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Tue May 31st 2022

Grading My "Keeper" Rookie Draft

I had another rookie drafter last week in my "Keeper" league. I took over an orphan team about six years ago in this league. I have steadily rebuilt the team, making it a playoff contender, but I've yet to reach the Super Bowl. My team is getting old, and I think this is a make-or-break year for me. I need to decide if I should shift into rebuild mode or continue to contend but not take home the prize. There are at least four rosters better than mine, so I'll need injury luck and breakout performances to win the league.

The "Keeper" league is a 10-team, half PPR, one-quarterback league that is switching to superflex next season. We start ten players - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, K, and DST. Rosters balloon up to 40 after the rookie draft but cut down to 30 after the final preseason game.

Only four of the ten teams make the playoffs, and the #1 seed gets to pick which of the other three teams they want to play in the playoffs. I finished in sixth place last season, so I picked from the sixth spot in each round of the rookie draft apart from trades.

Here's a look at this rookie draft and an honest assessment of my team afterward.

Round One

1. Breece Hall

2. Drake London

3. Kenneth Walker III

4. Garrett Wilson

5. Treylon Burks

6. Chris Olave

  • Olave was my pick. I won't rehash my thoughts about the tier-break after Olave or why I picked him since I wrote about that last week, but suffice it to say that I've drafted Olave a lot. I have drafted Olave in all three rookie drafts, where I picked between 1.6 and 1.10. The hype around Olave has picked up since coaches have spoken about his play at minicamp and since the Saints reported that Michael Thomas has still not been cleared to play. I figured he would fall to me at 1.6, and he did.

7. Rachaad White

8. Jameson Williams

9. George Pickens

  • This is the earliest I have seen Rachaad White and George Pickens get drafted. White has gone between picks 14 and 16 in my other drafts, and he's my 17tth ranked rookie, so to see him drafted 7th was quite a surprise. To see him selected ahead of James Cook, the consensus RB-3 in this rookie class, was also a shocker. The manager who picked him lives in Arizona, so maybe he's seeing with Sun Devil eyes. I've also yet to see Pickens selected ahead of Skyy Moore and Christian Watson. I've said before that I see Pickens as the last player in tier two of this class as my 13th ranked rookie, but here he was drafted 9th. Picks 1-6 were pretty chalky in this rookie draft but picks 6-13 were very different from previous rookie drafts.

10. Skyy Moore

Round Two

1. James Cook

2. Tyler Allegeier

  • This is also by far the highest I've seen Allgeier drafted. At 2.2 in a 10-team league, he's the last pick in the first round of a 12-team league. His ADP in my other leagues is 19, but here he was picked at 12. He was selected by the same manager who drafted Rachaad White early than usual. The top two running backs are David Montgomery and Damien Harris, so maybe he was drafting for need. He drafted Garrett Wilson in round one-two, so maybe after drafting the best player available at 1.4 and adding to his wide receiver depth, he thought he could afford to draft for need with his next two picks. Still, I was surprised but pleased to see the player I have ranked 7th fall to me at pick 16 as a result.

3. Christian Watson

4. David Bell

5. Dameon Pierce

6. Jahan Dotson

  • I figured Christian Watson's fall would end before my pick and hoped for David Bell or Jahan Dotson to fall to me. I knew I would get a lot of Dotson shares this year because I have him ranked higher than any analyst or dynasty manager. I've drafted him twice with the 10th pick in my "Diehard" draft and the 16th pick here. I've written enough about my love for Dotson, so I won't explain myself again. His college production profile, draft capital, and "best hands in the draft" label assigned to him by NFL scouts are enough for me to be confident in him becoming a productive WR-3 on my roster for a long time.

7. Isaiah Spiller

8. Alec Pierce

9. Zamir White

10. John Metchie III

Round Three

1. Brian Robinson

2. Tyquan Thorton

  • Thorton was a reach in this rookie draft just as he was by the Patriots in the NFL draft. Thorton's ADP in my rookie drafts is 30, but he was drafted 22nd in this one. Speed is the trait I value the least in wide receivers, though many NFL teams and dynasty managers disagree with me. Thorton is a freaky athlete, and I take flyers on athletic players in the later rounds of rookie drafts but not this early in the third round, which at pick #22 is really a second-round pick in traditional 12-team leagues. Plus, he came from a school with a lousy track record of producing NFL receivers and was drafted by a team with a terrible record of selecting receivers who become fantasy relevant.

3. Kenny Pickett

  • Kenny Pickett fell way too far in this draft, especially in a league transitioning to superflex next year. I tried throughout this round to trade up or Pickett. Tyler Lockett was the player offered managers in this round for their pick, which I thought was fair for a third-round rookie pick. After all, I traded a second-round rookie pick last year in this league to acquire Lockett. Unlike most dynasty analysts, I had Pickett ranked as my top quarterback from the end of the college season through the NFL draft. I think he can become a consistent starter and a great QB-2 in a superflex lineup. This is a ten-team league, so quarterbacks will not get pushed up the board as much as they would in a 12-team superflex league, but this was still too far of a fall for Pickett. I wish I could have added him to my roster.

4. Tyrion Davis Price

5. Wan'Dale Robinson

6. Jalen Tolbert

  • I picked Tolbert here in the third round, though I debated hard between him and Hassan Haskins. I have Haskins ranked eight spots lower than Tolbert (23rd to 31st), but I need running back depth with upside on my roster in this league. However, I stuck with my draft board when I was on the clock. It's the only share of Tolbert that I have, and I am excited to see what he can do for my team and the Cowboys. Dallas lost a lot of wide receiver depth this offseason, and Michael Gallup is recovering from his ACL tear. I like James Washington, too, and I added him to a lot of my dynasty rosters after he signed with Dallas, but Tolbert is the player Dallas drafted on day two of the draft, not a player they picked up on a one-year contract when they had wholes to fill free agency. I think Tolbert will see the field right away in Dallas even if Gallup is healthy enough to start the season.

7. Hassan Haskins

8. Trey McBride

9. Desmond Ridder

10. Romeo Doubs

Round Four

1. Malik Willis

  • As I already mentioned, we're transitioning to a superflex league next season, so Willis was an excellent pick-up at this part of the draft, and he started a quarterback run that was overdue at this point of the draft. I'm confident that all of the quarterbacks selected in this round will be held on rosters throughout this season before moving to superflex next year.

2. Jelani Woods

3. Khalil Shakir

4, Sam Howell

5. Matt Corral

6. Keaontay Ingram

7. Snoop Conner

8. Calvin Austin

9. Justyn Ross

10. Danny Gray

Round Five

1. Velus Jones

2. Jerome Ford

3. Greg Dulich

  • It's criminal for Dulcich to fall this far in rookie drafts. He's the 43rd pick in this draft and the 25th rookie in my rankings. Dynasty managers are far too concerned about Albert Okwuegbunam than they ought to be. Dulcich was drafted in the third round by the Broncos. They have plans for him, and he will see the field immediately. I'm not saying he will become a fantasy starter in year one, but he will be a streamable tight end sooner than later and Denver's primary pass-catching tight end right away. Dulcich was a steal with this pick, making me regret trading away my fourth and fifth-round picks. I quickly would have taken Dulcich at 4.6 in the last round if I had that pick back.

4. Jerreth Stearns

5. Abram Smith

6. Kevin Harris

7. Parris Campbell

8. Tyler Badie

9. Kyle Phillips

10. Kyren Williams

  • Williams was also a steal this late in the draft. I hate to admit it now, but Williams was my fourth-ranked rookie running back in this class before the NFL Combine and draft. However, his poor athletic numbers and draft capital made me move him down my board, settling at 33rd in my rankings. Selecting him here at pick #50 is a bargain. While his draft capital was bad (pick 5.21), his landing spot was favorable. I think he can carve out a role with the Rams on passing downs at the very least and, at best, become a one-two punch with either Cam Akers or Darrell Henderson two years from now. Like Dulcich, Williams fell far too far in this rookie draft.

Round Six

1. Erik Ezukanma

2. Ty Chandler

3. Pierre Strong

  • I've written several times about how Strong is one of my favorite late-round targets. I've been targeting him in the third round of my drafts and was able to select him there in one league, yet here he falls to the sixth round. Like so many in this rookie draft, this pick was a big surprise. I would have been ecstatic if he fell three more spots to me at 6.6.

4. TJ Pledger

5. Dareke Young

6. Robert Tonyan

7. Kennedy Brooks

  • I had picks 6.6 and 6.7. I felt it was best to draft a non-rookie and a UDFA in Tonyan and Brooks at this point in the draft. There are a lot of new faces in Green Bay, but Tonyan is a familiar one for Aaron Rodgers. I have depth at tight end already, but I'd like to see how the passing game in Green Bay looks during camp and preseason to decide if Tonyan is worth keeping on my roster. As for Brooks, I have Mile Sanders on my squad and want to see if Brooks can make the Eagles' active roster after the preseason. Matt Waldman loves Brooks, so I am banking on his eye for the running back position. I've targeted him with the last pick in most of my drafts, but other savvy managers and Matt Waldman listeners have beat me to the punch in most leagues, so I was happy to add him here.

8. Bo Melton

9. Carson Strong

10. Isaiah Pacheco


My Roster

  • As I mentioned in the introduction, this is a make-or-break year for me. I need my quarterbacks and Mile Sanders to break out this year to have a chance to compete for a championship. If they don't, I need to trade players for picks and start rebuilding. Because it is a ten-team league, there's always a chance to rebound quickly. That said, I've found myself outside of the 4-team playoffs the last two years in a row and picking 5th or 6th instead of 1st to 4th. I need to pull the trigger on this team more quickly this season. This league is very active in trading, especially toward the run to the playoffs. Instead of fighting for the last playoff spot this year, I need to take the long road and sell players for picks.

Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailoa, Carson Wentz, Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold, Marcus Mariota

  • This is the worst group of quarterbacks on any of my rosters. I desperately need Tua to break out this season with the new weapons around him and Daniel Jones to do the same with his new coaching staff around him. If not, I'll be looking for quarterbacks in the first round of next year's rookie draft as we move to a suprflex league.

Running Backs

Nick Chubb, Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt, Chase Edmonds, Nyheim Hines, Samaje Perine, Kennedy Brooks

  • Running back is by far my weakest position. Chubb is one of my all-time favorite players, but it's a roster full of question marks after Chubb and a thin roster at that. I've not finished poorly enough to get one of the top 1-4 draft picks where elite running backs are available. I'm hoping the switch to superflex will cause some running backs to fall to the mid to late first-round so that I can rebuild through the draft. That said, the better path may be to sell players for first-round picks next year.

Wide Receivers

Keenan Allen, Tyler Lockett, Brandin Cooks, Darnell Mooney, Tyler Boyd, Robert Woods, Jarvis Landry, Bryan Edwards, Jalen Reagor, Chris Olave, Jahan Dotson, Jalen Tolbert

  • My wide receivers are the strength of my team, but they are getting older. Both of my rookie picks two seasons ago, Jalen Reagor and Bryan Edwards, have been busts. I can't afford that with the three rookies I selected in this draft. I need some of my receivers to become tradeable assets during this season since they're about my only bargaining chip.

Tight Ends

Dallas Goedert, Dawson Knox, Austin Hooper, Albert Okwwegbuman, Mo Alie-Cox, Robert Tonyan

  • I have a tier two tight end starter with Goedert and a bunch of streamable guys other than that. I need Knox to expand his role with the Bills and Austin Hooper to get back to his Atlanta ways with his new team in Tennessee to make me feel comfortable with my depth.

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