Let me offer a caveat right up front that this is a partially baked version of the Rookie Pick Calculator that I’m working on. I’ve done some initial work on the relative value of rookie picks and that work is reflected in the calculator below. But there’s more work to be done that will make the calculator slightly more comprehensive.
The data that I looked at just quantified the value of each rookie pick in terms of a player’s fantasy points scored relative to the other players at their position in their draft class.
Here’s a graph of the data I compiled where I converted each pick into a smoothed scaled value. Note that the number being shown is actually representative of the median outcome, rather than the mean. Median outcome is a good measure I think because some of the later picks would only have value that is ever realized on the waiver wire. If you describe their value by the mean then it will artificially inflate the value shown.
The work I’ve done so far does a pretty decent job, I think, of being able to equate picks in the same rookie draft to each other. The only problem is that this work doesn’t allow us to be able to describe rookie picks in terms of their value relative to the rest of your roster. If you trade the 2nd overall pick for the 5th and 17th overall picks, the calculator will say that you won the trade. But what if you only really have one roster spot that you feel comfortable clearing out for rookies? Then you would want to stay in the 2nd pick. I think there are ways to get at that trade off, but in order to do it I need to go back and denominate the rookie pick values in terms of end of roster spot fantasy points, rather than just comparing rookies to each other.