It is rookie draft season and the questions that came into this week's mailbag make that clear. I will be updating my rookie-only rankings next week, but until then I thought this was a good place to discuss where I'm at on the current class. I've grouped a bunch of rookie questions into the very first topic this week and I'll try to answer all of them in one big swoop.
I also realize many of you have already had your rookie drafts, and you may have trades on your mind. To that end, there's another section on trading veteran wide receivers at a time when a few of them look like they may be going the way of A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
Finally I dove into some tight end questions and a question I don't think we've ever had before but should have: How do you know if you're a contender?
Let's get started with the rookies.
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Rookie Draft advice
In a 10 team SF at 1.08 with a team stacked at WR, would you reach on Cook or just take the best WR available?— Berto (@Berto5_14) May 17, 2022
If Watson, Pickens, Cook and Dotson are sitting there at 1.10 in a rookie only draft, 12 team ppr, which player would you prefer at that spot? Looking for a player that can contribute this season and beyond— jord (@jcantutwentytwo) May 17, 2022
Rookie only 4 round draft. Who would you be targeting at 1.4? Any other sneaky rookies to look at for the other rounds? 4th pick in each round— BDC (@BDunphyCulp) May 17, 2022
how do you value the Tier 2 rookie WRs and where you can draft them compared to the rookie WRs?— Michael Higgins Sr. (@Shonuffbhz) May 17, 2022
Ex. Burks in the 1st compared to Pickens in the 2nd rdbof rookie drafts
I've got the 1.01, 7, 9 through 11 and 2.02 in an upcoming 1 qb dynasty draft. Team needs rb and wr. Besides hall who else would you target with the other picks?— Todd Burrell (@ToddBurrellFL) May 17, 2022
Let's start with a brief overview of where I'm at with the rookie class, and I'm going to use my recent Dynasty Trade Chart as a way of quantifying it. I think that will answer many of these questions, then I'll circle back the ones I miss.
The first takeaway is that Breece Hall is in a class of his own. The difference between him and 1.02 (Drake London) is 8.6 points on the trade chart. But then there's not much separation at all. Here's my current top 12 with their trade chart value, to show the tier breaks:
1. Breece Hall 36.7
2. Drake London 28.1
3. Garrett Wilson 27.8
4. Kenneth Walker 27.3
5. Treylon Burks 26.5
6. Chris Olave 25.7
7. Jameson Williams 25.1
8. Jahan Dotson 21.9
9. George Pickens 20.7
10. James Cook 19.6
11. Christian Watson 19.1
12. Skyy Moore 15.1
I can tell you from experience I am lower on Moore than the field, by a pretty significant margin. I may be slightly higher on Dotson and Pickens as well. As I've often said the past month, my biggest takeaway is that I'm trying to trade out of picks two through four for picks five through seven to gain 2023 draft capital. I'm also trying to trade picks just outside of the top seven to get back into that range.
As for Cook versus the rookie receivers, I'd be fine taking him as early as 1.08 as long as my top seven are gone. In a lot of drafts, Moore goes before Olave or Williams, and in that case I would still take the receiver. Among that second tier of players, I do have Cook ranked the highest in 2022 redraft, so I would especially prefer him on a contender that needs a running back.
Selling older wide receivers
What trade value does davante Adams hold for a rebuilding team?— Mitch Needham (@needham22) May 17, 2022
I traded DHop for pick 1.12, did I panic sell or did I get decent value?— James Buschell (@Jbusch55) May 17, 2022
Do I package M. Thomas and or Nuk for a shot on Fournette?— Ed McComber (@edmccomber52) May 17, 2022
So, first off, this is absolutely the time to be considering the potential cliff that Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, and Michael Thomas could be heading towards. You can throw Cooper Kupp and Keenan Allen into that group as well. But there's a significant difference between Adams, Kupp, and Adams and the other two. I expect Adams, Kupp, and Allen to be top-10 wide receivers this year. I have no idea what to expect from Hopkins or Thomas. Put another way, you may have already missed your opportunity to trade the latter two for anything more than pennies on the dollar.
As for how I value them, I wouldn't trade Kupp for less than two first-round picks. For Adams, I would accept a top-seven pick in this year's draft and a 2023 second round pick (or a very early 2022 second). Hopkins, on my most recent trade chart, is between Rachaad White and John Metchie, or an early second-round pick. So I'd be pretty thrilled getting a first for him. I had Thomas worth a mid-first before the Jarvis Landry acquisition and news that he still has 'hurdles to clear'. Now I'd value him very close to Hopkins.
As for the Hopkins plus Thomas for Fournette deal, I don't love it because I can't make sense of it. All three of these players should only be rostered by contenders. But if you're a contender, do you really have enough wide receiver depth to not miss Hopkins and Thomas? I doubt it. But it's close enough that if you have three other starting receivers and a hole at running back, I could see doing it. It's possible none of these players have much Dynasty value by the end of this season.
Tight end strategy
Is it worth having a TE on your roster that has less than 3 years exp? Feels like every prospect I draft and stash dosent do anything until 3+ seasons— Y-The Big BLR (@TheBigBLR) May 17, 2022
Any TEs to take later in rookie drafts?— Zach Mutolo (@ZachMutolo) May 17, 2022
Well, I think people who drafted Kyle Pitts would disagree with the assessment that young tight ends never help you. But there is a decent point here, for non-elite tight ends it may be better to let someone else roster them and hold them for a couple of years. Then try to acquire them when they're cheaper. That's exactly what I would like to do with Cole Kmet this offseason, but his value may have already rebounded based on the possibility of what he could be. Irv Smith is another potential target.
That being said, Trey McBride and Greg Dulcich are the only tight ends I'm really excited about drafting in rookie drafts this year, and I wouldn't want to take either of them until Round 3. McBride in particular could be one to set a reminder on for 12 months from now. I don't expect much from him in his first two seasons in the league due to Zach Ertz, but I do think there's significant long-term upside in his profile.
Knowing your place
What is the best method for determining if your dynasty team is a “contender” or in rebuild mode? New dynasty player and trying to decide what direction to take my squads.— Bango (@Bango_Lancer) May 17, 2022
We'll finish with a one-off that I thought was a very good question. I talk a lot about how you should behave differently based on whether you're a contender or not. But it's not always easy to tell. Here are a few methods...
The easiest way to make this determination is probably by looking at last year's standings. Were you one of the top-four teams by record or (more importantly) points? Second, is there any reason to suspect your team will be significantly better or worse than it was last season?
If you're still not sure, I'd take a look at the rosters of your league mates. Look at maybe the top two or three rosters in the league. How much luck do you need to compete with those teams?
Finally, if you really can't tell, ask me on Twitter. Send me a screenshot of your roster along with the details about your league format and size, and I'll at least tell you what I think about it.