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Rookie Draft Examples from 2020 and Scenarios for 2021

Rookie Draft Examples from 2020 and Scenarios for 2021

By Steven Van Tassell

Rookie drafts are new and coming to Dynasty Owner in less than a week! June 4th at Noon is the starting date for all rookie drafts for existing Dynasty Owner leagues. If you’re in a league that played in 2020, whether you played last year or bought the team from another Dynasty Owner or the Orphan store, your rookie draft is coming up soon.
We started Dynasty Owner rookie draft preparation last week by reviewing rookie contracts and how much salary cap room your Dynasty Owner team needs (https://dynastyowner.com/2021/05/salary-cap-room-for-2021-rookie-drafts/). To summarize for those of you who haven’t read the article or seen the video, for most Dynasty Owners with a “normal” number of draft picks, the range of salary cap room that you should be targeting is between $5.7 million and $26.4 million. There are other scenarios and extremes out there, but at least $5.7 million should give your team a good base to draft some rookies. It won’t get you any of the top six picks in the NFL draft (Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle), but it should get you three or four solid draft picks. For those of you who want one of those six guys listed above, you’ll need more which is where the $26.4 million figure comes into play.
Regardless of your salary cap situation, it’s time to start getting prepared. Looking forward at projections for 2021 and analyzing how rookies are going to perform will help, but so will looking at how Dynasty Owners could have constructed a rookies-only draft in 2020 before diving into possible 2021 draft scenarios. Let’s do both!
All information listed are based on the salaries available on Dynasty Owner as of May 28th. All 2020 overall ADP listed are based on data from all 2020 Dynasty Owner drafts. Dynasty Owner fantasy points scored are based on the entire 16-game NFL season for 2020.

2020 Rookie “Draft” Examples
While we didn’t have official rookie-only drafts in Dynasty Owner in 2020, we can simulate a rookie draft by looking at 2020 overall draft ADP and ranking rookies based on where they were selected. The first rookie off the board, on average, in 2020 drafts was Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – KC) who had an ADP of 9.2. He would have likely been the top selection in most rookie-only drafts as the next highest ranked rookie was Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) who had an ADP of 16.3. After that, it drops down to Joe Burrow (QB – CIN) and J.K. Dobbins (RB – BAL) with ADPs of 26.7 and 27.5 respectively.
All in all, there are hundreds of thousands of potential 2020 rookie “drafts” and likely no two Dynasty Owners would have drafted the same. However, let’s look at some possible three round 2020 “drafts” with one pick per round.

Best Draft – Top Rookie at 3 Positions (Total Salary = $10,688,722)

Player

Justin Jefferson

Justin Herbert

James Robinson

Position

WR

QB

RB

Overall ADP

81.2

101.5

231.1

Salary

$3,280,701

$6,644,688

$763,333

Points

273.2

431.7

259.4

Obviously, the best pick on this list is James Robinson. However, if a rookie draft were held last year in early June, almost nobody would have taken him. Not even if your team name was Nostradamus. However, if your team name was Quaranteed for Greatness, then you did as our Ring runner-up drafted Robinson with the #283 pick in their draft on June 27th. In most of those early drafts, he was selected. That’s how you win the Ring (or almost win it)!
Jefferson had the 11th highest ADP for a rookie (and fourth among WRs after Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Jalen Reagor), so he likely would have mostly been a first round rookies-only pick, while Herbert had the 16th highest ADP, so he counts as a second rounder. Both of them plus Robinson finished 2020 as the rookie at their position with the most Dynasty Owner fantasy points. Did anybody else, besides Quaranteed for Greatness who took all three of them, draft rookies this well in 2020?

Best Value – Rookies with Best DD/PT (Total Salaries = $3,650,648)

Player

Antonio Gibson

Chase Claypool

James Robinson

Position

RB

WR

RB

Overall ADP

86.0

156.3

231.1

Salary

$1,233,159

$1,654,156

$763,333

2020 Points

202.4

211.9

259.4

All three of these players had values of less than $8,000 Dynasty Dollars per Point (DD/PT) in 2020. Gibson was the 12th rookie drafted on average, while Claypool was the 26th drafted, so they are the best “first” and “second” round picks. Robinson was by far and away the best value rookie in 2020 with a DD/PT of only $2,943.

Worst #1 = Lowest Scoring Rookies (Total Salary = $8,223,173)

Player

Jalen Reagor

Henry Ruggs

Justin Rohrwasser

Position

WR

WR

K

Overall ADP

74.9

89.7

190.9

Salary

$3,317,669

$4,167,906

$737,598

2020 Points

87.6

88.6

0.0

For me, the worst pick on this list is Justin Rohrwasser (K – Free Agent) as he had the sixth lowest kicker ADP and was drafted very highly for a kicker (ADP 190.9, or at the end of the 16th round on average), didn’t play at all so his Dynasty Owners got no production and they either had to keep him on their roster all season or drop him and pay $737,598 in Dynasty Dollars to do so. At least Reagor and Ruggs scored some points and will have time to develop and maybe be worth their salaries in the future, not so for Rohrwasser. Regardless of who you think is the worst of the bunch, this rookies-only draft would have cost you over $8.2 million in salary cap room last season.

Worst #2 = Lowest Scoring Rookies (Total Salary = $10,581,438)

Player

Jalen Reagor

Henry Ruggs

Jordan Love

Position

WR

WR

QB

Overall ADP

74.9

89.7

174.7

Salary

$3,317,669

$4,167,906

$3,095,863

2020 Points

87.6

88.6

0.0

This “draft” is filled with all 2020 NFL first round draft picks, but in general, Dynasty Owners likely could have drafted them in a three-round rookie draft and regretted it tremendously last year. Jordan Love also had 0.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points and cost almost $3.1 million, but Dynasty Owners who took him in 2020 start-up drafts were unlikely to be thinking that he’d help their teams last year. If you drafted Rohrwasser, that’s clearly what you were thinking, which is why I rank the Rohrwasser draft as #1 and the Love draft as #2. This rookies-only draft would have cost you almost $10.6 million in salary cap room last season, or almost 10% of the overall $110 million draft salary pool.

Five 2021 Dynasty Owner Rookie Draft Scenarios
It’s 2021 now and we have rookie-only drafts for the first time in Dynasty Owner. No more “projecting” where rookies would have gone based on their overall draft selection ADP, we can do it for real in less than a week.
While we have a recommended amount of cap room to have on hand, what exactly can you get for $5.7 million or even less than that amount? Let’s look at some salaries and rookie mock draft ADP and find out. We will try to be realistic here and not say you can draft three players with ADPs of under 10.0 with a first, second and third round pick – that’s unlikely to happen and if it does, then get in touch with me when there’s an opening in your league.
We’re also not going to look at rookie draft scenarios for teams with more than $5.7 million in salary cap room. Let’s face it, if you have more salary cap room than that, your Dynasty Owner team can pretty much draft any available player you want (regardless of salary). It’s just a question of who’s available and which players you like best, not the salary restrictions that will impact many Dynasty Owners.
We’ll use the current rookie mock draft ADP listed on Dynasty Owner (as of the morning of Friday, May 28th) to decide the round a player will likely be drafted.

Early Round Picks, Low Salary Cap Space Available ($5.7 million)
Let’s say you had a bad 2020 season, secured early round draft picks and didn’t trade them away. Your team tried, but didn’t win the 1.13 pick. You still have your three picks though, one per round. However, you’re in a tight salary cap spot and only have the low end of our salary cap range available to you. Who can you likely draft?

Player

Najee Harris

Trey Sermon

Rhamondre Stevenson

Position

RB

RB

RB

Team

PIT

SF

NE

Overall ADP

1.6

12.2

27.1

Salary

$3,261,861

$1,218,233

$1,057,264

Three rounds, three RBs for less than $5.7 million ($5,537,358). If you have the #1 pick or are fortunate that the team with the #1 pick does not take Harris, then you could walk away with these three RBs for the low-end recommended salary amount. While Sermon’s ADP is 12.2, he’s the 13th player off the board so he counts as a second rounder for our purposes here.
There are many players that you could swap out for Stevenson in the third round here. Late second round NFL picks such as Tutu Atwell (WR – LAR) and D’Wayne Eskridge (WR – SEA) are just under $1.5 million in salary each ($1,477,175 for Atwell and $1,488,376 for Eskridge) and have almost identical rookie ADPs (25.9 for Atwell and 26.0 for Eskridge). Either one would keep your rookie salaries under $6 million. If you have just $5.7 million left, then you’ve got your choice of any player available for under $1.22 million in salary after drafting Harris and Sermon.

Mid-Round Picks, Low Salary Cap Space Available ($5.7 million)
Let’s say you did ok, but not great. Either barely missed the playoffs or made it and lost in the first round. No bonus pick for you either, but since you were in the middle of the pack, you didn’t gut your draft capital for a playoff run and still have all three of them, one per round. Same as the first scenario though and you’re in a tight salary cap spot and only have the low end of our salary cap range available to you. You’re not getting Najee Harris for sure as he’ll be gone, but your team still could use at least a RB or two. Who can you likely draft?

Player

Travis Etienne

Chubba Hubbard

Pat Friermuth

Josh Palmer

Position

RB

RB

TE

WR

Team

JAX

CAR

PIT

LAC

Overall ADP

6.5

18.6

29.3

30.3

Salary

$3,224,526,

$1,048,294

$1,507,045

$1,258,365

Two RBs and a receiver (WR/TE) for right around $5.7 million ($5,779,865 for option A and $5,531,185 for option B). Depending upon if your Dynasty Owner team needs a WR or TE more and if you can go over $5.7 million. If you can’t but want Friermuth then substitute Kenneth Gainwell (RB – PHI) and his $953,882 salary for Hubbard. There are plenty of options for the third pick here depending on your needs and cap space. Friermuth is the high end here, while you could as low as any undrafted rookie free agent to pair with Etienne and Hubbard and be under $5.1 million (under $5 million if you draft Gainwell instead of Hubbard).

Mid-Round Picks, Lower Salary Cap Space Available ($4.5 million)
What happens if you’re not an Etienne fan or don’t want Hubbard since you’re not a CMC owner (or for another reason), there are options for you in the mid-round picks and you can do this scenario for less than $4.5 million. What does that draft look like?

Player

Javonte Williams

Amari Rodgers

Position

RB

WR

Team

DEN

GB

Overall ADP

7.3

22.0

Salary

$2,216,438

$1,224,974

Williams and Rodgers plus anybody taken after the middle of the fourth round of the NFL draft can be yours for less than $4.5 million. Either Kene Nwangwu (RB – MIN) and his $1,058,200 salary or Rhamondre Stevenson would take you right up to the $4.5 million your team has available, while an undrafted rookie free agent would keep you around $4.25 million.

Late Round Picks, Low Salary Cap Space Available ($5.7 million)
Congratulations to you if your Dynasty Owner team is in this position because you probably won your league, or got to the finals and lost, and you kept all of your draft picks. Regardless of whether you won or lost in the title game, you made quite a few Dynasty Dollars and even some money if you’re in a cash league. Now, it’s time to continue your dynasty in 2021. Because you’ve got late round picks and not a lot of cap room, all of the early NFL draft picks and the cheaper players who are going early in Dynasty Owner rookie drafts are going to be off the board for your team. Likely no Travis Etienne or Javonte Williams for you as they have already been taken. What your draft plans?

Player

Michael Carter

Kadarius Toney

Position

RB

WR

Team

NYJ

NYG

Overall ADP

12.1

20.9

Salary

$1,071,842

$3,429,877

I’m not recommending a third rounder here, because after spending just over $4.5 million ($4,501,719) on the first two picks, you can have any available player taken in the fourth round or later in the NFL draft or any undrafted rookie free agent and still get under $5.7 million. A rookie free agent making the minimum of $808,333 in salary would even get your rookie draft salaries at just over $5.31 million. At the high end, Dez Fitzpatrick (WR – TEN) who was taken with the fourth pick in the fourth round and will make $1,069,951 would nudge your rookie salaries to $5,571,670.

Any Round Picks, Very Low Salary Cap Space Available ($3.0 million or less)
This could be anyone with some high salary players that they didn’t want to drop or trade for pennies on the dollars. Your team doesn’t have to draft all undrafted rookie free agents, but needs a first round pick with pretty low salary to avoid that fate. If you’re fortunate, then Michael Carter will be there or maybe Trey Sermon, but his salary is a bit higher.

Player

Michael Carter

Trey Sermon

Javian Hawkins

Position

RB

RB

TE

Team

NYJ

SF

ATL

Overall ADP

12.1

12.2

23.2

Salary

$1,071,842

$1,218,233

$810,000

I’m not recommending a third rounder here, because after spending less than $2 million ($1,881,842 for Option A with Carter) on the first two picks, you are in the same position as the previous scenario and can have any available player taken in the fourth round or later in the NFL draft or any undrafted rookie free agent and still get under $3 million. A rookie free agent making the minimum of $808,333 in salary would get your rookie draft salaries at just under $2.7 million, while Dez Fitzpatrick would jump your rookie draft salary pool up to just a bit over $2.95 million.
For those of you who can get Sermon here, you’ve got less than $1 million left since you spent $2,028,233 already. All of the undrafted rookies are still in play as is anybody drafted in the fifth round or later. Sorry, but you can’t have of those WRs/TEs taken in the fourth round and Sermon. Maybe either one of the TEs, such as Luke Farrell (TE – JAC) or Brevin Jordan (TE – HOU), taken at the top of the fifth round in the NFL draft who make just under $1 million here.

Conclusions
As you can see, the scenarios are endless. With 171 rookies in the draft pool now, there are a myriad of combinations of players that you can draft with as little as $3 million in salary cap room. If you have more than that, your options just keep increasing. For $5.7 million, the only restrictions are that you can’t have any of the top six picks in the NFL draft.
As we can see from our 2020 examples, the best rookies of 2020 would have only cost your Dynasty Owner team just under $10.7 million. It’s possible to have had a great “rookie” draft last year for as little as $3.65 million, or draft three first rounders, spend almost $10.6 million and come away with not much production in 2020. That $10.6 million draft could turn out ok in the long run, but right now, those Dynasty Owners spent a lot of salary for few Dynasty Owner fantasy points.
We’ll keep going on the rookie draft theme next week and look at rookie ADP from both rookie mock drafts and actual Dynasty Owner start-up drafts, so you can start thinking about who might be available when you’re on the clock. If some rookie drafts wrap up early or even progress pretty far, a look at real rookie ADP might be in order in two weeks to help Dynasty Owners who have rookie drafts moving much slower.
Regardless of your league, Dynasty Owner has great content coming to help you draft your dynasty and win your league. Some new videos to accompany the weekly articles have been posted and more are coming every week from now on. All of the articles and videos will be released at 1 PM (Eastern). My articles and videos to get you ready for your 2021 Dynasty Owner start-up league team will be released on Saturdays throughout the off-season. Keep an eye out for new articles from the rest of our team of Dynasty Owner writers as well. Matt Morrison – The Jerk (@Dynastyjerk) is doing a deep dive on individual teams that you can check out on Wednesdays. Jay Pounds (@jaypoundsnfl) looks at how to rebuild your Dynasty Owner roster and everyone will get his insights on Fridays.
Please read all of their articles and follow all of us plus Dynasty Owner (@Dynasty_Owner) on Twitter. Hopefully this article is helpful as you prepare for the first-ever Dynasty Owner rookie drafts. Thanks, and have a great day!

Steven Van Tassell is the Head of Content for Dynasty Owner
Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

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