Dynasty Trade Value Chart: Rookie Draft Special

Dynasty Rookie Pick Values

With rookie drafts kicking into high gear this weekend, the May Dynasty Trade Value Chart is split into two parts. Here in part two, we will focus exclusively on valuing rookie picks and go into depth on how the tiers are shaping up in both one quarterback and Superflex rookie drafts. The goal here will be to avoid hot takes on players and instead make the case for some best practices when it comes to valuing rookie picks and making rookie draft trades. The idea is to provide you with a framework to use to set your own rookie draft board in as intelligent of a way as possible.

Draft Capital as the starting point

We will use position-adjusted NFL Draft capital as a starting point for valuing each prospect. Earlier this month, we took a look at the last four draft classes to provide some context as to the average dynasty value of players from different positional tiers. The article provides general ranges to work off of in terms of what we can expect given the player’s draft capital. Here, we will go one step further and give a projected dynasty value for every skill position player based simply on position-adjusted draft capital. In other words, based on past history and taking into account both past fantasy results and the real NFL Draft trade value charts used by NFL teams, we can estimate what the average running back drafted 41st overall should be worth or what the average wide receiver drafted 12th overall should be worth.

Making Adjustments

Draft capital is important but it is just the first piece of the puzzle. The fun comes in trying to decide how likely it is that the specific player drafted in that spot outperforms (or underperforms) what we would normally expect given the draft capital.

1. Real NFL Value versus Fantasy Value

The first group of adjustments comes when trying to adjust NFL Draft capital spent to adjust for obvious discrepancies between NFL value and fantasy value. For example, it makes sense to make adjustments for:

  • Negative adjustments for tight ends who are blocking specialists because the NFL value for these players is higher than the fantasy value. (Think Bengals second-round tight end Drew Sample from last season.)
  • Positive adjustments for quarterbacks with rushing upside. (Think Jalen Hurts.)
  • Negative adjustments for speed wide receivers who provide strategic on-field value in the NFL that does not lead directly to fantasy points. (Think Henry Ruggs III.)

2. Team Situation and Fit

We do not want to go too far here but we should take into account the offensive system and surrounding talent of the team when valuing rookies. Some will point to someone like A.J. Brown as a reason to completely ignore this factor. However, we were right to factor in his landing spot to some extent. Tennessee was dead last in passing attempts last season so Brown had to achieve insane levels of per-target efficiency to reach fantasy relevancy. Had he put up the same per-target production in an NFL offense that threw a slightly above-average amount of times (like Cincinnati for example), he would have scored 43% more fantasy points.

This is an especially valid adjustment when a wide receiver is paired with a top quarterback or a running back lands in an offense with a history of the position putting up big fantasy points. In this draft class, the landing spots look prime for most of the top backs, which gives them a boost in value.

3. Talent and Trust

This is where personal preference and your opinion on the talent of the specific player should come into account. Make positive adjustments for players whose talent you believe in and negative adjustments for players you are skeptical about.

The argument here is to not go too overboard and have some intellectual humility. These are difficult evaluations and we naturally tend to view scouting reports and our opinions with more confidence than we should. It makes sense to add or subtract a handful of points at most for the top rookies.

Rookie Pick Values

Here is what we are seeing in terms of the dynasty value of each player and pick. In the chart below, we list each drafted player with their position-adjusted draft capital, some suggested adjustments, and their current dynasty value. You should view the numbers in the adjustments column as a mere suggestion and fill in your own values there to reflect your own beliefs about the prospect.

You should also use the adjustments column to make changes to account for the specifics of your league scoring. Add 1 or 2 to the tight ends if your league has TE-Premium scoring, for example.

Pick
Player
Pos
Team
NFL Pick
Draf Cap
Adjustments
Dynasty Value
1.01
RB
KC
32
32.5
6
39
1.02
RB
Ind
41
26.5
8
35
1.03
RB
Det
35
29.5
-2
28
1.04
RB
Bal
55
19.5
5
25
1.05
RB
LAR
52
21.0
2
23
1.06
WR
Dal
17
17.8
1
19
1.07
WR
Den
15
19.5
-1
19
1.08
WR
Min
22
15.0
2
17
1.09
WR
Phi
21
15.3
2
17
1.10
WR
LV
12
22.0
-6
16
1.11
RB
TB
76
12.0
3
15
1.12
WR
Cin
33
12.7
2
15
2.01
WR
SF
25
14.0
0
14
2.02
WR
Ind
34
12.3
1
13
2.03
RB
GB
62
16.2
-4
12
2.04
RB
Was
66
14.5
-3
12
2.05
WR
Jac
42
11.0
1
12
2.06
WR
NYJ
59
8.2
3
11
2.07
RB
Buf
86
9.5
-1
9
2.08
WR
Pit
49
9.8
-1
9
2.09
WR
LAR
57
8.5
-1
8
2.10
WR
LV
81
6.1
2
8
2.11
RB
Ten
93
7.9
0
8
2.12
WR
Den
46
10.3
-3
7
3.01
QB
Cin
1
6.3
1
7
3.02
TE
Chi
43
7.0
0
7
3.03
WR
LV
80
6.2
0
6
3.04
RB
LAC
112
4.7
1
6
3.05
RB
Pit
124
3.6
2
6
3.06
QB
Mia
5
4.4
1
5
3.07
WR
Bal
92
5.2
0
5
3.08
LaMical Perine
RB
NYJ
120
3.9
1
5
3.09
QB
LAC
6
4.3
0
4
3.10
TE
NE
91
3.0
1
4
3.11
TE
NO
105
2.0
2
4
3.12
RB
Sea
144
2.9
1
4
4.01
QB
Phi
53
1.9
1
3
4.02
WR
Buf
128
2.7
0
3
4.03
WR
Was
142
2.6
0
3
4.04
WR
TB
161
1.5
1
2
4.05
WR
Det
166
1.4
1
2
4.06
WR
Hou
171
1.4
1
2
4.07
WR
Cle
187
1.3
1
2
4.08
RB
Det
172
2.2
0
2
4.09
WR
LAC
220
1.1
1
2
4.10
TE
GB
94
3.0
-1
2
4.11
TE
NE
101
2.0
0
2
4.12
TE
Cle
115
2.0
0
2

Below we will go more in-depth on the top tiers. We also will point out some of the key questions you should be asking yourself when you make your own adjustments. Fantasy upside, team talent and fit, and your confidence in the actual talent of the player are the three big factors you should consider when putting your finger on the scales to move player values up and down.

Tier 1

Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor are the first two non-quarterbacks off the board in nearly every single early rookie draft. These two seem to have separated from the pack and will likely be first-round picks in startup drafts this summer. It is close to a coin flip in terms of which of the two goes off the board 1.01 and which is 1.02.

These rankings are specifically for the PPR format, which helps push Edwards-Helaire to the top.

1.01 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB Chiefs

Scoring format matters. Edwards-Helaire could catch 50 more passes than Taylor each season and rack up 100+ more fantasy points as a pass-catcher, which is a lot of ground for Taylor to make up in terms of fantasy points as a runner. Edwards-Helaire carries a lot of draft capital with him as a first-round pick, the highest-drafted running back for Andy Reid.

Add points if:

  • You are in a PPR format and think Edwards-Helaire, like Brian Westbrook before him, catches a bunch of passes in Reid’s offense.
  • You think the Chiefs offense is going to remain dynamite and you want to be Patrick Mahomes II-adjacent as often as possible.

Subtract points if:

  • You think Damien Williams will force a real committee beyond the first month of the season.

1.02 Jonathan Taylor, RB Colts

Taylor has strong draft capital for a running back, going off the board early in the second round. Presumably, it was his lack of real NFL value-add as a pass-catcher that caused him to fall to third at the position. Taylor looks like a guy who can carry it 300+ times and could realistically get that type of usage, which is not something you can say about many backs. Only seven backs had more than 250 carries last season.

Add points if:

  • You are in a non-PPR scoring league or get points per carry.
  • You believe in Taylor’s talent, durability, and the Colts offensive line.

Subtract points if:

  • You think he might not get heavy usage as a receiver.
  • You are not sold on the Colts long-term outlook at quarterback.

Tier 2

The comparative lack of depth at running back in dynasty leagues puts a big premium on the position compared to wide receiver. Thus, we are seeing the top five backs go off the board before any of the wide receivers in nearly every early rookie draft. While there is consensus about the size of the tier, there is none as to the order of the players in it. The order seems to be different in every draft.

1.03 D'Andre Swift, RB Lions

Swift was a clear priority for the Lions given where they selected him in the draft. If they think he is that good and are correct, he will be featured in an offense that put some points on the board last season.

Add points if:

  • You believe in Swift’s talent to win out over a mediocre situation.
  • You are in a PPR league and like Swift’s pass-catching upside.

Subtract points if:

  • You do not buy into Swift as a top talent.
  • You worry that Kerryon Johnson’s presence caps Swfit’s upside for the next couple seasons.
  • You worry about the production of the Lions running game in general.

1.04 J.K. Dobbins, RB Ravens

Slid a little further than expected and some RB-needy teams passed on him (Lions, Colts, Steelers, Rams, etc.) but lands in a sweet spot for rushing production. The Ravens rushing offense with Lamar Jackson has been dominant and historically productive. The Ravens running backs combined for just 51 total targets last season.

Add points if:

  • You like Dobbins' talent and fit in the Ravens offense.
  • You like that the presence of Lamar Jackson should open up big holes for Dobbins.

Subtract points if:

  • You are in a PPR league and do not believe the Ravens need to throw the ball to the backs much.

1.05 Cam Akers, RB Rams

With Todd Gurley out, the Rams used their top pick on Akers to take his place. He brings a three-down skill set and a lot of athleticism to the table. The Rams went from 139 rushing yards per game in 2018 to 94 yards per game in 2019.

Add points if:

  • You think a big reason the Rams lack of rushing production was because Gurley was not right and not due to the deterioration of offensive line play.
  • You think the Rams will use Akers almost every down like they did prime Gurley.

Subtract points if:

Tier 3

If this ends up being a great rookie class, it will be due to the strength and depth of this tier, which includes the eight wide receivers who came off the board in the top 34 picks and running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Add other second-round picks like Laviska Shenault Jr or Denzel Mims if you are a big believer to make it an 11-man tier.

There is not as much of a gap between the top and bottom of this tier as the perception was prior to the NFL Draft. In fact, you will see Jalen Reagor or Justin Jefferson go off the board ahead of one of the consensus top two at times. Everyone seems to want to move down to add two from this tier as opposed to just one at the very top.

1.06 CeeDee Lamb, WR Cowboys

Lamb was the third wide receiver selected, which should not be too surprising given that he ran a 4.50 and many teams put a premium on speed. However, there is nothing wrong with a mid-first round landing spot and he has the skill set of a volume receiver who can rack up the catches in PPR leagues. The Cowboys have become pass-heavy and Dak Prescott has emerged as a strong starter.

1.07 Jerry Jeudy, WR Broncos

A big-time talent who was taken as the second wide receiver. There is some justifiable hesitation from some due to the competition for targets and the uncertainty about how good Drew Lock is.

1.08 Justin Jefferson, WR Vikings

Jefferson has first-round draft capital, a PPR-friendly skill set, and a clear path to becoming Minnesota’s top pass catcher. The Vikings are a run-heavy team, however.

1.09 Jalen Reagor, WR Eagles

Reagor brings much-needed speed and playmaking ability to the Philadelphia offense.

1.10 Henry Ruggs III, WR Raiders

Ruggs brings significant draft capital to the table after coming off the board amongst all receivers. Dynasty drafters are correctly adjusting his value downward to account for the fact that his NFL value may be higher than his fantasy value. However, the question becomes just how much we want to push him down our boards given his upside.

1.11 Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB Buccaneers

Vaughn brings solid draft capital to the table as a mid-third round running back. He also gets a big boost because of the perception that Tampa Bay is looking for him to be the new lead back.

Where to take Vaughn is one of the toughest decisions facing dynasty drafters. The fantasy upside here is undeniable but he comes with significantly more bust risk than the highly-drafted wide receivers he shares this tier with.

1.12 Tee Higgins, WR Bengals

Higgins should get a positive adjustment if you believe in Joe Burrow’s future. Over the medium-term, this might be the top landing spot for any of the highly-drafted wide receivers.

2.01 Brandon Aiyuk, WR 49ers

Aiyuk continues to fly a little bit under the radar and probably slides a little further in drafts than he should. The 49ers traded up to acquire the big, explosive wide receiver who should be a perfect fit in the Shanahan offense. San Francisco is very run-heavy and has George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, so the relative skepticism on Aiyuk is understandable.

2.02 Michael Pittman Jr, WR Colts

It shows the fantasy value difference between running backs and wide receivers that the top pick for Indianapolis (Pittman at #34) is worth just a fraction of the value of their second pick (Jonathan Taylor at #41). Expect an instant impact for Pittman but the long-term upside will be dependent upon if the Colts can find a true Andrew Luck replacement in the next couple years.

Possible tier break here depending upon your opinion of the next few prospects.

2.03 A.J. Dillon, RB Packers

Dillon is blocked by Aaron Jones and has questionable upside in PPR leagues. Still, his draft capital is hard to ignore and he could carry significant value in 2021 if Jones is not signed to a second contract.

2.04 Antonio Gibson, RB/WR Redskins

Gibson is arguably the biggest wild card in the second round of rookie drafts. His draft capital looks a lot better if he is listed as a running back. Early third-rounders at the position have hit at a high rate.

2.05 Laviska Shenault Jr, WR Jaguars

Shenault probably would have been drafted higher but for injuries. The ability to get a player with Shenault’s level of talent in the middle of the second round is proof of how strong and deep this rookie class is.

2.06 Denzel Mims, WR Jets

Mims fell further in the NFL Draft than expected but still brings strong second-round draft capital and gets some positive adjustments for his perceived talent level. Your opinion on Sam Darnold should factor into your adjustments on Mims, as well. If you are a Darnold believer, Mims makes sense closer to the top of the second round.

Superflex

Pick
Player
Pos
Team
NFL Pick
Draf Cap
Adjustments
Dynasty Value
1.01
RB
KC
32
32.5
6
39
1.02
QB
Cin
1
33.0
3
36
1.03
RB
Ind
41
26.5
8
35
1.04
RB
Det
35
29.5
-2
28
1.05
RB
Bal
55
19.5
5
25
1.06
QB
Mia
5
20.0
5
25
1.07
RB
LAR
52
21.0
2
23
1.08
QB
LAC
6
19.0
1
20
1.09
WR
Den
15
19.5
-1
19
1.10
WR
Dal
17
17.8
1
19
1.11
WR
Min
22
15.0
2
17
1.12
WR
Phi
21
15.3
2
17
2.01
WR
LV
12
22.0
-6
16
2.02
RB
TB
76
12.0
3
15
2.03
WR
Cin
33
12.7
2
15
2.04
WR
SF
25
14.0
0
14
2.05
WR
Ind
34
12.3
1
13
2.06
WR
Jac
42
11.0
1
12
2.07
RB
GB
62
16.2
-4
12
2.08
RB
Was
66
14.5
-3
12
2.09
WR
NYJ
59
8.2
3
11
2.10
RB
Buf
86
9.5
-1
9
2.11
QB
GB
26
10
-1
9
2.12
WR
Pit
49
9.8
-1
9
3.01
WR
LV
81
6.1
2
8
3.02
WR
LAR
57
8.5
-1
8
3.03
QB
Phi
53
5.7
2
8
3.04
RB
Ten
93
7.9
0
8
3.05
WR
Den
46
10.3
-3
7
3.06
TE
Chi
43
7.0
0
7
3.07
WR
LV
80
6.2
0
6
3.08
RB
LAC
112
4.7
1
6
3.09
RB
Pit
124
3.6
2
6
3.10
WR
Bal
92
5.2
0
5
3.11
La\'Mical Perine
RB
NYJ
120
3.9
1
5
3.12
TE
NE
91
3.0
1
4
4.01
TE
NO
105
2.0
2
4
4.02
RB
Sea
144
2.9
1
4
4.03
QB
Ind
122
1.7
1
3
4.04
WR
Buf
128
2.7
0
3
4.05
WR
Was
142
2.6
0
3
4.06
WR
TB
161
1.5
1
2
4.07
WR
Det
166
1.4
1
2
4.08
WR
Hou
171
1.4
1
2
4.09
WR
Cle
187
1.3
1
2
4.10
RB
Det
172
2.2
0
2
4.11
WR
LAC
220
1.1
1
2
4.12
TE
GB
94
3.0
-1
2

The depth of this class is especially impressive in the Superflex format.

Joe Burrow slots in right beside Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor in the format. He typically goes anywhere from 1.01 to 1.03 in Superflex rookie drafts. Team needs and the specifics of the scoring, number of teams, and starting lineup requirements of your league should weigh heavily in that decision.

Too Tagovailoa typically goes off the board between 1.02 and 1.05 in Superflex rookie drafts. The fact neither the Dolphins nor Chargers felt strongly enough to jump up to the third pick to select Tagovailoa knocks his draft capital down a little bit. Perhaps it was due to the health risk. If so, that is something we should be factoring in as well in our rookie drafts.

Justin Herbert typically goes anywhere from 1.05 to 1.11 in Superflex drafts. Most commonly, he is being drafted at 1.08 behind the top two quarterbacks and top five running backs but ahead of all of the wide receivers.

Jordan Love and Jalen Hurts have been going in the late-2nd to the early-3rd round of most early Superflex Drafts. The lack of short-term playing time combined with questions about their long-term projections pushes them down the board despite solid draft capital.