A View From the 1.02: 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.


[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]

The Pick: Hakeem Butler, WR Iowa State

Iowa State’s Butler enjoyed a breakout campaign in his final college season and that has vaulted him into the conversation at the top of the draft. Butler’s size and ability to high point the ball are exciting, though there are concerns about his drops and late college career breakout. Ultimately, draft capital will decide if he is a top three pick or slides to the middle of the round. Butler will need to be a first-round NFL draft pick to maintain this lofty standing.

Possible Pivots:

The top of the draft is stacked and if you own the 1.02 pick, you should come away with a very strong prospect. If Butler is not the pick, N’Keal Harry, AJ Brown, DK Metcalf or Josh Jacobs could be reasonable pivots.

Trade Value:

Surprisingly, the Dynasty Trade Finder included only one trade involving the 1.02 rookie pick but it is a big one! Packaging three first-round picks along with Mike Williams to bring in Christian McCaffrey is a deal I’d make every day, though it also makes sense if rebuilding a roster.

Super-Flex Options:

Kyler Murray, QB Oklahoma

Don’t get your hopes up, 1.02 owners. It is very unlikely that Oklahoma’s Murray is available with this pick. A lock to be the top player drafted in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals, Murray has been steadily trending up in super-flex mocks and drafts as well.


The Pick: Deebo Samuel, WR South Carolina

Although he might be a bit undersized, wide receiver Deebo Samuel overcomes that with his thick build and versatility, playing all over the field and adding value in the return game. Samuel does have a nasty injury history to consider and is already 23 years old, but if he’s an early day two pick in the league, this is the ideal spot to choose him in rookie drafts.

Possible Pivots:

Our current ADP tells us other options in this early second-round range could include Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson, tight end TJ Hockenson or Marquise Brown. This remains a draft range to target in pre-draft trades.

Trade Value:

The first trade here finds the 2.02 owner somehow improving the draft picks and coming away with the better player in Sammy Watkins. The other two deals here are very reasonable good examples of the value even an early second-round pick carries.

Super-Flex Options:

Damien Harris, RB Alabama

Penciled in as a late first-round pick for the past year or more, Damien Harris is another player who is likely to be bumped down from that spot to the early second in the super-flex format. Harris’s value is suffering a bit as he’s been compared to his former teammate Josh Jacobs.


The Pick: Emanuel Hall, WR Missouri

Emanuel Hall established himself as a primary target for Missouri, especially as a deep threat. Like many vertical specialists, he sometimes struggles to bring in and hold onto the ball but the upside is obvious anywhere in the third round of rookie drafts.

Possible Pivots:

Other options with the 3.02 pick could include Dwayne Haskins, Mike Weber, Benny Snell or Alex Barnes.

Super-Flex Options:

Daniel Jones, QB Duke

At this point, it is clear that Duke’s Daniel Jones will be selected in the opening round of the NFL Draft. That likely won’t push him into round one of super-flex rookie drafts but he also is very unlikely to fall out of the top 24 players. If he is indeed available early in the third round, he becomes an easy pick.


The Pick: Jace Sternberger, TE Texas A&M

A late-career breakout for tight end Jace Sternberger put him on the map and he’s now almost certain to be a Day Two pick in the NFL Draft. Sternberger possesses ideal size at 6’4” and over 250 pounds. Much like fellow rookie tight end Noah Fant, Sternberger also has surprising speed and can get vertical. He’s a massive steal in the fourth round.

Possible Pivots:

Other interesting rookies who are regularly falling to the early fourth round includes Greg Dortch, Devin Ozigbo and big-play receiver Preston Williams, who carries some off-field concerns.

Super-Flex Options:

Elijah Holyfield, RB Georgia

Former Georgia running back entered the off-season viewed as a likely second-round rookie pick and another in the line of successful Bulldogs backs. A cringe-worthy Combine ended that dream and could ultimately result in Holyfield going undrafted.


ryan mcdowell