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 The Dynasty Draft Calculator - Rookie Picks Posted 8/23 by Jeff Pasquino, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Since the dawn of trading draft picks, everyone has tried to determine the "fair value" for a particular selection. Calculators abound, including our very own David Dodds' Calculator found here. Unfortunately for leagues that span multiple years, these calculators have little or no value. So how can you adequately calculate what a draft pick is worth in these formats?

Dynasty vs. Redraft Leagues

First, you have to understand the difference between dynasty leagues and redraft leagues. In a redraft league, you are essentially posing the question of "how will Player X help me over the next few months?" In dynasty leagues, that question is in terms of years rather than months, as you keep players multiple seasons (perhaps their entire career). That is the essence of the problem - how do you quantify a multi-year value?

To attempt a solution to this problem, I sought out two different sources of information. The first was the only multi-year valuation chart that I know of that exists - the NFL Draft Pick Chart, which gives a numerical value to every pick in the NFL Draft. This chart is the most useful one to dynasty league players, since the NFL is in essence a dynasty league. The value of each pick factors in that the selected player is supposed to play for their club for years.

The second resource I needed was to answer the natural follow-up question, "how many years?" With the help of fellow Footballguys, I found a study performed at Dartmouth University regarding the average career length of an NFL player, both in aggregate and also broken down by position. Now, many would question the validity of using that data, as some would say that there is no way to predict the length of a selected player's career or that a first rounder may last longer than a fourth round selection, but that is precisely why I selected that chart. The chart is the length of an average NFL career regardless of the round they were drafted, or even if they were an undrafted player. The data may vary by round (and that would be an interesting study), but for the purposes of pick calculations I have assumed that all NFL rookies have the same expected length of career associated with their position.

Table 1 - Average Career Length of NFL Players

 Position Years Quarterback 6.96 Running Back 4.35 Wide Receiver 4.54 Tight End 4.98 Defensive Lineman 5.05 Defensive Back 5.51 Linebacker 5.50 Place Kicker 8.33 Team Defense n/a All Positions 5.33

The Dynasty Factor

There are a few different variables that enter in to calculation of a pick value for a multi-year league. First is career length, but what about the league itself? How many teams are there? How big or small is the roster? How deep is the bench? How many starters? What matters, and by how much?

What I have done is rather complicated, but I have rolled all these numerous factors into a secret formula that produces a single number that I have labeled the "Dynasty Factor". The Dynasty Factor is the numerical value for your entire league, and it represents how valuable your draft picks are for your league. It can be used to compare different dynasty leagues with different rosters and starters, and gives an independent value to each league.

Rather than have everyone see the mathematical analysis and details of the "Secret Sauce", I will lay out some of the proportional relationships for the Dynasty Factor that you will see when you first start to use it. I will tell you that the following factors contribute to the Dynasty Factor in some way:

1. Roster Size
2. Number of Teams in the League
3. Number of Starters
4. Position(s) of Starters

The influence of each of these factors is complex, but I will attempt to give you a more intuitive feel for the tool as you start to take it for a test drive.

Roster Size - The pick values are indirectly proportional to your roster size. That is, as your roster size increases, the values decrease. To say it one more way, they are inversely related.

Why would that be? Well, if you have a deep bench, you can afford to put more rookies on your roster and wait for them to develop, so there is less pressure on you getting your picks right. You also have more room for veterans on your squad, so both factors reduce the pressure on getting the pick right (and right away), and thus the pick values go down accordingly. On the other hand, the Dynasty Factor goes up as your bench gets smaller. This makes sense - you have to "hit" on your rookies more often and they have to develop faster, else they will get cut in favor of other players. You don't have room to develop players over a period of years with a short bench.

Number of Teams in the League - As the number of teams increases, the value of the picks increase. Again, this passes the sanity check in that you have fewer draft picks and more teams are fighting for talent. Additionally, more players are rostered in the league and thus fewer talented players are available in free agency.

Number of Starters - As the number of starters increases (relative to your roster size), the bench gets shorter and the pressure on getting a good value in the draft goes up. This makes sense, as the rookie picks matter more when you start more players. Therefore, the value also goes up, and therefore Dynasty Factor is directly related to starters.

Position of Starters - This relationship is complicated, but suffice it to say that the more players that you have with shorter careers, the higher the Dynasty Factor for your league. This indicates the "rollover" of your roster, or how fast you have to churn talent through your team. If you are losing players every three or four years, you need a constant stream of young talent from the draft, increasing the value of your picks.

Note - The Dynasty Factor is NOT directly proportional to the ration of the number of starters divided my your team roster size. Why? Well, if you have 8 starters and 24 roster spots, finding starters is easier than if you have 16 starters and a bench of 48.

You Down With IDP? (Do You Know Me?)

Can the Dynasty Factor be used with IDP leagues? Absolutely. In fact, it shows something that many who play IDP probably already knew, but could not quantify. The addition of individual defensive players minimizes the impact of the offensive players, and also the typical influence of rookies.

Why would that be? Well, for one thing, many IDP leagues have roughly the same number of players on both sides of the ball. For example, that would mean eight IDPs for eight offensive players, minimizing any standout offensive player. In a regular league, Larry Johnson or Peyton Manning would be one out of only eight starters, but in the IDP example he is just one of out of 16, so his individual influence on the total team score is less in an IDP format than in a league that uses a team defense.

Examples

Let's go over the Dynasty Draft Pick Calculator and a few examples.

I have set up two typical leagues, a regular league with eight starters and a team defense, and another with 16 players, half IDP. Here are the respective Dynasty Factors (See Tables 2 and 3).

Table 2- Dynasty Typical League Starters and Roster Size

 Dynasty - Typical League Starters QB 1 RB 2 WR 3 TE 1 PK 1 Team D 1 DL 0 LB 0 DB 0 Total 9 Roster Size 27 Dynasty Factor 3.466

Table 3 - Dynasty Typical IDP League Starters and Roster Size

 Dynasty - Typical IDP League Starters QB 1 RB 2 WR 3 TE 1 PK 1 Team D 0 DL 2 LB 3 DB 3 Total 16 Roster Size 48 Dynasty Factor 2.663

As expected, the IDP league has a smaller Dynasty Factor.

We still need frames of reference to show how this really works. Let's compare the values of the first 100 Draft Picks for a Redraft League, the NFL Pick Chart, and the two leagues above (see Table 4).

Table 4 - Comparison of Pick Values

 Pick Footballguys Redraft Dynasty Typical Dynasty Typical IDP NFL Chart NFL Chart Normalized 1 1889 1889.00 1889.00 3000 1889.00 2 1823 1669.93 1718.31 2600 1637.13 3 1759 1475.38 1562.32 2200 1385.27 4 1699 1308.16 1424.40 1800 1133.40 5 1642 1162.24 1300.66 1700 1070.43 6 1587 1032.79 1187.85 1600 1007.47 7 1535 920.16 1087.01 1500 944.50 8 1485 820.38 995.25 1400 881.53 9 1438 733.84 913.56 1350 850.05 10 1393 657.27 839.40 1300 818.57 11 1351 591.10 773.68 1250 787.08 12 1310 531.22 712.72 1200 755.60 13 1272 479.69 658.98 1150 724.12 14 1235 433.04 609.17 1100 692.63 15 1200 391.97 564.27 1050 661.15 16 1167 355.86 523.88 1000 629.67 17 1135 323.17 486.50 950 598.18 18 1105 294.51 453.00 900 566.70 19 1076 268.58 422.03 875 550.96 20 1049 245.93 394.41 850 535.22 21 1023 225.45 368.91 800 503.73 22 998 206.92 345.39 780 491.14 23 975 190.85 324.60 760 478.55 24 952 175.70 304.60 740 465.95 25 931 162.63 287.04 720 453.36 30 836 111.99 215.51 620 390.39 35 759 80.12 166.61 550 346.32 40 694 58.74 131.27 500 314.83 45 638 43.89 104.92 450 283.35 50 586 32.68 83.66 400 251.87 55 538 24.31 66.63 350 220.38 60 491 17.71 52.24 300 188.90 65 446 12.69 40.44 265 166.86 70 402 8.85 30.67 240 151.12 75 358 5.92 22.52 245 154.27 80 316 3.84 16.15 190 119.64 85 276 2.40 11.27 165 103.90 90 239 1.46 7.68 140 88.15 95 204 0.84 5.04 120 75.56 100 173 0.48 3.25 100 62.97

Lastly, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I agree based on the next chart. This is the graph of pick values for all four leagues, with the NFL pick chart normalized to the FBG chart (setting the #1 pick to the same value).

Figure 1 - Rookie Draft Pick Values

What can we take away from Figure 1? Well, The Normalized NFL Draft Chart (green) decreases in value far faster than the Footballguys Redraft Calculator (black and yellow), as we expected. The other two typical dynasty leagues are far steeper overall in the pick value. Is that expected? I would say without reservation that this is accurate, since the NFL chart includes non-skill position players such as offensive linemen and kickers, which last far longer. The skill position players (and their values) should decline rapidly, which is exactly what the graph shows. Looks like we have something here.

Let's Get It Started

Okay, enough already. What do I need to do to try this out?

First, here is the main screen for the Dynasty Draft Pick Calculator.

Figure 2 - The Dynasty Draft Pick Calculator - Rookie Values

You may download the calculator here. The screen above appears complicated, but it isn't as daunting as you may first think.

I have color-coded what you are expected to enter, starting with the orange, blue, and pink sections. In order:

1. Orange - Enter the number of teams in your league and the starting positions, along with your total roster size.
2. Blue - Enter the picks that you are considering trading away (the number of the pick in integer form, namely Pick 14, not 2.02 in a 12-team league).
3. Pink - Enter the picks that you are looking to obtain in a trade (again in integer form)

That's it. The math works behind the scenes, as a Dynasty Factor is calculated for the league and the relative pick values are given to you as a result. You can enter up to eight picks on either side of the transaction, and the league size will adjust the selection to show it in the "round . pick" format (e.g. Pick 14 is 2.02).

The key sections to watch are your "% Diff." and the "Pick to Make Even" at the bottom of the screen. The color of the "% Difference" will change to reflect the calculator's opinion of the trade - red is a bad trade, green is a good one, and yellow indicates a fair trade (values are close enough).

A wrinkle I added is the "Pick to Make Even". If you enter the pick suggested here in the calculator on the suggested side (blue or pink), the suggested trade will result in close to equal value. This helps in trying to determine a fair trade.

Future Work

The Dynasty Factor is a brand new metric, and I hope it is revolutionary. I do know that it is evolutionary, and it will continue to be tweaked as I develop this calculation.

As far as I know, the Dynasty Calculator for Rookie Picks is a first of its kind. There may be some bugs to work out, but overall I am quite happy with how it turned out. Obviously further work can be done - there are other league variations (keepers, startup dynasty, veterans and rookies, etc.) to work on, as well as incorporating a few other wrinkles such as flex positions and other factors such as players already associated with teams in the league.

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