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By the Numbers

Dynasty Rookie Pick Hit Rates

by Jacob Rickrode
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Every year around midseason, a losing dynasty team will trade an aging veteran for rookie picks. It’s a common strategy in dynasty. A rebuilding team in one of my leagues has traded away Dez Bryant, Emmanuel Sanders, and T.Y. Hilton for picks in consecutive years. Rebuilder has made the playoffs once in the last five years. Rebuilder is probably unlucky, but the pursuit of drafting the next rookie Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr. is a familiar ambition for dynasty players.

 

This begs a few questions.

 

What are the historical odds of rookie draft picks hitting? Are there true dynasty assets in every draft class?

 

I researched the last seven seasons to find out how much value rookie picks have provided. It’s changed the way I draft and my perspective on how much value (risk) should be placed on each round and on young, unproven players in general.

 

Editor’s Note: Get our MLB Draft Guide + Season Pass ($39.99 value) for FREE with your first deposit on FanDuel! Click here to claim now.

 

 

2010-2017

Sample Size: 504 Rookie Picks in six-round, 12-team dynasty drafts with PPR scoring, non-IDP. All ADP data is from myfantasyleague.com.

91/504 (18%), or close to 1 out of every 5.5 players registered at least one season in top 12 QB/TE or top 24 RB/WR fantasy scorers.

30/504 (6%) of those did it during their rookie season.

Excluding 2016, 44 of the 432 rookies (10.2%) drafted had two or more such seasons.

 

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total
At Least 1 Season 18 19 13 13 16 8 4 91
2 or More Seasons 13 9 7 6 7 2   44
Rookies 3 4 6 5 4 4 4 30
1st Round Hits 7 7 7 6 7 4 2 40
2nd Round Hits 6 4 3 4 6 3 1 27
3rd or Later 5 8 3 4 2 1 1 24

 

Round 1

 

The first round has delivered a 47.6% hit rate: Less than one out of two of these will have a top-12 QB/TE or top-24 RB/WR PPR scoring season. This has trended to seven of 12 hits over the examined time period, or 58% success.

 

If you remove ‘one-season only’ players (2010-2014) like Jahvid Best, C.J. Spiller, Trent Richardson, Robert Griffin III and the like, the round-one hit rate goes down to 30%. Basically 1 of 3 first-round rookie picks have become dynasty assets with more than one top season. 

 

Round 2

 

A significant drop from the first round, but still roughly one of three second-round picks, or 31% have produced at least one countable season since 2010. Keep in mind some took several years to get there. Lamar Miller, Eric Decker and Davante Adams did not hit until their 3rd year.  Golden Tate and Emmanuel Sanders did not hit until year five.

 

Round 3 or Later

 

The later rounds are very low percentage shots. Only 24 of 336 rookies, or 7% drafted in the third round or later actually hit. There have been some absolute superstars to come out of late-round picks, though; Antonio Brown and T.Y. Hilton and most recently Dak Prescott. Adding late-round picks to a trade shouldn’t be considered an easy deal maker if you’re on the receiving end based on the minimal hit rate. 

 

The following tables show rookie draft ADP going back seven seasons and how each round finished yearly. If there’s blank space following a player’s name, it means they never finished in the top-12 QB/TE or top-24 RB/WR in PPR scoring. This doesn’t mean certain players haven’t put up relevant production for several games. It just highlights the true dynasty assets.

 

2010

 

  2010 10' 11' 12' 13' 14' 15' 16'
1.01 Ryan Mathews   7   17      
1.02 Dez Bryant   19 4 7 4    
1.03 Jahvid Best 20            
1.04 C.J. Spiller     6        
1.05 Demaryius Thomas     5 1 2 9 15
1.06 Sam Bradford              
1.07 Ben Tate              
1.08 Montario Hardesty              
1.09 Golden Tate         12 24 17
1.10 Arrelious Benn              
1.11 Dexter McCluster              
1.12 Jermaine Gresham     10        
2.01 Jonathan Dwyer              
2.02 Jimmy Clausen              
2.03 Toby Gerhart              
2.04 Mike Williams 16   20        
2.05 Brandon LaFell         22    
2.06 Tim Tebow              
2.07 Aaron Hernandez   3          
2.08 Emmanuel Sanders         5 18 20
2.09 Eric Decker     9 9   13  
2.10 Colt McCoy              
2.11 James Starks              
2.12 Rob Gronkowski 11 1 5   1 1  
3.04 Jimmy Graham   2 1 1 2   4
4.09 Dennis Pitta     8       8
5.04 Joique Bell     23 14 13    
6.02 Antonio Brown   24   3 1 1 1
6.04 Victor Cruz   3 14        

 

2010 was an excellent class and yielded 13 multi-year top finishing players. After seven seasons, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Jimmy Graham can boast four or more top finishes. Several mentioned earlier didn’t hit until after year three, which should give hope for players in later classes that haven’t broken out yet.

 

2011

 

  2011 11' 12' 13' 14' 15' 16'
1.01 Mark Ingram       14 12 8
1.02 A.J. Green 17 3 4 24 8  
1.03 Julio Jones 21 11   6 2 6
1.04 Daniel Thomas            
1.05 Ryan Williams            
1.06 Greg Little            
1.07 Mikel Leshoure   18        
1.08 Jon Baldwin            
1.09 Cam Newton 4 4 6   1  
1.10 Roy Helu 24          
1.11 Shane Vereen       20    
1.12 Delone Carter            
2.01 DeMarco Murray     6 2 15 5
2.02 Randall Cobb   16   8    
2.03 Torrey Smith     23      
2.04 Leonard Hankerson            
2.05 Blaine Gabbert            
2.06 Kendall Hunter            
2.07 Jake Locker            
2.08 Titus Young            
2.09 Lance Kendricks            
2.10 Jacquizz Rodgers            
2.11 Andy Dalton   12 3      
2.12 Vincent Brown            
3.02 Kyle Rudolph     11     2
3.03 Colin Kaepernick       11    
3.05 Bilal Powell           23
3.09 Stevan Ridley     15      
4.03 Jordan Cameron       5    
4.12 Julius Thomas       2 10  
5.02 Terrelle Pryor           21
6.03 Charles Clay       8    

 

Four true dynasty studs came out of 2011: A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Cam Newton and DeMarco Murray. Mark Ingram could be classified as one also but likely disappointed those who spent a 1.01 pick on him. You’ll notice a large percentage of these players are no longer in the league, including several first-round picks. This happens with every class. *Doug Baldwin has two Top 24 finish years but went undrafted in rookie drafts in 2011.

 

2012

 

  2012 12' 13' 14' 15' 16'
1.01 Trent Richardson 8        
1.02 Andrew Luck 9 7 1   4
1.03 Doug Martin 2     4  
1.04 Robert Griffin III 9        
1.05 Justin Blackmon          
1.06 David Wilson          
1.07 Michael Floyd          
1.08 Coby Fleener     7    
1.09 Kendall Wright   20      
1.10 Ronnie Hillman          
1.11 Isaiah Pead          
1.12 Alshon Jeffery   8 10    
2.01 Brian Quick          
2.02 Stephen Hill          
2.03 Lamar Miller     9 5 19
2.04 Rueben Randle          
2.05 Ryan Tannehill     10    
2.06 LaMichael James          
2.07 Mohamed Sanu          
2.08 Ryan Broyles          
2.09 Brandon Weeden          
2.10 A.J. Jenkins          
2.11 Robert Turbin          
2.12 Josh Gordon   2      
3.08 Russell Wilson 11 9 6 3  
4.02 T.Y. Hilton   19 11 23 5
5.03 Alfred Morris 7 19 17    

 

Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and T.Y. Hilton lead the pack here. Alfred Morris and Lamar Miller have been solid if unspectacular. Only two truly relevant WRs in Hilton and Alshon Jeffery. 2012 will likely go down as average for its small volume of fantasy producers.

 

2013

 

  2013 13' 14' 15' 16'
1.01 Tavon Austin        
1.02 Eddie Lacy 8 5    
1.03 Giovani Bernard 13 16 17  
1.04 Montee Ball        
1.05 Le'Veon Bell 15 1   3
1.06 DeAndre Hopkins   14 4  
1.07 Cordarrelle Patterson        
1.08 Tyler Eifert     7  
1.09 Marcus Lattimore        
1.10 Johnathan Franklin        
1.11 Keenan Allen 18      
1.12 Justin Hunter        
2.01 Robert Woods        
2.02 Zac Stacy 20      
2.03 Christine Michael        
2.04 Markus Wheaton        
2.05 E.J. Manuel        
2.06 Aaron Dobson        
2.07 Geno Smith        
2.08 Joseph Randle        
2.09 Zach Ertz       6
2.10 Travis Kelce   6 8 1
2.11 Terrance Williams        
2.12 Mike Gillislee        
3.02 Andre Ellington   19    
4.06 Jordan Reed     2 9
4.07 C.J. Anderson   11    
5.03 Theo Riddick     18  

 

Past Le’Veon Bell, DeAndre Hopkins, Travis Kelce and Jordan Reed, 2013 looks like 2012. Giovani Bernard may be undervalued right now and Keenan Allen’s finishes don’t paint the entire picture. Like 2012, Allen and Hopkins are the only two relevant wide receivers.

 

2014

 

  2014 14' 14' 16'
1.01 Sammy Watkins   20  
1.02 Mike Evans 13 22 3
1.03 Bishop Sankey      
1.04 Brandin Cooks   14 11
1.05 Carlos Hyde     18
1.06 Eric Ebron      
1.07 Jordan Matthews   16  
1.08 Odell Beckham 7 5 4
1.09 Kelvin Benjamin 15    
1.10 Johnny Manziel      
1.11 Devonta Freeman   1 6
1.12 Marquise Lee      
2.01 Davante Adams     10
2.02 Tre Mason      
2.03 Jeremy Hill 10 20 22
2.04 Terrance West     23
2.05 Teddy Bridgewater      
2.06 Cody Latimer      
2.07 Allen Robinson   6  
2.08 Blake Bortles   3 9
2.09 Austin Seferian-Jenkins      
2.10 Jace Amaro      
2.11 Donte Moncrief      
2.12 Jarvis Landry   11 13
3.01 Charles Sims   16  
3.06 Allen Hurns   19  

 

Three years in, it’s obvious this class is special. 10 WRs have already posted one top-24 finish compared to the previous two classes with only two per year. Mike Evans and Odell Beckham look every bit the dynasty studs that Antonio Brown and Julio Jones have been. Over half of 2014's first- and second-round picks have produced at least one top season. Jordan Matthews was the WR25 as a rookie and would have two top seasons had he finished one spot better.

 

2015

 

  2015 15' 16'
1.01 Todd Gurley 9  
1.02 Amari Cooper 21 16
1.03 Melvin Gordon   7
1.04 Kevin White    
1.05 T.J. Yeldon    
1.06 DeVante Parker    
1.07 Nelson Agholor    
1.08 Ameer Abdullah    
1.09 Tevin Coleman   20
1.10 Breshad Perriman    
1.11 Dorial Green-Beckham    
1.12 Jameis Winston    
2.01 Marcus Mariota    
2.02 Duke Johnson 24  
2.03 Jay Ajayi   11
2.04 Devin Funchess    
2.05 Phillip Dorsett    
2.06 Maxx Williams    
2.07 Jaelen Strong    
2.08 David Johnson 8 1
2.09 David Cobb    
2.10 Devin Smith    
2.11 Tyler Lockett    
2.12 Javorius Allen    
6.06 Tyrell Williams   18

 

Six RBs have hit so far. Amari Cooper and Tyrell Williams are the only two WRs to make the list and Williams was a very late rookie pick who often wasn't drafted at all after going undrafted out of Western Oregon.

 

2016

 

  2016 16'
1.01 Ezekiel Elliott 2
1.02 Laquon Treadwell  
1.03 Corey Coleman  
1.04 Josh Doctson  
1.05 Sterling Shepard  
1.06 Derrick Henry  
1.07 Michael Thomas 7
1.08 Kenneth Dixon  
1.09 Devontae Booker  
1.10 C.J. Prosise  
1.11 Will Fuller  
1.12 Tyler Boyd  
2.01 Jared Goff  
2.02 Jordan Howard 10
2.03 Paul Perkins  
2.04 Carson Wentz  
2.05 Leonte Caroo  
2.06 Hunter Henry  
2.07 Paxton Lynch  
2.08 Malcolm Mitchell  
2.09 Braxton Miller  
2.10 Kenyan Drake  
2.11 DeAndre Washington  
2.12 Pharoh Cooper  
3.12 Dak Prescott 6

 

Ezekiel Elliott had a monster rookie year for a RB but true to most years, only four rookies posted. The average for this study is four rookies per year. *Tyreek Hill finished in the Top 24 as a rookie but went undrafted in rookie drafts.

 

At face value, the odds of drafting a hit are a coin flip. The other side is that the value of adding the next Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr. to your roster can’t be underestimated.

 

 

Applying this to your Draft Strategy

 

Not all draft classes are equal.

 

They can’t all be like the class of 2014. Not all have produced top players at every position. The 2017 class may only produce a moderate level of fantasy producers like 2011, 2012 and 2015 have. There’s probably not a generational talent in every class and even if there is, being able to draft them has its own odds. There are definitely dynasty assets in every class, though.

 

The more picks you have, the better your odds. Take a shotgun approach to rookie drafts. Increase your odds with more chances.  

 

Early first round picks have performed the best. The track record of success is early. Even great prospects going to great situations don’t always hit, though. Late round picks are truly a crap shoot statistically.

 

The proper amount of risk needs to be applied to your decision making and draft process.

 

One of the biggest mistakes both redraft and dynasty players make is putting too much stock into rookies. Since 2000, only 17 rookie WRs have finished inside the top-24. Three of these were in 2014 and two were in 2016. It’s probably not a trend one can expect to continue. A word of caution when drafting rookies early in dynasty startup drafts as the majority will redshirt from a fantasy production standpoint in year one.

 

Running backs fared better with 34 finishing inside the top-24 since 2000. Statistically, rookie RBs haven’t been the best bet to hit either, averaging two per year. Of the most recent RBs that did hit, Jeremy Hill and David Johnson did most of their production later in the season. They were waiver wire championship winners in leagues where they were dropped.

 

One reason the hit rate of rookie picks isn’t higher is because so many players drafted before 2010 are still finishing in those top spots. Perennial dynasty studs like Larry Fitzgerald, Frank Gore, Jason Witten and Drew Brees are playing well into their 30s. These types are generally overlooked by the youth-obsessed dynasty community. It shouldn’t be surprising if some dynasty studs currently in their late-20s follow the same career trajectories.

 

In addition to aging veterans, second and third year players that have yet to breakout look to be the best values. Don’t be afraid to trade rookie draft picks for proven commodities. Taking a small gamble on a player that previously had a top finish season like Shane Vereen or Coby Fleener could be worthwhile.

 

The ideal dynasty approach is to roster a mix of veteran and rookie players. You shouldn’t ever have to sell the farm and “rebuild” if you can maintain the balance of producing players and harvesting rookies. Expect rookies to bust and plan accordingly. If they do hit, it will just add depth to your team and improve your playoff chances.