THE PREMISE: 

The NFL Draft is almost here, which also means that your Rookie Drafts for your dynasty leagues (plural, obviously, because who has just one?) aren’t too far off, either! You’ve done your due diligence by digesting podcasts, articles, and the dystopian hellscape that is NFL Draft Twitter, and you’re about to have the final piece of the puzzle. There’s many ways to approach who you’re going to select in your Rookie Draft, but last year I was very interested in how a player’s NFL Draft round selection affects their ability to produce right away. Because that’s what I want. As I stated last year in a line so good I will use it again, I know this is dynasty and the idea of a deep roster stash paying off down the road is enough to send a thirty-year-old plus man into a waking nocturnal emission. But I also know there’s many people out there like myself who are in need of some guys that can have some production right away, just like a real NFL team. So, I drew a line in the sand and charted what I believe to be a solid representation for a rookie’s NFL success. It’s called the ROOKIE 100 CLUB. To be a member of this exclusive club, you need to have scored 100 or more .5 PPR points in your rookie season. I went with .5 PPR scoring along with 25 yards for a point and 4 point passing touchdowns for QB because I believe it to be the overwhelmingly most common scoring format for leagues. 

Also, I believe in a broader definition of NFL success, especially for a large roster dynasty team. If a player is scoring in the triple digits, they’ve helped you win weeks with a fair amount of production. For instance, in 2017, Jaguars WR Keelan Cole was the last member of this club. He wasn’t a fantasy starter from day one, but by the end of the season he had 42 catches, 748 yards, 3 touchdowns, and lost 2 fumbles for a total of 109.8. That’s some solid production for both the Jaguars and your dynasty team that helped win weeks during the season. So, while there will always be the obvious picks for the first few draft spots, how many viable players with first year returns are there annually? I’ve now added the 2018 season, so the last 6 seasons of the Rookie 100 Club have been charted to get an answer to that question. Behold:


ROOKIE 100 CLUBS 2013-2018


2018:

TOTAL: 17 / QB: 5 RB: 6 WR: 6 


RB NYG Saquon Barkley 338.3 NFL Draft Rd: 1

QB CLE Baker Mayfield: 236.1 NFL Draft Rd: 1

QB BUF Josh Allen: 206 NFL Draft Rd: 1

RB DEN Phillip Lindsay: 205.3 Undrafted

RB CLE Nick Chubb: 184.5 NFL Draft Rd: 2

WR ATL Calvin Ridley: 174.8 NFL Draft Rd: 1

QB NYJ Sam Darnold: 168.4 NFL Draft Rd: 1

QB BAL Lamar Jackson: 157.5 NFL Draft Rd: 1

RB NEP Sony Michel: 135.6 NFL Draft Rd: 1

QB ARZ Josh Rosen: 110.9 NFL Draft Rd: 1

WR CAR D.J. Moore: 129.5 NFL Draft Rd: 1

RB IND Nyheim Hines: 129.4 NFL Draft Rd: 4

RB DET Kerryon Johnson: 123.4 NFL Draft Rd: 2

WR DEN Courtland Sutton: 115.3 NFL Draft Rd: 2

WR ARZ Antonio Callaway: 108.8 NFL Draft Rd: 4

WR ARZ Christian Kirk: 102 NFL Draft Rd: 2

WR CHI Anthony Miller: 101.4 NFL Draft Rd: 2

First Out:

RB DEN  Royce Freeman: 94.3 NFL Draft Rd: 3

TE NYJ Chris Herndon: 93.7 NFL Draft Rd: 4

WR GBP Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 92 NFL Draft Rd: 5

TE BAL Mark Andrews: 90.2 NFL Draft Rd: 3

RB BAL Gus Edwards: 86.8 Undrafted

WR NOS Tre’Quan Smith: 86.7 NFL Draft Rd: 3

WR SFF Dante Pettis: 86 NFL Draft Rd: 2

WR BUF Robert Foster: 85.6 Undrafted

RB ATL Ito Smith: 82.2 NFL Draft Rd: 4

WR DAL Michael Gallup: 79.2 NFL Draft Rd: 3

RB PIT Jaylen Samuels: 76.5 NFL Draft Rd: 5


2017: 

TOTAL: 14 / QB: 3 RB: 7 WR: 3 TE: 1


RB NOS Alvin Kamara: 271.9 NFL Draft Rd: 3

RB KCC Kareem Hunt 268.7 NFL Draft Rd: 3

RB JAX Leonard Fournette 208.2 NFL Draft Rd: 1

RB CAR Christian McCaffrey 188.6 NFL Draft Rd: 1

QB CLE DeShone Kizer 181.66 NFL Draft Rd: 2

QB HOU Deshaun Watson 164.86 NFL Draft Rd: 1

WR PIT Juju Smith-Schuster 162.7 NFL Draft Rd: 2

WR LAR Cooper Kupp 145.9 NFL Draft Rd: 3

QB CHI Mitch Trubisky 142.52 NFL Draft Rd: 1

TE NYG Evan Engram 141.6 NFL Draft Rd: 1

RB GBP Jamaal Williams 130.3 NFL Draft Rd: 4

RB CIN Joe Mixon 124.3 NFL Draft Rd: 2

RB CHI Tarik Cohen 112.8 NFL Draft Rd: 4

WR JAX Keelan Cole 109.8 Undrafted

First Out:

RB WASH Samaje Perine 97.5 NFL Rd: 4

RB LAC Austin Ekeler 93.4 Undrafted

RB IND Marlon Mack 92.8 NFL Rd: 4

RB SFF Matt Breida 91 Undrafted

RB PHI Corey Clement 85.4 Undrafted 

RB NYG Wayne Gallman 83.9 NFL Rd: 4

TE SFF George Kittle 85 NFL Rd: 5

TE TBB OJ Howard: 86.2 NFL Rd: 1

WR DET Kenny Galloway 80.6 NFL Rd: 3

RB GBB Aaron Jones 75.5 NFL Rd: 5


2016: 

TOTAL: 10 / QB: 2 RB: 4 WR: 3 TE: 1


RB DAL Ezekiel Elliott: 301.4 NFL Rd: 1

QB DAL Dak Prescott: 288.88 NFL Rd: 4

RB CHI Jordan Howard 213.6 NFL Rd: 5

WR NOS Michael Thomas: 209.7 NFL Rd: 2

QB PHI Carson Wentz 206.88 NFL Rd: 1

WR KCC Tyreek Hill 168.5 NFL Rd: 5

WR NYG Sterling Shepard 151.9 NFL Rd: 2

RB DEN Devontae Booker 125.2 NFL Rd: 4

RB WASH Rob Kelley: 120.6 Undrafted

TE SDC Hunter Henry 111.8 NFL Rd: 2

First Out:

RB TEN Derrick Henry 99.2 NFL Rd: 2

WR HOU Will Fuller 99 NFL Rd: 1

WR CIN Tyler Boyd 97.1 NFL Rd: 2

WR NYJ Robby Anderson 95.9 Undrafted


2015: 

TOTAL: 13 / QB: 2 RB: 8 WR: 3


QB TBB James Winston 277 NFL Rd: 1

QB TEN Marcus Mariota 205.9 NFL Rd: 1

RB STL Todd Gurley 193.9 NFL Rd: 1

RB ARZ David Johnson 185. 9 NFL Rd: 3

WR OAK Amari Cooper: 176.9 NFL Rd: 1

RB  JAX TJ Yeldon 137.9 NFL Rd: 2

RB CLE Duke Johnson 131.8 NFL Rd: 3

WR SEA Tyler Lockett 129.9 NFL Rd: 3

RB BAL Buck Allen 127.2 NFL Rd: 4

WR MIN Stefon Diggs: 119.3 NFL Rd: 5

RB SEA Thomas Rawls 117.1 Undrafted

RB BUF Karlos Williams 113.3 NFL Rd: 5

RB DET Amber Abdullah 100.5 NFL Rd: 2 

First Out:

WR WASH Jamison Crowder 98.1 NFL Rd: 4 

RB SD Melvin Gordon 89.7 NFL Rd: 1


2014: 

TOTAL: 18 / QB: 3 RB: 6 WR: 9


WR NYG OBJ: 251.5 NFL Rd: 1

WR TBB Mike Evans: 211.1 NFL Rd: 1

QB OAK Derek Carr: 200 NFL Rd: 2

RB CIN Jeremy Hill: 193.4 NFL Rd: 2

WR CAR Kelvin Benjamin: 189.3 NFL Rd: 1

QB MIN Teddy Bridgewater 175.6 NFL Rd: 1

WR PHI Jordan Matthews: 168.7 NFL Rd: 2

WR BUF Sammy Watkins: 165.5 NFL Rd: 1

QB JAX Blake Bortles:162.2 NFL Rd: 1

WR MIA Jarvis Landry 145.8 NFL Rd: 2

RB NYG Andre Williams 134.1 NFL Rd: 4

WR JAX Allen Hurns: 129.2 Undrafted

RB SDC Brandon Oliver 127.3 Undrafted 

RB STL Tre Mason 125.3 NFL Rd: 3

WR ARZ John Brown 123.6 NFL Rd: 3 

RB CLE Terrence West 107.2 NFL Rd: 3

RB CLE Isaiah Crowell 115.9 Undrafted 

WR NOS Brandin Cooks 112.8 NFL Rd: 1

First Out:

WR JAX Allen Robinson: 90.8 NFL Rd: 2

WR Davante Adams: 81.6 NFL Rd: 2 

RB Bishop Sankey 87.2 NFL Rd: 2

RB Jerick McKinnon 80.8 NFL Rd: 3


2013: 

TOTAL 16 / QB: 3 RB: 5 WR: 7 TE: 1


RB GBP Eddie Lacy: 203 NFL Rd: 2

RB CIN Gio Bernard 194.9 NFL Rd: 2

RB PIT Le’Veon Bell: 194.4 NFL Rd: 2

QB NYJ Geno Smith: 194.4 NFL Rd: 2

WR SDC Keenan Allen 170.1 NFL Rd: 3

RB STL Zac Stacy: 169.9 NFL Rd: 5

QB TBB Mike Glennon: 158.02 NFL Rd: 3

RB ARZ Andre Ellington: 143.8 NFL Rd: 6

QB BUF EJ Manuel: 129.5 NFL Rd: 1

WR MIN Cordarrelle Patterson: 120.4 NFL Rd: 1 

WR BAL Marlon Brown: 118.7 Undrafted

WR HOU Deandre Hopkins: 116.2 NFL Rd: 1

TE TBB Tim Wright :114.3 NFL Rd: Undrafted

WR DAL Terrance Williams: 113.6 NFL Rd: 3

WR MIA Kenny Stills: 111.1 NFL Rd: 5

WR STL Tavon Austin: 104.8 NFL Rd: 1

RB DEN Montee Ball: 102.3 NFL Rd: 2

First Out:

WR BUF Robert Woods: 98.3 NFL Rd: 2

TE WASH Jordan Reed: 92.2 NFL Rd: 3

TE PHI Zach Ertz: 88.9 NFL Rd: 2


THE TAKEAWAYS: 


1. DOUBLE DIGIT ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP RATE: With an impressive 17 rookies reaching the 100 point threshold in 2018, the annual membership rate of the Rookie 100 Club is now at 14.6. This gives an incoming rookie class that’s certainly not as heralded as others in previous years a bit more of a rosy outlook as the law of averages seems to suggest there’s still plenty of points out there. But it still stands to reason that if most Rookie Drafts are 4 rounds, it’s likely that only one fourth of the guys selected will be valid starting lineup options this year at the most. So, in a class this divisive and risk laden, be sure to know if you’re drafting for now or later. 

 

2. NFL DRAFT CAPITAL MATTERS...BUT ALSO IT DOESN’T: The overwhelming majority of the names on this list continue to be drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. It breaks down like this: 

NFL Round 1: 31 of 88 for 35.2%

NFL Round 2: 22 of 88 for 25%

At a combined 60.2% of the list, first two round NFL draftees are statistically safer bets to produce in their first year of NFL action. This tracks in logic, and if you’re in the back end of the first round or early second round of your Rookie Draft and unsure who to grab, you could do worse than letting high NFL Draft capital be your guide. Also, it matters when it comes to QB. In the last six years, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and current Raiders backup QB Mike Glennon are the only two QBs taken outside of the first two rounds to make a splash in their first year. Where it gets really interesting is the later rounds. Here’s a breakdown: 

NFL Round 3: 12 of 88 for 13.6% 

NFL Round 4: 8 of 88 for 9%,

NFL Round 5: 5 of 88 for 5.7%

NFL Round 6: 1 of 88 for 1.1%

NFL Round 7: 0 of 88 for 0%

Undrafted: 9 of 88 for 10.2%

Despite the lack of a NFL Draft Round 3 member in 2018, it’s still fairly fertile ground for the Rookie 100 Club with guys like Saints RB Alvin Kamara, Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt, and Cardinals RB David Johnson. And considering the depth of this wide receiver class and the projected late landing spots the running backs, this year seems set up to feature a potential NFL Draft Round 3 member as well. But after that, the next highest group membership continues to belong to undrafted rookies. In fact, thanks to Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay in 2018, an undrafted rookie has crashed the Rookie 100 Club every year since 2013. What’s even crazier is that over the last six seasons, NFL Draft Rounds 5-7 combined don’t have as many members as the undrafted guys! So, if you’re in those later rounds of your Rookie Draft and looking for a dart throw on a first year producer, it continues to be statistically safer to take a guy who has signed onto a team after the NFL Draft with a short/average depth chart ahead of him rather than someone who was actually drafted in the waning rounds.  


3. WHEN IN DOUBT, DRAFT A RUNNING BACK: Often times the conventional wisdom in dynasty football is to put the most value on the wide receiver position. Combine that with a 2018 NFL class that saw a return to form for rookie wide receivers with six of them entering the club, the most since 2014, and a much lauded incoming rookie wide receiver class, and you have fantasy gamers salivating over their chances to draft a hot, young wide receiver of their own this year. But if you break down the Rookie 100 Club over the past six seasons by position, it’s running backs that lead the membership rate.

QB: 18

RB: 36

WR: 31

TE: 3

With no Zeke or Saquon in this year’s running back class and the wide receivers projected to dominate the early rounds of Rookie Drafts, there’s a good chance that a running back who is going to produce in year one is going to fall later than he should. I mean, Ravens RB Gus Edwards almost cracked the club, and he had as much draft capital as a turnip. So, if you’re unsure which of these wide receivers to choose from and need some scoring this season, pull the trigger on the best available running back and don’t look back. It should also be noted that there’s still only 3 tight ends over the last 6 years that have made it into the club. Further evidence of the NFL tight end development process. 

4. THE ROOKIE 100 CLUB IS ALSO AN INDICATOR OF REGRESSION: Pouring over the names on this list, it’s riddled with guys who cratered almost immediately after rocketing to relevance. To name a few: RB Andre Williams, WR Tavon Austin, RB Montee Ball, RB Tre Mason, RB Karlos Williams, and RB Ameer Abdullah have all failed to build off first year success. Perhaps the most unique case is former Ravens WR Marlon Brown.  In 2013, the undrafted rookie found the end zone 7 times with Ravens QB Joe Flacco. Then, the next year the Ravens signed WR Steve Smith and Brown only managed 24 catches and had zero touchdowns. Today, he’s completely forgotten. Brutal. So, if you’ve had a nice season with a guy who may have beat the odds, it might be a good time to trade at peak value. Potential regression candidates from last year include Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay, Falcons WR Calvin Ridley who scored 10 TDs, and Colts RB Nyheim Hines who could lose ground to a healthy Marlon Mack. 


Last year was a boom year for the Rookie 100 Club, will the 2019 class be just as fertile? Only time will tell. But a broad view of the last six years suggests that not all of these receivers will pop right away, there’s still a lot of value in a running back class that has been largely written off, and we will know who has a shot produce this season at QB on night one.