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Mon May 17th 2021

Early Rookie Draft Trends

It's the rookie draft season! I had three drafts this week, with two more to follow next week and a slow trickle of others in the weeks to come. After witnessing my drafts in my bigger-money leagues, I wanted to share a few trends that I see happening among some of the dynasty diehards that have already finished rookie drafts. I hope these trends will help you know what to expect from ADP and help you in your rookie drafts if you've not yet had them. If you have had your drafts, I'd be curious to see if you've seen the same trends. As always, I'll give my independent, trustworthy opinion on these trends.

Top Seven Consensus

  • In one-quarterback leagues, the top seven picks have been perfectly consistent in all my drafts. I don't mean that the order has been consistent, but the top seven players were all picked among the top seven picks. Ja'Marr Chase, Najee Harris, Kyle Pitts, and Travis Etienne have generally been the first four players drafted in various orders. Javonte Williams, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle have been drafted in the back of the first tier in various orders. All seven of these players were drafted among the top seven in each of my three rookie drafts. I'm not as confident in Waddle as most analysts, so I had a tier break after pick-six in my rankings. I even had Elijah Moore ranked ahead of Waddle because I have an aversion to drafting the fastest wide receivers in a class. Speed certainly is not Waddle's only trait. He's a dynamic run after the catch player, but I favor Elijah Moore ahead of Waddle as a more complete possession receiver who I believe will be the number one target on the Jets by midseason, while Waddle will not surpass DeVante Parker in targets in Miami. I'm on an island with this take, but I will stand by it. I like Waddle, but I like Moore even more and see a tier break at pick six while clearly, other dynasty managers see it at pick seven.

Elijah Moore Solidly In The First Round

  • Speaking of Elijah Moore, while he's been drafted behind Waddle in all of my rookie drafts, he's been a first-round pick in all of them, too (or a first-rounder in superflex leagues when removing quarterbacks). He was drafted with the 15th pick in my Superflex draft after five quarterbacks were selected in the first round, and he was drafted 1.9 and 1.10 in my two one-quarterback leagues. Moore was a steady rise in my rankings as the off-season progressed and moved into the first round of my rankings after getting drafted with the second pick of the second round by the Jets. I have some concerns about Zack Wilson, my fourth-ranked rookie quarterback, but I believe Moore will quickly surpass Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Denzel Mimms to be the leading wide receiver for the Jets, who invested highly in him and drafted really well this year. I'm glad to see that other dynasty managers now see him as a first-round pick as I do.

Super Deep Superflex Draft Class

  • The only reason Moore is not a first-round draft pick in superflex leagues is that the quarterback class is so deep this year. All five NFL first-round picks (Trevor Lawrence, Zack Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones) were drafted in the first round of my superflex league, and all but Mac Jones were drafted in the first or second round of my one-quarterback leagues. What's wild is that three more quarterbacks (Kellen Mond, Davis Mills, and Kyle Trask) were drafted in the second round of my Superflex league, though it is a 14-team league. Even so, this draft proved that this is a deep quarterback class and a relatively weak class at the other positions in the second and third rounds. I was very disappointed with the landing spots of many of these rookies and saw the class as about 24 deep in one-quarterback leagues. Others believe the same based on the fact that three more backup quarterbacks were drafted in the second round of superflex rookies drafts.

Trey Lance and Justin Fields Decisions

  • In two of my drafts, Fields was drafted one pick before Lance. In the third draft, Lance was drafted five spots ahead of Fields in the second round. Zack Wilson has been the fourth quarterback drafted in every league and Mac Jones the fifth, but the divide comes between Fields and Lance. I imagine it will be so in all of my future rookie drafts too. I had Fields ranked ahead of Lance all offseason until the NFL draft when Lance was drafted ahead of Fields to a team with better coaching and traded a lot to get him. I have Lance ranked as my #12 rookie, but he fell to 14 and 19 in my one-quarterback leagues. I tried to trade up to get him in those leagues but could not get a deal done. I believe both players will be great and have Fields ranked 14th, two spots behind Lance. I suspect each draft will be different as to who goes ahead of the other.

Michael Carter Drafted Way Too Early

  • I expected other dynasty managers were higher on Carter than I was, but I was shocked to see how high. Carter was drafted at 1.9 and 2.6 in my one-quarterback leagues and 2.7 in my superflex league. That's way too high to draft a fourth-round pick, in my opinion. I have Carter ranked #21 in my one-quarterback rankings. It's not a massive gap between where he was drafted and where I ranked him, but I consistently saw him drafted ahead of players I have ranked ahead of Carter, like Amon-Ra St. Brown and all of the top five quarterbacks with first-round draft capital. Even in one-quarterback leagues, they are better second-round picks than Carter. I know Carter has his believers, but I was surprised to see him drafted so. Then again, it only takes one believer in a league to skew ADP.

Javian Hawkins Surprise

  • Javian Hawkins was the first UDFA drafted in all of my leagues. He was drafted in the third round ahead of running backs drafted by NFL teams like Elijah Mitchell, Jermar Jefferson, Kylin Hill, and even Rhamondre Stevenson in one league. Hawkins is undoubtedly the top UDFA flyer selected in rookie drafts this year, and he's the top-ranked UDFA in my rookie rankings. He was in my queue at 3.3 in one draft but was drafted the pick before me. I was able to draft him in another league at 4.1. Atlanta let Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, and Ito Smith go this offseason, so Hawkins only has Qadree Ollison and Mike Davis ahead of him on the depth chart. While Hawkins is smaller than a prototypical three-down back in the NFL, he had an incredibly productive college career, including a 1528-yard rushing sophomore season. He has breakaway speed too. These are the factors leading to him holding third-round value, even as a UDFA.

Gerrid Doaks and the Miami Backfield

  • Gerrid Doaks was not in my rookie rankings, but he was drafted in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds of the three rookie drafts I had this week. Doaks was a seventh round draft pick by Miami, a team everyone thought would draft a running back earlier in the draft. Dynasty managers benefited from the surprising play of Miami's 7th round pick, Myles Gaskin, and UDFA, Salvon Ahmed, last year. Both running backs have the same draft capital as Doaks, so dynasty managers are banking on Doaks getting a chance to compete with them. I did not like Doaks' college film or his college production, a career-best 673-yard season. He's far bigger than Gaskin and Ahmed, at 230 pounds, but his running style is not suited for the NFL, in my opinion. As I said, he was not in my rookie rankings, but other savvy managers disagree with me and drafted him higher than I imagined.

Elijah Mitchell Drafted Too Close To Trey Sermon

  • Dynasty managers were puzzled when San Francisco drafted Elijah Mitchell in the 6th round after they traded up to draft Trey Sermon in the third round. Dynasty managers are doing the same, drafting Mitchell a few rounds after Sermon. Sermon has the feel of Ke'Shawn Vaughn from last season. His hype has moved him into the first round in all of my leagues so far. He was drafted at 1.12, 1.12, and 1.13 in my 14-team league. I loved Sermon more than most analysts before the NFL draft but was sad to see him land with the 49ers, who rotate their running backs more than most any team in the league. Drafting Mitchell reinforced that point. Knowing that's the case, dynasty managers have drafted Mitchell way earlier than I expected, and they may be right to do so. I had Mitchel ranked as my 55th ranked rookie, but he was drafted 32nd, 33rd, and 40th in the three leagues that drafted last week. He's being drafted just 20 spots after Sermon. Dynasty managers are taking a chance that Shanahan will let the best man win, but it's more likely that they will all be in the mix, and the dynasty value of each San Francisco running back will fade, including Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson.

Josh Palmer Drop-off Point

  • Josh Palmer, my 25th ranked rookie, was the last of a tier, in my opinion, and the three drafts I've had so far have proven me right. In each of my drafts, I tried to trade up to get Josh Palmer, whose draft capital and opportunity on a wide-open roster in Los Angeles boosted his dynasty stock after the NFL Draft. I was never able to get a trade done to add Palmer to my teams, but I will keep trying in my drafts this week. I noticed in my three drafts that after Palmer was selected, the picks that followed him were all over the place. After Palmer gets drafted, owners are reaching to take their guys. A variety of other wide receivers are selected after Palmer, but the order varies greatly. Those receivers include Tylan Wallace, Tutu Atwell, Cornell Powell, Dez Fitzpatrick, Anthony Schwarts, and Dazz Newsome. In my FFPC draft, which has 22-man rosters, veteran free agents were drafted after Palmer, like Breshad Perriman, John Brown, and Russell Gage. Dynasty managers definitely see a major break in the wide receiver class after Palmer. The same is true in the running back class.

Late-Round Running Back Grab

  • Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams, and Trey Sermon were all first-round picks, and Michael Carter before or after the second-round turn. Kenneth Gainwell and Chuba Hubbard were drafted in the second or third round before Javian Hawkins. After that, everyone looked to draft the running back they liked most, and like late-round wide receivers, the picks were all over the place. Garrid Doaks, Elijah Mitchell, Jermar Jefferson, Chris Evans, and Larry Rountree were all in the mix, getting drafted in different places in rounds three, four, and five. Dynasty managers picked their poison and hoped for the best with their late-round running backstabs.

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