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An Important, Radical Message on 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft Strategy

Air Date:
May 21, 2020

 

An Important, Radical Message on 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft Strategy

I’ve been observing Dynasty Rookie Drafts for the past few weeks, talking with clients and readers about trade for/away of DRD picks in 2020 since the 2020 NFL Draft…and during all that time I’ve been studying players/situations/schedules, etc., for our 2020 Draft Guide. I’m leading off this lengthy piece with my month of May work schedule because it’s important to put into context for my next statement…something I want you to know for those with Dynasty Rookie Drafts ahead.

Ready?

Here goes…

The success of your 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft should be defined by how you sold it off and by staring at the names of players you acquired, players already in existence in your post-Draft analysis.

As your advisor, I would advise you – you should have a goal to NOT make a pick in the first two rounds of the 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft, and if you need to – trade your whole draft (rounds 1-2 and 3…and 4-5 if you want…but save one pick for Colby Parkinson) away for existing players.

Let that process for a moment because you are not going to take it well.

I know you…you want to be in the Dynasty Rookie Draft because…of course you do. You have rookie fever; we all have rookie fever right now. We all have Rookie Derangement Syndrome (RDS) this time of year – that syndrome is the delusional belief that the unknown (to the NFL) rookie player is filled with magical mystery and fortunes untapped, and subsequently we see the rookies from a year ago as boring, undesired, non-sexy entities to ignore in search of your virginal property ownership of a fresh rookie…you being ‘their first’ (owner).

It happens to us every year. The problem in the Year of Our Lord 2020…there is too much talent hitting the pros from college and there is almost nowhere these incoming guys can land and make an immediate difference/be the obvious franchise starter in a great spot.

Will someone from the 2020 class make a breakthrough via talent or injury above them that springs them to fantasy goodness in 2020? Sure. Good luck finding that one out of 15-20-25-30 contenders. And then what’s the value of the one or two players that breakthrough? They feel great Weeks 1-8 when you landed the breakthrough but then the season ages, we hit the following offseason and suddenly no one really cares about Josh Jacobs like they used to…still respected and in-demand, but not as sexy a thrill up your spine as Jonathan Taylor or Clyde Edwards Helaire.

Don’t believe me?

If you had the 1.01 in a Dynasty Rookie Draft…would you not be able to trade it for Josh Jacobs today? There may be like 3-5 RBs who’d be off limits to trade the 1.01 for (CMC, Zeke, Saquon,…). We love us some fresh rookie meat!!! Are you telling me Josh Jacobs isn’t in as good or better position to FF succeed than Jonathan Taylor in 2020?

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE? That’s the thing – a year from now all these current rookies will seem boring by comparison to the enthusiasm of today/pre-ever playing a snap. If you think Jonathan Taylor is a better 2021+ guy who will share touches a lot in 2020, but you still want the 2021+ talent/upside guy – why not skip it now and go back this time next year and trade for a discounted Taylor…or even observe a year and pay a fair price for it?

Are you as excited about Ezekiel Elliott today as you were 2-3 years ago?

Remember when Leonard Fournette was the greatest RB prospect of our lifetimes? He’s been very solid in the NFL, but he’s not even an RB1 value today. You offer your 1.02 for Fournette, the Len owner will rub his eyes in disbelief and hit ‘accept’ in two seconds and your entire league will mock you for such a stupid deal.

The peak value of fantasy players, in most cases, is their rookie preseason before we see them play. It doesn’t mean they won’t be great in a year or two or three – but within years 1-2-3 of actual play, there will be times to go make a trade for them when things look down. After year one, Christian McCaffrey was not THIS current Christian McCaffrey we know today…you could have acquired him easily/fairly. Saquon Barkley was supposed to be generational…how’s that working out?

I’m using all RB examples because picks 1.01 and 1.02 in this year’s DRD will be running backs (except in SuperFlex), but don’t even get me started on the WRs. All of last year’s top rookie WRs are less exciting today in most all cases…Marquise Brown, N’Keal Harry, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, Mecole Hardman…I just named the first five WRs drafted in the NFL in 2019. Everyone loves Deebo, but he’s a WR2 today…and there’s a million WR2s. You offer your 1.05 DRD 2020 pick for Deebo…likely that gets accepted in a heartbeat for the person wanting to get your 1.05 to go get Cam Akers or Jerry Jeudy, etc. Poor Deebo, he’s better than all of them – and you’ve already got a preview of his abilities/fit. The allure of the unknown CeeDee Lamb is definitely better than known Deebo…which is insane, really…Rookie Derangement Syndrome…

I would advise you that in a 1st and 2nd-round (12-team +/- league/15-18 man rosters example) of the 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft, you should look back and have two+ players in existence you traded for and no rookies taken. Not participating in this DRD, at least not the top 24-36…it should be your goal/badge of honor.

Now, I don’t mean just go take the first deal that comes along to rid yourself of these COVID-DRD picks. I mean, you should study rosters and valuations and really target existing assets – go for 1-for-1 or you get 2+ for 1…or you could look higher and trade your pick + ___ player FOR something really nice/bigger ticket. Your best way to play the 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft is – trade it all away.

Now, if you want to bet on Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the right fit at the right time…at 1.01, that’s fine. I get it. I’m interested too…BUT, at least, swing for the fences on a huge deal away of the 1.01 and see if you can cash in on someone else’s Rookie Derangement Syndrome (RDS). The fact that you are so locked in on CEH or Taylor…it’s not a good sign, it means your infected with RDS. You won’t explore any deals because nothing can topple your fixation on the rookies. It’s the wrong way to see it.

I like CEH and Taylor too, and you know I love that cluster of WRs the media is missing on…I like them all. It’s not a ‘like’ thing. It’s an asset thing. It’s a buy low/sell high life that I lead. Picks in rounds 1&2 in 2020 – it’s a ‘sell high’ life for us.

To go along with this thinking, I want to help drive it home/give some examples of the warped valuation of rookies vs. current players – and I’m going to use some of the great ‘buy lows’ I see out there right now you should pounce on regardless of trading picks or whatever.

First, let me use a 12-team one round typical Dynasty Rookie Draft outcome…with no FFM person in the league, so this is a typical football hive mind Dynasty Rookie Draft (PPR, not SuperFlex)…

1) Clyde Edwards-Helaire

2) Jonathan Taylor

3) D’Andre Swift

4) J.K. Dobbins

5) CeeDee Lamb

6) Jerry Jeudy

7) Cam Akers

8) Justin Jefferson

9) Henry Ruggs

10) Jalen Reagor

11) Ke’Shawn Vaughn

12) Joe Burrow

For the most part…we can agree this is close/typical in ADPs?

 

Now, let’s add a wrinkle into this draft... Let’s add the following players to it:

 -- Leonard Fournette/2017…the 2017 rookie but entering in 2020 DRD not 2017.

 -- Leonard Fournette/2020, as we know him today.

 -- Darrell Henderson/2020, as we know him today.

 -- Devin Singletary/2020, as we know him today.

 -- Diontae Johnson/2020, as we know him today.

 -- Parris Campbell/2019, the 2019 rookie but as if he is entering into 2020 DRD.

 

 

 -- Where does Leonard Fournette/2017 land if he was just coming into the league with Jacksonville 2020 with this 2020 roster? Well, his 2017 rookie self was about as good as it got – expected to be dominant, better than Ezekiel Elliott. He’d be entering a team with Chris Thompson and Ryquell Armstead as competition…which means we’d be over the moon about the potential for Week 1 all-the-carries. He’d either be the 1.01 or 1.02 for sure in the 2020 DRD, perceived better than Taylor and going to a better/cleaner no Marlon Mack in the way situation.

 -- Where does current day Fournette/2020 go if he was magically into this DRD? Everyone thinks he’s boring now, but would you take him 1.03 if you were there and CEH and Taylor were off the board? I bet you could trade your 1.03 for Fournette and possibly a little more your way.

 -- Let’s pretend Darrell Henderson/2020, as we know him today (hotter rookie in 2019 but now a year removed with questions and Cam Akers drafted), is magically in the 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft. We forget how great the Henderson draft profile (tape and Combine) was. He feels like old news today, but just a year ago he was in great demand (a cautionary tale for most all of these rookies).

Where would you draft him in the 2020 DRD? Ahead of Akers? Just behind Akers? Do you assume he’s lost the job to Akers already? The guy drafted highly as well but with a year’s more experience the better Combine and better college career – we just assume he’s toast to Cam Akers? Henderson has got a chance to seize this job, right? We think Ke’Shawn Vaughn is going to magically leap past three other RBs and be super valuable for FF 2020, and people are willing to pay up to take a look…but Darrell Henderson is a chump with no chance to win the Rams job…are you crazy?

I’d say Henderson/2020 would either be the 2020 DRD pick before Akers, if you think he’s the better FF Rams play…or, if you think Akers has the edge in the competition but Henderson is in the split role backfield with him – then Henderson is more likely taken ahead of/at where Ke’Shawn Vaughn is…late 1st-round.

If you offered someone your 1.07 for Henderson…they’d hurt themselves trying to hit the ‘accept’ button quickly. And for the 1.08 or 1.09 or the 1.10, etc. I’m seeing 2nd-round picks traded for Henderson. If you believe Henderson is the most talented guy on the Rams RB depth chart and a talent in general…why draft Ke’Shawn Vaughn and rather not trade for DHendo?

 -- What about current day Bills starter Devin Singletary/2020 in the Dynasty Rookie Draft? No bigger name RB has fallen more in value since the draft…all because of Zack Moss being drafted…because we’re sick in the head over rookies.

Where do you place Singletary/2020, current situation, in this draft? I like CEH’s situation better. I like Taylor’s talent more, but then I’d for sure take Singletary over Dobbins-Akers-Vaughn-Kelley. And I’d take him over all the WRs I like or that THEY like. So, Singletary/2020 would be the 1.03 in this faux scenario, right?

If you offered your 1.03 for Singletary, your trade partner may break their finger clicking on the ‘accept’ button. I’m seeing Singletary traded for picks 1.06-1.12 all over, and some early 2nd-round picks. Almost no one believes in Singletary now, which is not a crime…but isn’t he in a better situation than every RB in the DRD than CEH-Taylor? Yet, you could trade your 1.03 or 1.05 for Singletary + _____ player/asset.

If you walked away from the 1.03 DRD pick and got Singletary and Parris Campbell instead – you’re a genius, and I’m seeing it happen (or similar) but many people’s first reaction is ‘too much risk’ with Singletary and Parris. Really? And all these rookies are just instantly perfect for FF 2020? Only Burrow and CEH are in ‘perfect’ places for FF impact right away, everyone else has serious questions/concerns to figure out…even Jonathan Taylor.

-- Speaking of Parris Campbell…what if last year’s rookie profile Parris Campbell/2019 was entering the 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft instead? That size, speed, Ohio State pedigree…we all loved him, but a year later we’re worried about not seeing much from him 2019, and then T.Y. Hilton, and now Michael Pittman. OK, those are issues…but how is Pittman now assumed better than Parris? They both have the same issues today, but Parris has a year under his belt. Why is Pittman all upside and Campbell all worry?

Campbell/2019 would be a top 12 DRD profile for 2020…he’d be with Mims, Edwards, Pittman, etc., among guys we all love the metrics on. So, he’d be a #10-12-15-ish prospect in the 2020 DRD, right? But he had a non-exciting, injury-prone (nothing serious) 2019, so the Rookie Derangement Syndrome was cured and now he’s boring. You can get him for 2020 2nd-round rookie picks. You can get him thrown into deals with that weakened valuation – like my 1.03 for Singletary and Parris example…to your trade partner that’s getting a 1.03 for two 2nd-round DRD picks. If you offered your 1.03 for 2.03 and 2.05…your trade partner would dive all over that to get the 1.03. But because Singletary and Parris (and I could use many other examples) are ‘old news’ after one whole year, you can get these types of deals done…it may be with Singletary and Parris or other names similar.

 -- OK, speaking of Parris -- what about the even better Diontae Johnson/2020 being in this rookie draft. If current Diontae was magically in the 2020 DRD, as we know him today – where do you rank him? Is he not the #1 WR on your board, or in the argument? Ahead of Edwards, Mims, Claypool, etc.? With them? And wouldn’t that make him a DRD 1st-round draft pick equivalent? And if so, him being traded for early 2nd-round DRD picks or late-1sts is a good value, if you believe?

But you don’t ‘believe’ because he’s been in the league for a year and didn’t catch 150 passes for 2,200 yards and 20 TDs…but somehow Denzel Mims might from Sam Darnold? This is what Rookie Derangement Syndrome does to us. We want the treasure map to chase after a million dollars’ worth of gold possibly hidden somewhere in a remote area for us to go exploring the jungle for instead of someone paying us a million dollars for the treasure map and saving us the trouble of the pursuit and risk that the treasure is not even there.

I’m sure one of the players picked 1.03 to 5.12 in the 2020 Rookie Draft will breakout and become a star to all our surprise and you’ll bemoan why you didn’t take them, but note that means 57 other picks didn’t explode – just like in 2019…and 2018, etc. Only, to me, this 2020 situation is worse/more dire because all these very talented rookies are entering a crowded depth chart of talent and the advantage always goes to the incumbents -- they know the playbook, the coaches, the blocking schemes, they know where the bathroom is, etc. Talented + a year of experience trumps talented rookie…especially in the COVID era, yet we think the opposite…every rookie MIGHT be the next Randy Moss or Christian McCaffrey (year three not year one). It’s an advantage that we already know last year’s guys (and we had similar delusions about)…we’ve seen and realized they are just normal humans in various good/bad team situations to interpret.

I’m writing this to encourage you to explore trading your entire 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft…or, at least, trying to. Don’t sit and do 150 mock DRDs and fall in mad passionate love with Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden and Joshua Kelley, etc. Spend as much time looking for existing players you equate to your 1st and 2nd and 3rd-round picks and look to make deals. Instead of Mims, Edwards, Bowden…I’d rather you not even be in the rookie draft first three rounds and just write to me and tell me you have Fournette and/or Singletary, maybe David Johnson tickles you again, and Diontae or Parris, and/or Darrell Henderson, and/or vets like Thielen or Hilton for title contender FF teams, and/or TE help in Higbee or going after aging Kelce from an power worrying about age too much today…and maybe Lazard or Minshew types being thrown in too – I’d rather see you have a collection of them instead of any rookies/making picks.

The peak, max value of 2020 DRD 1st-2nd and maybe 3rd-round picks – it’s to trade them for real, existing players.

Don’t buy into my concept and then try to trade them all away in two hours to ‘get ‘er done’. Explore. Take all that time you use doing 174 mock rookie drafts and go through each team in your league in detail and craft concepts and then rank those concepts and then pursue those concepts and see what happens.  

Try to be OUT of this Dynasty Rookie Draft…it’s the smartest way to play the 2020 DRD . *Unless you have the 1.01 for CEH…or Burrow in SuperFlex, which is worth holding the value…or keep the 1.02-.03 if you think you want/love Taylor, but I’m open to selling it all on him too and coming back in a year to see if he’s cheaper. Most of today’s rookies will be at a lower acquisition price a year later. Zeke was (for reasons), Fournette was, Gurley was, CMC was, Henry was. The odds your rookie is an instant Hall of Famer in the Year 2020 are astronomical.

 

So, our pretend 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft might look like this…and if so, there are bargains to be had trading your picks for players. This is our/my proposed ranking – what they trade for is all less than what I’m ranking, which is a beautiful thing…

 

1) Clyde Edwards-Helaire

*1-2* Leonard Fournette/2017

2) Jonathan Taylor

*1-2* Leonard Fournette/2020

*3* Devin Singletary/2020

3) D’Andre Swift

4) J.K. Dobbins

*5-10* Diontae Johnson/2020

5) CeeDee Lamb

6) Jerry Jeudy

7) Cam Akers or (6-10) Darrell Henderson/2020

*7-12* Parris Campbell/2019

8) Justin Jefferson

9) Henry Ruggs

10) Jalen Reagor

11) Ke’Shawn Vaughn

12) Joe Burrow

 

Go forth and prosper. Have patience. Examine all the opponent’s Rosters. Craft potential deals, several and then rank them and then go attack in order. Let the league know your picks are available and field offers.

‘Sell High’ on the 2020 Dynasty Rookie Draft.





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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>