Determining Dynasty Rookie Draft Order if the NFL season is cancelled

Frustration at setting your dynasty rookie draft order

There are huge unknowns with the NFL season and how it will operate. If games are reduced or cancelled outright, how should you determine your dynasty rookie draft order? As a commissioner, you should have a plan already in place with contingencies, and maybe even have your league vote on the plan before any scoring occurs so there is little bias.

  Most leagues have some alternative to using reverse of records/points and playoff performance to determine the rookie draft order for the next year. Some can toss in a bonus pick for a toilet bowl victory or even have a playoff for non-playoff teams to determine the order.  Here are my suggestions for this year if leagues are unable to have games or a playoff.

Leagues who held a 2019 rookie draft:

If 0-4 NFL weeks are played, use a tiered lottery: 

If the season is cancelled or even if a few games are played before it is cancelled, I suggest ignoring 2020 altogether and go with the following:

“Teams who picked 1-4 in the 2019 rookie draft will be placed in a randomizer. That order will determine the first four picks of the 2020 rookie draft. Teams who picked 5-8 in the 2019 rookie draft will be placed in a randomizer. That order will determine the first four picks of the 2020 rookie draft. Teams who picked 9-12 in the 2019 rookie draft will be placed in a randomizer. That order will determine the first four picks of the 2020 rookie draft. Each round of the rookie draft, the 4 teams in each tier will rotate (i.e. In Round 2, the team that drew the 1.01 will have the 2.04.  The team with the 1.02 will have the 2.01. The team with the 1.03 will have the 2.02, etc)
This will continue for the whole rookie draft.”

The tiered lottery system isn’t perfect, but generally in dynasty most teams don’t make a huge jump year to year. This allows for some variance with the lottery, but keeps things similar to the year before. Even with a few games played, it may be best to ignore those early season results.

If 5+ NFL weeks are played, but not a full season, use total points:

If for some reason the NFL season is played a decent amount, but no fantasy playoffs are allowed to happen, stick with total points

“The team with the lowest total points will receive the #1 pick in each round of the rookie draft while the team with the highest total points will receive the #12 pick in each round of the rookie draft.  The rest of the draft is populated in order of total points”

Total points is never perfect, especially in a head to head league, but if there are no fantasy playoffs to determine the order, this is likely the best path since no “playoff” team actually got the chance to win the whole league.

Leagues who had a start-up in 2020:

There isn’t a great way to determine the rookie order if you just had your start-up this year, but there is a good formula for “guessing” who would be best to worst.

If the NFL plays no games:

“The team that made their first start-up selection the latest will pick 1st in the rookie draft. This will continue until the team that picked at the 1.01 has the 12th pick in the rookie draft”

If there was no trading, then the rookie draft order will be the reverse of your start-up draft order. If there was trading, then use the formula outlined above. The team that picked at the 1.01 gets the 1.12 rookie pick, 1.02 gets the 1.11 rookie pick, etc until all 12 owners are accounted for. 

For example, I “tanked” a start-up draft and my first selection was in the 6th round (well after my leaguemates,) so I would get the 1.01 being the latest team to make their first selection.

This isn’t perfect, but generally if teams traded down in the start-up, they will do worse this season and teams at the top of the draft with CMC, etc will do well.


If the NFL plays games but doesn’t finish the season:

Use total points.  

“The team with the lowest total points will receive the #1 pick in each round of the rookie draft while the team with the highest total points will receive the #12 pick in each round of the rookie draft.  The rest of the draft is populated in order of total points”

I will write an update article on how to determine your dynasty rookie draft order when we know what actually happens and outline other possibilities. If you have any feedback or additional ideas, please reach out to me on twitter @ShanePHallam or through e-mail: shanephallam@gmail.com

See more from Shane Hallam Here

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