he could easily fall behind some other the other impressive rookies.

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1.02 – Corey Davis, WR TEN

Pre-season ADP: 1.02

Davis has been one of the bigger disappointments of this class through 12 weeks as he missed a large portion of the season with an injury and hasn’t flashed even when on the field. His college production and draft pedigree keep him near the top of the draft.

1.03 – Alvin Kamara, RB NO

Pre-season ADP: 1.11

He is possibly the top story of the NFL season, at least for dynasty players. Kamara has burst onto the scene and is currently the RB3 on the season, behind only Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell. There is some concern that Kamara is doing this with limited opportunity, which could make the production difficult to maintain. Regardless, Kamara is proving to be a steal for those who snagged him in the late first round, or even later, in off-season drafts.

1.04 – Kareem Hunt, RB KC

Pre-season ADP: 1.08

Hunt began the season on an unsustainable pace, so it should be no surprise his production has tailed off, but his lack of touchdowns over the past two months has been very frustrating. Despite the regression, Hunt remains one of the top dynasty risers since the pre-season considering he was still only a mid-first rounder after the season-ending injury to Spencer Ware.

1.05 – Christian McCaffrey, RB CAR

Pre-season ADP: 1.03

We’ve seen mixed results from Panthers rookie running back McCaffrey, who has struggled to run the ball but has been quite effective in the passing game, as most expected. McCaffrey leads all backs in targets and is among the top five in both receptions and receiving yardage. He’s technically lost a bit of value as Hunt and Kamara have risen, but he’s still in this top tier of rookies.

1.06 – Dalvin Cook, RB MINcook

Pre-season ADP: 1.05

It speaks to the talent of Vikings rookie Cook that he has maintained his dynasty value after suffering a season-ending injury in week four. Through the first month, Cook was the RB9 and dominating the Vikings backfield touches. Even with the solid play of backups Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray, there is no reason to doubt that Cook will return to his every-down role in 2018.

1.07 – Joe Mixon, RB CIN

Pre-season ADP: 1.04

As most expected, Mixon wasted little time in taking over control of the Bengals backfield, but has not yielded that which led many to draft him in the top five of rookie drafts. The expectations were so high for Mixon that he creeped into the second round of redraft leagues. If he can’t improve his numbers in the season’s final weeks, he’ll be a top “buy low” target entering the off-season.

1.08 – JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR PIT

Pre-season ADP: 2.03

One of my personal favorite rookies is Steelers wideout Smith-Schuster, but almost no one expected this level of immediate production from the former USC star. Smith-Schuster is currently the WR36 despite a slow start to the season and having missed the team’s most recent game with a bum hamstring. Obviously, his production has been aided by the disappointing return of receiver Martavis Bryant and his upside is at least somewhat limited by the domination of superstar Antonio Brown.

1.09 – Mike Williams, WR LAC

Pre-season ADP: 1.06

For much of the off-season, dynasty owners debated their preferred order of the “big six,” the clear top tier of Fournette, Davis, McCaffrey, Cook, Mixon and Chargers receiver Williams. Just as he did at Clemson, Williams has dealt with multiple injuries, limiting him to just six games on the season. Williams is now hurt again and will miss more time. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he missed the remainder of the season. He’ll be another trade target this off-season.

1.10 – Evan Engram, TE NYG

Pre-season ADP: 2.01

History tells us that rookie tight ends rarely make a fantasy impact, but Engram has bucked that trend, posting eight top 14 weekly ranks through 11 games, including a month-long stretch finishing inside the top five. Engram has survived and perhaps benefitted from the multiple injuries to Giants receivers and time will tell if he can also thrive without veteran quarterback Eli Manning, who has been benched in favor of Geno Smith.

1.11 – Deshaun Watson, QB HOU

Pre-season ADP: 2.09

Although he didn’t even earn the week one start, Watson entered after just one half of terrible play from Tom Savage and became the story of the NFL. When he tore his ACL following week eight, Watson was the QB1 based on average points per game and had already posted three games with more than 30 fantasy points. Like Cook, Watson has not lost any significant value due to his injury and could still be considered as high as a top three dynasty quarterback.

1.12 – OJ Howard, TE TB

Pre-season ADP: 1.07

Howard has not played at the same consistent level we’ve seen from Engram, but he has flashed when given the opportunity. With starter Cameron Brate entering free agency following the season, Howard may see a huge spike in playing time next season. Howard’s value has fallen off slightly from his original mid-first round ADP, but that is to be expected.

Overall, the takeaway here is not gauging dynasty value by comparing two individual players, but rather looking for trends we can learn from and identifying tier drops.

While some may disagree, I see the top eight players as all one large tier, with all having a case to be taken anywhere in the top eight. The next tier is a small one of just three players, Williams, Engram and Watson. Howard, along with many of the players taken in the second round, form the next tier.

Also, nearly every time a draft do-over such as this is done, a quarterback sneaks into the first round, though dynasty owners rarely invest early picks into the position. This doesn’t mean we should be chasing rookie signal callers, but also shouldn’t dismiss them without much thought.

In the next edition of the Dynasty Stock Market, I’ll share a look at the second and third rounds of this Rookie Draft Do-Over.


ryan mcdowell
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