By: Nate Christian (@NateNFL)
Reviewing the Format
Finally! Dynasty Owner rookie drafts are here! Now hopefully your team is under the $145.74 million salary cap, because you’ll need some cap space for the top rookies this year. Rookie salaries can range from under one million a year for undrafted rookie free agents and late round (fifth to seventh round) NFL Draft picks, up to more than five million a year for the two top rookies from the first round of the NFL Draft (Drake London at $5,383,617 and Garrett Wilson at $5,138,502). Ideally you’ll have around five to eight million in cap space if you have three picks in the rookie draft.
In the Dynasty Owner format, players on rookie contracts are so important to building a true dynasty. Getting these players at a value (even those first round rookies) for four years is like a cheat code to staying competitive while under the salary cap. Top tier wide receivers are getting paid over $20,000,000 a year now and the market has exploded for the position, which is why we saw a run on wide receivers through the middle of the first round of the NFL Draft this year. NFL teams have learned that getting these players on their rookie contracts is extremely important, as we have seen rookie wideouts produce right away in the NFL recently. You should build your team similarly, especially this year with the talent at wide receiver.
Quarterbacks are also important to your roster in Dynasty Owner, even though you don’t truly start two, you do get to start a second one on your Bench and get 25% of the Dynasty Owner fantasy points they score added to your total for the week. I don’t recommend overlooking this aspect of your team, as quarterbacks can score 20+ points week-to-week in the Dynasty Owner scoring system (6 points per passing TD) and that additional 5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points for your team could be the difference between a win or a loss. This means that quarterbacks are more important in a Dynasty Owner league than a regular 1 QB league, but not as valuable as those leagues that allow you to start two quarterbacks in your starting lineup. Unfortunately, this is not the year to need a quarterback. Outside of Kenny Pickett ($3,516,976), there are not any guarantees. I would start looking at Pickett by the end of the first round of your Dynasty Owner rookie draft, as you could do worse for a QB2/3 than a first-round quarterback on a rookie contract.
Top WRs to Target
In this year’s class you should be looking at the wealth of wide receivers available to you. If you need a running back, and you can’t get either Breece Hall ($2,253,693) or Kenneth Walker ($2,110,395) then you may just be out of luck. In this year’s draft class, the receivers are deep and full of talent up and down. From your top tier of Treylon Burks ($3,592,398), Drake London, and Garrett Wilson, you have top talent available, but at a price if you’re a little tight with money. These players are first round talents, and the value is still there even with their heightened salaries, as you will be able to use these players on your Bench right away.
Burks will be taking over the A.J. Brown ($1,413,092 for 2022, but $25,000,000 starting in 2023) role and there should be plenty of volume there, and despite the disappointment around his NFL Combine performance, Burks is a great athlete and should be able to create yards after the catch in the Titans offense.
London is inserted into a team without any competition in the receiver room, meaning he should be the first target for the Falcons when looking outside the numbers. Kyle Pitts ($8,227,624) should still be one of the top playmakers on the team, but London will be right next to him.
Wilson is a bit more interesting as he enters a more crowded wide receiver room than Burks or London. Elijah Moore ($2,235,107) and Corey Davis ($12,500,000) are solid wideouts and will not just give up their positions on the offense, but Wilson is full of talent and very pro ready. After being picked 10th overall, the Jets have made it obvious they want to feature the Wilson to Wilson connection.
Another wideout I’m targeting in the first round in Jameson Williams ($4,365,448). One of the best prospects in this entire class, he would likely be the WR1 for many if it wasn’t for his late season injury. He should be able to challenge Amon-Ra St. Brown ($1,066,313) as soon as he is healthy, and reports are that he should be comfortable to play by the first couple weeks of the season.
Cheap WRs to Target
If you are running low on cap space there are a couple receivers I would recommend you target throughout your Dynasty Owner rookie draft. If you’re in the first round and can’t afford any of the NFL first round WRs, Skyy Moore ($1,612,624) could be a great asset for your team. Drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, who currently have a Tyreek Hill ($18,000,000 for 2022, but $30,000,000 starting in 2023)-sized hole, there is plenty of opportunity for Moore to make an impact right away. He is quick, slippery, and has soft-hands making him a fun player for Patrick Mahomes ($45,000,000) to use in the fast-paced Chiefs offense.
Later into the second round of your rookie draft, you may be able to acquire a couple of Day 2 receivers. Alec Pierce ($1,650,336) went to the Colts, who across from Michael Pittman, Jr. ($2,153,213) don’t have anyone set in stone. Pierce showed off great athleticism at the NFL Combine and has been a talked-about prospect for NFL scouts since the beginning of the 2021 season. Matt Ryan ($30,000,000) may not be the MVP-caliber player he used to be, but I do believe he will be effective with the Colts offense and Pierce as the WR2 for the team should contribute for your dynasty team quickly.
Another player to look at would be Jalen Tolbert ($1,283,930) who went to the Dallas Cowboys. With Michael Gallup ($11,500,000) returning from an ACL injury, Tolbert will be competing with James Washington ($1,187,500) for the WR2 role to start the season. Tolbert was very productive at South Alabama and has already heard rave reviews from the coaching staff. He may be in the best position to contribute as Washington was seen wearing a protective boot earlier this week.
What about Tight End?
So, we’ve made it this far and maybe you need another tight end for your team, but don’t look for a Week 1 contributor. There are many tight ends worth taking a shot on in the third round of your Dynasty Owner rookie drafts, and it may come down to who you like more. I like Greg Dulcich ($1,314,785) who went to the Broncos. Noah Fant ($3,147,680) had his time in Denver but now finds himself in Seattle and I’m not convinced that Albert Okwuegbunam ($1,011,011) is the starter of the future. Dulcich provides solid athleticism and (quietly) produced at a high level while playing for UCLA. Plus, a quarterback upgrade in Denver gives all of their skill players a boost.
Don’t overthink your rookie draft strategy. Create a plan for your draft, know what players you’re targeting, and don’t worry about “reaching” a couple of spots for a player who you want. Enjoy and have fun. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a DM over on Twitter (@NateNFL).