50433 400x252 Checkers and chess istock e1362527006210 Playing Chess While Theyre Playing Checkers: Understanding Rookie Pick Values

Happy hump day everybody! In an effort to get you through the workday I will be shedding some light on the value of rookie picks, something all dynasty owners have an opinion on. This article will explain how I value (and evaluate) them.

Last year after poring through countless articles and forum posts, I realized that no one had really given rookie picks the look they deserved.  It was easy to look at where rookies were being drafted that year but nobody had put together a deeper look. From there my brainchild was born. I looked at the ADP of rookie drafts from 2010 – 2012 and compared that to where those players were going in current dynasty start-up drafts to where they were drafted in rookie drafts. By comparing their rookie and current ADP, it was possible to ascertain a rookie pick value.

I’ve had this article sitting in my coffers for awhile now, so it should be noted that the values I will be using are based on 2012 start-up dynasty picks. However, you can expect a shiny, new, and updated article coming out during the preseason. Look for it to get a nice advantage over your league mates.  Here is the article, with some comments following the conclusion.

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Hey guys, hope y’all are as excited about the (pre)season as I am! With most rookie drafts in the books, and everyone looking to the future, I thought I’d put some numbers on the most prized asset a Dynasty team has, their rookie picks.

Rookie picks are the only thing you get for free in Dynasty.  In redraft if you have a bad year you can give up halfway through the season knowing that the grass will be greener next year; in Dynasty, things are very different.  Competitive leagues have rules against tanking, expecting you to be on your grind all year long. Working the waiver system and moving old vets to contending teams for young talent and/or picks is a common occurrence. Good owners are always looking to the future, especially when the going gets tough, that’s the key to success.

Although everyone evaluates players and trades differently, my method involves putting a price on each asset involved. At this time of year there are countless mock and real drafts being completed daily that tell you exactly what a player is worth.  Using MyFantasyLeague.com or ProFootballFocus.com, you can get recent ADP data which tells you how the average person rates the value of any player. Granted, not everyone is the same and some people have a man crush or a little too much bro-love for a player, but this will generally give you a good idea of a player’s value.

Alright, enough about players and trading; let’s talk numbers. I’ve analyzed the last three years of dynasty rookie drafts (2012, 2011, and 2010) and figured out where those players are today. Using standard, 12 team, PPR leagues, I compiled the top 24 rookies drafted each year, and then found out the value of those players in a Dynasty start-up if it were drafted today. I personally don’t subscribe to the notion that you can predict where people will finish a year out, but as the season progresses those predictions will get increasingly accurate so I’ve included those numbers as well. I found the results of this analysis to be pretty stunning.

Untitled Playing Chess While Theyre Playing Checkers: Understanding Rookie Pick Values

I’m traditionally a redraft or keeper player, so I tend to fall into the “win now” camp. In my recent startup, I traded my next two Rookie 1st rounders for Kenny Britt. Now those picks are pretty far out (2013 and 2014) but they’re still firsts and carry a lot of weight in Dynasty circles.  An average 1st is worth the 8.12 player off the board in a startup according to my calculations, and at that price I thought it was a great deal for me. However, I don’t expect to be average. I expect to win. Due to this mentality, I expect my future picks to be worth less than the average pick. Therefore, using the table I’ve created, if I can trade two future 1sts, each with a value of 12.02, for something of early round value like Kenny Britt, I’ll take that deal every time.

That’s just one example of how beneficial this information can be. In addition to points I’ve made already, here are some other things to consider:

First, you should note that this is a guide to the value of a FUTURE pick. The farther out each pick is, the less it is worth. Everyone has their own system for determining the decay in value of a future pick, but it’s important to remember that your picks are still far off, and the player you’re acquiring can produce points (and hopefully wins) now.

Second, this tells me that we in the Dynasty community overvalue young players. If we look at the average pick value for various rounds, it decreases as we move back each year. I’m sure some players have suffered injuries, but often rookies just don’t live up to their hype. One bad year can be forgiven, but after two we’re a little less understanding. Remember this when you’re evaluating players! Youth is good but talent and a proven ability to play is king. It’s no coincidence 2010 rookies are worth less than 2012 rookies, on average. Remember that draft class had Ryan Mathews (1.01), Dez Bryant (1.02), CJ Spiller (1.04), Rob Gronkowski (2.09) and Tamp Bay Mike Williams (2.10) among other notables, it certainly wasn’t worthless.

Third, realize how powerful this information can be this time of year. Most Rookie drafts have recently completed and you likely have your next round of future picks. Try to gauge how your leaguemate’s value Rookie picks and take advantage of it whenever possible. They have opinions, you have facts! Additionally, loading up on talent this year decreases the value of the pick you just traded, making it even more advantageous.

Originally I was going to look at 4 rounds of rookie picks, but it became apparent quickly that although there were a few outliers, later picks generally don’t pan out. Exceptions to the rule include Eric Decker (3.02, 2010), Emmanuel Sanders (3.03, 2010), LaGarrette Blount (3.12, 2010), Jake Locker (3.06, 2011), and Stevan Ridley (4.02, 2011). If you can get any immediate help in return for a future 3rd or 4th round pick, I’d take it. Everyone gets rookie fever, but Fantasy Football is a numbers game and we can’t let emotion get to us.

Since these rookie picks are the only consistent influx of value for your team, it’s imperative to use the picks wisely. Some players may choose to sell them, while others may choose to buy them. While every team is different and has different needs, when given the choice I’ll choose the established player every time, even if it’s a WR4 or RB3. Hopefully you can use this knowledge to your advantage and work the Trading Block in your own league. Good luck!

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As you can tell, some player values have changed over the course of the season, but the basic premise held true: rookie picks are overvalued in dynasty circles. The top rookie picked is Lacy according to the ADP that I’ve seen, and he’s going in the middle of the 3rd round. Even if you traded what ended up being the 1.01 this year for a player in the 2nd – 3rd round range you made a profit on the pick, and likely prospered from the talent you acquired over the course of the season. I know having a bunch of rookie picks is sexy, but sometimes it’s better to be prudent and let the opposition shoot themselves.

  If the article seems dense, or you have any questions about rookie pick trades or how to use the table provided feel free to hit me up @BRonIsBoss and I’ll answer any questions you throw at me.

Be Easy,

Brian