Recommending Rookies in Redraft

by The Podfather ·

My first piece of advice for any fantasy gamer is as follows: draft an inordinate number of rookie skill position players. A cursory review of annual ADP’s vs. Fantasy Points/Game reveals that rookie players often outperform their draft position and generally provide more value than than experienced players, particularly at the wide receiver and running back positions. The enhanced value is likely the result of the perceived risk accompanying anything new — the inherent uncertainty of never seeing a particular player perform at the NFL level can outweigh positive traits such as projected opportunity/target share and workout metrics.

For example, here were are the MyFantasyLeague ADPs (after August 1, 2014) of the first round wide receivers in 2014:

No. 72: Brandin Cooks
No. 78. Sammy Watkins
No. 83: Kelvin Benjamin
No. 100: Mike Evans
No. 209: Odell Beckham

All first-round rookie wide receivers returned positive redraft value last season. Even the excruciatingly overrated Sammy Watkins slipped to the No. 37 wide receiver off the board over the summer and finished 2014 as the No. 33 wide receiver in PPR Fantasy Points Per Game in 2014.

Without any other information, I’m targeting all early-round receivers from the 2015 NFL Draft: Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Phillip Dorsett and Breshad Perriman. Go ahead and throw in Devin Funchess and Dorial Green-Beckham, too.

The running back position also offers bountiful low-hanging fruit. Even the rookie with the highest redraft ADP in 2015, Melvin Gordon, is a value-pick. Despite possessing first round talent and landing a workhorse gig for an above average offense, Gordon is currently being drafted outside the top-12 running backs.

Beyond Melvin Gordon, the running back position in 2015 is stocked with undervalued redraft rookie assets such as Todd Gurley, Tevin Coleman, T.J. Yeldon, Ameer Abdullah, Duke Johnson, and Javorius “Buck” Allen.

Given that opportunity is a significant driver of redraft fantasy production, generally targeting any rookie who is projected to play a significant roles on offense is the most straightforward redraft tactic. Specifically targeting rookies with early-round draft capital in relatively high-volume situations can provide an even more compelling value proposition. Furthermore, dynasty league players who are more familiar with the intrinsic ability of specific rookie players are able to more confidently take advantage of the talent uncertainty that throttles down the cost of rookie players in many redraft leagues.