For many dynasty players, the highlight of the off-season is the annual rookie draft, and we are now mere days 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 superflex 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 soon be adding to your team, and if you don’t like that, I’ll also include a potential pivot option. In addition, I’ll include options based on the updated 1QB 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.
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 accompanying each first-round draft slot.
ROOKIE SELECTION 1.01
THE PICK: BIJAN ROBINSON, RB TEXAS
Everyone has heard of Robinson, as he’s been a candidate for the 1.01 overall pick since his first year at Texas.
Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB
That season, he immediately made an impact, displacing Roschon Johnson and Keontay Ingram. Robinson led the team in carries but showed ridiculous efficiency compared to the other running backs. He averaged 8.2 YPC, compared to 5.2 for Johnson and 4.7 for Ingram. Additionally, he displayed receiving ability, with 15 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
After 2020, Robinson became Texas’s workhorse back, dominating carries for the next two seasons. He maintained solid efficiency despite the added workload and became a touchdown machine. He totaled 35 touchdowns over his final two college seasons, even though Texas’s offense regressed from 2020. Finally, he added some awards in 2022, as he won the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back and was a Consensus All-America selection.
Of course, Robinson declared for the 2023 NFL Draft after his stellar collegiate career. Most NFL scouts grade Robinson as a first-round pick, and I expect him to go off the board in the first 15 picks. Robinson could be the first non-quarterback fantasy-relevant player selected, ahead of any wide receivers or tight ends. He’s a no-doubt locked-in choice at the 1.01 in rookie drafts this year, regardless of format.
- 1.01 for 1.04, 1.11, 2024 first
- 1.01 for Ja’Marr Chase
- 1.01 for Justin Fields
Possible Pivots: None
There are no real pivots from Robinson. As my YouTube co-host and fellow DLF writer Hutchinson Brown often says, “If you don’t pick Robinson at 1.01 in your rookie drafts, you’re doing it wrong.” I completely agree with that sentiment, as I see no way to pick anyone over Robinson at this spot.
Robinson is currently the 11th overall player in DLF’s superflex ADP and the RB1, well ahead of any other rookies. Based on his dynasty value alone, picking any other player would be a mistake. However, I don’t mind trading out of the 1.01 if I can get a massive return. Specifically, in a superflex league, quarterbacks are the lifeblood of our dynasty rosters and will go from 1.02-1.04 in most leagues. Therefore, I’d love to trade the 1.01 for a haul that includes the 1.02, 1.03, or 1.04 plus other major pieces. But in terms of a straight pivot, there are none from Robinson.
1QB Options: Robinson
Like the above section, there are no other options versus Robinson at the 1.01 in 1 QB leagues. Additionally, without the quarterbacks at the top of the board, the value difference between Robinson at 1.01 and either Jahmyr Gibbs or Jaxon Smith-Njigba at 1.02 is even more significant in a 1 QB league. Just pick Robinson at the 1.01 and enjoy the spoils.
ROOKIE SELECTION 2.01
THE PICK: HENDON HOOKER, QB TENNESSEE
Hooker started his college career in 2017, entering Virginia Tech as an older player. He turned 19 in January 2017, making him almost 20 years old before stepping on campus. After that, he failed to see the field in 2017, as he redshirted the year.
Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB
As you can see, Hooker barely even saw any game action as a redshirt freshman in 2018, playing three games with no passing statistics. He had four carries for 57 yards and a touchdown, but he was barely on the radar.
However, he finally got a chance to start in 2019, splitting time with Ryan Willis at quarterback. He played 18 games in 2019 and 2020 at Virginia Tech, finding more success in 2019 than in 2020. Unfortunately, he was far from an NFL-quality passer those seasons, although he developed some rushing ability in 2020, taking 120 carries for 620 yards and nine touchdowns.
After the 2020 season, Hooker transferred to Tennessee, where he had two years of eligibility left due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, he excelled, putting up two excellent years, totaling 58 passing touchdowns and only five interceptions. But unfortunately, he failed to break out until his age-23 collegiate season, making it difficult to evaluate him against other prospects.
Additionally, he tore his ACL late in the 2022 season, which may force him to miss some of the 2023 season. Therefore, he may not be ready to play in the NFL as a starter until his age-26 season in 2024. To give a comparison, Hooker is older than proven superstars Justin Herbert and Jordan Love, who’s already sat on an NFL bench for three years.
- 2.01/2.04 for George Pickens/3.12
- 2.01/2024 2nd for Miles Sanders
- 2.01/Devonta Smith for Drake London
Possible Pivots: Zay Flowers, Devon Achane, Josh Downs, Michael Mayer (TE premium)
I prefer to go in a different direction than Hooker at the 2.01 in superflex leagues. I might consider picking him if he receives first-round NFL Draft capital, but he’d be off my board anywhere near this price if he falls to the second round. Regarding pivots, players like Flowers, Achane, Downs, and Mayer in TE premium formats represent my next tier in my rookie rankings. I currently rank Hooker at 19th overall in superflex rookie rankings, so he’s nowhere near this value for me.
1QB Options: Jalin Hyatt, Mayer, Anthony Richardson, Bryce Young, CJ Stroud
I doubt any of Flowers, Achane, or Downs will fall to the 2.01 in most 1 QB leagues. However, Hyatt is currently losing value, so he’d probably be my top choice that might be available here. Beyond Hyatt, Mayer might be there at the 2.01 in non-TE premium leagues, and the three top rookie quarterbacks are also decent options. It’s important to note that even though I rank Young and Stroud higher in superflex leagues for their long-term value, I prefer Richardson for his upside in 1QB formats. It’s easy to replace a quarterback in 1QB leagues, so I’d rather take the home run swing.
ROOKIE SELECTION 3.01
THE PICK: ROSCHON JOHNSON, RB TEXAS
Interestingly, Johnson is the 3.01 in this exercise, as he shared a field with Robinson for most of his college career.
Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB
He entered Texas as a quarterback in 2019 before switching to running back due to injuries on the roster. That year, he produced his best statistical output, despite splitting time with Ingram and being an 18-year-old freshman.
Unfortunately, Johnson never saw significant time again after 2019, as Robinson dominated touches. However, despite limited touches, he continuously produced touchdowns and a solid YPC. He could’ve returned for his 2023 season to be the starter and improve his NFL Draft stock, but he declared for the NFL Draft, expecting to be a potential Day 2 pick. I find Johnson challenging to evaluate, as he played with one of the best running back prospects of all time. No matter where he lands, he will have an easier path to touches in the NFL than in college, which is incredibly rare.
- 3.01/2024 2nd for Odell Beckham/Tyler Lockett
- 1.11/3.01 for 1.09
- 3.01 for Zach Wilson
Possible Pivots: Cedric Tillman, Marvin Mims, Rashee Rice
Johnson’s current ADP seems very appropriate, as Rice is the only player with a lower ADP that I prefer. However, I would far rather have Tillman and Mims over Johnson, and they’re the two players going off the board straight ahead of him. Additionally, I have almost no confidence in Johnson’s NFL Draft capital, so he may move wildly in my rankings between now and post-NFL Draft.
1QB Options: Tillman, Rice, Johnson, Israel Abanikanda
By this point, the top quarterback options are off the board in both superflex and 1 QB leagues, so there’s not much difference in ADP value between the two formats. Once again, Tillman and Rice would be my top two choices here, with Johnson and Abanikanda as my top pivots.
- 2023 Dynasty Rookie Post-Draft Update: Jaxon Smith-Njigba - May 30, 2023
- 2023 Dynasty Rookie Post-Draft Update: Kayshon Boutte - May 26, 2023
- 2023 NFL Draft: Dynasty Fantasy Football Winners and Losers from the AFC North - May 25, 2023