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Tue May 17th 2022

Grading My "Diehards" Rookie Draft

It's finally rookie draft season! I hope you enjoyed your drafts or have fun preparing for upcoming rookie drafts. I've completed two drafts and am currently in the middle of two rookie drafts. This week and in the coming weeks, I'll write about my rookie drafts so that you can see rookie ADP in my leagues and read my thoughts about the players I picked and how the rookie draft played out.

In this article, I'll share about the rookie draft in my "Diehard" league. This league is a 12-team league with half-PPR scoring. Rosters are set at 31 players after the rookie draft. It's a one-quarterback league, and line-ups consist of one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, and two flex positions (no kickers or defenses).

Here I present the draft order and some overall thoughts about the draft itself.

Round One

    1.    Breece Hall
    2.    Drake London

  • Big Trade: Breece Hall has been the top pick in every draft I've participated in so far, even in a superflex league, but the second pick has been different in every league. In this league, a big trade was made between a team that wanted to move up to 1.2 and a team willing to move back. The team that moved up traded Michael Pittman and 1.6 to move up to draft London. The team that moved back to 1.6 drafted Jameson Williams, so the trade was Pittman and Williams for London. Usually, I would like the two for one side of this trade, especially since I expect Pittman to improve this year with Matt Ryan as his quarterback. However, I've been lower on Williams during the entire pre-draft process, so I'm not as confident in his future as I am in Pittman's.

    3.    Kenneth Walker
    4.    Garrett Wilson
    5.    Treylon Burks
    6.    Jameson Williams
    7.    Chris Olave

  • Tier Break One: Olave is my sixth-ranked rookie and at the end of a big tier break, in my opinion. Every player after Olave has considerable question marks in my eyes. If the manager that traded back had taken Olave instead of Williams, I would have loved the two for one side of that trade. Williams wins with his speed on deep balls, but I question Jared Goff's ability to make the most of his talents, and I also have some character and competitive questions with Williams. Christian Watson played less talented competition in college, does not have a great production profile, and enters a crowded wide receiver room. Skyy Moore also enters a crowded wide receiver room. James Cook has a lot of competition and will not be an every-down back in Buffalo. David Bell fell to the end of the third round, though I love his landing spot in Cleveland, and George Pickens had only one breakout year in Georgia, but it was two years ago, and he's struggled with injuries. All of that to say, I see a distinct tier break at 1.6.

    8.    Christian Watson
    9.    Skyy Moore
    10.  Jahan Dotson

  • My Pick: Dotson is my seventh-ranked rookie, right after the first tier break. I have him ranked higher than most analysts, so I am sure I will draft him a lot at the back of the first round as I did here. His NFL draft capital at 1.16 is far greater than that of players being drafted ahead of him, as was the case in this rookie draft. His college production and draft capital make me most confident in his future than the others I rank in tier two of this class. He's likely never to supersede Terry McLaurin as the WR-1 in Washington, but I believe he can become a reliable WR-2 in Washington and on dynasty rosters.

    11.   James Cook
    12.   David Bell

Round Two

    1.    George Pickens

  • Tier Break Two: There's a second-tier break after Pickens, in my opinion, from about pick 13 to 24. The top 12-13 picks in my rookie drafts have included mostly the same players, but things diverge after pick 13, as they did here in this draft.

    2.    Alec Pierce
    3.    Isaiah Spiller
    4.    Rachaad White

  • Controlling The Board: The same manager who traded up to select London controlled the top of the second round with three picks in a row. He chose Pierce to replace the whole left by trading away Pittman and added running back depth by drafting Spiller and White. Whereas London will become immediately startable in his line-up, he will have to wait a while on these second-round picks. Pierce has a chance to become a starter in week one for the Colts, but Spiller and White have proven veterans ahead of them. It's fun when you're in a position to control part of a round with three picks in a row. I'm not sure if he received or made any trade offers with those picks, but given the depth of the 2023 class and the tier break I just described, I would have tried to move one or more of these picks to get 2023 rookie picks. 

    5.    Kenny Pickett
    6.    Dameon Pierce
    7.    Tyler Allgeier

  • Opportunity Rise: Pierce and Allgeier have been the fast risers in ADP since the NFL draft because of the perceived opportunity on their teams. I understand why they've risen so much, especially in this third tier in a poor draft class, but it is surprising how high they're being drafted after their NFL teams drafted them in the fourth and fifth rounds. I reluctantly moved Pierce up in my rookie rankings, but not near where others have him. His production profile in Florida was too weak for me. I heard last week that he never played more than 23 snaps in a game at Florida. He has a bruising style and has shown pass-catching ability, but I don't trust players who have not dominated touches in college. On the other hand, Allgeier had 1800 total yards and 23 touchdowns in his senior season at BYU, touching the ball 304 times. That production alone makes me rank Allgeier six spots higher than Pierce. I'll end up with some Allgeier shares this year, but not any of Pierce. What surprised me in this draft was that Brian Robinson was drafted five picks after both of them.

    8.    Zamir White
    9.    Jalen Tolbert
    10.  John Methcie
    11.  Wan'Dale Robinson
    12.  Brian Robinson

Round Three

    1.    Tyrion Davis-Price

  • Shanahanigans: Price's value also rose significantly after the 49ers drafted him in the third round of the NFL draft. Even so, I was not willing to move him up in my rookie rankings as I did with Allgeier and Pierce. Coach Shanahan is too difficult of a coach to trust with running backs. I'm just not willing to take a risk on Price because it means trusting Shanahan. Of course, there is a chance that Price, out of nowhere, surpassed Elijah Mitchell, Trey Sermon, and Jeff Wilson, but there's just as much a chance that he never sees the field. Shanahan does not care about draft capital. He'll play whichever player he thinks helps him or whoever is following his running back rules. I see the appeal with Price given the draft capital, but Shanahanigans and his unimpressive college production have kept him ranked 38th in my rookie rankings.

    2.    Khalil Shakir
    3.    Malik Willis
    4.    Trey McBride

  • Falling Too Far: Malik Willis and Trey McBride fell down rookie rankings after the NFL draft since they were drafted by teams with productive veterans ahead of them. However, in this draft, they fell way too far. Willis was a great selection in this muddy less than stellar third round when upside is what you should draft for. Willis has the most upside of anyone drafted in this round. The same is true for Trey McBride. We're playing in dynasty leagues and thus have time to be patent with these two players who, at the time, are blocked on their NFL teams. Willis has the most upside in this round of the draft, and McBride has the safest floor. There is nothing in McBride's profile to suggest that he would bust in the NFL. While I wish he landed with a more traditional passing offense, Arizona used Zach Ertz was highly productive for the Cardinal last year after being traded to the team. Ertz is older and will be out of McBride's way soon enough, and Cliff Kinsbury's days may be numbered with the team. Either way, McBride is a very safe investment this late in the draft.

    5.    Tyquan Thorton
    6.    Desmond Ridder
    7.    Romeo Doubs
    8.    Jerome Ford
    9.    Justyn Ross
    10.  Pierre Strong

  • My Pick: I was thrilled to have one of my late-round targets fall to me this late in the draft. Strong is my 29th-ranked rookie, and I selected him with the 34th pick. I have to admit that Belichick, like Shanahan, does no favors to dynasty managers with these running backs, but he'll also let everyone compete for the job. Unlike Tyrion Davis-Price, Strong has an incredible production profile, albeit from South Dakota State. It may take a year before he's a regular part of the offense, but if he shows promise this year, the Patriots cold move on from Damian Harris, giving Strong a chance to play a significant role a year from now. I'll have to be patient with Strong on my roster, but he's got the upside I value this late in the draft.

    11.  Danny Gray
    12.  Calvin Austin

Round Four

    1.    Jelani Woods
    2.    Tyler Badie
    3.    Kyren Williams
    4.    Greg Dulcich
    5.    Hasaan Haskins
    6.    Keaontay Ingram

  • Late-Round Value: Haskins and Ingram were great value picks here in the fourth round. They are likely to become the immediate back-ups behind Derrick Henry and James Conner, two older players who have been more prone to injuries in recent years. Their opportunity demands that they get drafted ahead of some of the running backs who were drafted ahead of them in this draft. I was surprised to see Jerome Ford, Kyren Williams, and Tyler Badie drafted ahead of them when they are third-string running backs on their teams at best. At this point in the draft, it's fine to pick your guy, so I'm not pointing fingers at any managers here, but I think Haskins and Ingram were great picks here.

    7.    Jerrion Ealy
    8.    Velus Jones
    9.    Matt Corral
    10.  Tylan Wallace

  • My Pick: I was the first manager to draft a non-rookie. I hoped Dulcich, Haskins, or Ingram would fall to me with pick #44, but when they did not, I chose to pick a player who has a window of opportunity in Baltimore since Marquise Brown was traded to Arizona. I loved Tylan Wallace's college film and production and had him in the first round of my rookie rankings in 2021 before the NFL draft. However, I significantly moved him down my rankings after the run-first Ravens drafted him in the fourth round of the NFL draft. After playing very little last year, he was dropped from rosters in many leagues, including this 12-team, 26-man roster league. I decided I would take a chance by picking him here to watch how he plays in the preseason before deciding about him when we cut our rosters from 31 to 26. As you'll see from my roster below, there are several players I'd be willing to drop before I drop Wallace, whom I once thought would be a first-round rookie talent.

    11.   Kyle Phillips
    12.   Isaiah Pacheco

Round Five

    1.    Kevin Harris
    2.    ZaQuandre White
    3.    Jake Ferguson
    4.    Snoop Conner
    5.    Ty Chandler
    6.    Kyric McGowan
    7.    Sam Howell
    8.    Pass
    9.    Charlie Kolar
    10.  Equanimeous St. Brown

  • My Pick: It's hard to make too many comments about a player drafted this late in the class, so I will only comment about the player I picked. I again went with a non-rookie. As I call him, ESB was signed by the Bears and has a starting roster spot available. At this point in the draft, as I did with Tylan Wallace, I wanted to draft a player who once was thought to be a top prospect. Since this draft, the Bears have added Donte Pettis and Tajae Sharpe, so I like this pick less than I did when I made it, but those additions also indicate that the job is wide open and Ourlads still has ESB in a starting role by their roster projections.

    11.  Abram Smith
    12.  Kennedy Brooks

  • UDFAs: I heard this week that Smith and Brooks are the highest-paid UDFAs in this class. It's fitting that they should be drafted as the last two picks of this rookie draft. These were excellent final picks by two Diehards who know what they're doing.

My Roster

  • This league is four years old, and I have made the playoffs every year but have yet to make it to the Super Bowl. I've tried to stay competitive year to year and have traded away draft picks over the years to improve my team in the short term and make playoff runs. I believe that last season was the final season I can do that with this team. I have a solid enough roster to be a playoff team this year, but I can't trade away any more picks. If my team suffers injuries or the writing is on the wall for this season, I need to sell off pieces instead of buying them as I have in years past. I'm hopeful for one final playoff run, but I plan to add 2023 picks and/or younger players this season rather than give any away.

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen, Mac Jones, Daniel Jones, Jameis Winston

  • I'm in excellent position at quarterback with Josh Allen, and I have three other quarterbacks whose value can rise significantly this season, giving me a possible opportunity to trade one of them for draft picks or running backs and receivers, where my team needs help.

Running Backs

Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb, Mark Ingram, Pierre Strong, D'Onta Foreman, D'Ernest Johnson, Jaret Patterson, Kalen Ballage, Jordan Howard

  • I have one of the best one-two punches at the running back position in this league, but my depth is terrible. We added a flex position this year in this league, too, which means teams with three startable running back will really have a leg up on teams that don't. The only way to add top-tier running backs in this competitive league is to have a terrible season or tank to get running backs in the rookie draft or trade and pay a lot. I'm going to have to do one or the other to improve my running backs in this league. With the 2023 class so strong, I likely need to sell Chubb or Kamara this season to a competing team. That is unless I am that competing team.

Wide Receivers

Keenan Allen, Jahan Dotson, Adam Thielen, DeVante Parker, Robert Woods, Tim Patrick, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Antoine Wesley, Josh Reynolds, Ashton Dulin, Tylan Wallace, Auden Tate, Equinimeous St. Brown

  • My wide receiver room is growing very old. If Parker makes a surprise improvement with his new team, the Patriots, that could help me in the short term, but I need to get much younger at wide receiver. I really need Dotson to come out of the gate strong, and I need Dulin or Wallace to be a big surprise.

Tight Ends

Dawson Knox, Logan Thomas, Adam Trautman, Robert Tonyan

  • I don't have a stud tight end, but I am confident in the guys I have and can stream the tight end position pretty well with this group. Dawson Knox was great for me last year and was an excellent stack for me with Josh Allen; however, only touchdowns floated his impact on my team. If he gets more in the offense, I can become a stud. If Thomas can stay healthy, he gives me a solid floor weekly. I'm hopeful for a breakout year from Trautman in New Orleans and have waited patiently for him. I added Tonyan off of waivers this offseason after Davante Adams was traded. I'm eager to see if he can have a rebound season since he's one of the only guys Aaron Rodgers trusts.

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