Dynasty Rookie Draft 20/20

This is a hindsight view of dynasty rookie drafts, aka rookie draft 20/20. This article is a reposting of my old study that I put on at SundaysAreForFootball.com (which is currently under maintenance). Since that site will be rejuvenated with new content, I want to ensure this study is not lost. The info, while old, the trend is not. This is particularly useful for owners who still have not had their rookie draft yet in their dynasty leagues (Slackers!). Hope you enjoy.

(Repost of 2013 study)

Every offseason, many avid dynasty owners are hard at work, much like the draft community, in collecting information in preparation for the annual rookie draft. It is a time when fantasy football coaches switch out their sideline cap or hoodie for a clipboard and folders that is overflowing with measurements and statistics of the incoming crop of young NFL hopefuls.  Owners will pay attention to the scouting Combine and Pro Days. Hard core owners will rewatch past year’s college games to form their own opinion of certain players. Particularly the high profile rookies garner a lot of attention. The offseason can be one of the most exciting times; a time of guessing, debating, speculating, and, in its own right, a fantasy game in it of itself.

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New owners will also realize they are thrown into an unfamiliar arena of vying for draft picks. If they are unprepared for this, they may find themselves being swallowed up in the whirlwind of trade proposals and trade negotiations. The “danger” here is that owners pass up on potential good picks or worse yet overvalue picks and swap good players for just average picks. Draft picks are essentially lottery tickets. When you’re looking to trade for picks you should treat it as such, because you are trading a known commodity for a chance to take someone that may or may not hit. The craze for draft picks is still at an all-time high, and savvy owners will take advantage of that. There are many theories and advices you can find that can give you a good gauge of what the value of rookie draft picks are worth.


The purpose of this article is to focus on the craze for rookie picks in dynasty leagues. My goal is to see if acquiring rookie picks are worth the price that many owners are willing to pay. I have collected data from past rookie drafts of various leagues. I’d like to thank Roadwarrior,  draketravis and zbullsmoke for helping me acquire some data that I can use for this article. Give them a follow; they are great fantasy FB aficionados.

My justification of using live draft data over previous year’s ADP, is because the assumption is that dyno owners draft according to team needs. I realize that it’s not always the case, but for the sake of simplicity, I will proceed under said assumption. Because owners operate out of a need-based drafting strategy, it can influence the hit-miss ratio.


Study Limitation

This study is quite informal, as I do not have the necessary training or the tools to give an accurate picture of the hit/miss ratio of any draft. I have not factored in scoring and roster set ups, and therefore there is certainly a big margin for error. I hope that this article can spark some ideas for other people to do their own research and can enhance their knowledge when preparing for the annual rookie drafts. Rookie picks are particularly difficult to dichotomize into just hit or miss, and requires about 3 years data, before determining whether a pick was good or bad. Therefore, there is no way to predict whether a certain pick is a great pick or a horrendous pick immediately following the rookie draft. But, one can use this information to track trends and weigh whether they want to gamble or not for picks. For the sake of not getting too deep, I have chosen to look at the 2010, 2011, and 2012 drafts and broken down the results into:

Hit – Players that became fantasy relevant and are perceived to have value going forward.

Miss – Players who do not have any fantasy relevance nor have any indication that they will

To-Be-Determined – Players who require more data/opportunities to determine if they are a hit or miss.


It is quite apparent to see who are the hits and misses after certain amount of time has passed and succeeded in the NFL or have sufficient data to confidently say they will be a big part of your starting roster.

The last category is one of the more difficult one to discern, because many players may not have been given the opportunity, or was only able to show flashes before getting injured. Personal observation has shown that more often than not that the TBD group most likely falls to the “miss” category if they cannot get it going on after two seasons. But to make it fair, I have further broken down TBD category into trends. These trends are determined mostly by the value the player has during the current (June 2013) offseason. A player can trend up, such as Mohammed Sanu who has shown that he is capable of being a WR2/3 had he not gotten hurt. A player can also be considered trending neither upward nor downward. They are mostly seen that if given the opportunity they will perform at a mediocre level because they were drafted to be depth players anyway; who may be emergency break glass (think 4-7 fpts/week) guy for you. An example of such player is LaMichael James. Lastly, there are also players who are trending down. These players are generating negative buzz during this offseason, and may be in danger of falling into irrelevance in due time. Several players have been affected by coaching changes; therefore you may want to reserve a roster spot for them in case they get traded. However, if you need the roster space, they may be the first to be cut. Several players are: Quinton Coples (position change), Leonard Hankerson (ineffective), Josh Gordon/Justin Blackmon (character issues), Jabaal Sheard (scheme changes), Stephen Hill (injuries), etc.

Below are the tables which broke down the percentages for a hit/miss/TBD prospect. The tables show six different leagues where I collected the data from. Unless otherwise noted, the leagues are standard offense only 12 team dynasty leagues. I have included a 16-team and 32- team for hardcore dynasty owners who enjoy deep roster players. Furthermore, it is broken down into rounds, which can give owner an idea what the picks are worth depending on the rounds.

2012 Hit %

Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 33.33% 8.33% 8.33% N/A N/A
2 33.33% 8.33% 8.33% N/A N/A
3 (IDP) 33.33% 33.33% 33.33% 16.67% 25%
4 41.67% 16.67% 16.67% N/A N/A
5 (16 team) 43.75% 18.75% 12.50% 12.50% 25%
6 (32 team) 34.38% 21.88% 3.13% N/A N/A

2012 Miss %

Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 8.33% 25% 33.33% N/A N/A
2 8.33% 33.33% 33.33% N/A N/A
3 8.33% 33.33% 33.33% 50% 50%
4 8.33% 25% 58.33% N/A N/A
5 (16 team) 12.50% 37.50% 43.75% 25% 68.75%
6 (32 team) 15.63% 46.88% 81.25% N/A N/A


In the TBD tables, the percentages are further broken down into [# of player trend up, # of player status quo, # of player trend down].


2012 TBD %
Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 58.33% [3,3,1] 66.67% [3,1,4] 58.33 [2,2,3] n/a n/a
2 58.33% [5,1,1] 58.33% [4,2,1] 41.67% [2,0,3] n/a n/a
3 58.33% [3,2,2] 33.33% [2,1,1] 33.33% [2.2.0] 33.33% [2,2,0] 25.00% [1,2,0]
4 50.00%  [3,1,1] 58.33% [3,1,3] 58.33% [4,2,1] n/a n/a
5 (16 team) 43.75% [6,01] 43.75% [4,1,2] 43.75% [3,3,1] 31.25% [3,5,2] 6.25% [1,0,0]
6 (32 team) 50.00% [11,1,0] 31.25% [4,4,2] 15.63% [1,3,1] n/a n/a



2011 Hit %

Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 33.33% 25% 16.67% n/a n/a
2 (10 tm/IDP) 50% 40% 10% 10% n/a
3 (10tm) 20% 30% 20% 10% 10%
5 (16 tm/IDP) 43.75% 37.50% 6.25% 18.75% 6.25%
6 (32 tm/IDP) 37.50% 15.63% 12.50% n/a n/a


2011 Miss % 
Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 33.33% 12.50% 12.50% n/a n/a
2 (10 tm/IDP) 30% 50% 60% 50% n/a
3 (10tm) 40% 50% 70% 50% 70%
5 (16 tm/IDP) 25.00% 43.75% 56.25% 56.25% 68.75%
6 (32 tm/IDP) 40.63% 53.13% 65.63% n/a n/a


2012 TBD %
Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 33.33% [1,2,1] 16.67% [0,0,2] 16.67% [0,0,2] n/a n/a
2 (10 tm/IDP) 20.00% [0,2,0] 10.00% [1,0,0] 30.00% [1,0,2] 40.00% [0,1,3] n/a
3 (10tm) 40.00% [2,2,0] 20.00% [0,0,2] 10.00% [0,0,1] 40.00% [1,0,3] 20.00% [1,0,1]
5 (16 tm/IDP) 31.25% [2,1,2] 18.75% [0,1,2] 37.50% [2,1,3] 25.00% [3,0,1] 25.00% [1,0,3]
6 (32 tm/IDP) 21.88% [2,2,3] 31.25% [4,1,5] 21.88% [3,2,2] n/a n/a

    2010 Hit %

Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 (10tm) 30.00% 30.00% 30.00% 20.00% 0.00%
2 33.33% 25.00% 8.33% n/a n/a


2010 Miss % 
Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 (10tm) 50.00% 40.00% 70.00% 80.00% 90.00%
2 50% 66.67% 83.33% n/a n/a


2010 TBD %
Leagues 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 (10tm) 20.00% [1,0,1] 30.00% [0,0,3] 0% 0% 10.00% [1,0,0]
2 16.67% [1,0,1] 8.33% [0,0,1] 8.33% [1,0,0] n/a n/a

What I learned:

It is surprising (or not so surprising) to see the similarities across leagues. I have randomly chosen which leagues to investigate, but I am still astonished by how similar some of the numbers looks. First off, the 2012 draft, despite carrying many talented rookies, has a hit rate of barely over 40 percent. Each subsequent round, the chances of hitting on a good rookie is smaller; this is logical. However, more than about 40-50 percent of rookies are on the cusp between relevance and waiver fodder. As we move back further into the years, the picture becomes clearer. With more opportunities, it becomes clearer whether these players busts or boomed. The trend is as logical as it is disheartening. The chances of being correct continues to be below 50 percent. Even accounting for league sizes, the numbers are still quite similar.

The lesson to be learned here is as following: Higher draft picks certainly give you a better chance of grabbing a rookie that will help your team for years to come (or become high draft pieces). However, before you trade off a consistent WR3 or RB4 for lower picks, be sure you know what you have a chance of finding someone in the latter rounds, because chances are you might draft a WR or RB7.  Finally, some rookies may only have hit for one year, and then disappear quickly. The ones that comes to mind are Titus Young, Roy Helu Jr., Jacoby Ford, etc. 





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