For many dynasty players, the off-season highlight is the annual rookie draft. For some, that date may be rapidly approaching. Once our respective dynasty teams are eliminated from contention (and sometimes even before), we turn our attention to the incoming rookie class, and delusions of grandeur take over.
Rebuilders are full of glee as they hoard their picks, while contenders are scheming how they can pry some of those picks away, and dynasty players everywhere are champing at the bit to draft their favorite prospect.
This 12-part series will use the latest data available at Dynasty League Football: Superflex Rookie ADP from the past 30 days. We will mention the player or players you could soon add to your team via the rookie draft. We will also include options based on the 1QB rookie ADP from the same timeframe for those who play in that format.
The first round of rookie drafts includes the players we’ve been hearing about for months, if not years, but difference-makers can also be found in the second round and beyond. Each section will encompass four picks, and we will go four rounds deep to help you be as prepared as possible.
Will Levis, QB TEN
If you missed out on one of the “big three” quarterbacks early on, Levis would be your consolation here. Many thought Levis would garner first-round draft capital. We have all seen the memes of him and his now infamous girlfriend sitting and waiting for pick after pick in round one, only to go off the board with the very first pick of the second round.
His numbers in college were good, not great. He added nine rushing touchdowns to his resume during his senior year at Kentucky, making him an intriguing prospect. As we know, running quarterbacks are the fantasy cheat code these days.
Michael Mayer, TE LV
Mayer was another player we thought would go in the first round and be the first at his position drafted. Dalton Kincaid leapfrogged the Notre Dame grad and became the first tight end off the board when the Buffalo Bills traded up to number 24 to get him. Mayer landed in a good spot, with Darren Waller now in New York and Foster Moreau down in the Big Easy. Austin Hooper was brought in, but his best days are behind him.
Mayer posted back-to-back productive seasons in an offense that was 37th in the nation in passing yards with 257.5 per game. Not too shabby. You will likely have to wait a year or two to bear the fruits of this pick, as tight ends are traditionally slow to develop, but this is good value here.
If you are desperate at quarterback, then Levis is the pick here. Perhaps Kincaid slips and would be an awesome play here. In one quarterback league, you have to be happy with Mayer. The tight end position is in such disarray we take what chances we can. Other options that may be available include Devon Achane (more on him in a second) or Jonathan Mingo, depending on the flow of your draft. As deep as we thought this class would be, you really are taking dart throws here.
Devon Achane, RB MIA
We knew the Miami Dolphins would be adding to their backfield somehow and some way this off-season, and they did so by drafting Achane from Texas A&M with the 84th overall pick in the draft. While he currently sits third on the initial depth chart, there is some early buzz in camp that he could be special.
A running back in a Mike McDaniel-led offense has serious upside. Factor in the passing game chops that Achane displayed while at College Station, and you can see why there is hype. The numbers weren’t put up against low-level teams either; these came against SEC defenses.
Roschon Johnson, RB CHI
Staying in the state of Texas, we have Bijan Robinson‘s backup (a.k.a. Roschon Johnson). Johnson is no slouch and likely would have been highly touted had he been a full-time player at any other university. The Chicago Bears selected Johnson with the 115th pick and let David Montgomery walk in free agency to the division rival Detroit Lions.
The Port Arthur, Texas native was productive despite limited opportunities. This is actually a boon to his value at the next level because there is not a lot of “wear and tear” on the tires, so to speak. Johnson arrives in the Windy City fresh and ready to compete for the starting job in what could be a prolific offense in 2023.
If you are quarterback-needy, take a look and make sure Levis is gone. If he is, check your tight end depth. Grab Mayer (or even LaPorta) here. The top receivers are long gone, so start bulking up that running back depth and hope one of them hits. The same holds true for a one-quarterback league minus the Levis take. He can be safely left undrafted in that format (at least in the first two or three rounds).
Jonathan Mingo, WR CAR
There is excitement and optimism in the air surrounding the Carolina Panthers. Obviously, it all starts with quarterback and number one overall pick Bryce Young, but it doesn’t end there. The front office went out and got him a new toy to play with when they drafted Mingo out of Ole Miss with the 39th pick.
The stats don’t scream superstar. Heck, they barely say mid-level production. What does look good are the measurables. Mingo is listed at 6’2″ tall and 225 pounds. The NFL.com comp for him is Anquan Boldin. If he can be even partially as productive as the former Florida State wideout, then there should be joy in Carolina sooner rather than later.
Rashee Rice, WR KC
The landing spot has a lot to do with the ADP here. Rice is a nice player, but if he were drafted by just about any other team in the league, we wouldn’t be talking about him here. The SMU grad had a nice senior season and is solidly built at 6’2″ and 203 pounds.
Something we have to keep in mind when looking at these numbers is the opponent. We talked about Roschon Johnson doing well against SEC defenses. SMU played the likes of North Texas, Lamar, and Navy. Not exactly the who’s who of college football. In those two games versus Lamar and North Texas, Rice put up 17-298-3. That is nearly 20% of his total production for the year. Proceed with caution here.
We know, at this point, the top-tier talent has dwindled, and we are somewhat hoping and praying our picks hit. You’ll want to watch the training camp battles closely leading to your draft. That is one of the advantages of drafting late; you can read the tea leaves. Other options here are the players already covered above, along with a Tank Bigsby thrown in for good measure.
Sam LaPorta, TE DET
Speaking of camp buzz, there aren’t many players out there who have received more positive buzz than Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta. The Iowa (tight end U) grad was drafted 34th overall, likely to replace the departed TJ Hockenson.
The stats are hardly jaw-dropping, but then again, were any of the Iowa stud tight ends numbers great? Don’t answer that. They weren’t, but at least they (Hockenson and Kittle) scored touchdowns. There is a lot to like here, however, including opportunities. The receiving corps outside of Amon-Ra St. Brown leaves much to be desired. That’s putting it nicely.
Marvin Mims, WR DEN
There is a lot to like about Mims from a production standpoint, and due to some unfortunate circumstances surrounding Tim Patrick, things are looking even better for the rookie. Now third on the depth chart behind Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, Mims has a chance to do something right away in a Sean Payton and Russell Wilson-led offense.
The former Sooner was likely drafted to replace an aging Sutton (28 when the season starts) and should line up across from Jeudy for the foreseeable future. Rookie wide receivers have produced in the past, and you have to think Wilson has something to prove, meaning he may look to his shiny new toy early and often. This pick is dripping with upside.
See if the three previous ADP picks are still on the board and go for one of them. If they are all gone, and you don’t get the warm and fuzzies from Rice or Mims, go for someone like Hendon Hooker (SF leagues), Josh Downs, or Jalin Hyatt. We talked about upside earlier. These players all possess that. Downs has a freak athlete at quarterback in Anthony Richardson, and Hyatt could become the #1 for Daniel Jones as early as this season.