Rookie Draft: Tiers & Strategy

Today’s topic will actually have very little to do with the players in 2022 Rookie drafts. Instead, we’re going to talk about some Tiers and strategy as you prepare for your upcoming Dynasty Football Rookie draft. Understanding the tiers within a draft are as important as understanding the players and potentials.

First off, let’s take a look at the draft order and divide it up into some tiers, as I see them. I like to use tiers and, more specifically, tier breaks to help guide the moves I make as a Manager. That’s because, on the surface, draft pick value gets looked at in a linear form. I try to take advantage of that thinking and capitalize on movements between tiers. Once I evaluate the prospects within a draft class the values typically cluster into some groups. To me, the tiers are established by discourse relative to the players within those groupings. A very current example would be the comparisons between WR’s Garrett Wilson, Treylon Burks and Drake London.

Draft pick Tiers

I’ve assigned an approximate value for each tier based on my assessment of the player’s talents. Each value lands on a scale ranging from 0.00 to 10. On my scale, a 10 would be a perfect prospect and a 0 would be an assumed bust that does not make an NFL team final roster.

Tier 1: 1.01 Value: 8.0 – This tier is reserved for the top player in the 2022 Rookie Draft, Breece Hall. While we don’t know where Hall will play in 2022, he will surely be an immediate starter with an RB2-level floor. It’s likely too late to trade for this pick as the value has steadily risen over the past two months.

Tier 2: 1.02 – 1.05 Value: 7.00 – 7.5 – This tier will include QB Malik Willis in all Super Flex formats as well as the top 3 WRs in the draft class: Wilson, London and Burks. If you want to pivot to a 1QB format you can substitute RB Kenneth Walker for Willis. The key to this tier is parity. Prior to landing spots being established, the 1.02 doesn’t hold much more value than the 1.05 to me.

Tier 3: 1.06-1.09 Value: 6.00-6.75 – depending on who you talk to, this tier will shrink or swell from the 4 pick grouping that I’m laying out. We’re a step down in associated value from Tiers 1 and 2 because this tier doesn’t look to hold any of the top prospects per position. Within this area of the draft, I expect to see WR Jameson Williams, RB Kenneth Walker, WR Chris Olave, and RB Isaiah Spiller.

Tier 4: 1.10 – 2.02 Value: 5.0 – 5.5 – Here is where the draft order really shakes up and the tiers start to get wider. Before labeling players in position amidst these 5 spots, I would caution that these values will all surely come with variance once the NFL Draft happens. As of now, we have a mix of QBs, WRs, and RBs within the tier. Most of which come with some degree of preference. Post NFL draft, this tier will see players shift in and out.

Tier 5: 2.03 – 2.12 Value: 3.50 – 4.75 – The draft gets wide open and becomes very easy to trade into should you have your eyes on a player in particular. The range of outcomes for players in this tier is very wide but the ceiling is certainly capped. Amongst your Fantasy League mates, you can gain an advantage by understanding this concept and using it as leverage in trade. I’ll be looking to offer an aging veteran WR who may hold some excitement in 2022 (Adam Thielen comes to mind) for a mid-2nd round pick and grab a guy like RB Zamir White or RB Damien Pierce.

Tier 6: 3.01 – 3.12 Value: 0.50-2.0 – First off, let’s understand that this tier is historically FULL of players who bust. In a year where the Rookie draft class is being thought of as weak, we will certainly see GMs look down upon these picks. The only 2021 comparison people will draw is the ADP of Elijah Mitchell in rookie drafts. With that in mind, keep an eye on a player who lands in a good spot come draft day. My favorite player currently in the mix at this position is RB Tyler Badie who lead the SEC in rushing yards in 2021.

Tier 7: 4.01+ Value: 0.0-0.5 – These are some exceptionally difficult players to project success for. In a draft class full of uncertainty, these picks are better used as trade pieces to level out off-season deals. I look at this tier of players with the assumption that they will all be cut candidates when trimming down rosters prior to week 1.

Strategy

“Trading back within the same tier”

One of my favorite strategies in Dynasty Rookie drafts. By understanding your tiers, you understand your ability to trade back within a narrow range of picks while sacrificing very little in value. Consider a move back from the 1.02 to the 1.04 for example. Referencing my notes above, they land within 0.5pts of each other. In terms of player values, they represent the difference in potentially drafting Malik Willis from Drake London. Where you will likely benefit is in testing this theory on the open market. You might find that the 1.02 and 1.04 are further apart in perceived value. You’ll likely be able to get a player/pick equal in value to a early-mid 2nd round pick by trading back. From where I stand, that’s a big win.

“Timing the sale of your picks”

Without fail, we see a full-blown rookie fever sweep over the Fantasy Football landscape every single year. Symptoms get particularly strong leading up to the NFL Draft and subsequently into Dynasty Rookie drafts. As a savvy GM, you should understand this narrative and use it to your advantage. The closer you time the sale of your draft picks to the rookie draft itself, the more value you’ll get in return. Too often GMs get carried away in the hype surrounding Rookies and overpay for the chance to draft “their guy”. As a seller, you want to take advantage of this notion. The entire Fantasy Industry will do the leg work for you in pumping up the value of rookies, don’t worry.

“Trading up into the next tier”

Let’s say you sitting at the 1.06 in your upcoming SF Rookie Draft. You’re seeing a tier break between the 1.05 and 1.06 positions and you want to move up to capitalize on the better tier of value. You need to explore this option, often this can be done by giving up a later pick in the current or future draft in a round of less significance. You’ll even run into situations where the GM of another team is unaware of the tier break itself and is willing to accept less than market value for the pick swap.

“Some picks don’t matter”

Let’s say that your looking at an upcoming 4 round rookie draft with stock draft picks and strong depth on your bench. It’s likely that the player you draft in round 4 will become an immediate cut candidate relative to some of the players you already roster. Any value this pick once possessed is gone as soon as you cut that player. By following that logic, this draft pick is likely is of little significance. The best you’re likely to do is to include what little value it possess into a future trade.

“Pair down your roster early”

Generally speaking, you should look to make room on your roster for your upcoming draft picks before your Rookie Draft happens. This becomes much harder to do once the Rookie draft has happened because everyone’s rosters have grown by a few players. This is best done by consolidating values. You can do this by consolidating players or picks via trade. The alternative is that you’ll have players who fall into a category of “cut candidates”. Again, these may not be players of significance, but the minor amounts of value they do possess add up over time. It’s better to be on the positive side of this type of trend long-term.

Thanks for stopping by today and checking out my Rookie Draft: Tiers & Strategy article. Be sure to prepare yourself with a good understanding of the players in the upcoming draft class. That will allow the points I’ve made here today to be of use to you. I wish you all the best in your upcoming drafts!

David Carey – @87_Carey

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