Mon May 24th 2021
Rookies I Have Drafted So Far
It's the middle of the rookie draft season - the best part of the dynasty offseason. I have completed five drafts and have three more to go. When it comes to rookie drafts, I don't believe in diversifying my portfolio of players. Instead, if I like a player, I will draft him in multiple leagues. I stick to my rookie draft board and draft the players I want, even if it means I have the same player on my roster in multiple leagues. I pick "my guys" in each round of the draft.
I also value proven veteran players over proven draft picks, so I often do not have first-round draft picks. This year is no exception. I've only had one first-round draft pick so far in five leagues, and I do not have a first-round draft pick in any of the three leagues that have yet to draft. I traded first-round picks over the last season to acquire Travis Kelce, Josh Allen, Alvin Kamara, Laviska Shenault, and regrettably Melvin Gordon and Preston Williams. I traded away second-round picks to acquire Tyler Locket, DeVante Parker, and Darnell Mooney. Given those trades, I did not have many first or second-round picks in this year's rookie drafts. Instead, I picked "my guys" in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds of rookie drafts.
As I wrote about last week, there is a vast tier break in the third round this year, leaving each dynasty manager to pick whoever they consider being "my guys." It was no different for me, leaving me with many of the same players on my rosters which is no problem for me. I'm glad to have these players on multiple rosters.
After completing five rookie drafts so far, these are the ten players I have added to my teams.
- Harris was my only first-round pick. My co-manager, Dave Brown, and I traded Darren Waller to move up to the 1.2 spot where we drafted Harris after Travis Etienne was drafted at 1.1. This draft is a salary cap league with Reality Sports Online, and we had Waller signed for two more years before we traded him for Harris, who, as a rookie, has a cheap three-year contract. We needed running back help in this league (positionally and financially) and traded Waller to draft Harris or Etienne. Harris is who we wanted most, so we were pleased to see Etienne drafted before him. In salary cap leagues, running backs are drafted higher than wide receivers because they usually break out faster, and managers only have a three-year window before they can decide to extend a player's contract or place a franchise tag on the player. It hurt to give up Waller, who was instrumental in our championship season last year, but we're thrilled to have Harris on our team. He's undoubtedly the leading running back for Pittsburg compared to Etienne or Javonte Williams, who will split time in their backfields this season. Harris was a no-brainer pick for us in this league, the exact player we wanted when we made the trade for 1.2 this offseason.
- As I wrote about after the NFL draft, Bateman fell in my rankings after Baltimore drafted him. The passing volume in Baltimore is too low, so I moved Bateman from #4 in my rookie ranking back to #10, but when he fell to me at 2.1 in my FFPC rookie draft, I was happy to take him. He's the most talented receiver in Baltimore and has first-round draft capital like his new teammate, Marquise Brown. He was drafted to become the possession receiver that Baltimore has yet to find in their previous two draft classes. Like Harris, I believe Bateman will be an every-down starter for Baltimore from day one. Baltimore realizes that they have to improve their passing game if they intend to compete with Kansas City and Buffalo in the AFC. They will still be a run-first team but will increase their passing percentage significantly from the last two years, especially when they see how great Bateman plays. Buffalo did the same thing the previous year after adding Stefon Diggs to their team. One great wide receiver can make a big difference in the play calling. Bateman was an easy pick ahead of Terrance Marshall, Kenneth Gainwell, Pat Freiermuth, Kadarius Toney, and Amon-Ra St. Brown, who were drafted later in the second round.
- I drafted Dyami Brown in two leagues at 2.12 and 3.5. Brown is my 23rd ranked rookie, but I selected him with the 24th and 29th spots in the drafts. He'll have to compete with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel for targets, but he has higher draft capital than all the rest of the wide receivers in Washington. He'll have every chance to start in three-wide sets. He was a downfield threat in college, having the highest yards per catch of any wide receiver in this year's draft class. I believe Washington will try to use him in the same way. Now that they have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who likes to throw the ball downfield, they will be able to do so. Brown was at the very back of the big tier drop in my rankings but is a player I was pleased to have fallen to me with the 24th and 29th pick of those drafts.
- Palmer is the last player in the big tier break in round three of rookie drafts, as I wrote about last week. He is the 25th ranked rookie in my rankings and the last player I drafted with confident expectations. I traded two fourth-round picks to select him in the 3.7 spot in one league, and I drafted him at the 3.6 spot in another league, right after drafting Dyami Brown. In fact, in those two leagues, I now have Dyami Brown and Josh Palmer on my teams. Palmer was the biggest rookie riser in my rankings after the NFL draft. The Chargers drafted him with the 14th pick of the third round ahead of Dyami Brown, Amari Rodgers, Nico Collins, Tylan Wallace, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Clearly, the Chargers like Palmer and have plans to use him. The WR-3 spot is up for grabs this year and the WR-2 is up for grabs next year if the Chargers don't resign Mike Williams. Palmer is paired with Justin Herbert, last year's rookie of the year. The future is bright for Josh Palmer, so I was thrilled to add him to my teams five and six spots past where I had him ranked.
- As I mentioned last week, Hawkins is my highest ranked UDFA. He's #31 in my rookie rankings, and we drafted in about that spot in most of my leagues as the first UDFA drafted. I was able to pick him in the 37th spot in my lone 14-team league. I picked him because he has the least crowded backfield of all the running backs on the draft board at that time, players like Kylin Hill, Jermar Jefferson, and Khalil Herbert. It's only his size that caused him to go undrafted by NFL teams because his college production was incredible. In this wide receiver class, Dyami Brown had the highest yards per catch, and Hawkins had the most breakaway runs among this class of running backs. At this point in the draft, it's wise to pick players that can do at least one thing better than the others. For Hawkins, that's his speed. In this league, we have a taxi squad for rookies that get drafted, so I can keep Hawkins on my taxi squad while waiting to see if he gets an opportunity in Atlanta.
- Javian Hawkins was who I wanted to draft on one league, but he was selected the pick before me. In that league, I picked the next highest-ranked player on my board. That was Mac Jones. Even though it is a one-quarterback league, Jones was a great value at pick 3.8. Josh Allen is my starting quarterback in that league, but my backups are Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton, who could both lose their starting jobs. That fact made me even more willing to select Jones. First-round draft capital demands that he play sooner rather than later, even though Cam Newton is likely to start this entire year. Cam's age and style of play make him very injury-prone, so Jones is likely to get a few starts this season, and if he plays well could keep the job. I'm not thrilled about his pass-catchers in New England, but that could change in the years to come. It's more likely to change if Jones proves himself early. If he does, they will draft and make moves in free agency to get him better weapons.
- I took a stab at Hunter Long with my last pick in two drafts, picks 4.2 and 4.8. His third-round NFL draft capital makes me believe Miami has plans to use him even though Mike Gisecki is Miami's starting tight end. I want to see if Miami has plans to use him differently than Gisecki or if they want him to take over for Gesicki next year since his contract expires after this season. Either way, it will take some time to see play out, and Long will be on the bubble of my roster when it comes time to cut rosters. Long had a very productive last two seasons for Boston College. He was a favorite of Greg Cosell. I remember hearing Cosell gush about his upside on the Ross Tucker podcast, which played a significant factor in selecting Long in those two leagues.
- I drafted Brevin Jordan with the last pick in two of my leagues. He was the consensus third-ranked tight end in this class by scouts, but several tight ends were drafted before Houston drafted him in the 5th round. Houston is a train wreck organizationally, and Tyrod Taylor could be their starting quarterback this season. Even so, someone has to start at the tight end position in Houston, and Jordan has as good of a chance to play as do the other tight ends on the roster, Jordan Akins, Pharoh Brown, Kahale Warring. Jordan was the top tight end recruit in the country at one time, so he has the pedigree and talent to play in the NFL. Unlike Hunter Long, who I drafted first based on NFL draft capital, I drafted Brevin Jordan based on the opportunity in Houston.
- I only drafted Kylin Hill in one league at pick #50, and I only picked him because there is a taxi squad for a player drafted in the rookie draft. Hill was a favorite of mine on film, but his COVID year off, seventh-round draft capital and landing spot with Green Bay concerned me. He's buried on the depth chart behind Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, and Jones signed a long-term contract last year, but in this league, he can sit on my taxi squad for several years before I have to do anything with him. Because I loved his film so much, I'm willing to wait and am not harmed by doing so. He was worth a final pick in this league.
- Darby is a player I have drafted in a few leagues and have added in every league on waivers after the draft. Because I traded away so many picks, I had open roster spots on my teams after the draft, and I added Darby in all the leagues that allowed waivers after the rookie draft. Darby was named a sleeper by Matt Waldman, whose opinion I trust. His junior season, he proved that he could score touchdowns, with eight over a 12 game season. He has the frame to be an outside wide receiver in the NFL and can do things that Russell Gage and Zaccheaus Olamide can't do. He's a much better fit to take on a Julio Jones-like role if Julio gets injured, which often happened last season. The biggest reason I added Darby, however, is because of the Julio Jones trade rumors. Darby will get a fair chance to win a starting role if Jones gets traded, and Darby will be an attractive player to out on the trading block, resulting in picks for a player I added for free.
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