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How to Attack Rookie Drafts in Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues

Last year I was invited to take over a last place team in the Sirius XM Dynasty League, with some big-time heavy hitters in the league. This was my first serious dynasty league. Given the competition, my goal in year one was to just not embarrass myself. Since the team I took over finished last, I was gifted the first pick in the rookie draft and ended up with Saquon Barkley first overall and then was lucky enough to nab Baker Mayfield with the first pick in the second round. I ended up tying for the final playoff spot and was beat out by just a handful of points, but I succeeded in not embarrassing myself. This showed me just how quickly things can turn around if you have a strong rookie draft.

This is a very competitive IDP league, with a taxi squad and all the works. It is the closest to running an NFL team of any league that I have ever played in. We hold our rookie draft immediately after the NFL Draft and are currently in the midst of it. This seems like as good of a time as any to get inside the minds of some of the best dynasty players to help you dynasty players at Fantrax in your own rookie drafts.

2019 SiriusXm Dynasty League

First, here is the first round and the owners that made the pick, their affiliate, and Twitter handle.

Round 1

1.01- N’Keal Harry, SBN Dan (@djcwritesstuff)

1.02- Josh Jacobs, Kelly Smelser, Punch Drunk Wonderland (@PDWonderland)

1.03- David Montgomery, Jeff Mans & Ted Schuster, GuruElite (@Jeff_Mans, @TedSchuster),

1.04- Miles Sanders, Rob Touzet, SiriusXM (@y2zet)

1.05- T.J. Hockenson, Walton Spurlin, FantasyPros (@WaltonSpurlin)

1.06- DK Metcalf, Anthony Aniano, RotoBaller (@AAnianoFantasy)

1.07- Kyler Murray, Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus, (@JeffRatcliffe)

1.08- Nick Bosa, Steve Sheiner, Fantasy Sharks

1.09- Parris Campbell, Mike Blewitt, FNTSY (@MikeBlewitt)

1.10- AJ Brown, Me, Fantrax (@MichaelFFlorio – you should be following me already!)

1.11- Damien Harris, Michael Rathburn, TQE/RotoWire (@FantasyRath)

1.12- Darrell Henderson, Gary Davenport, Fantrax/FantasySharks (@IDPSharks)

1.13- Noah Fant, Anthony Perri, Fantistics

1.14- Devin Bush, Adam Strangis, Fansided (@Bucn4life)

1.15- Mecole Hardman, Shane Hallam, Fake Pigskin (@ShanePHallam)

1.16- Deebo Samuel, Kelly Smelser

Round 2

2.01- Marquise Brown, SBN Dan

2.02- JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Jared Smola, Draft Sharks (@SmolaDS)

I was a little surprised to see Harry go first overall over the projected workhorse running backs, but that team had a serious need at WR. I think there are a consensus top-three rookies in Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery, and Harry, so there were no surprises in the early picks. The Miles Sanders pick at four provides a ton of long term upside, but the usage this year, at least early on may not be ideal.

One really interesting pick was DK Metcalf, who went off the board as the second wideout and sixth overall pick to Anthony Aniano of RotoBaller. You can ask 10 people their opinions on Metcalf. I believe he can be a combination of a Tyler Lockett meets Jimmy Graham. What I mean by that is I expect the Seahawks to take plenty of deep shots with Metcalf, as well as pepper him with red/end zone targets. He will not have a high catch total in my opinion, but that does not mean he cannot be productive.

Aniano was looking to find that upside, while also filling a position of need.

“The uncertainty of Doug Baldwin’s physical issues and possible retirement could lead to at the least a red zone role for the gigantic Metcalf. They idea of having a wide receiver core of JuJu Smith-Schuster, DK Metcalf and Christian Kirk is a dynasty league was just too enticing,” he said.

“I did flirt with the idea of Kyler Murray who went at 1.07 but with Jared Goff and Jameis Winston, a third QB seemed like more of a luxury than a need. Also in consideration at this pick was Mecole Hardman who eventually went 1.15.”

Kyler Murray on top of Patrick Mahomes?

While Aniano looked to fill a need with his pick, some owners were looking more for a bargain. Jeff Ratcliff, of Pro Football Focus, nabbed Kyler Murray at seven, who I thought could go as early as fourth overall.

“Value is the name of the game, and in a 16-team league quarterbacks hold more value than in their 12-team counterparts,” he said.

In fact, it was such a good value that he nabbed Murray despite not needing a QB and having needs elsewhere.

“Though I have a need at running back and already have Mahomes on my roster, Kyler Murray was far and away the top player on the board. It was a no-brainer to select him in the 1.07 spot.”

Dynasty Leagues Strategy: Draft for Need or Best Player?

There is a lesson here to be learned in dynasty leagues. You do not necessarily have to draft based off of need. Jeff had a need at running back and there were names such as Damien Harris, Darrell Henderson, and Devin Singletary, yet all three find themselves as backups on their current teams. While he could have selected one there for added depth at a vital position, he saw the biggest value on the board and jumped on it. If Murray lives up to expectations, he will be able to get a very talented running back, and likely more, for him. If you are in a rookie draft and see value, even if it doesn’t fill a position of need for you, do not be afraid to gobble it up!

Nick Bosa was one of two IDP players selected in the first round, and we know he is a stud. Parris Campbell went off the board one pick before me and I was hoping to land him. Campbell should replace Chester Rogers as the Colts primary slot receiver with T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess out wide. I think Campbell can come in and be an immediate factor this season. While he has some work to do as a route runner, he possesses blazing speed and should get a ton of run on an Andrew Luck offense.

At 10 overall, I nabbed A.J. Brown. Heading into the draft I had Brown just behind Harry as my favorite wide receiver… and then he went to the Titans. Brown is much better in the slot and often was comped to another big slot receiver in JuJu Smith-Schuster. On the Titans I fear that Adam Humphries will clog up the slot, plus there’s suddenly a lot of mouths to feed in the passing game and I don’t trust Marcus Mariota to properly feed them! However, I had a need at WR and still viewed him as the best talent remaining on the board, so despite not loving the fit, I took a shot on Brown and his ability.

Rounding out the first round were some players who certainly could be big fantasy factors this season, but would need something to break right for them. Damien Harris and Darrell Henderson went directly after me, both of who could be viable options if anything happens to the starter in front of them. One very interesting pick is Mecole Hardman at 15 overall. Hardman is a speedster who was viewed as a developmental pick, until he went to the Chiefs, where he is being viewed as the replacement to Tyreek Hill. Hardman could turn out to be the pick of the draft, but due to the uncertainty around him and the Chiefs receiver situation as a whole, he fell a bit further than I expected.

One of the best parts of drafts in dynasty leagues is you can trade not only players, but also draft picks and we had that occur in the first round. Jared Smola was sitting on the clock at 1.16, just after Hardman went off the board. Smola was sitting there wanting a receiver, and with three he liked still on the board, he saw an opportunity to add some draft capital.

“In this year’s SiriusXM rookie draft, I moved the 1.16 for 2.02 and 6.02.  I was pumped to see J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Marquise Brown and Deebo Samuel on the board when I got on the clock at 1.16.  I knew I’d be happy landing any of the 3, so moving down those 2 spots essentially just gave me a free 6th-rounder,” Smola said.

It worked out well for him. “Samuel and Brown went at 1.16 and 2.01, so I ended up with Arcega-Whiteside, who I have ranked 3rd overall in this class,” he added.

Smola is no stranger to dynasty trades and his strategy is to turn those unknown rookie picks into proven commodities.

“I tend to be an active trader in dynasty rookie drafts — and I’m usually trading down or out of picks,” he said. “I think, in general, rookie draft picks tend to be overvalued.  It’s tough enough to project how guys who we’ve already seen in the NFL will fare going forward.  It’s even tougher to project how guys will perform coming out of college.  So I tend to look to trade picks for proven veterans.  And if I can’t do that, I’ll trade down to acquire more shots at the dartboard.”

There are a number of different ways you can attack rookie drafts in dynasty leagues and hopefully getting inside the minds of some of the top fantasy football/dynasty players (and myself) will help you as you gear up for your rookie draft.

Make sure to come back as I will write a second part once the full draft is over!

You can follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.

Michael Florio is the winner of the 2018 FSWA Baseball Article of the Year and was a finalist for the 2017 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year. He has hosted video/radio shows, written for a number of print and web publications including the AP, NY Daily News and much more!

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