How To Exploit Your Upcoming Rookie Draft

Our crew of dynasty consultants have shared their thoughts on how to boost your chances of success with some roster moves in the final days before the NFL Draft, when everything changes in the dynasty landscape. DDC dynasty consultants are back with some final advice on how this year's NFL Draft class is perceived, and how one might take advantage of those widely-held perceptions. 

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Matt Franciscovich 

There seems to be a lot of buzz about this year's tight end class, and for good reason. There's a good number of freakish athletes at the position this year and potentially a few you could make an argument for to select in the first round of a rookie draft. But before you put all of your eggs into the tight end basket, understand that it's one of the slowest positions in terms of player development at the professional level. There are examples from the last few seasons of tight ends who were forecasted to be elite NFL talents but for the most part have been average at best. Despite the seemingly deep pool at the position, proceed with caution if you're planning on investing in the tight end early and expecting immediate returns.

John Sarmento 

I think dynasty owners tend to be smart about avoiding weak quarterback classes in their rookie drafts, but I believe this year might be one of the weakest in recent memory. There are plenty of trait-heavy prospects who will need two or three years to fantasy relevant. I think someone like Mahomes or Kizer would be someone I'd target in a couple years, acquiring them from a frustrated owner in your league who expected early returns.

Anthony Amico 

The tight end class for 2017 is fantastic, probably the best we have seen in years. However, this is a good time to remind fantasy players that just 13 tight ends since 1990 have hit 500 yards receiving in their rookie year. Four have hit 600 yards. The odds of any of these tight ends producing as a rookie are very small. I frequently see folks use significant draft capital to acquire them. We are obviously playing for the long haul in dynasty, but I think fantasy owners would be better served passing on this tight end class in a year you will almost certainly have to overpay, and trading for them after their rookie years when they haven't produced. The cost will almost certainly be lower. 

Here's What Our Consultants Are Doing Headed Into the 2017 NFL Draft

The final weeks before the NFL Draft is a critical period for dynasty fantasy footballers. Positioning oneself to take full advantage of the incoming draft class -- or maybe next year's class -- is never an easy exercise. Maneuvering, trading picks, moving up or down in a draft without giving up too much -- it can be tricky. 

Below are thoughts and insight from Draft Day Consultants' dynasty analysts on how you might be able to improve your chances for a dynasty title in the days and weeks before the NFL Draft changes the dynasty landscape. Click here for one-on-one consultation with these DDC consultants and more. Improve your dynasty squad for the 2017 NFL season and beyond. 

 

Matt Franciscovich

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that the 2017 draft class is loaded with depth at the running back position. There are a handful of backs who, if the class was not so top heavy with talent, would probably be projected to be selected a round or two higher. They each possess NFL starting caliber skill sets. That's why I’m going to wait on a running back and try to lock up one of the top wideouts or tight ends in the first round while others hone in on the elite tier of running backs. It’s the classic zig-when-others-zag strategy. This is an ideal crop of prospects for that kind of approach.

If I have a win-now dynasty team, I’d look to buy a top-five pick this year. That would guarantee me at least one of the elite prospects at either running back, wideout, or tight end. So whatever position I’m looking to fill, I’ll be certain to lock up a top option with this strategy. On the flip-side, I’m in rebuild mode in one of my salary cap dynasty leagues. I’m going to cut bait with a few guys I’m overpaying for and clear enough cap space so I can win some bids on the value picks (especially at RB) in the rookie auction after others pays up for the top tier players. 

 

Anthony Amico 

I think there will be a ton of value in this draft class. That means that I'm trying to move back in the draft if I own a high pick. It means I am not trying to unload my aging studs as the draft approaches. Rookie picks, especially high ones, tend to have more value than the player selected with them. This is not the class to pay a premium for those picks. Instead, I'm trying to unload excess bench depth for third round selections. 

I'm definitely selling my 2017 picks if I have a win-now team. People are always willing to overpay for rookie draft capital. Those picks will sound a lot better before the draft and people start associating names with them. If I'm rebuilding, I'm more willing to buy, but I'm trying to do it at the lower rounds. This is a great class to accumulate picks.

 

John Sarmento

I try and treat every dynasty season the same. There will be a few high spots where I'll want to pick special players. Generally I avoid tight ends until very late in rookie drafts or sometimes not at all, but I think this year could be the exception.

The RB and WR position seems to have some talented prospects, but also some looming off the field issues and some doubts about scheme flexibility and impact out of the gate. On the flip side, the tight end position sports at least three prospects would could crack the first round or in the very least, the top 40 picks. The talent and opportunity is there to make this an outlier year for tight ends, and perhaps a position you might want to pay up for.

 

Jeff Miller

Even though the draft class hasn't provided the volume of potential superstars many predicted a year ago, there are six very good players at the top and another dozen or more who have a higher than usual chance of being valuable dynasty assets. Considering the 2016 draft ran out of steam in the late first round, I'd say we are looking at a pretty solid group. Because of that depth, there are a few different ways to find value. Many are doing what they can to move back from the 1.01-1.02 to the 1.04-1.06 range. Doing so while nabbing extra assets is a viable strategy, but so is trading up into those top couple spots, as it is cheaper to do so than in recent years. If you are looking for a lower stakes option, accumulating picks in the 2.01-2.08 range is a cheaper alternative that gives you a great shot and landing a good player or three.

Regardless of where my roster composition is, I always shop my first round picks. Very often someone is willing to overpay in a fashion that can help either a win-now or a rebuilding team. I'd say this class has a greater chance of providing a quick return than most. Highly drafted running backs, of which this draft has the potential to produce five or six, tend to get on the field right away. There are four receivers who should go in your rookie draft's first round who are ready to produce from the word go. Dig a bit deeper and players like Connor Kupp are likely to be available into the latter part of the second round. With the right landing spot, he could become an immediate WR3. It isn't often you can find that more than 20 picks in.

How to secure an edge in your upcoming dynasty rookie draft

Matt Harmon

Recently, I am more inclined to secure a top-four pick in this rookie draft than at any point since the 2015 season ended. Through my own analysis and the incoming data from the pre-NFL Draft process, I believe I’ll end up rather even split on the fantasy outlooks of the top trio of Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman. With Ezekiel Elliot the presumptive 1.01 favorite, those three are likely to follow off the board.

They could conceivably go in any order, but I’d be equally thrilled to land any on my dynasty team. They all bring different positives to the table. If you’re standing at picks one through three, consider making a trade down with the owner of the 1.04. Pick up some other usable assets for your dynasty roster, and be more than content to scoop up whichever of those three wideouts falls to you. As a bonus, if Derrick Henry ends up in a too-good-to-be-true landing spot, you’re in a prime position to key-in on him.

John Sarmento

I focus on draft capital in the run up to the NFL Draft. What a team invests in a player is important, especially a first or high second round pick. That's usually a good indicator of how a team feels about a player, and expectations on that player’s Year One impact. It's something that I use when setting up my rookie draft strategy. Do you expect five receivers, two running backs and four quarterbacks in round one? That's roughly one-third of the first round. That means you need to identify the best players in that group and maximize your picks.

The first two rounds of your league's rookie draft should likely contain most of the Year One impact players. Last year we saw two quarterbacks make an impact. This year we may see none. Each year is different, and we shouldn't waste a high first round pick if we think the class isn't strong. It's better to make 1-2 early picks in a soft year, and look to obtain future first round picks at the expense of position-needy league mates. You'll learn about how to leverage these strategies when you sign up with Draft Day Consultants.

Nathan Powell

The days and weeks leading up to the NFL Draft are a critical time for dynasty owners. As the NFL Draft approaches, you should identify your target players for your rookie drafts and projecting where those rookies could go in rookie drafts based on pre-Draft mock drafts and other indicators of how teams might approach the draft. Then you can begin maneuvering your rookie picks up or down in the draft. A popular move in dynasty leagues is to trade early second round picks for future first rounders. With the hype continuing to build around the 2017 class, you may not be able to do that, but maybe you can get 1.06 or 1.07 and get one of your favorite players in this class for the price of your 2017 first. Even if your team is a contender, the rookie draft is not a time to reach for a position of need.

If you don't have a starting quarterback or only have two or three running backs on your roster, you still have three months after June rookie draft to make trades before you have to set a lineup in September.

Avoid the auto-draft nightmare

Machines are amazing things, and while they might one day rule over us in a Matrixesque dystopia, I'll never trust machines to draft my fantasy football team.

You can fidget with your pre-draft rankings all you want, but the failing of the auto-draft system is a lack of flexibility. You set your ranks expecting one thing, and when you return to your computer hours after the draft is finished and rosters are in place, you realize something totally different transpired.

Everyone waited on quarterbacks. Running backs went hot and heavy in the first two rounds. A few teams took receivers with their first four picks. All of these scenarios require on-the-fly adjustment -- something auto-draft, no matter how you try, can deliver.

Let's not forget that most major fantasy sites have pre-set ranks that leave, well, something to be desired. A team created with those rankings is something close to dead on arrival.

We've all missed fantasy drafts. Life happens. We have family and work and other myriad responsibilities that keep us away from our draft room on draft night. It's horrific; it's enough to make my stomach sink just writing about it.

It's the auto-draft nightmare, and Draft Day Consultants, Inc., wants to help you avoid it in the coming weeks. We'll connect you with one of our industry-leading consultants, who will have an in-depth exchange about your league settings and your league mates' tendencies. The consultant will simply step in for you on draft night and create a robust, reliable squad that a machine never could.

Check out our offerings today and let us help you avoid the horror of an auto-drafted fantasy team.

Hire a consultant for one draft, dominate the rest

A new season brings with it fresh challenges, even for the most veteran of fake football fiends.

The unavoidable learning curve must be mounted, no matter if you've played fantasy for several years or none at all. Oftentimes this abrupt reentry into the NFL's orbit occurs immediately before partaking in multiple drafts.

Why not sign up for a consultation for your first draft of the season? You can use the knowledge gleaned from a lengthy one-on-one interaction with a seasoned Draft Day Consultants (DDC) staff member to dominate the rest of your drafts.

Player news, draft trends, and general strategies will all be discussed at length as you draft your initial team - giving you a decided leg up on the rest of your competition as the summer unfolds. Plus after the consultation you'll have a DDC-approved roster and the rest of that early-bird league won't know what hit them.

The folks at DDC are engaged year-round. Clients can not only use this to their advantage (and their league mates' disadvantage) by enlisting our services for their first draft, but they can take that knowledge with them after a crash-course in the best strategies to crush 2014 fantasy leagues.

Overcoming cognitive biases in fantasy drafts: The false-consensus effect

Cognitive bias refers to an erroneous way of thinking that occurs when people process and interpret information that is made available to them, and filter that information through their personal preferences.

While most decision makers like to think that they are being logically sound, our brain naturally takes shortcuts that can lead to poor decision making.

One particular cognitive bias that can be especially costly to fantasy owners, both during their drafts and throughout the season (think waiver wire pickups and trades), is the false-consensus effect. A false-consensus effect comes about when someone thinks that their beliefs about a particular subject are shared by the majority, when in fact the masses actually disagree.

The reverse can also take place, where someone presumes that they are the only one with a certain point of view, while most people actual feel the same way.

For fantasy footballers, this psychological shortcut can be detrimental on draft day. Let's assume that you get your hands on Denny Carter's always perfect draft day sleepers and you have your late round quarterback target (let's call him Mike Glennon). After you hear Denny praise Glennon all summer, the evidence is so heavy in Glennon's favor that he's an obvious choice on draft day, and everyone knows it.

You don't want to miss out on your hidden gem, and you draft Glennon in the 9th round, as the 12th signal caller off the board. But drafting Glennon was a huge mistake. This particular league is hosted on ESPN, a site that had Glennon ranked as the 21st quarterback with an ADP at pick 14.08.

Since it's a home league that has been running for the better part of a decade, we know that most owners almost always stick to site consensus rankings. When it comes to filling the QB slot, more than four out of 12 owners have drafted backup quarterbacks just once in the league's history. There was that guy that had to go to a wedding that was on auto-pick, as well.

If our Glennon enthusiast had taken all the information available into account, he could have easily snagged him four or five rounds later.

Similar scenarios are not uncommon on draft day, and those reaches can often be attributed to the false-consensus effect. Most of the time, this cognitive bias goes unnoticed for the simple fact that a person believes what they believe to be true. (Otherwise, why would they believe it?)

An educated, outside perspective, which you will get from Draft Day Consultants, Inc., can help you avoid the false-consensus effect by offering objective analysis that carefully considers all relevant factors on draft day.

We encourage you to do your homework and tell us which late round targets you like, but your edge will come when we explain how and why you should approach picking up those mid to late round studs. If, and when, you miss out on a particular player, we'll explain why it's probably a good thing, and help you adjust properly.

See you in the draft lobby.

-TJ Hernandez

Rookie drafts: our consultants can help

Undoubtedly, rookie drafts are the most important, and most difficult, aspect of dynasty fantasy football leagues. If you screw up your first round rookie pick and don't make up for it in the later rounds, you are looking at negative consequences for your roster for years to come.

Not only does that pressure exist, but rookie evaluations are hard.

At Draft Day Consultants, Inc., we're able to dedicate our days to studying football. As a normal human being with friends and hobbies, that just isn't realistic. Our dynasty consultants have studied all eligible rookies from every possible angle over the past few months. They have watched the tape, studied the advanced metrics, know the height, weight and 40 time of every player who could possible make a difference for your dynasty team.

Given that information, we at DDC, Inc. have decided to offer consultation services for your rookie drafts, as well as your start-up dynasty drafts, IDP leagues and standard re-draft leagues. Have an eight-round rookie draft where you need to scour the Undrafted Free Agents for some extra value? We have you covered.

Just want to make sure you are doing the right thing with your 1.01? Don't worry, we can put your mind at ease.

-Davis Mattek

How (and where) we secure an advantage for you

The expertise of Draft Day Consultants' fantasy analysts stretches across the various parts of a draft. It's in the middle and late rounds, however, that championship teams are built, and that's where we'll help you dominate your draft this summer.

Anyone with a pulse and some understanding of football will snag a high-end fantasy option with their first few picks. Those picks are whiffable, of course, but hardly anyone gains an edge on the competition as the most sought-after players fly off the draft board in the opening rounds.

It's not until the middle rounds that astute -- and well studied -- fantasy owners can find what we like to call draft day equity, or gaps between where a guy is being drafted and how many fantasy points he might score this season. When owners look back at their various drafts, it will almost always be rounds 7, 8, 9, and beyond that will make their eyes widen with surprise. That guy was drafted in the eighth?

The 2013 season was no different. Jamaal Charles, Jimmy Graham, and Calvin Johnson were on plenty of title-winning fantasy squads, but a look at a list of the most common players on championship teams will show that the likes of Knowshon Moreno (an 11th round pick), Josh Gordon (an 8th round pick), Harry Douglas, and Zac Stacy were keys to winning teams. Julius Thomas, fantasy's third highest scoring tight end, was drafted as a late-round flier.

Antonio Brown, fantasy's eighth highest scoring receiver, was selected in the fifth round. Twenty receivers were taken before Pierre Garcon, who ended the season as a top-12 option. Twenty-three running backs were drafted before Eddie Lacy (fantasy's No. 7 back) left the draft board in 2013. These players -- and many more -- ended up on many of our consultants' fantasy teams, and they reaped the benefits.

Domination of the middle rounds and the all-important waiver wire are the difference between mediocrity and excellence in fantasy football. Draft Day Consultants understands this, and we focus our attention on exploiting massive inefficiencies in the middle and latter parts of the draft. Anyone who hires us as consultants will agree, if not on draft day then by mid-season.

The diminutive Jonathan Bales has done groundbreaking work on where, exactly, we can find the best draft day values. His research shows that almost half of picks made between picks 61-75 outperform their average draft positions, while only one in four players selected in the 31-45 range do the same. A shockingly low 11 percent of players selected in the first 15 picks outperform their respective ADPs, according to Bales. It's all fantastic data that makes a clear point: leagues are won in the middle rounds, not the early rounds.

Our consultants, during pre-draft discussions with clients, will highlight players who are undervalued and being taken in the middle and late rounds. Remember: we've spent all off-season examining the fantasy ramifications of every coaching change, draft pick, and free agency signing. Our consultants run through dozens of mock drafts before the real thing. It's our passion -- that will shine through during your fantasy draft.

We'll help you own the middle and late rounds.

-Denny Carter

Welcome to Draft Day Consultants: Why is this service superior to Twitter questions?

Why, you might ask, would I shell out money for consultation when for years I've gotten advice from fantasy analysts on Twitter for free?

It's a perfectly reasonable question, and one that I considered quite a bit while constructing Draft Day Consultants, Inc.

Our consultants have (and will) answer questions tossed their way on the Twitter Machine by fantasy owners doing everything they can to gain and maintain an edge on the competition. We respect that. You're invested in your teams.

The live help we offer during online fantasy football drafts is unique and clearly not replicable on Twitter. You usually have 30 or 60 or 90 seconds to make your pick. Twitter works fast, but not that fast. Our draft day consultation would be one of our seasoned consultants in the draft room with you, scouring the draft board for the kind of screaming values that win leagues, season after season, no matter the format. We will offer nothing more or less than advice on what we would do in a particular situation. It's your team, it's your league -- we're simply there to help.

After the smoke from draft day clears and you're faced with 16 or 17 weeks of sometimes gut-wrenching decision making, why would you pay for our advice when you could simply send a question our way via tweet?

I helped two longtime friends and two family members during the 2013 season, offering my reasoned advice on almost every waiver wire transaction and trade proposal. I was deeply familiar not only with the makeup of their teams -- their strengths and weaknesses -- but with the leagues. It didn't take long to familiarize myself with the caliber of each league. I understood who to prioritize on the waiver wire and what to ask for in trades. My friends' leagues became my leagues.

The advice I've offered on Twitter is in a vacuum. I try my best to grasp what, exactly, would be best for each fantasy owner who has a question about an upcoming transaction, but with hundreds of queries pouring in every week, offering rock-solid consultation isn't just difficult -- it's impossible.

Our consultants -- experienced fantasy pros I would trust with my own teams -- will give you the in-depth assistance that we cannot possibly offer on Twitter. Your leagues, as I'm sure you'll see, will become our leagues, and while there's no guarantee of a championship run, paying our reasonable fee will secure an undeniable edge on your league mates, no matter how experienced.

-Denny Carter