By the Numbers – 28 Rookie Drafts
By Leo Paciga – @FFHoudini
So far in this off season, I’ve participated in 28 rookie drafts stretching from April 28th (the day after the NFL draft) right up through the end of May. Those 28 drafts took place in solid, established 12 team dynasty leagues with pretty standard roster requirements and PPR scoring which creates a consistent base line. Those leagues also have a great cross section of knowledgeable owners who aren’t afraid to break from the prescribed “group-think” rankings if they want a certain player. I thought now would be a great time to take a look back at those drafts, dig into some data, crunch the numbers and identify a few patterns.
Below are the 17 rookies that finished with the most consistent numbers in relation to draft position. I’ve listed the player’s ADP (Average Draft Position) and in parenthesis I’ve placed their highest and lowest draft selections. All the numbers are based on 12 team leagues so the 1st round consists of picks 1 – 12 and the second round consists of picks 13 – 24.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals / ADP 1.96 ( Highest, 1.01 – Lowest, 1.04 ) - Gio was a top four selection in every single draft and also finished as the top overall selection in 10 of the 28 rookie drafts. His fantasy value has remained steady as a top selection in dynasty rookie drafts since the NFL draft took place in April. Even if Giovani Bernard begins the season in an initial timeshare with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, his skills as a receiver will make him fantasy football relevant right from the start of the 2013 season.
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams / ADP 2.35 ( Highest, 1.01 – Lowest, 1.05 ) - Tavon Austin was the top overall selection in 8 of the 28 rookie drafts. Dynasty owners love Austin’s upside and situation, especially in PPR leagues and the news from May OTAs only reinforces the notion the Rams plan to feature Tavon Austin early and often. I certainly can’t fault any owner using the 1.01 on Austin and anything after 1.03 is simply a steal.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings / ADP 3.25 ( Highest, 1.01 – Lowest, 1.06 ) - Mr. Patterson’s draft position reflects the risk/reward value most dynasty owners place on him. A very polarizing player, Cordarrelle Patterson was the top overall selection in 7 of the 28 rookie drafts, but was also selected 5th or 6th overall in seven of those same drafts. With such a high ceiling, I have no problem spending the 1.01 on Patterson, even if I have to wait 2 years for that upside to fully manifest at the next level.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers / ADP 4.67 ( Highest, 1.01 – Lowest, 1.07 ) - Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball finished with exactly the same ADP and both players found themselves within the same draft range, always coming off the board between selections #1 and #7. The only real difference between the two running backs was that Montee Ball took the 1st overall selection spot twice during 28 total drafts and Le’veon Bell did it only once.
Montee Ball, RB, Broncos / ADP 4.67 ( Highest, 1.01 – Lowest, 1.07 ) - As mentioned above, similar players and similar draft results. Most dynasty owners see Montee Ball and Le’Veon Bell as average talents in good situations, both able to produce solid fantasy football numbers over the next 2 or 3 seasons. For most dynasty owners, they are the consolation prize attached to having a pick in the 1.04 – 1.07 range.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans / ADP 5.67 ( Highest, 1.02 – Lowest, 1.08 ) - Never higher than 1.02, but never lower than 1.08, DeAndre Hopkins’ draft numbers mirror his fantasy football outlook – rock solid and super consistent.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers / ADP 5.60 ( Highest, 1.03 – Lowest, 1.09 ) - Eddie Lacy is another polarizing player in this year’s draft class. Some dynasty owners see Eddie Lacy as a feature running back for a potent offense, while others see Lacy as a potential injury risk with a very competent rookie teammate (Johnathan Franklin) sharing the workload in Green Bay. Even with the question marks, Eddie Lacy never dropped below 1.09 in any of the drafts.
Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers / ADP 9.53 ( Highest, 1.07 – Lowest, 2.02 ) - Before Keenan Allen injured his knee (PCL) back in October 2012, Allen was considered to be one the top WRs in this class and some would argue Keenan was actually at the top of the list. Allen seems to be working his way back to being 100% healthy and his rookie draft value seems to have solidified in the 1.07 to 2.02 range.
Marcus Lattimore, RB, 49ers / ADP 10.53 ( Highest, 1.08 – Lowest, 2.03 ) - Any owner drafting Marcus Lattimore does so with 2014 in mind and yet Lattimore still found a sweet spot at the end of the first round with an ADP falling between 1.10 and 1.11. The lure of being the top running back in this class “IF” he regains his health seems to be very captivating as Lattimore fell out of the 1st round in only 5 of the 28 rookie drafts.
Johnathan Franklin, RB, Packers / ADP 10.78 ( Highest, 1.06 – Lowest, 2.06 ) - Johnathan Franklin exhibited quite the fluctuation in draft range with a high draft spot of 1.06 and a low selection of 2.06. While some dynasty owners remain somewhat skeptical of Franklin’s future role, other owners are “all in” and believe he will be the lead running back in Green Bay ahead of rookie teammate Eddie Lacy.
Justin Hunter, WR, Titans / ADP 11.0 ( Highest, 1.08 – Lowest, 2.04 ) - There’s a lot to like about Justin Hunter’s skill set and his situation as the potential replacement to Kenny Britt should the Titans let Britt walk after the 2013 season. Most dynasty owners understand the upside Hunter represents as evidenced by his draft numbers. Justin Hunter was a 1st round selection 22 times in 28 drafts.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals / ADP 11.67 ( Highest, 1.09 – Lowest, 2.04 ) - Personally, I have a hard time drafting a TE in the 1st round of any rookie draft. Tyler Eifert finds himself on a team with a dominant WR#1 in A.J. Green, multiple role WRs and a solid (albeit unspectacular) TE in Jermaine Gresham. With so many mouths to feed in a Bengal passing attack, Eifert wasn’t a player I targeted in any of my first round selections. Many owners, however, disagreed with my take and used a 1st round selection on Eifert in 19 of the 28 rookie drafts.
Zac Stacy, RB, Rams / ADP 13.32 ( Highest, 1.08 – Lowest, 2.06 ) - As a dynasty owner, you either love Stacy’s skill set, style and situation……or you simply think he’s a 5th round RB with little chance of making any noise in the St. Louis rushing attack. I’m a buyer and willingly jumped in and bought Zac Stacy at the end of the 1st round a few times. Even with an emphasis on opening things up offensively in St. Louis, I still believe Stacy is a great fit in that offense.
Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks / ADP 14.32 ( Highest, 1.08 – Lowest, 2.07 ) - Michael is another player I love to snag at the end of the 1st round even though some dynasty owners may feel that’s too early for this often troubled running back. Yes, he’s a luxury on a Seattle team with incumbents Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin already on the roster, but I believe Michael is also the RB in this class with the most long term upside. Dynasty owners saw value associated with Christine Michael anywhere from 1.08 to 2.07.
Robert Woods, WR, Bills / ADP 14.39 ( Highest, 1.10 – Lowest, 2.06 ) - Over the course of 28 rookie drafts, Robert Woods’ most common draft spot was the 2.03 (7 times). In fact, Woods was selected at either the 2.02 or the 2.03 a total of thirteen times which translates to 46% of the time. Woods is a solid route runner and many dynasty owners feel there is a “polish” to Woods’ game that will translate well to the NFL.
Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers / ADP 15.74 ( Highest, 1.11 – Lowest, 2.08 ) - Markus Wheaton is a great selection at the top of the 2nd round. The former Oregon State receiver will step into the WR #3 role as a rookie and his speed, especially off the line of scrimmage, will make Wheaton a solid candidate to replace former Steeler Mike Wallace as the deep threat in the Pittsburgh offense.
Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots / ADP 15.42 ( Highest, 1.11 – Lowest, 2.09 ) - I think folks avoiding Aaron Dobson will end up regretting it. Some fantasy football owners worry about Dobson’s lack of college production in a pass happy offense while at Marshall and feel his “measurables” won’t translate to the NFL. I think Dobson’s size/speed combination will endear Aaron to Tom Brady and Dobson will become a difference maker in that offense and a nightmare match up for smaller defensive backs. Aaron Dobson went 2.05 or later ten times in 28 rookie drafts; that’s great value for a player who is being undervalued by many of the FF experts.
Again, the 17 players mentioned above were the most consistently drafted players in the first round and a half (top 20 or so picks) of 28 rookie drafts. There were a few other names that popped up with some regularity around pick #20 – guys like Joseph Randle, Terrance Williams, Travis Kelce and Da’Rick Rogers. Rogers is one of my favorite targets in the late 2nd round because he is one of the few players left on the board with 1st round upside. Yes, Rogers is a UDFA (Undrafted Free Agent) and yes, Rogers comes with so much baggage that he’s the poster child for American Airlines, but I’m always looking for the high risk/high reward guy and I’d much rather take risks on potential than play it safe. Rogers fits that description perfectly……amazing ability, high upside and tons of risk, but with a late 2nd round price tag, I’m buying in every rookie draft I can.
Well, hopefully taking a look back at all those rookie drafts provided some insight into the draft value of this rookie class. You may or may not agree with my analysis on certain players, but hopefully you’ve at least enjoyed the article. I encourage everyone out there to take the time to research players, watch some film and continue to actively improve your dynasty rosters. The tools and opinions provided here at DFW can certainly help take your teams to the next level. Feel free to contact me on Twitter @FFhoudini with any questions or comments.
Read more DFW articles by: Leo Paciga