How to Value Rookies in Fantasy Football

How to Value Rookies in Fantasy Football

In fantasy football, rookies might not make it to your starting lineup, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a valuable part of your winning campaign. 

The rising popularity of dynasty leagues in fantasy has led to more focus on rookies every season. In the past, the idea was that you waited on rookies rather than pulling them up draft boards. Then, you would be patient in this traditional way of thinking to target their upside. However, now it seems that increasingly rookies are having an immediate impact, but you’re still taking a gamble. 

Whether you’re going for the title or you’re rebuilding, your draft picks are critical, and the following are some things to know about valuing rookies. 

The Rookie Draft

Dynasty leagues have a massive draft during their inception, which is called the startup draft. Then every year after that, or sometimes later in the initial season, leagues will have what’s known as a rookie or supplemental draft. 

A team will spend draft capital to choose incoming rookies to add to their rosters. Leagues might also have free-agent vets included in their supplemental draft. 

Your draft capital is like your cash in dynasty. Draft capital is a fixed asset, and the value stays pretty much constant. The value of your picks does go up and down throughout the year, but not as much as a player’s value could. 

When you’re a dynasty fantasy player, you want to buy low and then sell high as you gain assets and build the best team. 

What you’ll often see in leagues, or maybe in yourself, is the tendency to draft rookies with the thought they’re going to be the next big thing. 

Of course, there are other people in fantasy who say they’d rather get production that’s proven instead of rookies who aren’t proven. 

Running Backs

The NFL has a tendency to move away from veteran running backs. A lot of them don’t get contracts after their initial ones. Teams toss them out in free agency, so there’s the concept that some people adhere to that those running backs that could have more value as rookies. 

You don’t necessarily need to be afraid to draft a rookie running back because first-round picks, according to historical data, have a good chance of finishing as an RB2 or even better. 

Running backs can be rookie producers, so if there were some taken in the NFL Draft first round, you could benefit from having them in your lineup. 

Wide Receivers

Historically, a wide receiver was thought of as a position that took time for development. Now, if a wide receiver isn’t performing well in their first two years, they’re frequently written off. 

Based on a compilation of historical data, though, drafting a wide receiver rookie isn’t as beneficial as drafting a running back who’s a rookie. 

Unless you’re getting a receiver who’s a first- or second-round draft pick, you might otherwise skip rookie wide receivers. 

Tight Ends

Tight ends don’t tend to finish as top 12 options, but if you were going to go in on a tight end, you should probably only choose one who was drafted in the first round. 

Otherwise, no rookie tight ends have ever been top producers. 

Value Differences Between Picks

A rookie draft pick is a claim made on a player in a certain draft class, with the value being dependent on a multitude of factors. The factors can include the round of the draft the pick is, the particular pick in the round it is, the talent of players in the class, the depth of positions in the rookie class, how much your league partners want the picks, and your drafting skills. 

The primary underlying concept here is that value is linked to draft position. The first pick in a rookie draft is going to have more value than the second pick. The first-round pick has more value than the second-round pick. 

A lot of the difference in value is subjective and depends on your league. If your league has managers who aren’t very skilled at drafting, they could potentially make a bad first pick. That would mean the second pick might not be any worse than the first pick if all the best players in the class are still available. 

On the other hand, if you have strong people in your league, there can become a  much bigger value gap between draft picks. 

Ultimately, you need to manage your expectations and understand your drafting skills as you’re valuing rookies. 

About the author


Steven Ly

Steven Ly is the Startup Program and Events Manager at TheNextHint Inc. She recruits rockstar startups for all TC events including Disrupt, meetups, Sessions, and more both domestically and internationally. Previously, she helped produce Dreamforce with Salesforce and Next '17 with Google. Prior to that, she was on the advertising teams at both Facebook and AdRoll, helping support advertisers in North America and helped grow those brands globally. Outside of work, Priya enjoys Flywheel, tacos, the 49ers, and adventuring around the globe.

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