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How to Trade Back in Your Dynasty Rookie Draft

We examine results from past drafts to determine whether or not you should pick or trade out of your selections.

Jahmyr Gibbs

Are you in a rebuild and looking to trade back? Look no further than right here. There are no finite rules as trading draft picks is an inexact science that even professional teams haven’t mastered. Everything is a guess and much of the work is done at the time of negotiation.

To help you prepare for that day, I’ve done hours of work and crunched some numbers to help you best guess your next move. The best way to analyze the true value of a draft pick is to first figure out what the historical results yield.

I went through every single pick based on ADP from 2013 through the 2021 dynasty drafts, and I rated each player as an elite talent (e) a starter (s) or a bust (b). I totaled those numbers through the years, blocked off where I perceived to be the tiers in value, and gave a percentage where one can expect to find the elite talent and starters for their teams. Below are the composite results.

There’s nothing shocking to find in these numbers. The elite players are mostly found towards the top of the draft, starters are found throughout the first 18 selections or so, and the rest of the draft is filled with lottery tickets. Many veteran dynasty owners could have guessed these numbers before reading this article and been correct.

The real knowledge comes from knowing where the talent begins to drop. The first overall pick has easily had the greatest success rate through the last nine seasons, finding an elite player or quality starter 78% of the time. There’s a significant drop-off after that point, so that one pick gets its own tier.

The next tier in my opinion is between the 1.02 and 1.10 draft picks. Numbers suggest that an owner has nearly an equal success rate selecting an elite player or starter between these spots, with an average success rate of 56%. (I wouldn’t chastise anybody who wanted to say the 1.10 draft pick belongs in the next tier).

The third tier I’ve blocked off is between the 11th and 18th spots. Hitting on an elite player has been nearly impossible in this range, but there was a decent success rate of 29% hitting on a player worthy of a starting caliber in this tier, which is nearly a one-in-three chance.

The fourth tier ranges from picks 19 to 29, bearing a 22% success rate, while the fifth and final tier is from draft pick 30 and beyond, giving a historical accuracy of only 11%. These are your true lottery picks, where finding a player of any quality is nearly impossible.

As you can see, there’s a significant drop-off between most of these tiers, which means if you had a pick inside one, you’d be wise not to trade out of it, but not always. Let’s run through some scenarios to get a better idea of what is being discussed. Everything below is assumed that the historical data holds true.

To save some time, in all scenarios in which two or more picks are offered to you where one pick is in the same tier as your own, you should make the deal. Therefore, I will avoid setting up such scenarios below.

Scenario One: You own the first overall pick

You have a 78% chance of improving your team with this selection alone, and a 67% chance of improving with an elite prospect. If someone were to offer you two mid-firsts, your success rate to improve overall nearly stays the same (81%, 1-.4444^2), and your success rate to draft an elite player drops 10% (57%, 1-.7531^2).

Based on these numbers, it’s not in your best interest to trade back in this scenario. It would be fine if you did, but it would be in your best interest to stay put. If the other owner could add a second-rounder or veteran you like to the deal, then it’d be in your favor to take it. Otherwise, it’s mostly wise to stay put.

Scenario Two: You own an early first-round pick

In all scenarios trading back with this selection, you should only do so when acquiring a first-round pick in the same tier. There isn’t a scenario that exists where you’d come out ahead otherwise, so make sure that if you have an early pick, you at least get the tenth overall pick.

Scenario Three: You own a late first-round pick.

If you were sitting on the 1.09 spot and contemplating a move back in the draft for the 1.12 and an early second, you might need to reconsider that move. The probability of success at the 1.09 spot is 56%. The probability of success of the 1.12 and/or an early second would only be 51% (1 – 0.7^2). There’s statistically no advantage to moving back, so you might as well stay put and use the pick.

In a wild scenario, perhaps someone was to offer you a mid-second, a late second, and an early third for your 1.12. Should you take it? The success rate of hitting on one of those three picks is 58%, which is double the rate of your success on the 1.12 selection!

Providing you can accommodate room for three rookies, this is insanely good value, and a very sneaky way to improve your team overall. If you are in a rebuilding phase, using your 1.12 pick to acquire selections in the same tier and beyond would be easy to do and extraordinary for your overall value.

Scenario Four: You own an early or mid-second-round pick.

If someone were to offer you two selections in the fourth tier, it gets a bit dicey. The early or mid-second has a success rate of 29%, but the success rate of two selections in the tier below is 40%.

Your value would increase, but it’s only by 11%, and I don’t deem that to be too significant in any draft. I say, if you’re on the clock and there’s a player you love, take him. If not, make the trade.

Scenario Five: You own a late second or early third-round pick.

Unless you receive three or more picks in return from the tier below, it’s not worth considering the move. At that point, roster space has to be a concern, and you’re more-than-likely better off using the pick on a player you like than taking shots at unknowns down the line.


Lastly, I want to share some information that wasn’t originally supposed to be a part of this article, but I feel like I would be doing everyone a disservice to not share it somehow. You may have noticed that I highlighted some elite players taken towards the end of the draft, because in doing my own research something caught my eye.

Since 2013, only 13 elite players have been drafted in the last two tiers; six quarterbacks, three wide receivers, three tight ends, and only one running back. Use this information as you will, but based on this data, if you have a pick towards the end of the draft you’d be wise to select a quarterback and unwise to select a running back.

I hope this piece can help someone out there who has trade offers flooding their inbox, but are concerned about losing value if they were to move back in the draft. Remember, it’s all an inexact science, and the best you can do is be prepared for when that time comes. Good luck.

How to Trade Back in Your Dynasty Rookie Draft
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Jamie Horton
28 days ago

What if someone offered you the the 2.01 & 2024 1st for the 1.10, surely that’s great value right?

Carl Hall
Reply to  Jamie Horton
27 days ago

With 10 or 12-team leagues, you’re only moving back 1 or 3 spots while gaining a future 1st. I’d do that in a heartbeat.

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