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Fantasy Football: What Is A Dynasty Draft Pick Worth?

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Apr 7, 2017

Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis is slated to go among the first three in rookie drafts. Mike Tagliere highlights what to expects from wide receivers taken in that range.

I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve been offered a trade in dynasty leagues revolving around a first round pick. It’s always something like, “If I’m giving you my first round pick, you need to give up a stud in return. I’m not going to just give you my first round pick, man.” Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before.

But how much is that pick actually worth? Should you be giving up proven players in exchange for the potential to get the next Julio Jones? That’s what we’re here to discuss today. We can never truly pinpoint what the actual value of a player is, simply because we aren’t the ones in control of how they perform. I mean, we all thought Allen Robinson was a bonafide first round pick last year, but sometimes things don’t go as planned.

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But here, in this article, you’re going to find out what you should be expecting out of a high first round pick, late first round pick, and even second round pick. I’ve gone back through the last eight years of rookie ADP in order to do this study (furthest I could find rookie ADP), giving us a sample size of 192 total players, though quarterbacks and tight ends who were drafted in the top two rounds are not going to be a part of this article. Why? Because they both take time to materialize into fantasy impact players and it can really skew the results.

It’s often difficult to predict where in the draft order the pick will be, because it depends on where that team finishes in a particular season. But most of the time, you can at least figure out whether or not it’s going to be early or later in the round. For that reason, I’ve separated this research into the top and bottom half of the rounds.

Top of the first round (Top-Six Pick)

Running Backs

I was mildly surprised when I saw that in seven of the last eight years, a running back was selected with the No. 1 pick. So let’s start with running backs taken in the first six picks and what to expect. When doing this research, every player’s performance was dissected, sorted into weekly top 12 finishes (RB1), top 24 (RB2), and top 36 finishes (RB3). For a player to earn “boom” status, they would’ve needed to score 25 or more PPR points, while a “bust” is a game where they failed to record at least seven PPR points.

Players RB1% RB2% RB3% Boom Bust
Top-Six Pick on RB 25.7% 48.9% 66.0% 7.6% 34.4%

 
To explain the chart above, if you’ve drafted a running back within the first six picks over the last eight years, this is what you should expect out of them. There were 23 running backs that accounted for these results over a span of 1,092 games. You can say all that you want about “this year has a stacked class, and (insert player) is the next Adrian Peterson,” but these are the real results. Every year seems to have players who are better than those the previous year. We love the new shiny toy, it’s natural. So now that we know their results, who compares to them so we can have something tangible?

Players RB1% RB2% RB3% Boom Bust
Top-Six Pick on RB 25.7% 48.9% 66.0% 7.6% 34.4%
Mark Ingram 25.6% 47.4% 67.9% 5.1% 34.6%

 
Before you automatically assume that’s Mark Ingram’s 2016 season there, it’s not. That is Ingram’s entire career, and if you remember, he wasn’t very productive for the first couple seasons. So when you’re trading with someone who should have a top-six pick, and you’re expecting to take a running back with that pick, you should expect results in the range of Ingram. The running backs being drafted in this range in 2017 are: Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey.

Wide Receivers

If you’re in desperate need of a wide receiver, the results for those drafted in the top-six are a bit more favorable. Similar to running backs, their weekly performances were dissected and separated into top-12, top-24, and top-36 performances. The only difference is that a wide receivers “bust” performance is anything fewer than eight PPR points.

Players WR1% WR2% WR3% Boom Bust
Top-Six Pick on WR 23.9% 42.1% 54.6% 11.5% 28.6%

 
The sample size with wide receivers was slightly smaller (though still plenty large) than that of the running backs, as we had 20 wide receivers to go off of, totaling 979 games. While the percentages are smaller than the running backs, it’s much harder for a wide receiver to reach the 50 percent mark of top-24 (WR2) performances. There’ve been just 10 wide receivers over the last five years who have totaled at least 50 percent WR2 performances in their careers (minimum two seasons), while there has been 24 running backs to accomplish the same feat.

Players WR1% WR2% WR3% Boom Bust
Top-Six Pick on WR 23.9% 42.1% 54.6% 11.5% 28.6%
Roddy White 22.6% 42.7% 54.9% 12.2% 30.5%

 
Seeing Roddy White as the player you’d be getting is probably a nice surprise, as White is a borderline Hall of Fame type player, sitting as the No. 36 wide receiver in all-time yardage among wide receivers and No. 33 in receptions. I’m sorry 2016 Laquon Treadwell drafters, though it’s not over yet. The wide receivers being taken in this range in 2017 are: Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. If you are lucky enough to get inside of the top three picks, the average wide receiver drafted inside there compares to Andre Johnson.

Bottom of the first round (Picks 7-12)

Running Backs

This is the area where you’re trading with a team that’s likely in the playoffs, resulting in a bottom half of the first round of rookie drafts. You can use this as leverage, too, as you (and them) are expecting a pick outside of the elite tier, but it can turn into a bonus if they were to miss out on the playoffs, giving you a pick in the top half of the round. Starting with the running backs again, it’s only natural that their average performance would go down, but it’s quite a fall from the first tier.

Players RB1% RB2% RB3% Boom Bust
Picks 7-12 on RB 15.1% 32.6% 50.2% 5.7% 49.9%

 
As you can see, the 17 running backs who were part of this sample didn’t amount to what you’d expect from a first round pick, albeit a bottom-half of the round. The sample is a tad smaller here at 617 games, but the results are, in short, not very good. Let’s pretend that you need a running back really bad, but the only team willing to trade with you has a pick in the bottom half of the first round. I want you to think, “Is it worth it to give away a proven player for the comparison in Mike’s article?” Here are a few examples of the type of player you’re getting.

Players RB1% RB2% RB3% Boom Bust
Picks 7-12 on RB 15.1% 32.6% 50.2% 5.7% 49.9%
Rashad Jennings 15.2% 33.7% 53.3% 3.3% 44.6%
Tevin Coleman 16.0% 32.0% 52.0% 8.0% 48.0%
Chris Ivory 13.6% 35.8% 49.4% 1.2% 49.4%

 
I promise that you wouldn’t trade a first round pick for Chris Ivory or Rashad Jennings, but that is precisely what the results show. As for Tevin Coleman, we know there is still time, but those numbers do include his rookie season, where he was essentially useless in fantasy. Running backs being selected in this range in 2017 include: Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, and Samaje Perine.

Wide Receivers

Players WR1% WR2% WR3% Boom Bust
Picks 7-12 on WR 13.3% 28.2% 41.1% 6.7% 42.8%

 
Moving onto the wide receivers, it’s again quite the fall-off from what the first half of the round offered you. There were 22 wide receivers and 1,179 games included in this sample, which was the largest yet. So when you see that they offer you a top-24 performance just 28 percent of the time, it should make you cringe when trading away proven commodities for that. If you’re looking for a 2016-only comparison to those results, you’re looking at J.J. Nelson.

Players WR1% WR2% WR3% Boom Bust
Picks 7-12 on WR 13.3% 28.2% 41.1% 6.7% 42.8%
Torrey Smith 14.4% 31.1% 38.9% 5.6% 46.7%

 
Most know that I’m actually a Torrey Smith supporter, but he’s literally done nothing over the last two years in San Francisco, bringing his numbers down to meet those who are drafted in the bottom half of the first round. It’s important to keep in mind that these are not guaranteed numbers, but rather a measuring stick for what a draft pick is worth. The wide receivers being drafted in this range in 2017 include: John Ross (he’s the only WR in 7-12 ADP at this moment).

Top of the Second Round (Picks 13-18)

Running Backs

Players RB1% RB2% RB3% Boom Bust
Picks 13-18 on RB 13.5% 30.0% 48.9% 5.4% 50.2%
Chris Ivory 13.6% 35.8% 49.4% 1.2% 49.4%

 
As you can see, you’re getting a running back with slightly less consistency than Chris Ivory (as evidenced by the RB2 percentages), but one that comes with a tad more upside. This particular chart is a sample of 554 games from 18 different running backs. The reason it’s a smaller sample of games played has to do with some players not seeing the field very much, and eventually being run out of the league. Not that second round picks are talked about like first rounders, but you’d like to expect more out of a high second round pick than a running back that offered you two seasons inside the top 30. Running backs being selected in this range in 2017 include: D’Onta Foreman (that’s all at this point in time).

Wide Receivers

Players WR1% WR2% WR3% Boom Bust
Picks 13-18 on WR 7.9% 17.8% 29.8% 3.6% 54.4%
Robert Woods 7.0% 17.5% 28.1% 3.5% 50.9%

 
Similar to running backs, early second round wide receivers don’t carry much value. Sure, you’ll find players like Randall Cobb and Keenan Allen there (whose numbers are included in the sample), but you’re going to find plenty of Brian Quick, Aaron Dobson, and Markus Wheaton type players. This sample is based on 17 players over a span of 719 games, which makes you wonder what it would look like without the aforementioned Cobb and Allen. Players being taken in this range in 2017 include: Carlos Henderson, Curtis Samuel, Zay Jones, and Chris Godwin.

Bottom of the Second Round (Picks 19-24)

Running Backs

Players RB1% RB2% RB3% Boom Bust
Picks 19-24 on RB 8.8% 22.5% 38.8% 1.8% 63.0%
Ameer Abdullah 11.1% 22.2% 38.9% 0.0% 61.1%

 
We all remember the hype that surrounded Abdullah just two short years ago, right? We also know that he hasn’t contributed to your fantasy teams since then, which is typically what you get out of a late second round draft pick in your dynasty league. The sample above included 16 running backs over a span of 600 games, and if Jacquizz Rodgers (was the No. 22 pick in 2011) hadn’t had the year he did in 2016, these numbers would look even worse. Running backs being selected in this range in 2017 include: Kareem Hunt and Jamaal Williams.

Wide Receivers

Players WR1% WR2% WR3% Boom Bust
Picks 19-24 on WR 11.0% 22.2% 32.5% 5.2% 54.0%
Michael Floyd 9.2% 22.4% 38.2% 5.3% 44.7%

 
These are probably the craziest results of the bunch, because if you were to go back into the early second round wide receivers, you’d see that the percentages are actually higher in the late second round. There is good reason for this, as the No. 22 pick seems to be the magic pick for wide receivers. There have been four wide receivers drafted at No. 22 since 2009, and those wide receivers were: Martavis Bryant (2014), Terrance Williams (2013), Josh Gordon (2012), and Eric Decker (2010). Not a bad group for a bunch of late second round picks. The wide receivers being taken in this range in 2017 include: KD Cannon, Cooper Kupp, Dede Westbrook, and Malachi Dupre. *Sadly, the player going at No. 22 right now is running back Jamaal Williams.

Takeaways

As mentioned earlier, just because the research shows a percentage for a specific set of players doesn’t make it the end-all be-all. After all, there are players like Tyreek Hill who went outside the top 50 and Stefon Diggs who went outside the top 30 in the last two years alone, so it’s possible. But the point of this article is to inform you of the most likely scenarios, and that is that dynasty draft picks are often overvalued.

Ep. 73: Over & Undervalued Player Rankings

Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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1Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
2Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
3Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
4Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
5Josh Jacobs (OAK)RB
6Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
7Julio Jones (ATL)WR
8DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
9Aaron Jones (GB)RB
10Chris Carson (SEA)RB
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11Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
12Michael Thomas (NO)WR
13Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
14Le'Veon Bell (NYJ)RB
15Mike Evans (TB)WR
16Tevin Coleman (SF)RB
17Mark Ingram (BAL)RB
18Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
19Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
20Tyler Lockett (SEA)WR
21Phillip Lindsay (DEN)RB
22Chris Godwin (TB)WR
23Devin Singletary (BUF)RB
24Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)WR
25Amari Cooper (DAL)WR
26Davante Adams (GB)WR
27D.J. Moore (CAR)WR
28D.J. Chark (JAC)WR
29Carlos Hyde (HOU)RB
30Cooper Kupp (LAR)WR
1Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
2Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
3Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
4J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
5Trevor Story (COL)SS
6Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
7Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
8Trea Turner (WSH)SS
9Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
10Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
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11Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
12Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
13Gerrit Cole (FA)SP
14Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
15Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
16Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
17Aaron Judge (NYY)RF,DH
18Juan Soto (WSH)LF
19Anthony Rendon (FA)3B
20Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
21Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
22Xander Bogaerts (BOS)SS
23Starling Marte (PIT)CF
24Walker Buehler (LAD)SP
25Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
26Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
27Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
28Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
29George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
30Paul Goldschmidt (STL)1B
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (BKN)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Russell Westbrook (HOU)PG
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11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
12Paul George (LAC)SF,PF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (LAC)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (OKC)PG
16Jimmy Butler (MIA)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (BOS)PG
18Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
19Kyrie Irving (BKN)PG,SG
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
26Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
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