On Monday I wrote about the fluctuation of rookie values before and after the NFL draft. This article will focus on the rookie hype machine that builds up to extreme heights every year.

First off, I’m not a big fan of draft picks. Why?

  • First round picks have a bust rate of about 50%
  • Second round picks  have an even higher bust rate percentage
  • Although there are some diamonds in the rough in the third round, those picks are generally a crap shoot
  • A lot of the elite prospects don’t go to ideal landing spots which means you sometimes have to wait 2-3 years for a return on your investment
  • The 40-yard dash at the NFL combine increases a players real NFL draft stock for the wrong reasons which ultimately inflates a players fantasy draft stock as well
  • The media creates so much buzz about specific players being the next AP, Cam or Peyton Manning (Richardson, Luck, RGIII) which then creates unrealistic expectations for a lot of owners 

I am a fan of trading draft picks.  Why?

  • Most importantly you can trade first rounders for proven players that can help you win now
  • If you trade right before the NFL draft you will almost certainly find someone to overpay for your pick
  • You eliminate the fun game of Russian Roulette where you have a coin-flips chance of hitting or busting on a player in the first round
  • You don’t have to wait for your draft pick to develop and earn playing time
  • Owners constantly trade up for your 2nd and 3rd round picks.  But, most owners are impatient with their 2nd round picks or later (unless they are in super deep leagues).  A lot of those players will be dropped during year two since many owners don’t want to wait for them to develop.  Some end up dropping them for a hot waiver pickup.  You can then pick them up for free or for a few bucks if you use blind bidding waivers.
  • Lastly, even most top rookies don’t live up to the hype year one which means you can trade for them at a heavily discounted price-tag during the off-season before year 2

What about top-3 rookie picks?

You have a slightly better hit rate on these guys, but it’s not as good as you would think.  For every Julio, AJ Green, Calvin and AP you have a Knowshow Moreno, Crabtree, Reggie Bush, Beanie Wells, Jonathan Stewart, Mendenhall (disappointing based on past production and current injury).  Then you have the elite inconsistent guys which would include Dez, Matthews, McFadden and Stewart again.

I recently traded the 1.3 pick which I acquired in a previous deal, and I received Cruz in a 12-team PPR league.  I wanted Martin, but once I saw the writing on the wall that he wouldn’t be available I decided I would much rather have Cruz who can be a top-12 WR and can help me win now over a rookie like Blackmon, Floyd, Wilson, Luck or RGIII.

What’s my preferred method of handling draft picks?

I like trading for draft picks a year in advance.  If I’m negotiating with another owner on a potential trade and we are close I’ll try and get them to throw in a draft pick or two (2nd or 3rd rounder).  Quite a few owners won’t even blink and will give you a pick or two to seal the deal on a trade.  Just remember, don’t let that sway you if you don’t like the deal.  You should only take those extra picks if you already feel comfortable taking the deal.

Now on the flip-side, I am the same guy that has no issue giving up those 2nd and 3rd rounders to get “my guys”.  If I really want a player I won’t let a measly draft pick get in my way, so don’t lose a player you really want due to your unwillingness to add a pick to the deal.

If you’re trading for a top-5 draft pick, do it early in the off-season before the hype has started and before most have even started researching the potential rookies.  Believe it or not but there are a ton of guys who don’t watch college football and rely on YouTube footage and last minute articles and rankings to prepare for their rookie drafts.  If you can get a good first rounder on the cheap you can then look to trade it a week to two weeks before the draft for even more.

The issue with waiting until after the draft to trade your pick is that a lot of folks let the landing spots affect their perception of value.  Such as Lamar Miller, he was considered a top-8 pick by most everyone pre-NFL draft.  Once he slipped to the dolphins super late where they already had Bush and Thomas his stock dropped to the middle of the 2nd round.  So, if you had the #8 pick hoping for someone to trade up for one of the supposed top-8 rookies then you probably lost that opportunity.  You would then be scrambling to figure out what you wanted to do with the #8 pick.  Yes there are still good players there.  But, pre-draft the #8 pick was fetching inflated value due to all of the projections of the top-8 elite studs.

There is a lot more to discuss like the Cam Newton Effect, but you can read that here from a previous article.  Just don’t be the guy with the blinders on, half of these hot new rookies are fools gold.  This is just one man’s opinion as plenty of folks are very successful with their rookie picks due to lots of research/evaluation and great instincts.  There is always more than one way to skin a cat, but I prefer the proven guy who can help me win now over the risky rook!