A View From the 1.03: Rookie Draft Strategy

Ryan McDowell

For many dynasty players, the highlight of the off-season is the annual rookie draft and we are now less than three weeks away from many of those drafts kicking off. Once our respective dynasty teams are eliminated from contention, and sometimes even before, we tend to turn our attention to the incoming rookie class and delusions of grandeur take over. In fact, dynasty players spend nearly the entire off-season preparing for how they will use their draft picks, or if they will use them at all.

In this twelve-part series, I’ll use the latest data available here at Dynasty League Football, namely our April Rookie ADP and the Dynasty Trade Finder, to ensure you are as prepared as possible when your draft begins. Based on our most recent ADP data, I’ll suggest the player you could be soon adding to your team, and if you don’t like that, I’ll also include a potential pivot option.

Also, I’ll include options based on the updated 2QB rookie ADP for those who play in that format. Finally, using the Dynasty Trade Finder, I will examine some recent trades that have taken place with each specific draft pick. Each trade is based on 12 team PPR, one QB leagues.

We all know the first round of rookie drafts includes the players we’ve been hearing about for months, if not years, but difference makers can be found in the second round and beyond, as well. Because of that, I’ll also address the other picks that accompany each respective first-round draft slot.

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The Pick: Nick Chubb, RB Georgia

After some back and forth following the conclusion of the college football season, Georgia running back Nick Chubb has returned to the spot we expected him for so long, the third pick off the board. In fact, early in his college career, Chubb was the hands-down favorite to be the top player chosen in his draft class before his major knee injury in his sophomore season. His strong senior campaign along with his impressive Combine performance has made him a near lock to begin this deep third tier of rookies.

Possible Pivots:

If Chubb is the beginning of this tier, his teammate running back Sony Michel is not far behind. A late-season burst in the FBS playoffs turned Michel into a household name and moved him from a second-round dynasty sleeper to locked in top-five rookie pick. Another player to massively improve his dynasty value since the season concluded is former Maryland receiver DJ Moore. If he lands in Dallas to replace the recently released Dez Bryant, he could vault up to the three spot as could Courtland Sutton in the same scenario.

Trade Value:

The value gap between the top two picks and the third is quite large, but this time of year, all picks carry serious value. Here are some of the recent trades involving the 1.03 draft pick.

Super-Flex Options: Josh Rosen, QB UCLA

While it is evident that former UCLA signal caller Josh Rosen has no chance to be the top quarterback drafted in the NFL Draft, he has remained a slight dynasty favorite over the four other top quarterbacks in the class. Landing spots of the quarterbacks, most of whom are in the same tier, will ultimately determine the pick order, but I have no issue with taking the QB1 at the third spot.


The Pick: John Kelly, RB Tennessee

In taking over for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year – Alvin Kamara – at Tennessee, running back John Kelly started the season strongly. His flexibility out of the backfield, including his role in the passing game, pushed him up the dynasty ranks. His value is all over the board when it comes to early rookie drafts and mocks. He’s the only player I’ve seen drafted in the first round in one league and fall to the fourth round in another. In the end, I think this is right about where he ends up, as an early second-rounder.

Possible Pivots:

With Kelly being a favorite of many, he might not make it this far in many leagues, meaning if you’re sitting at the 2.03 pick, you need a solid backup plan. As of now, that looks like a wideout with Equanimeous St. Brown potentially falling or Michael Gallup moving up the board.

Trade Value:

Super-Flex Options: Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama

I have my concerns about Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley, but he is still the favorite to be the first wideout drafted in the NFL and that presents value in nearly every case. Ridley falling to the second round while a handful of quarterbacks are selected in the top 14 picks is very attractive for dynasty players. It’s not too late. Target second-round picks in super-flex leagues.


The Pick: DJ Chark, WR LSU

After an up and down career in the run-heavy LSU offense, wide receiver DJ Chark has been a player moving up draft boards. He’s even been projected by some as a first-round NFL Draft selection. I’d still be surprised if that happened. Chark showed off his speed at the NFL Combine, but hopefully, we’ve learned by now that doesn’t mean everything. It almost doesn’t mean anything. In the early third round, Chark is a dart throw and if he does somehow land in the first or even the early second-round, he’ll likely move up even further in dynasty rookie drafts.

Possible Pivots:

Even outside of the top 25 picks, there should still be some attractive options if you don’t trust Chark to be more than a track star with a helmet. At least one of the top quarterbacks is likely to fall this far, with our recent data showing that could be USC’s Sam Darnold. Other options in the range include Bo Scarbrough, Auden Tate, and Nyheim Hines.

Trade Value:

Super-Flex Options: Mark Andrews, TE Oklahoma

While Chark is a player who has been steadily gaining value this off-season, former Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews is going in the opposite direction. Once viewed as the clear top tight end in dynasty leagues, Andrews’ all-around game and fantasy upside is being questioned and he’s given way to Dallas Goedert and Mike Gesicki in most dynasty ranks. I won’t be surprised if he falls even further than this, especially in the 2QB format.


The Pick: Allen Lazard, WR Iowa State

A one-time heavily targeted devy asset, receiver Allen Lazard seeming lost more and more dynasty value throughout his college career and is expected to be a late-round pick in both the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts.

Possible Pivots:

Obviously, the options in the fourth round are not nearly as intriguing as their earlier round classmates. While Lazard is very interesting and worthy of a shot late in the draft, others are as well, including Hayden Hurst, Dante Pettis, and Jaylen Samuels.

Super-Flex Options: Justin Jackson, RB Northwestern

Some might argue that the fourth-round of rookie drafts are all dart throws and there is some truth to that, but former Northwestern workhorse back is one of my favorite targets in this area, regardless of the format.


ryan mcdowell
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