Superflex ADP Round-Up

John Hogue

We are all familiar with the Legend of the 2020 Rookie Class. Running backs D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, Travis Etienne, Cam Akers and JK Dobbins will put this group right on par with that loaded 2017 class of McCaffrey, Cook, Kamara, Mixon and Fournette. The wide receivers – Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Henry Ruggs, etc. – will rival the 2014 crop that included Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks. And quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert will be deeper than 2017 (Watson and Mahomes) and more talented than 2018 (Mayfield, Darnold, Allen, Jackson).

These are foregone conclusions; we’ve known it for over a year. We have been stockpiling rookie picks accordingly, missing out on 2019 rookies like AJ Brown and Terry McLaurin as we traded out of the 2019 rookie drafts for golden tickets to the 2020 first round.

The 2019 season came and went, and now – for those who waited patiently on the sidelines for an entire year, telling themselves that 2020 will be worth the year-long sabbatical – your time has finally come. There are no more fantasy football weeks without Swift, Jeudy, or Tua burying opponents in fantasy points. The 2020 rookie picks reach peak value as they become the main attraction of the dynasty cycle.

So the question becomes: how high will their values rise?

Dynasty superflex leagues prepare for startup drafts, which will include 2020 rookie picks as draftable assets. When mock drafters began building the Average Draft Position data through four superflex startup mock drafts, we included rookie picks in all four mocks to gauge their values as they begin to ripen. The rookie picks do not appear in the latest DLF Superflex ADP, so this Superflex ADP Round-Up will focus on the rookie picks and their comparable player values.

Don’t forget to sign up for Superflex ADP Startup Mocks in January! I will tweet the call-to-action on Sunday, Jan. 12th, so keep an eye on my Twitter timeline if you want to help build the latest ADP and get some early reps for an edge in your superflex league startup drafts!

First Round

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None of the 2020 picks went in the first round of any of the mock drafts, so don’t reach for 1.01. Drafters recognized the safety of taking established superstars in the first round. Following back-to-back top-2 fantasy RB seasons, Christian McCaffrey jumped to the consensus 1.01 in startups, going first overall in all but one mock draft (in which he went third overall, behind Pat Mahomes and Michael Thomas). Saquon Barkley was the consensus 1.03, falling as low as 1.05 in one draft, behind both McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara at RB. Ezekiel Elliott (1.06), Dalvin Cook (1.08) and Kamara (1.09) all went in the first as the RB position continued to dominate the first round.

Mahomes went first overall in one draft and fell as low as 1.06 in another (two spots behind Lamar Jackson), but still finished as the consensus 1.02 in superflex. Coming off his monster MVP season, Jackson went as high as 1.04 and as low as 1.06, with a consensus ADP of 1.05. Deshaun Watson (1.10) was the only other QB – the most valuable position in superflex – with a first round ADP, though Russell Wilson (2.02) was drafted 12th overall in one mock.

None of the tight ends were drafted in the first round in this non-TE Premium scoring system, so the four pass-catchers were all wide receivers. Michael Thomas’ record-breaking season earned him the consensus 1.04, and he was even drafted second overall in one draft. He was also the only WR in this dynasty format to be taken in the top half of the first round. DeAndre Hopkins (1.07) went ahead of his quarterback (Watson), while Tyreek Hill (1.11) and Davante Adams (1.12) just snuck into the first round ahead of Nick Chubb (2.01) and Russell Wilson.

Second Round

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Chubb (2.01) and Joe Mixon (2.06) both are drafted in the first round in at least one mock, and are joined by Josh Jacobs (2.09) in the consensus second at the RB position. Wilson (2.02), Kyler Murray (2.07) and Dak Prescott (2.08) make it into the second round on the strength of their rushing upside from the QB position. The round is dominated by WRs, however, as JuJu Smith-Schuster (2.03), Mike Evans (2.04), Chris Godwin (2.05), Odell Beckham Jr. (2.10) and Amari Cooper (2.11) fill out the top 23.

The star of this round, though, is Rookie Pick 1.01, with a consensus ADP of 2.12. There is a ton of variance. With a standard deviation of 6.5 spots, the pick goes as high as 16th overall (2.04) and as low as 34th overall (3.10). It went before 3.05 in all but one mock, meaning a drafter with a late first round pick in a startup will have to consider reaching for the pick with their early second round pick, because it is very unlikely to make it back to them at the end of the third round.

The question, of course, becomes: how much more valuable is 1.01 than 1.02? The trademark of the 2020 class seems to be the immense depth at three of the four fantasy positions. Assuming a QB goes first overall in a superflex rookie draft, 1.01 guarantees a choice between Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, while 1.02 simply means whichever of the two is left. With nearly a round difference in startup ADP, it is reasonable to wonder if the choice between the two is worth the reach.

Reaching for 1.01 in the early second round would mean taking the pick over JuJu, Evans, Godwin, Mixon, Murray, Prescott, Jacobs, Beckham and Cooper, making that the high end of the 1.01 value. A trade of any one of those players straight up for rookie pick 1.01 in a superflex dynasty league is a slight overpay, but is reasonable in the proper context. And according to consensus ADP, Beckham or Cooper would need just a little sweetener along with the pick to make the trade. Going off of consensus values, 1.01 and 2.01 is probably enough to acquire Amari Cooper.

On the other side of the same coin, the pick goes ahead of DJ Moore (3.01), Carson Wentz (3.02), Leonard Fournette (3.03) and George Kittle (3.04) – among others – in consensus ADP. In terms of trade value, this technically means that those players could be traded straight up for 1.01, and may even need a sweetener on top. Moore went ahead of the pick in three of the four mock drafts, so Moore straight across for the 1.01 would be a hard sell. Wentz went several spots ahead of the pick in two of the four drafts, and is a young, established star at the format’s most important position, so the consensus may be a little off there too. But the pick was consistently selected ahead of every other player in the third round, meaning players like Fournette and Kittle likely are not enough by themselves to fetch the top rookie pick in a trade.

Third Round

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The third round is highlighted by the first inclusion of tight ends, as Kittle (3.04) and Travis Kelce (3.08) both come off the board. The round is very balanced across the positions, as three RBs – Fournette (3.03), Derrick Henry (3.05) and Aaron Jones (3.07) – three WRs – Moore (3.01), Kenny Golladay (3.06) and Julio Jones (3.10) – and three QBs – Wentz (3.02), Baker Mayfield (3.11) and Aaron Rodgers (3.12) – come off the board in the third round.

Rookie Pick 1.02 also goes in the third round, with a consensus ADP of 3.09. One spot ahead of Julio Jones, one spot after Travis Kelce. This raises two questions:

First, does one reach for 1.01 early in the second round, or wait for 1.02 late in the third round? Again, the likely difference is between Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Jerry Jeudy and the RB group could also be considerations with either of the early picks, but in a startup draft, roster construction first calls for established QBs. Suddenly, reaching past Amari Cooper for 1,01/Burrow, and then reaching past 1.02/Tua to take Julio Jones doesn’t seem optimal… but it isn’t terrible either.

Second, is the consensus value on 1.02 accurate? In a startup, taking whichever is left over between Burrow and Tua rather than Mayfield or Rodgers is questionable at best. If your draft strategy calls for young core players and a “productive struggle” approach to 2020, then either Burrow or Tua would certainly fit better than Rodgers. But a left-handed passer with a major hip injury (Tua) over buy-low candidate Mayfield is a high-risk move for any roster.

In a superflex dynasty that is already up and running, it is still worth questioning the value of 1.02, though it seems a lot more accurate. In Year 2+ of a dynasty league, rookie picks gain value because the rookie draft is a great way to fill roster holes, making the stud RBs like Swift, Taylor, Etienne, etc. all much more viable, and even preferable in some cases to the QBs. Trading away a little depth from a position of strength in order to address a position of weakness in the rookie draft is the quickest way to build a contending team, so Keenan Allen or Stefon Diggs for 1.02 and one of the top two RBs in the class makes far more sense. The big discrepancy is between the pick and the QBs in this range; consensus ADP indicates that Mayfield, Rodgers or Josh Allen are equal or lesser value to the pick, which is a difficult move to make in a superflex league.

Fourth and Fifth Rounds

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The RBs dry up after the third round, with one RB going in the fourth – Todd Gurley (4.11) – and two in the fifth – Chris Carson (5.05) and Kerryon Johnson (5.07). Drafters shifted their focus to QBs and WRs, with eight of the former – Josh Allen (4.02), Jared Goff (4.06), Matt Ryan (4.08), Jimmy Garoppolo (4.09), Matthew Stafford (5.01), Kirk Cousins (5.02), Sam Darnold (5.03) and Jameis Winston (5.06) – and nine of the latter – Courtland Sutton (4.01), Keenan Allen (4.04), Cooper Kupp (4.05), Stefon Diggs (4.07), DJ Chark (4.12), Calvin Ridley (5.04), Tyler Lockett (5.09), AJ Brown (5.11) and Allen Robinson (5.12) – going between the two rounds.

The run on rookie picks isn’t quite as robust as those of the QBs and WRs, but four draft picks between the two rounds is still significant over a relatively short stretch. Rookie pick 1.03 comes off the board with the third pick of the fourth round, ahead of Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, and Jared Goff, and pick 1.04 goes off the board with the 10th pick of the round, ahead of Todd Gurley, DJ Chark and Matthew Stafford. In the fifth round, Rookie Pick 1.05 goes eighth, ahead of Tyler Lockett and Melvin Gordon, and pick 1.06 goes 10th in the round, ahead of AJ Brown, Gordon and Miles Sanders.

The picks still start off a little overvalued, with 1.03 (either the best RB in the class or the second-best QB in the class) going ahead of young, established starters like Jared Goff, Keenan Allen and Cooper Kupp. One could certainly make an argument that Allen is no longer young enough to anchor a team built for youth, and Kupp disappeared late in the 2019 season, calling into question his status as an elite-level young receiver. Taking the pick ahead of Goff – a young QB in an elite-when-healthy offense, who already has two top 12 fantasy seasons to his credit – is a net-loss in value, as Goff should likely go ahead of the 1.02 and possibly even the 1.01 in startup drafts (in one writer’s opinion).

Pick 1.04 follows one QB run and precedes another, but the talent has diminished noticeably, and the value of a draft pick with a range of outcomes inches closer to the appropriate draft position. Ridley is the most debatable non-QB to go after 1.04, but the prospect of drafting either a top 2 QB or RB when there is plenty of WR depth left in the startup pool makes 1.04 a higher-risk, higher-reward asset. The QBs going after 1.04 are still more difficult to justify, with Stafford, Garoppolo and Cousins – established veterans with 5+ more years of career expectancy – likely representing more value than 1.04, though it is hard to argue with those players over any of the top three picks.

Picks 1.05 and 1.06 are separated by just Tyler Lockett, who could be drafted ahead of both picks and belongs in-between 1.03 and 1.04. Following 1.06, players such as A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf and Miles Sanders come off the board. After the way Brown ended the season (WR5 over the final five games of the fantasy season), his ADP is almost assured to rise through the offseason and settle somewhere between 1.02 and 1.04 where he belongs. One can also make a case for Metcalf and Sanders over picks 1.05 and 1.06, but the margins are razor thin at this point (DLF’s Trade Analyzer quantifies Metcalf’s value at 257.8, Sanders’ at 312.0, and a mid 2020 1st at 271.6), so the picks can certainly go ahead of those players in the context of startup roster construction.

Sixth and Seventh Rounds

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The quarterback position dries up dramatically by the sixth round, with only Daniel Jones (6.08), Cam Newton (7.05) and Derek Carr (7.10) being drafted in this range. The next tier of tight ends emerge, led by the plummeting Zach Ertz (6.11) and joined by Evan Engram (7.04) and Austin Hooper (7.09). A few high-volume wide receivers are sprinkled in as well, with Metcalf (6.02) the only true perimeter WR of the group, meaning Christian Kirk (6.04), Adam Thielen (6.09), Tyler Boyd (6.12) and Jarvis Landry (7.08) are buoyed by this full PPR scoring. But the RB position dominates this stretch of the draft, as high upside backs contend with their respective question marks of youth (Sanders, 6.03; Devin Singletary, 6.10; David Montgomery, 7.01), a possible change in scenery and/or situation (Melvin Gordon, 6.01; Le’Veon Bell, 6.06; James Conner, 6.07; Austin Ekeler, 7.02; Marlon Mack, 7.03; Kareem Hunt, 7.07), or health concerns (Derrius Guice, 7.12).

The draft picks slow down ever so slightly, helping them ease even closer into their appropriate values. Pick 1.07 comes off the board at 6.05, just ahead of Bell, Conner, Jones and Thielen, with only Jones representing significantly greater value than the pick. By the seventh pick in a rookie draft, the top two QBs (Burrow and Tua) will be off the board, leaving QB with a massive talent deficit, and Jones competing with the likes of Justin Herbert, Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts for the designation of most valuable quarterback available, which Jones likely runs away with – at least until the rookies are on NFL rosters. The rookie talent at both RB and WR justify 1.07 over Bell and Conner, and possibly over Thielen as well, given the appropriate roster construction.

Picks 1.08 and 1.09 come off the board in the seventh round, at 7.06 and 7.11, respectively, ahead of Guice and high-tier TEs like Mark Andrews and Hunter Henry. Pick 1.08 goes before Hunt, Landry, Hooper and Carr, and one spot behind Cam Newton (who would rocket up into the third or fourth round and 1.02-1.03 value with a clean bill of health). Yet again, the QB in this range (Carr) probably belongs in a higher round and would certainly hold more value than pick 1.08 under normal conditions, but the threat of Carr losing his starting job after the Raiders failed to make the playoffs pushes him down below the pick that would almost assuredly render a high-end starter at either RB or WR. The rest of the players in this range actually hold less value (according to the Trade Analyzer) than the picks. Beyond the occasional outrageously undervalued player, the picks have officially settled into appropriate value ranges.

Rounds Eight, Nine and Ten
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I spoke too soon. Just as the rookie picks seem to settle into their appropriate values, the end of the first round rookie picks spark a wave of Fear Of Missing Out, and the remaining first round picks go higher than they should.

Pick 1.10 comes off the board at 8.11, ahead of solid NFL starting QBs Ryan Tannehill (8.12) and Drew Lock (9.04), likely starters Mitchell Trubisky (9.03) and Jacoby Brissett (9.06), heralded 2019 rookie WR N’Keal Harry (9.02) and breakout star TE Darren Waller (9.05). Picks 1.11 and 1.12 are even more egregious, coming off the board at 9.07 and 9.09, respectively, ahead of top Colts WR TY Hilton, 2019 rookie stud TE TJ Hockenson, back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay, late-blooming breakout star DeVante Parker (picks 9.10 through 10.01), as well as rookie pass catchers Darius Slayton (10.03) and Noah Fant (10.05), both of whom showed flashes as rookies and will be projected for breakouts in 2020. These players all deserve to go ahead of 1.10, much less 1.12.

The second round of rookie picks make their first appearance in Round 10, as 2.01 goes ahead of rookie QBs Dwayne Haskins (10.08) and Gardner Minshew (10.09) at 10.07. Haskins did very little to inspire confidence in his rookie season, and 2.01 seems to be appropriate for him. Minshew will have veteran Nick Foles breathing down his neck in 2020, but by outright earning the starting job in Jacksonville, Minshew belongs in the range of Brissett and Trubisky (if not ahead of them) as a late first round rookie pick value.

Rounds 11 – 14

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The 11th round is bookended by rookie picks, and they start flying off the board from there. Pick 2.02 is drafted before the 3-4th tier of TEs, Dallas Goedert (11.02), OJ Howard (11.09) and David Njoku (11.10), as well as pending unrestricted free agent WRs AJ Green (11.03), Julian Edelman (11.05) and Robby Anderson (11.07), all of whom have question marks as they search for a new contract. At this point in the draft, the risk is more significant with the veteran players than the rookie picks. Pick 2.03 going with the last pick of the 11th round is the first rookie pick that arguably could have gone sooner.

Picks 2.03 – 2.06 are bunched together tightly, ranging from 11.12 to 12.07, with WRs John Brown (12.01), Diontae Johnson (12.04) and Sterling Shepard (12.06) sprinkled in between, perfectly spacing the rookie picks with players of equal value. Anthony Miller (12.09) and Ronald Jones (12.12) are the only non-QBs going after the picks that deserve consideration in the same range as the early-mid second-round picks, but the versatility of the rookie picks raise their values above that of the young veterans.

Philip Rivers (12.08), Tom Brady (12.10) and Andy Dalton (13.02) would see their values increase as they jump into the 11th round and very early rookie second-round range with a little more clarity on their futures. Dalton will likely find a starting role in 2020, but will it be an unopposed job on a playoff-contending team (Tampa Bay, Chicago or Pittsburgh)? Or will he serve as a bridge to a rookie as a young team reloads (Chargers, Dolphins)? Meanwhile, Rivers and Brady would be starting QBs in 2020 – likely for the entire season – if we only knew that they would play rather than retire.

Rookie picks 2.07 and 2.08 come off the board at 13.01 and 13.07, respectively, before a drought of rookie picks. Raheem Mostert (14.11) is the only player going after these rookie picks who deserves consideration when the rookie picks are still on the board after emerging as the best, most complete back in San Francisco’s considerable depth chart.

Rounds 15 – 20

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There are several questionable picks in this range, but for the most part you’re throwing darts at the end of your startup draft either way. If you’re short on RBs at this point in the draft, you could do a lot worse than loading up on rookie picks with the intention of 1) drafting rookie RBs who will perform right away and help your win-now roster, or 2) package those picks and trade them for some depth.

The WRs in this range are still stronger than the rookies at the same position though, so passing on rookie picks in favor of Hunter Renfrow, Auden Tate, Jalen Hurd, Breshad Perriman, Chris Conley or Kelvin Harmon would make more sense for a young team in need of pass-catchers.

Even the QBs still hold a little value, with the two most likely starting QBs of the Carolina Panthers (Kyle Allen and Will Grier), the heir apparent to Tom Brady (Jarrett Stidham), free-agent-to-be Marcus Mariota, mythological bridge QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Tyrod Taylor, who currently backs up Philip Rivers, who could be on his way out of Los Angeles.

The depth and talent of the 2020 rookie class will likely be depleted by players foregoing the NFL Draft and returning to school, and NFL free agency in February will improve the situations of many NFL veterans. Over the course of the next three months, rookie picks will likely dip a little in ADP as the veterans rise back up. In the meantime, every rookie pick through 3.12 was available in these mock drafts, and all were drafted through 3.09. In a 20 round startup, 3.07 is the last rookie pick taken, while players like Allen Lazard, Cole Beasley, Ito Smith and Patrick Laird go undrafted. With a diluted pool of rookies, the players available at 3.07 likely will not be as attractive as these veterans with significant roles going into 2020.

On the other hand, another epidemic of rookie fever is on it’s way in the form of the NFL Combine, which could push these rookie pick values right back up. Translation: the ebb and flow of rookie pick values has only just begun!

john hogue