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Dynasty Rookie Draft Pick Trade Strategy & Advice (2023)

Dynasty Rookie Draft Pick Trade Strategy & Advice (2023)

Dynasty rookie drafts are some of the best moments of the year for fantasy football managers. While they are far shorter than typical league drafts, there is a year-round build up as draft picks are weighed, acquired, and traded away. Let’s dive deep into dynasty rookie draft picks, reasons to trade selections, and what you should target in return.

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2023 Dynasty Draft Pick Trade Strategy

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What are rookie draft picks?

In most dynasty leagues, there are yearly drafts where each manager has an opportunity to select players from the incoming rookie class. While the format varies, most rookie drafts are between three and five rounds. These drafts traditionally do not snake either, so, for instance, if you have the first overall pick (1.01), you would have the first pick in each subsequent round.

Now, you might be asking how one would be awarded the first overall pick. In most dynasty leagues, having the rookie 1.01 means you finished last overall the year before. The nexus here is, in theory, no different than the NFL draft: The worse your record, the better your draft pick. The trouble is, over the years, even good teams have found ways to tank their season once they suffer a few injuries. This is why a lot of leagues I play in have rules in place where the consolation bracket determines the number one pick, or there is some other sort of what I would call “anti-tanking” rules in place.

Why trade rookie draft picks?

For me, the answer to this is simple: Rookie draft picks are overvalued assets. They are the most overrated of all the assets in fantasy football. The premise here is that drafting a fantasy team is an imperfect science. We make decisions on draft day based on rankings that come from historical data on a player. Players boom and bust each year, usually without much predictability, so even the best rankings are inherently flawed. How often do you walk away from a draft thinking you have a great team, and by Week 4, you’re left with a group of players who are underperforming and/or injured?

Now, apply those principles to rookies who have yet to take a snap at the NFL level. The unpredictability here is 10 times what it is for a yearly redraft league. Yet each year, dynasty managers overpay for 1st Round rookie draft picks by trading away established players with a track record of success in the NFL for the chance to draft the next big thing. This year is especially interesting, as the hype surrounding Bijan Robinson is making the 1.01 more valuable than it has been the last two off-seasons. While each league is different, and valuations can vary wildly, one of the quickest ways to rebuild a barren roster is to trade this year’s 1.01 to the highest bidder for the chance to draft Robinson.

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When to trade away rookie picks?

Each year, dynasty leagues “roll over” and officially open for business on a given date. Sometimes that happens in January, while other leagues give it a month or so for owners to step away and wait until after the Super Bowl. Either way, there is usually an abundance of activity in the first few days of the new league year. This is typically the time when new managers come aboard, and veteran managers start to look to make moves. A lot of trades are typically made in that first week, but that is not when I prefer to move my rookie picks.

Like a fine wine, rookie picks tend to get better with age. The draft combine and pro days will put some prospects on a trajectory to stardom based on a 40-yard dash time. Additionally, social media is so prevalent in the fantasy community that the hype surrounding players can get wildly out of control. If a player like Robinson, who is already being projected as a three-down workhorse, tests well, he will be seen as the next Ladanian Tomlinson. While that sounds great, no one knows for sure how good he will be. And the same goes for every rookie in the draft.

The best strategy to deploy is to let the news cycle of the draft process get rolling and do the work for you. Dynasty managers can be like a moth to a flame with rookie picks, so once that hype train gets rolling, it can be hard for some to resist. However, trading your picks as close to your league’s rookie draft, or even when you’re on the clock, can help you maximize your return.

What should you target for your rookie picks?

I get this question a lot, and the answer varies depending on roster construction. The idea of buying low on a player is popular in theory, but that can be a tight needle to thread. Most managers in dynasty leagues are acutely aware of player value. This means a true buy-low opportunity doesn’t always present itself. You may have to settle for a slight discount instead.

The main thing I tell people to target is a clear upgrade for your team. If you are interested in moving your rookie 1.09 pick, what are you looking to accomplish with that move? If you think you can get a receiver like Tee Higgins, who would immediately be your WR1, by all means, make that trade. However, understanding the ecosystem of your league and how rookie picks are valued will help you to maximize your return. Don’t trade just to trade because, while that approach can be fun in the moment, it can also set you back and, ultimately, hurt your league.

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Jason Kamlowsky is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @JasonKamlowsky

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