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.
Michael Mayer, TE LV
Mayer has been on the dynasty radar for a number of years, in particular with the devy community and fans of college football. He was impressive as a freshman, improving further with at least 65 catches and 800 receiving yards in each of his final two seasons at Notre Dame. Over his college career, Mayer produced a consistent five catches per game and a touchdown in every other game.
Mayer received excellent draft capital, taken at pick 35, early round two of the 2023 NFL Draft to the Las Vegas Raiders. The excellent draft capital is a key indicator of talent, showing the commitment the Raiders have to him and the expectations moving forward. He will be tasked with replacing the production from the recently departed tight end Darren Waller. Short term, landing with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback and target competition from the elite Davante Adams and underrated Jakobi Meyers is less than ideal – however there is a clear pathway for Mayer to be at least the number two option in this offense in the next couple of seasons.
Mayer is a great value at the 2.05 in superflex rookie drafts. His draft profile is rock solid, with early and consistent production, an early declaration and top-40 draft capital. He is an excellent leverage play versus fellow rookie Dalton Kincaid, who went 10 picks earlier in the 2023 NFL Draft – where you are getting him at a half-round discount. Mayer is giving an excellent floor vs acquisition cost and worth noting he is valued higher than the individual 2.05 rookie pick at the market value at Keep Trade Cut. Mayer gives the flexibility to move at a future date: any team looking to get younger at tight end or looking to have a placeholder with top-five upside will have interest in Mayer – giving you the liquidity to pivot if required. The most logical pivots are to a high-value position like quarterback or a similar tight end profile at a cheaper cost.
I’m firmly in on Mayer at this rookie pick value, I can see a career trajectory similar to a TJ Hockenson, in respect of a player who isn’t an elite athletic specimen but is super productive and a good bet for his value to rise steadily in the future. I consider him to have a low bust factor with the early and consistent college production. Two available pivots are rookie quarterback Will Levis (who could be a bigger value with the Malik Willis training camp hype) and sophomore tight end Trey McBride (2022 second-round pick who had an injury-plagued rookie season). If you are unable to pivot, Mayer makes sense as a safe, low-risk pick with more upside to increase in value than decrease, given the strong overall draft profile.
The logical and safe pick at this spot in 1QB leagues is quarterback Bryce Young. Whilst the elite upside is crucial for contenders in this league format, we have to be aware Young is an unknown in the NFL. There is upside as a rusher, which would boost him in all formats. Young is the selection over the remaining risky running backs and wide receivers with significant question marks.
Roschon Johnson, RB CHI
Johnson is a converted quarterback, who played behind fellow rookie and potentially generational running back Bijan Robinson at Texas. While he was used sparingly for the Longhorns (for obvious reasons), he displayed an under-the-radar all-around skillset and flashed sneaky upside on his limited touches.
Johnson was selected at pick 115, in the middle of the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft. Whilst it’s disappointing for him to miss out on day two draft capital (round two-three), it shouldn’t be a death sentence for his short-term outlook – think 2022 Dameon Pierce or 2021 Michael Carter. Johnson landed on a wide-open depth chart in Chicago – competing for touches with another day three draftee from 2021 in Khalil Herbert and journeyman thumper D’Onta Foreman. The dual-threat presence of enticing third-year quarterback Justin Fields would reduce pass usage value, however would make Johnson an even bigger threat as a rusher.
Outside of the intrigue of an upside play like Anthony Richardson, I think Johnson is the biggest lottery ticket in this year’s rookie class. He is a relatively unknown commodity playing behind Robinson – a great leverage play on Kendre Miller (who also played behind a five-star high school prospect in Zach Evans). Any rookie draft selection beyond round one is a gamble, where this range feels a balance of risk and reward for Johnson. Preference is to lean heavily into drafting running backs in the middle to late rounds of rookie drafts – with the only downside to value being this is widely considered the top of this running back tier.
I think the 2.06 is a fair spot to open the mystery box on Johnson, however portfolio wise he’s not a player you want to be over-exposed with a high bust factor. Running back-needy teams in contention could consider a short-term pivot like Dalvin Cook or James Conner. Another option is to target a rookie wide receiver who would give you the stack with their existing quarterback already on your dynasty roster. Finally you could make a sideways move and look to go for Johnson’s teammate Herbert, if you believe in the balance of short and long-term production is optimal for your roster. If you draft Johnson it’s with the advice that day three running backs have a history of being replaced – time it right if you can make a profit.
Detroit Lions’ tight end Sam LaPorta is the player that stands out in 1QB leagues. He was surprisingly the second tight end off the board (ahead of Mayer) in the 2023 NFL Draft, however many consider him valued higher than Mayer in dynasty. Laporta has a strong draft profile and is a fine value here in this format.
Marvin Mims, WR DEN
Mims is an explosive wide receiver, who made his name at Oklahoma on the back of big plays as opposed to consistent volume – with an outstanding 19.5 yards per reception over his college career. He was impressive as a freshman with 600+ receiving yards and nine touchdowns, with improvement in receiving yards in his final two seasons.
Whilst Mims didn’t receive the all-important top 50 or top 40 draft capital (often used threshold to predict talent/success), being a round two selection of the Broncos (pick 63 overall) and the first-ever draft selection by new head coach Sean Payton is encouraging. Mims links up with the underperforming Russell Wilson and shares the field with teammates Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Greg Dulcich. It’s an underrated landing spot tied to Payton – who had a ton of success in New Orleans previously and a quarterback in Wilson, who started his career with nine straight QB1 seasons. It’s a wide-open depth chart and part of a new regime, so there is optimism for Mims to make a splash in Denver – the caveat being can he become more than an excellent secondary piece who delivers explosive plays?
The middle of round two in rookie drafts is extremely fluid, following ADP can go out of the window as dynasty managers target stacks, upside backups and embrace risk. Mims is a solid option in this range, given the great overall analytical profile at Player Profiler and the Payton factor. The concern is the trend of non-top-40 draft selections and the lower hit rate than higher drafted assets. Mims makes a ton of sense for Russell Wilson owners or anyone looking for a boost in the flex positions of their lineup. The 2.07 is a great value spot versus the earlier drafted Jonathan Mingo, however you would be losing value against similar-tier guys in Jayden Reed and Rashee Rice, granted if you can’t trade you have to hit draft on someone.
Thinking about potential pivots from the 2.07, it’s likely a difficult spot to move back from unless another dynasty manager is above consensus on a particular asset they are targeting. There could be an option to move up, but rookie wide receiver options would need a significant jump into the top 10 minimum. Where wide receiver is the target and you can’t move down, I like aiming for talented players who have moved into a perceived worse situation – JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jakobi Meyers, obtaining at a discount. This is an area where a small trade down is ideal, build a queue and aim to jump back whilst keeping the queue alive.
In 1QB leagues the strategy is to target running backs in this range. We’re at the stage where taking many shots at the position will lead to usable weeks when a backup is elevated to a starting role – plus it’s a lot easier to predict an RB scoring well as the starter than a third wide receiver. Tyjae Spears is the selection here, it will be tough to show value without a Derrick Henry injury, but rostering backup running backs is all about holding for the opportunity of starter usage.
Tank Bigsby, RB JAC
Bigsby has perhaps the best name for a running back in all of football – while not fully living up to the play of a tank, displaying excellent elusiveness and lateral ability. Bigsby was a five-star recruit to Auburn, where he played his full college career, despite options to move in the transfer portal. He showed durability, a touchdown proficiency and recorded multiple seasons with 20+ receptions.
Bigsby received solid draft capital, as a round three selection of the Jaguars at pick 88 – immediately putting himself as the top backup and a potential split backfield with former first-round pick Travis Etienne. The excitement continues to grow considering the situation overall – an offense led by a potentially elite quarterback in Trevor Lawrence and expected to make another jump with the addition of Calvin Ridley. Bigsby immediately becomes a top backup in dynasty, who will have many suitors due to the nature of the backup role, the spike value potential and the relative cost to acquire.
I absolutely love the value of drafting Bigsby at the 2.08 – he’s my RB5 in rookie rankings, where I have him around an early to mid-round-two valuation in rookie drafts. Considering Zach Charbonnet is going at 1.10, where you’re getting almost a full round discount, for a player who is very similar – day two draft capital, sharing a backfield with a young solid option and three-down workhorse ability. If you like Charbonnet, you should love Bigsby at this discount. The 2.08 is an overall great place to be drafting. It’s towards the end of the tier where you should still have options at running back and wide receiver – giving flexibility to draft and more suitors to trade with.
As mentioned, I love the selection of Bigsby if available at this spot. Looking at the alternatives if not available, the pick is very valuable at the end of the tier. Straight up for players going in this range, I would rather take Bigsby or see which rookie wide receiver is available to select (Mims, Reed, Rice). The only deals that could entice me would be a package to move up into the top nine overall or moving back a little for an overpay with two or three strong options left on the board. Lastly, the 2.08 is an area you could explore pivoting to a random 2024 2nd, playing the long game, adding value to the roster and hoping it’s higher than the 2.08 next year.
In 1QB leagues, you are in a position to take the last of the tier one rookie quarterbacks in CJ Stroud of the Texans. The fact he has those three letters: H O U after his name likely equate to him becoming a market value due to the recent lack of fantasy success in Houston. Stroud is a fine selection, he might not have the true ceiling ideal in 1QB leagues, but is an excellent backup with bye week potential as a fill-in play.