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Top Pick from Every Round of Startup Drafts

By: Jay Pounds (@jaypoundsnfl)

Dynasty Owners, we officially have startup drafts and rookie drafts going on right now! I don’t know about you, but draft season is one of my favorite times of the year. Draft season is when we are all filled with hope, fun hot takes, and the selecting of the classic “my guys”. I wonder if the reason I love this time of year so much is because I grew up in Browns country, where March through August is when most around here are so optimistic. They plan their Super Bowl parade, and then real games happen, and all hope is lost. Now that my weekly shot at the Browns is out of the way, we can get on with this week’s article!

In today’s article I will be staying with the startup draft theme from the last couple of weeks and will be going a bit more in depth by looking at my favorite selection from each and every round of Dynasty Owner startup drafts, based on Average Draft Position (ADP), followed by a short explanation on each player. Buckle up folks, it’s going to be a long one!

All ADPs listed were current as of the afternoon of May 23rd.

  1. Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) – 2 years/$7,704,910 – ADP 3.9

No surprise here! Ja’Marr Chase has been my number 1 guy from the start, and nothing has changed, Chase has been extremely consistent in the NFL, is tied to Joe Burrow ($9,047,534) long-term, and still has a couple years of contract flexibility left with two years remaining at his rookie salary, making him a great first round selection.

  • Trevor Lawrence (QB – JAC) – 2 years/$9,198,372 – ADP 23.8

I am quite shocked to see Trevor Lawrence with an ADP below 12.0 as I thought he was a lock to be picked in the first round in Dynasty Owner startup drafts. Lawrence took a massive leap in year 2 under Doug Pederson and I am only expecting that to continue in year 3 with a better overall team around the young signal caller.

  • Najee Harris (RB – PIT) – 2 years/$3,261,862 – ADP 30.1

I believe this may be the most surprising of all ADPs in Dynasty Owner drafts thus far. Running backs that see 20 touches per game are extremely hard to find now days and with two years remaining on Harris’ rookie contract, he has a price tag Dynasty Owners should be salivating over. Harris had a down year in 2022, but with an improved O-line and another year of experience for Kenny Pickett ($3,516,976), I am expecting the Steelers offense to take a step forward as a whole with Najee Harris leading the way.

  • Dameon Pierce (RB – HOU) – 3 years/$1,118,858 – ADP 37.6

Up next, we have another young workhorse running back who should be getting drafted much higher than he is in Dameon Pierce. Pierce looked excellent in his rookie campaign before his season was cut short due to injury. The Texans did sign Devin Singletary ($2,750,000), but I believe that was more of an insurance policy for Pierce than true competition. When Pierce is back and fully healthy, it should be wheels up for the Florida product.

  • T.J. Hockenson (TE – MIN) – 1 year/$9,392,000 – ADP 59.9

Hockenson was Dynasty Owner’s second ranked tight end in 2022, despite only playing half a season in Minnesota and for some reason he is still being disrespected judging by his ADP. While I don’t see Hockenson surpassing Travis Kelce ($14,312,500) anytime soon as the number 1 tight end, I do see him as a mainstay in the top 5 for many years to come.

  • Pat Freiermuth (TE – PIT) – 2 years/$1,507,045 – ADP 69.8

If I told you that you could have a cheap tight end who will likely finish around the 10 point mark every week in the sixth round of startups, you would strongly consider it, right? Well, that’s exactly what Pat Freiermuth is, and I only see him becoming more productive as he heads into his prime in the next couple of years. Freiermuth is one of Kenny Pickett’s favorite targets and I don’t see that changing anytime soon, making him a great value at this point in startup drafts.

  • Jahan Dotson (WR – WAS) – 3 years/$3,762,090 – ADP 77.7

When doing things like this based off of ADP, you will run into certain spots where you only have a handful of players to choose from and this was one of those situations. While I would probably go in a different direction in my own draft, the rules here would not allow it. If the Commanders find a quarterback anytime soon this may look like a great pick as Dotson has been very effective in the red zone and has shown some real positives thus far in his career.

  • Khalil Herbert (RB – CHI) 2 years/$902,677 – ADP 84.6

Herbert is a lock to be Chicago’s starting running back this season and at an ADP of the eighth round, I feel that is an absolute steal. Herbert has the talent to do it all from being an effective runner between the tackles to catching the ball out of the backfield. The only real question with Herbert heading into 2023 will be his durability. If he can withstand a 17-game season, or even 12-14 games for that matter, he would be a huge value this late in startup drafts at the running back position.

  • Terry McLaurin (WR – WAS) – 3 years/$22,788,000 – ADP 103.8

In the ninth round, we surprisingly have our second Washington receiver in Terry McLaurin. McLaurin has been a stud ever since he stepped on to an NFL field, despite always having a below average quarterback and I see no reason that will change anytime soon. The only real negatives with McLaurin are his huge salary and sometimes up and down performance, though I’m putting the latter on the quarterbacks he has played with. If salary was not a factor, McLaurin would be going six rounds higher. If you can afford him, take him.

  1. Sam Howell (QB – WAS) – 3 years/$1,005,400 – ADP 116.7

Ok I swear this was not planned nor noticed until the time of writing, but I have over half of Washington’s playmakers on this list! In all seriousness, how can you pass on Sam Howell in the tenth round of startup drafts as a starting quarterback with a salary a hair over $1,000,000. If Howell happens to hit, he may end up as the Dynasty Owner Value of the Year. I would take a chance on Howell here 10 times out of 10.

  1. Alexander Mattison (RB – MIN) – 2 years/$3,500,000 – ADP 120.9

I put Mattison here based purely on the speculation that Dalvin Cook ($12,600,000) will be traded after June 1st. If Cook is gone, Mattison will be another one of those rare backs with the potential of becoming a workhorse in a top tier offense on a low salary. Mattison doesn’t have the talent of Cook, but he is good enough to finish as a top 10 running back if he sees enough production.

  1. Keenan Allen (WR – LAC) – 2 years/$20,025,000 – ADP 137.5

I have to stay consistent, right? Allen is the first of several players appearing here from last week’s article in which I highlighted my favorite late round selections. While Allen is not a player you can build around anymore, that is not what you are looking for in the 12th round of a startup draft. Even if the worst-case scenario of Allen leaving L.A. happens after this season, I see no reason he won’t hop on with another contender. If you have the cap space, you won’t regret taking Allen as long as he stays healthy. If he doesn’t, use an Amnesty Provision (cost of $5,000,000 Dynasty Dollars) and add another high-priced wide receiver.

  1. Chris Godwin (WR – TB) – 2 years/$20,000,000 – ADP 148.8

I won’t spend much time on the next three players as I spoke about all of them in last week’s article. Godwin is a top-level talent and I see him producing as long as he has close to an average quarterback under center.

  1. John Metchie (WR – HOU) – 3 years/$2,017,543 – ADP 158.9

As I said last week, I like Metchie based on the potential he and C.J. Stroud ($9,069,811) have together. If the two click, Metchie could be Stroud’s number 1 guy for years to come. As an Ohio State fan, I am here to tell you if Stroud hits, he is going to be very good!

  1. Michael Carter (RB – NYJ) – 2 years/$1,071,842 – ADP 177.0

See last week’s article for a more in-depth response. Carter may end up as the Jets’ starting running back for the first portion of the season and a nice compliment after that. In the 15th round, I have no issues taking a chance.

  1. Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT) – 2 years/$18,355,000 – ADP 182.0

Diontae Johnson and Kenny Pickett really got on the same page in the second half of the season last year, and I am expecting that to continue into 2023. Johnson is a little pricey, but he is a near lock to see 80 catches and 1,000 yards making him worth the $18,355,000 price tag. If Pickett takes a step forward in year 2, this pick could become a steal in the later rounds.

  1. Chase Claypool (WR – CHI) – 1 year/$1,654,156 – ADP 205.9

If this isn’t my Pittsburgh and Ohio State bias showing through, I don’t know what is. While Claypool no longer plays for the Steelers and was never a Buckeye, he has strong connections to both. In all honesty, I am expecting huge things from Justin Fields ($4,717,989) this season and I believe Claypool will be a big part of it. In the 17th round at a salary of less than $2,000,000, Claypool could pay off in a huge way.

  1. Brandin Cooks (WR – DAL) – 2 years/$19,882,000 – ADP 220.3

If you haven’t noticed, wide receivers are plentiful in the later rounds, if you draft lower salary players early. Cooks has been a very good player on all 163 professional sports organizations he has been a part of throughout his short career and I expect that to continue in Dallas with Dak Prescott ($40,000,000) under center.

  1. Cordarrelle Patterson (RB – ATL) – 1 year/$5,250,000 – ADP 227.7

See last week’s article for a more in-depth response. Patterson has a negative outlook due to the drafting of Bijan Robinson ($5,489,634) and rightfully so. In the 19th round, I am drafting players based on potential and what ifs and Patterson has a lot of scenarios that he can produce in. My favorite scenario is where Patterson plays primarily at the wide receiver position, which I think will happen.

  • Latavius Murray (RB – BUF) – 1 year/$1,317,500 – ADP 246.0

See last week’s article for a more in-depth response. Murray’s teammate, James Cook ($1,458,014), has as many question marks as any starting running back in the league. I can see a realistic scenario where Murray ends up as a top 12 running back in 2023.

  • Leonard Fournette (RB – Free Agent) – $7,000,000 – ADP 258.0

If you have some extra cap space and need depth at running back, I would look at Fournette later in the draft. Fournette will catch on somewhere because of injury and will probably end up as a top 20 running back in 2023 for $2,500,000 or less.

  • Darius Slayton (WR – NYG) – 2 years/$6,000,000 – ADP 270.3

Slayton had a solid 2022 and I don’t see any reason to think he won’t be heavily involved again after signing a new contract with the Giants. Even if Slayton only matches what he did last season, it’s well worth a $6,000,000 price tag and a 22nd round selection if you have the space this late in the draft. Remember we have Bench scoring here on Dynasty Owner (25% of the total points from the players on your Bench are added to your final score).

  • Ben Skowronek (WR – LAR) – 2 years/$891,131 – ADP 278.0

I know this may not be a sexy pick at all, but the Rams did nothing to improve their receiving room. In fact, it probably got worse after losing Allen Robinson ($15,500,000) to the Steelers. If Skowronek ends up as the second or third receiving option for the Rams, he will be a huge value this late in drafts at such a cheap salary.

  • KJ Hamler (WR – DEN) 1 year/$1,784,283 – ADP 294.0

I am taking Hamler here because he is cheap, has potential, and I love his fit in a Sean Payton coached offense. If Payton can get Russell Wilson ($48,517,647) playing at an average level, Hamler could be an effective Bench player for Dynasty Owners.

  • Any Available Kicker Under $3,000,000

Hey kickers score points too! If there are any kickers left at a reasonable salary, I always grab them in the last couple of rounds.

Thank you all for reading and be sure to check out all of the upcoming Dynasty Owner content. We have the Dynasty Owner podcast, the Dynasty Owner Livestream, and articles to help with your Dynasty Owner teams. Good luck on your 2023 Chase for the Ring!

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