A View From the 1.01: 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.

1.01

The Pick: N’Keal Harry, WR

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The race to be the dynasty rookie 1.01 is as wide open as it has been in years. The current favorite is Arizona State’s Harry, who has held the top spot in our rookie ADP for the past two months after overtaking freak receiver DK Metcalf. Harry is a versatile player who can line up in the slot or outside and also helps out in the return game. He’s been the leader in the clubhouse since his freshman year breakout season three years ago.

Possible Pivots:

There are several other options who could currently make a strong claim to be the top rookie drafted in dynasty leagues. Among them are Hakeem Butler, Metcalf, AJ Brown and Josh Jacobs. With this top tier packed so tightly, the NFL Draft will have more impact than ever.

Trade Value:

If you’ve tracked the rookie class and their respective value through this pre-draft process, these trades are no real surprise. With such a flat class of rookies, the top picks simply don’t carry the trade value we’ve seen in recent years.

The latter two trades see the owner with the top pick using it to move down and acquire multiple later picks, which should continue to be a common strategy. If you own the 1.01 and are shopping it, don’t get your hopes up. I think the first trade for Kamara is an example of a serious outlier example.

Super-Flex Options:

Harry

Harry also tops our latest super-flex rookie ADP, though that crowded top tier also includes a pair of quarterbacks, Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, who will greatly shape up the order of early draft picks in super-flex leagues.

2.01

The Pick: TJ Hockenson, TE

Iowa’s Hockenson is one of the most complete tight end prospects to enter the league in years and there are many juicy landing spots, most notably New England following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. Hockenson can block and catch and tested as the second-best tight end in the class athletically. He’s the near-consensus TE1 in NFL mock drafts and has no obvious flaws. It is difficult to imagine Hockenson actually lasts until the second round of rookie drafts.

Possible Pivots:

If Hockenson does end up moving up into the first round, that could push receivers like Parris Campbell, Deebo Samuel or Marquise Brown into this spot. Each of those players have been mentioned as potential first-rounders in the NFL Draft, though the deep pass-catcher class likely means they will ultimately fall to round two.

Trade Value:

While the picks at the very top of rookie drafts could be difficult to find value for, early second-rounders are my primary targets in trade talks leading up to the NFL Draft. Those picks won’t come cheap though, as evidenced by the above sample of actual completed trades. With future first-round picks and players like Moore on the other side of the respective trades, dynasty owners seem willing to pay to grab these draft picks.

Super-Flex Options:

Darrell Henderson, RB Memphis

Former Memphis running back Henderson has been considered a likely first-round pick in rookie drafts, but that may not be the case in super-flex drafts with Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins pushing backs and receivers down the board.

3.01

The Pick: Miles Boykin, WR

Prior to the NFL Combine, Boykin was a complete afterthought, coming in as the 61st rookie off the board in our ADP data. After he turned in an all-around dominant performance in Indianapolis, Boykin is now being projected as a second or third rounder in both the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts. Here, he is the first player chosen in round three.

The metrics crowd will love Boykin, who measures in at 6’3” and 220 pounds and tested as the most athletic receiver at the Combine. Many scouts still have major concerns about his film though, as he failed to ever really stand out while at Notre Dame, which obviously played a major role in that early ADP data.

Possible Pivots:

Once drafts get to this late point, we are likely to see ADP drastically, but based on our pre-draft ADP, other players that could be options at the top of the third round include Emanuel Hall, Dwayne Haskins, Benny Snell and Mike Weber.

Trade Value:

  • 3.01 for 2020 third, 2020 fourth
  • 2.08, 3.01, 3.04 for 2.03
  • 1.10, 3.01 for Chris Carson

Super-Flex Options:

Trayveon Williams, RB Texas A&M

I have to admit, I’m surprised to see productive Aggies back Williams fall to the third round, even with the increased quarterback value in the super-flex format. Like most of the runners in this range, the ultimate value will depend on landing spot and draft capital.

4.01

The Pick: KeeSean Johnson, WR

Fresno State’s Johnson was a popular sleeper pick early in the pre-draft process but a poor Combiner performance pushed him down to the early-fourth round. Johnson was an elite producer in college but is now in danger of going undrafted.

Possible Pivots:

Other players coming off the board in this range include running backs Myles Gaskin, Elijah Holyfield, along with tight end Jace Sternberger.

Super-Flex Options:

Devine Ozigbo, RB Nebraska

It was a bit disappointing that Ozigbo was not invited to the Senior Bowl or February’s Combine, but he remains a trendy sleeper pick. Ozigbo was a one-year producer for the Cornhuskers and is a likely day three NFL Draft pick.

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ryan mcdowell