Dynasty fantasy football leagues continue to grow in popularity. Typically, dynasty startup leagues begin with two separate drafts: one for veterans and one for rookies. The veterans’ draft is done first, followed by the rookies. Rosters are then rolled over into the following seasons, with only rookie classes being drafted year after year.
But what if the rookies were drafted before the veterans? What types of strategies and moves could we expect to see from league-mates? Well, several of us here at PFN decided that the best way to find out is to start a new league of our own doing exactly that.
PFN’s own Corey Ashburn (@AshburnPFN) randomized the order that is standard in dynasty startup leagues. The difference here is that this time, the order would indicate the order for the rookie draft, meaning that the inverse order would solidify the veterans’ draft.
It just so happened that I drew the number one pick. Being that the rookie draft was conducted first, it quickly became clear that league members had different approaches on how to go about it, and that meant trades—a lot of them.
I decided to give a detailed description of my picks and what to possibly expect when doing the rookie draft first in a dynasty startup league. For clarity, this league is a Superflex full-point PPR league with 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 WR, 1 TE, 1 Superflex, and 7 FLEX positions to roster as starters. Without further ado, let’s look at the results!
Dynasty Startup, Rookie Draft First
Round 1 – No Pick
Admittedly, I was slightly bummed about drawing the number one pick in the rookie draft. Although both Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa are great prospects, I would’ve much preferred to draw this pick in the veterans’ draft to land someone like Patrick Mahomes. I knew that picking last in the veterans’ draft meant that the elite quarterbacks would already be off the board.
I decided to put the number one pick on the trade block, and I found a taker. After some back and forth, we agreed on the following deal:
Pick 1.10 (rookie), Pick 1.03 (veteran), Pick 2.10 (veteran), Pick 9.03 (veteran) for
Pick 1.01 (rookie), Pick 1.12 (veteran), Pick 2.01 (veteran), Pick 9.12 (veteran)
Now sitting in the back half of the first round, I patiently waited and was willing to let the board fall to me. The same cannot be said for the rest of the league, however. Both Tua and Burrow went within the top three, and then a number of trades would occur in front of me. In fact, five of the next six selections were traded.
Finally, it was my turn to pick, and I was surprised to see that Justin Herbert was still on the board, given that this is a Superflex league. I was tempted to take him immediately, but I decided to again offer the pick in a trade. Instantly, I received an offer to move down to the 2.04 spot and pick up a fifth-round pick in the veterans’ draft! That value was too great for me to pass up.
2.04 – Justin Herbert
Three more trades were made since I moved down from the 1.10, and every time one was made, I was sure it was someone doing so to grab Herbert. That was not the case, however, as they elected to take some of the top talented wide receivers like Justin Jefferson and Tee Higgins still on the board.
So I couldn’t have been happier to see Herbert fall to me again! I knew I had to jump at the opportunity for the franchise QB of the Los Angeles Chargers. Even though many people were not that excited about Herbert coming out of Oregon, he is a super-talented QB and is in a great landing spot with the Chargers. He’s sure to be the starter at some point this season and could be exceptional for fantasy if he thrives.
2.12 Zack Moss
I knew the possibility of grabbing one of the top-tier running backs of this class like Clyde-Edwards Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, or J.K. Dobbins, was next to impossible sitting at the 1.10 position. It would’ve taken a drastic move up in the draft, which is not typically my strategy. There was one running back, however, that I really like that I knew may be available at my next selection.
Some analysts are on the fence when it comes to Zack Moss, while others are really high on him. I tend to lean more on the high side, although I wouldn’t exactly say I’m ecstatic about him. With that said, I do believe he’ll fit right in with the Buffalo Bills’ offense.
Buffalo drafted Devin Singletary last year to be the lead back, but with Moss in the fold now, both players should create a nice one-two punch. While some may be low on Moss, it’s clear that the Bills are pretty high on him to take him with a third-round pick and a limited number of picks in this draft overall.
3.01 Bryan Edwards
The Las Vegas Raiders made headlines when they took Henry Ruggs III with the 12th overall selection and the first wide receiver off the board. However, they weren’t done at the position, though, as they also took Bryan Edwards out of South Carolina in the third round.
Edwards was forced to miss the NFL Combine with a broken foot, and it’s likely he would have been selected higher if it hadn’t been for his injury. When evaluating wide receivers of the 2020 class, Raiders’ QB Derek Carr compared Edwards to Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald.
That’s high praise and pretty big shoes for Edwards to fill, but there are some within the fantasy community that believe Edwards will lead the team in targets as early as this season. Of the remaining wide receivers available, he was certainly atop my board.
4.12 James Proche
As the fourth and final round of the dynasty rookie draft came around, the trade talks among league-mates began to subdue, as is usually the case. However, unlike most rookie drafts in the past, the 2020 class was deep with talent, so I knew there were still quality players out there with upside that I would want to stash on my dynasty roster.
I would have preferred it had Gabriel Davis fallen to me here, but he went two spots ahead. Instead, I decided to take James Proche as the final pick of the draft. Personally, I really liked Proche heading into the draft and thought he could be a sneaky sleeper for some team on Day 3. That team would, of course, turn out to be the Baltimore Ravens.
Not only do I like Proche the prospect, but my thought process with this pick was the possibility that I could pair him with Lamar Jackson. Now holding a top-three pick in the dynasty veterans’ draft, I knew it could come to fruition that Jackson would be available at number three. And in the end, that’s exactly how it worked out.
In the end, doing the rookie draft before the veterans in this dynasty startup was one of the most exciting and challenging drafts I’ve ever been a part of. The constant trades showcased that some league members were more entwined with acquiring rookie picks to build their roster while others relied more on the veterans.
Although I loved this rookie class, I’d have to say I leaned more on the side of building my team through the veterans. While many of these rookies have high ceilings for quality fantasy production for years to come, nothing is a guarantee. Parting with proven assets for high upside is not ideal from where I stand.
Where do you stand, though? Do you prefer to go all-in on the 2020 class for your dynasty startup drafts? What do you think of my picks or the trades that I made? How do you feel about doing the rookie draft before the veterans? Let us know on Twitter @PFNDynasty and be sure to check out all our dynasty content at Pro Football Network.
Eric Frosbutter is a writer and editor for Pro Football Network covering fantasy football. You can follow him @efrosbutterPFN on Twitter.