Dynasty rookie draft strategies

What are the best ways to approach dynasty rookie drafts, and what strategies can fantasy managers implement to maximize value?

It may only be five rounds, but the annual dynasty rookie draft is one of the most important aspects of dynasty fantasy football leagues. Despite being so short, there are a lot of ways you can utilize the rookie draft to improve your dynasty roster. Let’s go over a couple of strategies you can employ in your dynasty rookie draft.

Dynasty rookie draft strategies

There is no one way to approach your dynasty rookie draft. How you attack the rookie draft depends almost entirely on what your roster looks like and your plan for the upcoming season.

Here are a few ways you can maximize the rookie draft to benefit your roster.

Understand the impact of the draft class on the value of rookie draft picks

Not all rookie draft picks are created equal. I know what you’re thinking. Well, of course, the 1.01 is better than the 1.12. Yes, that is true. But there’s even more to it. In redraft, picks generally have similar values each season. A dynasty rookie 1.01 or 1.02 can be immensely more valuable one year than the next.

Do your best to learn the upcoming draft classes. Does a particular class have a clear top prospect that you know is going at the 1.01? Is a class deep at wide receiver or running back, giving you the confidence to land quality fantasy assets well into the second round? All of this information helps you value your rookie draft picks, which leads to the next principle.

Know the ever-changing value of rookie draft picks

In redraft, the general value of a draft pick doesn’t really change. A mid-first-round pick is just as valuable in March as it is in August. In dynasty, rookie draft picks change in value all the time. By understanding this change, you can extract the most value from your rookie picks. And that doesn’t always mean drafting the best player.

As you get closer to your rookie draft, those picks shift from abstract numbers to actual players. This can both increase or decrease the value of a pick depending on the caliber of player expected to be available. By knowing this information, you can leverage changes in trade values.

Trading picks

Perhaps the most important skill to cultivate when it comes to dynasty rookie drafts is trading picks. How you go about it is, of course, dependent upon your team’s needs. But the main goal is to extract maximum value. If you understand the shifting landscape of rookie valuation, you can turn a not-so-valuable rookie draft pick into an established player. Or, you can turn an aging veteran into a valuable rookie pick.

Dynasty managers (and fantasy managers in general) can all suffer from rookie fever. I’ve fallen into this trap as well. We get obsessed with the next big thing. There are multiple ways to exploit this in others. My favorite thing to do in rookie drafts is to trade down, especially in draft classes where there’s no clear stud or where I pick later in the draft where the caliber of prospect dips a bit.

Beware of overconfidence

Here’s a little secret that’s not actually a secret — we’re all not as good at predicting the future as we think we are. I know that sounds like something a person who writes about fantasy football for a living should say, but it’s important to know what we don’t know. There’s a skill here. I promise. By trading down and accumulating more picks, you give yourself more chances to hit on a player. 

It feels great when you pinpoint a prospect that ends up hitting big time. However, that’s easier said than done. Fantasy football is a game of probabilities. Your goal as a manager is to give yourself the best odds of success. One way to do that in dynasty rookie drafts is to increase the number of darts you can throw at the board.

By no means am I trying to discourage you from going, “This guy is going to be great.” I’m just illustrating the value in the approach of, “I know one of these guys will be great” and being able to take multiple shots at hitting on that guy.

If a manager in your league is obsessed with getting his guy, use that to your advantage. Trade your 1.05 for his 1.09 and 2.03, for example. Trading up is rarely the right move in a dynasty rookie draft. Trade down and increase your chances of finding a talented young superstar in the making.

Need vs. want

This is a challenge for NFL teams as well. What do you do if the best player available isn’t someone you need? If your team is stacked at wide receiver but has a gaping hole at running back, do you pass on a better prospect to try and fill a need?

If you need a running back, but you know the right pick is a wide receiver, try and trade down so you can get your guy plus something else. Ideally, you would always find a way for the guy you want to be the right pick at your spot. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.

If you can’t trade down and have to make a selection, this really comes down to personal preference regarding how to manage your team. I have a difficult time taking a lesser player and would likely take the best player available, regardless of position.

Even if I’m drafting a player I know I can’t use right away, this is dynasty fantasy football. In most leagues, there will be ample opportunity to make trades. Trust that you can extract more value for your roster by taking the best player rather than a lesser player that fills a need.

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