Maneuvering Rookie Talent - Wide Receiver and Running Back


The NFL Draft is a lively time for NFL teams and their fans. This carries over to Dynasty Football as draft capital is an indicator of value -- if a team spends a first or second round pick on a player, they likely have intentions to utilize the player within their offensive scheme. If a team drafts a player in the late rounds they seem to be filling out the roster or see upside in the player to compete in camp battles and win a roster spot.


1st Round Running Back & Wide Receiver


In the NFL Draft we have seen teams select franchise changing players, and in other cases, we have seen busts. When looking at running backs and wide receivers, here are the respective career yards separated by draft class dating back to 2015:




At first glance this makes sense. The first season analyzed (2015) has the most yards and the most recent season (2019) has the least yards. When digging deeper you find a discrepancy that warrants consideration. There have been only nine running backs compared to 17 wide receivers taken in the first round.



Nine running backs have accumulated 8,784 more yards and 89 more touchdowns compared to 17 wide receivers. Sure, injuries factor into why wide receivers did not produce as many yards or touchdowns (i.e., Will Fuller, John Ross). Should we add another 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns to be generous? That would still be 5,284 yards and 69 touchdowns less than the running backs.


Dynasty Football


This information is useful when evaluating rookies to draft in your Dynasty League’s rookie draft. It is more opportune to utilize your first round pick on a running back, more so if they were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Even second round running backs in the NFL warrant consideration:




Even these ten running backs nearly accumulated the same amount of yards and touchdowns, coming up short 5,116 yards and 38 touchdowns and potentially could have come close if it wasn't for injuries. 


Notable injuries: Kerryon Johnson, Derrius Guice, and Dalvin Cook


This leaves the point to buy Day 2 wide receivers. These are the players selected in rounds two and three of the NFL Draft. The first round wide receivers and the first and second round running backs will be hot commodities in your Dynasty League draft, and if your league is Super Flex, then quarterbacks will be too -- with the occasional tight end thrown into the mix.


This information is to be used after your rookie draft, throughout the season, or after a disappointing rookie season. Looking at 2019 Day 2 wide receivers: Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, Mecole Hardman, D.K. Metcalf, Diontae Johnson, and Terry McLaurin are considered hits. There were eleven total wide receivers from Day 2, a 55% hit rate. 

I say ‘hit’ to mean players deemed high potential or proved year one.


Of these receivers only four were considered first round Dynasty draft picks (DLF). That left two wide receivers that could have been bought cheaper than they would be now. This positions your team for greater success, but you are taking a risk on the wide receiver you decided to trade for would be a hit, a 40% chance.These five wide receivers had a disappointing season or battled injuries. If the price is right, it would behoove you to acquire one and take a chance they have a comeback season. 


Day 2 Wide Receivers


Looking back to 2015, there have been 40 wide receivers drafted in the second or third rounds of the NFL Draft -- of these 40 wide receivers only 14 were considered to be Dynasty rookie first round selections, 0 of these 14 wide receivers were considered hits (71%). This leaves 26 wide receivers to be bought low before the season, after a disappointing rookie year, or an injury-ridden rookie year. It’s important to remember these acquisitions come with risk -- 11 out of 26 wide receivers were considered hits (42%). Here is the complete list of Day 2 wide receivers:




Green indicates a 1st round rookie, yellow indicates a hit


The 42% overall hit rate on second and third round NFL Draft wide receivers is a risk owners will need to decide to take. In April 2019, Mecole Hardman was being drafted at ADP 230.33. Fast forward one year and Hardman is being drafted at ADP 99.17 in April 2020 (DLF) -- making his way up to 82.17 in August 2020. On the flip side, you could have acquired J.J. Acrega-Whiteside which his ADP was 101.33 in April 2019 and has currently risen to ADP 194 in August 2020 (DLF). 


The 2020 Rookie class could be the deepest class to come to Dynasty leagues.




For Day 2 wide receivers, Laviska Shenault was the only wide receiver to be a first round rookie pick (DLF). Again, the second round running backs will likely be first round rookie draft picks as well -- all five running backs were selected in the second round of the NFL Draft, and all but A.J. Dillon was a first round Dynasty rookie pick. 


Look to acquire Day 2 wide receivers if the price is right.


Discussion


There is no way around it. When you invest in stocks, at some point, you will come across a loss. This should not deter Dynasty owners from taking chances to position their team for present and future success. Noting 42% of wide receivers from the second and third round of the NFL Draft will ‘hit’ their first year in the NFL is only half the battle. Still, owners should further scout these players to ensure they have the athletic measurables and go to a team best suited to utilize their skill set properly: 1) team scheme and 2) depth chart.


During your Dynasty league’s rookie draft, it may be more beneficial to utilize your first round pick on a running back drafted from the first or second round of the NFL Draft. Take into consideration both roster construction and team need.


The offseason and regular season should be spent trying to acquire Day 2 wide receivers will be at their lowest value before they find price discovery. This comes with risk, but the right price is what the deal is all about. What would you be comfortable with losing if the wide receiver does not hit? A future 2nd round pick, aging asset, or equivalent value? 


  • 53% of Day 2 wide receivers will hit

  • 71% of Day 2 wide receivers selected in the first round of Dynasty rookie drafts will hit

    •  Since 2017, 88% wide receivers have hit in the first round

  • 42% of Day 2 wide receivers selected after the first round of Dynasty rookie drafts will hit


Obviously, someone in a league might reach on a player and select them in the first round of a rookie draft. These situations are not accounted for. The consensus draft selection for the rookies were taken from Dynasty League Football’s rookie rankings and community rookie rankings.


This information leaves us with good rules of thumb.


  1. Draft running backs from the first or second round of the NFL draft in the first round of Dynasty rookie drafts.

  2. If possible, select Day 2 wide receivers with remaining selections.

  3. Trade for Day 2 wide receivers before price discovery.

  4. Be okay with taking a loss.

  5. Only way to recover from a loss is to keep moving forward -- keep trading


These rules should be applied based on roster construction and team need. If your team is competing for a championship, trading for a potential future increase in value does not seem opportune to your team needs. If your team has four stud running backs and you want to draft a wide receiver to bolster your wide receiver corps, do it. If you are in a SuperFlex league and you have aging quarterbacks and you want to draft a quarterback, do it. 


Check out my analysis on tight ends and how to determine success at the position -- and for 2020 rookie tight ends


These rules are only half the battle. Remember to adequately scout rookies and ensure they carry measurables and traits and will have a path to opportunities to bring them success in the NFL.


Follow me on Twitter for more! -- @cdotFF