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Rebuilding a Dynasty Team and the Odds of Rookie Draft Picks Hitting


About midway through the season in 2013, a losing team in my dynasty league traded Dez Bryant for two first round picks. That team, let’s call him “Rebuilder”, turned three first round rookie picks into Sammy Watkins, Carlos Hyde and Tre Mason. Needless to say, Rebuilder didn’t make the playoffs last year.

Two picks might not have been enough for a player like Dez. Was Rebuilder unlucky? Maybe. Time will tell if this trade will pay dividends. This begs the question though: What are the odds of hitting on rookie dynasty draft picks?

I researched the last five seasons to find out how much value rookie picks have provided.

The Facts


360 rookie picks (six-round, 12-team draft)

60 (16.6%, or 1 out of 6) registered at least one top-12 QB/TE or top-24 RB/WR season.

22 did it during their rookie season.

Only 25 (8.6%)1 had two or more top seasons.

2010-2014 Rookie Draft PPR Finishes Top 12 QB/TE Top 24 RB/WR

At least 1 season1817138460
2 or more seasons1075325
First Round Hits7675328
Second Round Hits6432116
3rd Round or Later5631015

2014 seemed like a ridiculous year for rookies but it didn’t produce bigger rookie ranks than we’ve seen in the past four. The top fantasy spots are still largely dominated by veterans. The vast majority of the top spots in 2014 were filled by players over age 25.

First Round Odds are close to 50/50

The first round picks hit almost 50% going back to 2010. This number goes down significantly if you take out one year wonders like Javid Best, Trent Richardson, Doug Martin etc. There are already five first round rookie picks that are no longer in the NFL and one that just worked out at the veteran combine.

The second round produced an expected worse return than the first round. Only 26.6% of picks in the second round posted a qualifying season. Golden Tate, Brandon LaFell and Emmanuel Sanders needed five seasons to hit.

The 3rd round or later was an absolute crap shoot with only 15 panning out of 240 players. Late round picks should be classified as very low percentage shots.

I was recently offered two third round picks for Brandon Marshall. You can see from the data why I declined. I’ll take my chances on Marshall. Elite players have a way of getting back into the top 24 as my research last off season suggests.

The following is the rookie draft ADP going back five seasons and how first and second round picks finished yearly. If there’s blank space following a player’s name it means they never finished in the top 12 QB/TE TE or top 24 RB/WR. The true difference makers made the list.

2010 Rookie Draft ADP

2010 20102011201220132014
1.01Ryan Matthews717
1.02Dez Bryant19474
1.03Javid Best20
1.04CJ Spiller6
1.05Demaryius Thomas512
1.06Sam Bradford
1.07Ben Tate
1,08Montario Hardesty
1.09Golden Tate12
1.10Arrelious Benn
1.11Dexter McCluster
1.12Jermaine Gresham10
2.01Jonathan Dwyer
2.02Jimmy Clausen
2.03Toby Gerhart
2.04Mike Williams1620
2.05Brandon LaFell22
2.06Tim Tebow
2.07Aaron Hernandez3
2.08Emmanuel Sanders5
2.09Eric Decker99
2.10Colt McCoy
2,11James Stakes
2.12Rob Gronkowski11151
3.04Jimmy Graham2112
4.09Dennis Pitta8
5.04Joique Bell231413
6.02Antonio Brown2431
6.04Victor Cruz314

2011 Rookie Draft ADP

2011 2011201220132014
1.01Mark Ingram14
1.02AJ Green173424
1.03Julio Jones21116
1.04Daniel Thomas
1.05Ryan Williams
1.06Greg Little
1.07Mikel LeShoure18
1.08Jon Baldwin
1.09Cam Newton446
1.10Roy Helu24
1.11Shane Vereen20
1.12Delone Carter
2.01DeMarco Murray62
2.02Randall Cobb168
2.03Torrey Smith23
2.04Leonard Hankerson
2.05Blaine Gabbert
2.06Kendall Hunter
2.07Jake Locker
2.08Titus Young
2.09Lance Kendricks
2.10Jacquizz Rodgers
2.11Andy Dalton123
2.12Vincent Brown
3.02Kyle Rudolph11
3.03Colin Kaepernick11
3.09Steven Ridley15
4.03Jordan Cameron5
4.12Julius Thomas210
6.03Charles Clay8

2012 Rookie Draft ADP

2012 201220132014
1.01Trent Richardson8
1.02Andrew Luck971
1.03Doug Martin2
1.04Robert Griffin III9
1.05Justin Blackmon
1.06David Wilson
1.07Michael Floyd
1.08Coby Fleener7
1.09Kendall Wright20
1.10Ronnie Hillman
1.11Isaiah Pead
1.12Alshon Jeffrey810
2.01Brian Quick
2.02Stephen Hill
2.03Lamar Miller9
2.04Rueben Randle
2.05Ryan Tannehill10
2.06LaMichael James
2.07Mohamed Sanu
2.08Ryan Broyles
2.09Brandon Weeden
2.10A.J. Jenkins
2.11Robert Turbin
2.12Josh Gordon2
3.08Russell Wilson1196
4.02TY Hilton1911
5.03Alfred Morris71917

2013 Rookie Draft ADP

2013 20132014
1.01Tavon Austin
1.02Eddie Lacy85
1.03Giovani Bernard1316
1.04Montee Ball
1.05LeVeon Bell151
1.06DeAndre Hopkins14
1.07Cordarrelle Patterson
1.08Tyler Eifert
1.09Marcus Lattimore
1.10Jonathan Franklin
1.11Keenan Allen18
1.12Justin Hunter
2.01Robert Woods
2.02Zac Stacy20
2.03Christin Michael
2.04Markus Wheaton
2.05Ej Manuel
2.06Aaron Dobson
2.07Geno Smith
2.08Joseph Randle
2.09Zach Ertz
2.10Travis Kelce6
2.11Terrance Williams
2.12Mike Gillislee
3.02Andre Ellington19

2014 Rookie Draft ADP

2014 2014
1.01Sammy Watkins
1.02Mike Evans13
1.03Bishop Sankey
1.04Brandin Cooks
1.05Carlos Hyde
1.06Eric Ebron
1.07Jordan Matthews
1.08Odell Beckham Jr. 7
1.09Kelvin Benjamin15
1.10Johnny Manziel
1.11Devonte Freeman
1.12Marquis Lee
2.01Davante Adams
2.02Tre Mason
2.03Jeremy Hill10
2.04Terrance West
2.05Teddy Bridgewater
2.06Cody Latimer
2.07Allen Robinson
2.08Blake Bortles
2.09Austin Seferian-Jenkins
2.10Jace Amaro
2.11Donte Moncrief
2.12Ka'Deem Carey

What does this mean for Rebuilding?

The probability of hitting on picks by round should be noted when evaluating player value.

I’m a little hesitant to trade a stud for picks for several reasons.

1. Players like Dez Bryant are not in every draft class

2. Most players won’t develop into top fantasy producers until several years into their careers

3. Early round picks are better but there are no guarantees a player will ever hit

If you are rebuilding, it may take a season or two or three to see your dynasty rookie picks turn the corner. Ideally, you never get yourself in a place where you have to trade away your best assets.

The real value seems to be in players in year two or three that you can get at a much bigger discount than first or second rookie picks. That should be the biggest takeaway from this information.

What do you think?

  1. Excludes 2014.  (back)

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