The 2011 class gave us A.J. Green and Julio Jones. For years, dynasty players have been hoarding rookie picks with expectations of drafting the next Green or Jones. The problem with this narrative is there isn’t a Green or Jones in every class. Also both players are still in the league. There are only 24 top spots available and both have finished in the top 24 nearly every year of their careers. Jones has a top 12 finish in six of eight seasons while Green has one in four of eight.
Here is the 2011 dynasty rookie class. If there’s blank space following a player’s name it means they didn’t finish inside the top-12 quarterbacks or tight ends or top-24 running backs or wide receivers in PPR that year. This table shows the first two rounds of 12-team dynasty ADP, plus any players drafted after Round 2 that finished top at their positions.
This class has a lot of white space of non-production.
High Draft Picks Often Fall Short
Dynasty players value draft capital and rightfully so. Unfortunately, the NFL draft is littered with high draft picks that failed to produce. First round pick Jon Baldwin was a former five-star recruit, with solid college production and exceptional combine results. He lasted just three seasons in the NFL. Daniel Thomas, Ryan Williams, Greg Little, Mikel Leshoure, Titus Young, Torrey Smith, Randall Cobb, Lance Kendricks, Kyle Rudolph, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton and Shane Vereen were all second-round picks. Only three of those (Rudolph, Dalton and Cobb) would go on to multiple top-finish seasons.
Playing with Aaron Rodgers, Cobb has been mostly a tease outside of those two top-16 seasons. Torrey Smith was also. Often better real football players than fantasy assets, big play threats like Smith don’t always translate (outside of best ball leagues) into consistent scoring. Rudolph is a decent bet to finish in the top 12 again and Dalton is a nice late option in Two-QB leagues.
The Perennial Studs
The value of drafting A.J. Green or Julio Jones as rookies can’t be understated. They have been significant difference makers in dynasty and redraft. Green and Mike Evans are the only two WRs since 2000 to start their careers with five consecutive top-24 finishes. Green and Jones are on the wrong side of 30 years old now, but they do profile as WRs that could and should still be producing top-24 seasons into their early 30s.
You can add Cam Newton, Doug Baldwin and even Mark Ingram and DeMarco Murray to the perennial stud list as well. Murray and Ingram are two more examples of late-blooming RBs. Ingram really doesn’t have too much mileage (1,549 career touches) even if he is 29 years old. Le’Veon Bell (26) has 1,541 career touches by comparison. LeSean McCoy (2,280) and Adrian Peterson (2,239) had much more career touches going into their age-29 seasons and both were still productive. Ingram has a very good chance to post his fifth top-24 finish in 2019. Newton may be a value in 2019 with the uncertainty following his surgery surgery. At the right price, take a shot on a five-time top-six QB going into his age-30 season.
New England Patriots RBs
Including LaGarrette Blount from the 2010 Draft class, three more NE RBs join the hit list: Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, and Dion Lewis. All four were huge values the year they hit. Vereen was drafted in the second round and Ridley in the third in 2011. Blount and Lewis were signed as free agents. It’s notable that none had more than one top-24 finish with the team. This may be a red flag for Sony Michel or James White owners: rostering the least expensive NE RB by ADP was the optimal strategy each year when one of these players hit.
The 2011 draft class had 20 of 72 players hit at least one top-24 season. Only seven went on to become true dynasty assets with three or more top positional finishes.