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 24 hours 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.


The Pick: D’Andre Swift, RB

It’s somewhat interesting that despite being projected as the first running back off the board for months now, dynasty players are still slotting Georgia’s D’Andre Swift as the RB2 and 1.02 in this stacked class. Swift can do it all out of the backfield and excels as a pass-catcher. If we really want to find flaws, Swift’s size of 5’8” and 212 pounds could be a slight concern. With Swift expected to be selected in the opening round, he could easily move up to the top spot by the end of the weekend, a position he held pre-Combine, according to our February rookie mock ADP.

Possible Pivots

You don’t really need to consider many options here and the pick will likely be an obvious one by the end of the day Saturday. If not Swift, other options include Jonathan Taylor, CeeDee Lamb or JK Dobbins.

Trade Value

1.02 for 1.06, 2.06
1.02, Hunter Renfrow for Terry McLaurin, 1.10, 1.12
1.02, Alexander Mattison for Nick Chubb

Super-Flex Options: Tua Tagovailoa, QB

It has been a bumpy road over the past several months for Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. After suffering multiple injuries, there was a legitimate fear  his career was over. Tagovailoa missed the remainder of the season but worked towards a return and entered the NFL Draft. Early reports about his hip injury were glowing but as the draft nears, teams are reportedly concerned about taking a risk on him. That obviously has a lot to do with the limitations this off-season have brought us all. If Tagovailoa falls outside of the top ten picks, he will likely fall even further than that, but I still believe in the player we watched for much of the past three years.


The Pick: Zack Moss, RB

NFL teams seem to like powerful running back Zack Moss a lot more than dynasty players. Moss has developed a reputation as an old-school back but can also catch the ball well. There are questions if Moss can be an every-down back and like every second and third-tier runner, his dynasty value will be determined by his landing spot.

Possible Pivots

If you have some doubts about Moss like I do, you could instead look at players like Laviska Shenault, Michael Pittman, Brandon Aiyuk or Tee Higgins.

Trade Value

2.02, 1.04 for 1.06, 1.10
2.02 for 2021 1st
2.02, Noah Fant, Darius Slayton for Travis Kelce, 3.08

Super-Flex Options: Tee Higgins, WR

The off-season has been a rough one for Clemson’s Tee Higgins. After another playoff run, Higgins made the leap to the league but opted not to participate at the Combine. He did squeeze in the Tigers’ pro day before workouts were shut down, but that didn’t go well either. His burst and agility numbers ranked him near the bottom of all wideouts from the Combine.


The Pick: Tyler Johnson, WR

This time last year, dynasty players were mourning the fact wide receiver Tyler Johnson had opted to go back to Minnesota. It just made no sense. Now, I am starting to understand. Even after another strong year, Johnson’s NFL stock is just not matching up with the affection fantasy players have for him. There have even been some suggestions he could go undrafted. That would obviously end any chance for Johnson to be selected even early in the third round.

Possible Pivots

If Johnson does fall, you could instead opt for Eno Benjamin, Antonio Gandy-Golden, Antonio Gibson or KJ Hamler.

Trade Value

3.02, AJ Brown for Courtland Sutton, 3.09
3.02, 3.10 for 2.12
3.02, 1.07 for Melvin Gordon, 2021 3rd

Super-Flex Options: Tyler Johnson, WR

It has happened several times already, but Johnson is also the pick in the super-flex format.


The Pick: Hunter Bryant, TE

An athletic big man standing 6’2”, Washington’s Hunter Bryant was made to be a move tight end. A very good receiver, Bryant is in the running to be the TE1 both in the NFL Draft and in dynasty rookie drafts. I would be surprised if he falls this far following the NFL Draft, but that will be determined by draft capital and landing spot.

Possible Pivots

Other fourth round options include Jordan Love, Devin Duvernay and Darrynton Evans.

Super-Flex Options: Joshua Kelley, RB

UCLA’s productive runner Joshua Kelley continues to be underrated, though he has been steadily moving up the ADP ranks all off-season. With over 1,000 rushing yards in each of his two seasons for the Bruins, Kelley is also a solid pass catcher. He’s likely to fit in as a backup in the league, but one that is still worthy of a dynasty roster spot.

ryan mcdowell