Rookie Draft Strategery: All Formats

We tapped into the brain of a weathered dynasty veteran.

Before your Rookie draft begins it is paramount that you identify your team’s realistic ceiling for the upcoming season.

These are the BOLD questions you must ask yourself.

Are you a playoff team?

Are you a legitimate title contender?

Are you rebuilding?

Chances are your original draft position is not coincidental. Sometimes injuries (like losing David Johnson and Allen Robinsonduring week one can derail a promising roster and leave that owner with Top 4 selection.

Another vital exercise is to thoroughly comb through your roster. You need to have a short therapy session with yourself about every player. Did they hit their ceiling a year ago or is the best still yet to come? This can help you sell high on players. It is important to be realistic about your team’s expectation level. I wholeheartedly understand that you have those players you love. You have to think with your head and not your heart. One thing that helps me is to find three weaknesses or cons about “my guys” (those few I hold so dear). This forces you to live in reality if but just for a few fleeting moments. In extreme cases, it may even force you to trade away your untouchables.

Are you a playoff team?

-Is this truly the case?

        ~Don’t B.S. yourself. Everyone and I mean everyone is optimistic about their team during the off-season.   

-What is your biggest hurdle en-route to becoming a contending team? 

        ~In other words, where do your team’s positional weaknesses lie?

-Is there a prospect that you are comfortable with in your ADP range?

        ~This is tough because scheme fit can be tricky. Also, some NFL coaches still believe players can adapt to their system. Players usually fit a system, or they struggle for two or three years, and everyone unfairly labels them as a bust.

-Would it be more beneficial for you to trade your 1st round pick?

       ~You don’t know this to be true until you try. At the very least add your 1st round pick to your trade bait. Unless your league is boring, you will likely receive some offers.

-How well do you know the class(es)?

        ~As a dynasty owner it is imperative that you study up on the incoming class as well as the next year’s class. Even if you don’t like rookie picks, you need to make sure you do NOT miss out on those special prospects. It is also highly relevant that you know who is coming out next season. Not all draft classes are created equal. Hindsight is not noble, but digging into prospect tape from all classes is fun, and it can be rewarding.

-Is there an overwhelming feeling of optimism surrounding the skill positions in the draft class?

       ~We all have those analysts who we love. We treat their words as gospel truths. No matter their experience level, how they feel about a certain prospect is just a notion. It is also very likely that you don’t agree with them on every single prospect. That is why we read more than one scouting report about a player before we add them to our queue. Comparison shopping is done in the real world to save a buck, right? We must do the same in dynasty. Doing so will hopefully help avoid spending 1.02 on Laquon Treadwell when we can trade back to 1.09 and score Michael Thomas (Saints). Find as many competent rankings as you can and develop a consensus system. Also you need to sit down and seriously do your own rankings. Even if you don’t share them with anybody else you will learn from the experience.

Are you ready to be burdened by big trophies?

Are you a legitimate title contender?

-Are you being real with yourself?

     ~Don’t B.S. yourself. Everyone and I mean everyone is optimistic about their team during the off-season.

-Which teams in your league pose the greatest threat to your eventual glory?

     ~Awareness for the other teams in your division is important. If you’re looking to upgrade your team, or are in need of further depth, be cognizant of your league mates and their needs. Don’t formulate a trade for the sake of a trade. League mates are more often willing to listen to offers if you are helping them out, as well as helping yourself out. An example of this would consist of trading a higher round pick for multiple lower round picks. A trade such as this would be a win-win for both teams. It is important to remember the point of a trade is to come out better than you were before. If you’re able to both do that as well as help out a league mate, you’re doing it right.

-Should you trade up in any round of your rookie draft?

     ~If you are a contender it is time to load up on running backs and premium defensive ends. Rookie running backs are dynasty currency! They make the world go round. Warning: their value shifts can be cataclysmic. Premium defensive ends cannot be found in your rookie draft. It is not absolute, but very few rookie pass rushers flourish. They take time to develop, and that is a known factor. They often are not tested enough at the collegiate level, and need to find their second moves and/or counter punches.

     ~Running backs and defensive ends are the two main positions you must have the depth to consistently win. Running backs get hurt, and if you are truly making a run, you need depth. Obviously, you need a couple top-20 wide receivers as well. Confidence in your team probably signals that you have a fine fleet of wide receivers. Rookie wide receivers take time to develop as well, so loading up on them can be an empty mirage.

    ~As far as defensive ends go, this is a position you must have firing on all cylinders. You want 40 plus tackles and 8 plus sacks from defensive ends. That production usually translates consistently from week to week. You can buy top-line defensive ends with future 2nd, and 3rd round picks. Like with wide receivers, you probably have a plethora of linebacker tackle monsters, hence your internal confidence.

   ~In defensive tackle required leagues, things can get a little tricky. However many older defensive tackles, such as Linval Joseph, still produce. They can also be coerced away from rebuilding teams.

Are you rebuilding?

-How can you maximize the elders on your current roster for future gains?

        ~Example: Remember a couple of years when James Jones returned to Green Bay after failing to make Giants roster? That summer I considered dropping Jones numerous times. I held off, and a Packers reunion was my reward. Jones burst out of the gate to start the season. I, in turn, flipped him for Robert Woods and future 3rd round (that I used on Karl Joseph since Deone Bucannon lost his safety designation and became a linebacker). Jones ended up being less and less effective as the season bore on. 

Trades do not always work out well. However, it is still better to deal on a hunch than never deal at all. Also, don’t forget the oldest dirty little dynasty secret which is to always try and tack on a 3rd round pick to you trade compensation. In IDP leagues getting that third round pick is like getting a supreme pizza instead of cheese.

Do you draft wide receivers or running backs early if you are in rebuilding mode?

        ~This is another tricky conundrum. I usually try and take the best talent with the most upside. You have to weigh your options. If you take a running back, you can ultimately flip him down the line for a future first or second round pick if he blows up. Another option is to take a wide receiver. Hope they are not the next Kevin White or Laquon Treadwell. I think if you have the 1.01 or 1.02 you should either trade the pick or take the running back.

Players like Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott have found themselves as past 1.01s. In both cases it would have been better to take the player rather than trade the pick. Trading for the 1.01 is still riskier than trading for an established player. Therefore the player should bring more return in a trade scenario.

        ~Trading aging veterans for rookie picks is your atypical dynasty assumption. While it is always great to have extra picks you still have to hit on those picks, otherwise, your overall team value will cease to maximize. Draft picks are great trade ammunition as they enable you to offer youth and potential instead of your proven young players.

My Trade Tips that Trick:

The Old Pull Back: This is where I offer up a trade then immediately revoke it. Then I offer a slightly better trade. In essence, I am trying to make the potential suitor think that I value his players highly. I am also competing against my self by offering the better trade.

The Reach High Slow Play: Here I have a set price in mind that I want in return for something. Hypothetically speaking I will accept a 3rd round pick for a player . So I make an offer asking for a 2nd round pick. I know I am asking for too much, but who knows maybe they will accept it? In theory, they will counter by offering me the 3rd rounder that I wanted in the first place. I get what I wanted, and they think they made the better deal because they offered me slightly less.

The 2-for-1: This works with picks and players or a combination of both. Often before the draft order is set, I pick on the really bad teams from a year ago. Example: In one league I traded my 3rd and 4th round picks for a 3rd round pick I know was going to be an earlier selection than my original 3rd round pick. I know that isn’t the deal of the century but having been in this league since its inception, I know the drop off level for value picks (sssh, it’s the mid-3rd round). Also, I can now pair that 3.02 with my 2.07 and hopefully get an even higher pick!

Was this a deep enough cut for you?


I am searching for the meaning of every bump on the pigskin. From leather helmets to a league with no point after attempts, I am researching with a wide shovel. -married/father/music fan/Raider Nation baby/deli meat enthusiast/three-cone extremist

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