Rookie Fever Hangover

 

Condition: "Rookie Fever" while rookie fever is far from a new phenomenon it does for whatever reason appear to have lingering effects this offseason. For those who don’t know what rookie fever is, it is a contagious condition which occurs annually from March until June. Where dynasty owners make questionable decisions to obtain any and all rookies & draft picks that they can, regardless of the long term effect on their dynasty team.

Signs & Symptoms May Include But Not Limited Too:

  • Paying out the ass for draft picks for the months of March and April leading up to the NFL Draft. 

  • Sending out dozens of offers to the entire league despite the majority of the leaguemates not logging on since the Superbowl.

  • Updating your trade bait daily with any player over 25 years old and putting picks and prospects in the “Looking For” column.

  • Accepting trades you normally would reject instantly just because they include a draft pick you want in the upcoming rookie draft.

  • You & 90% of the owners in the league chat post that they are looking to trade back in the rookie draft and acquire more draft picks

  • Sending constant offers to owners that have been MIA since December, most of which go to their junk box, never received.

  • Making and accepting offers based 100% on hype and coach speak, especially if “Shanahan Bangs The Table” for a runningback.

  • You magically can find a direct path to success for every single player drafted including ALL of the undrafted free agents.

  • Suddenly feeling the need to trade proven dynasty commodities for 21 year olds who have never played an NFL down.

  • Thinking this is the crop of rookies to turn my team around, for the fifth consecutive season selling all proven players in the process

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Treatment: There is no known cure for the dreaded rookie fever, however it seems to affect more and more quality dynasty players each year. For the most part this only infects newer dynasty players in their first few rookie drafts. However experienced dynasty players can be just as prone to catching rookie fever as well. The best known treatment if you know you suffer from rookie fever annually. Is to simply remove your head from your ass, and don’t change your year long strategy and player valuations to acquire a bunch of unproven rookies. There are just as many fringe fantasy starters and busts yearly as there are reliable weekly starters all of which will be selected at some point in your rookie draft.

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With all of that being said I was surfing the dynasty startup ADP and couldn’t help but notice rookie fever is dragging on this offseason. It has been three months since the NFL hosted the 2020 draft, and judging by current dynasty ADP you would think the draft was last weekend. Don’t get me wrong there was an incredible amount of talent drafted into the league back in April. It is just hard to believe how highly some of these rookies are being drafted in dynasty startups prior to ever stepping on the field professionally. I will examine some of the rookies I feel have an inflated ADP and showcase some of the veteran options with similar ADP’s. In this article I will focus on rookie runningbacks. I feel it is worth pointing out that part of the reason for essentially all the top runningbacks having inflated ADP this offseason. Is that the vast majority of the industry agrees that zero wide receiver is the preferred draft strategy due to a scarcity of three down backs in the NFL these days. I have decided to include a few recent trades involving these players to highlight just how high the value of these rookies currently is. Some of these trades have owners paying an extremely high price for players who have yet to play professional football. Overpaying for players that play a position with the shortest NFL “shelf life” so to speak.

 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire LSU: 

Heigh/Weight/D.O.B. - 5’8/209/Apr 11, 1999

Drafted - 1:32 Kansas City Chiefs

2019 College PFF Grade - 85.1

2019 O-Line Ranking - 16th

2020 O-Line Projected Ranking - 12th

Dynasty Ranking - 16th (RB8)

Startup ADP - 15.50 (RB9) 13th Overall

Rookie ADP - 1.50 (RB1) 1st Overall

2019 Team Run% - 38.57% (23rd) Home - 37.17%, Away - 39.90%

Three Year Team Run% - 39.29% (17th)

2019 Rushing Attempts Per Game - 23.8 (27th)

2019 Rushing Yards Per Game - 101.5 (22nd)

Rushing TD % - 33.33% (17th)

2019 Runningback Targets - 111 (15th)

2019 Yards Per Game/Plays Per Game/Yards Per Play - 384.3 (4th) / 61.7 (25th) / 6.2 (2nd) 

2020 Projected Stats - 139/712/8TD/5.1YPC - 41/382/4TD/9.3YPR

Current Depth Chart - Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson, Elijah McGuire, Darrel Williams, DeAndre Washington

 

Edwards-Helaire was the first runningback drafted in the 2020 NFL draft as the Superbowl champion Chiefs used the final pick of the first round to select him. This was a dream landing spot for any stud rookie runningback and the dynasty community instantly anointed him the next Jamaal Charles. He is a very talented, versatile player with incredible explosiveness and the ability to take it to the house on any given play. However I do not agree with his current value. As far as his rookie ADP I personally think it’s laughable that CEH is being selected ahead of Jonathan Taylor, but that's just my opinion. There can be an argument made for any of the top five rookie runningbacks to be the first pick in rookie drafts. As Taylor, Edwards-Helaire, Swift, Dobbins, and Akers all offer unique opportunities with immense upside. When it comes to his startup ADP that is where I feel things are really skewed as CEH is being drafted as the RB9. Drafted ahead of players such as Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry, the aforementioned “Big 5” rookies. As well as being selected over some pretty incredible wide receivers such as Chris Godwin, D.J. Moore, Juju Smith-Schuster, A.J. Brown & Kenny Golladay. I completely understand why Edwards-Helaire’s ADP is as high as it is, he has incredible upside, offers versatility, and is only 21 years old. The knock on him is that many including myself have a difficult time envisioning him as a traditional three down workhorse back. It isn’t out of the question but it seems unlikely that he receives 250-300 touches per season. In the neighborhood of 150-200 touches seems more realistic, 120-140 carries with 30-50 receptions. So before you invest your rookie 1:01, or the 2:01 of a twelve team startup draft on him just ensure you know exactly what you are getting for the very steep price.

July 2020 Trades:

(24 Team PPR) Clyde Edwards-Helaire - Nick Chubb, J.J. Arcega Whiteside & 2021 3rd

DTC Results: 31.1 - 48.0

(10 Team 0.5PPR) Clyde Edwards-Helaire & Mecole Hardman - Davante Adams 

DTC Results: 46.2 - 55.5

(14 Team PPR) Clyde Edwards-Helaire - Jonathan Taylor

DTC Results: 31.1 - 31.7

(12 Team PPR) Clyde Edwards-Helaire - Josh Jacobs

DTC Results: 31.1 - 33.7

(16 Team PPR) Clyde Edwards-Helaire & Diontae Johnson - Derrick Henry

DTC Results: 50.6 - 28.6

 

Jonathan Taylor Wisconsin: 

Heigh/Weight/D.O.B. - 5’11/222/Jan 19, 1999

Drafted - 2:09 Indianapolis Colts

2019 College PFF Grade - 91.0

2019 O-Line Ranking - 3rd

2020 O-Line Projection - 1st

Dynasty Ranking - 17th (RB9)

Startup ADP - 16.00 (RB11) 15th Overall

Rookie ADP - 1.60 (RB2) 2nd Overall

2019 Team Run% - 46.36% (5th) Home - 43.35%, Away - 49.50%

Three Year Team Run% - 44.97% (9th)

2019 Rushing Attempts Per Game - 29.4 (4th)

2019 Rushing Yards Per Game - 133.1 (5th)

Rushing TD % - 40.48% (7th)

2019 Runningback Targets - 91 (24th)

2019 Yards Per Game/Plays Per Game/Yards Per Play - 327.4 (25th) / 63.5 (17th) / 5.2 (24th)

2020 Projected Stats - 212/1001/10TD/4.7YPC - 37/269/3TD/7.3YPR

Current Depth Chart - Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Darius Jackson, Bruce Anderson

 

For many leading up to the NFL draft Jonathan Taylor was the unquestioned first overall pick in rookie drafts. However being drafted only nine positions after the first runningback made him the third runningback selected. Despite landing on a team with arguably the top offensive line the dynasty community is somewhat down on him compared to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I love the landing spot and the prospect at 5’11, 222 pounds with 4.39 speed he offers the full package at the NFL level. Now combine that with the fact the Colts were the number three O-line last season and are ranked number one heading into the 2020 season. Also newly acquired free agent quarterback Phillip Rivers targeted his runningbacks a league high 182 times in 2019. Those factors appears to me as a recipe for success for a long time for Taylor. One of the only things standing in his way for immediate success is a somewhat crowded depth chart. I like Marlon Mack but he about to become virtually irrelevant in the Indianapolis offense. Especially considering the early second round draft capital invested in Taylor and the fact Mack is an unrestricted free agent following this season. Nyheim Hines is an effective third down back although if Taylor becomes the NFL player many anticipate him to be. Hines will be an afterthought similar to what Dion Lewis was to Derrick Henry last season. With all that being said Taylor has yet to play a down in the NFL and is being drafted ahead of some proven dynasty assets. It is essentially the same list of players that CEH is being drafted ahead of with the exception of Josh Jacobs who is sandwiched between the rookies in startup ADP. Some of those names include Derrick Henry, the remaining aforementioned rookie RB’s. As well as wide receivers such as Chris Godwin, D.J. Moore, Juju Smith-Schuster, A.J. Brown & Kenny Golladay.

July 2020 Trades:

(16 Team PPR) Jonathan Taylor & Jordan Wilkins - Chris Godwin & 2021 3rd

DTC Results: 32.3 - 42.1

(10 Team 0.5PPR) Jonathan Taylor - 2020 Picks 1:08 & 1:10 

DTC Results: 38.8 - 30.1

(14 Team PPR) Jonathan Taylor - Clyde Edwards-Helaire

DTC Results: 31.7 - 31.1

(12 Team PPR) Jonathan Taylor - Leonard Fournette & 2021 1st

DTC Results: 31.7 - 44.2

(16 Team PPR) Jonathan Taylor - Deebo Samuel & Denzel Mims

DTC Results: 31.7 - 29.6

 

J.K. Dobbins Ohio State: 

Heigh/Weight/D.O.B. - 5’10/214/Dec 17, 1998

Drafted - 2:23 Baltimore Ravens

2019 College PFF Grade - 84.0

2019 O-Line Ranking - 2nd

2020 O-Line Projection - 5th

Dynasty Ranking - 33rd (RB14)

Startup ADP - 24.83 (RB13) 21st Overall

Rookie ADP - 4.30 (RB4) 4th Overall

2019 Team Run% - 54.07% (1st) Home - 52.40%, Away - 56.04%

Three Year Team Run% - 48.92% (3rd)

2019 Rushing Attempts Per Game - 36.8 (1st)

2019 Rushing Yards Per Game - 204.8 (1st)

Rushing TD % - 32.31% (20th)

2019 Runningback Targets - 62 (29th)

2019 Yards Per Game/Plays Per Game/Yards Per Play - 414.8 (2nd) / 68.0 (3rd) / 6.1 (3rd)

2020 Projected Stats - 171/756/5TD/4.4YPC - 36/242/3TD/6.7YPR

Current Depth Chart - Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Bronson Rechsteiner

 

Dobbins is another incredibly talented rookie runningback who landed in an excellent situation being drafted by the Ravens in the second round. THE Ohio State product finds himself as the future lead back for superstar QB Lamar Jackson. Pretty much a dream landing spot as veteran Mark Ingram is already 30 years old and the Ravens are projected to have a top five offensive line in 2020. Dobbins offers a three down frame and skillset, but may have to wait until later in the season or 2021 to be the Ravens three down workhorse back. So with a veteran starter already entrenched as the number one back, and a second round startup ADP Dobbins price is currently too steep for me. Not because I feel he isn’t talented enough to one day justify his top 24 ADP, but because I have been around long enough to know. At some point during the 2020 season if Ingram is still working as the primary back it is inevitable that his price will become more affordable. Some players being drafted after Dobbins in startups that I would rather acquire at their current asking price are, A.J. Brown, Mike Evans, Kenny Golladay, Odell Beckham, Amari Cooper & D.K. Metcalf. All of the players I listed are established wide outs and in general have a much longer prime than the average runningback does. As I previously mentioned the reason for the current state of dynasty ADP is due to much of the industry being in agreement that zero wide receiver is the best draft strategy. This has inflated the ADP of all runningbacks and driven down the ADP of receivers simply due to supply and demand. I would have a very difficult time drafting a rookie runningback in the second round of a startup with those receivers still on the board.

July 2020 Trades:

(12 Team PPR SF) J.K. Dobbins & 2021 2nd - Matt Ryan & 2021 1st

DTC Results: 29.6 - 40.4

(12 Team PPR) J.K. Dobbins & Chase Edmonds - Miles Sanders 

DTC Results: 26.7 - 29.2

(12 Team 0.5PPR) J.K. Dobbins - DeAndre Hopkins

DTC Results: 25.1 - 44.6

(12 Team PPR) J.K. Dobbins - Davante Adams

DTC Results: 31.7 - 44.4

(12 Team 0.5PPR) J.K. Dobbins - 2020 Pick 1:08 & 2021 1st

DTC Results: 25.1 - 31.6

 

D’Andre Swift Georgia: 

Heigh/Weight/D.O.B. - 5’10/212/Jan 14, 1999

Drafted - 2:03 Detroit Lions

2019 College PFF Grade - 80.4

2019 O-Line Ranking - 11th

2020 O-Line Projection - 16th

Dynasty Ranking - 34rd (RB15)

Startup ADP - 29.83 (RB17) 30th Overall

Rookie ADP - 3.20 (RB3) 3rd Overall

2019 Team Run% - 39.86% (19th) Home - 41.04%, Away - 38.73%

Three Year Team Run% - 38.10%% (21st)

2019 Rushing Attempts Per Game - 25.4 (15th)

2019 Rushing Yards Per Game - 103.1 (21st)

Rushing TD % - 18.42% (31st)

2019 Runningback Targets - 101 (21st)

2019 Yards Per Game/Plays Per Game/Yards Per Play - 346.8 (16th) / 63.8 (14th) / 5.4 (18th)

2020 Projected Stats - 142/659/4TD/4.6YPC - 56/399/4TD/7.1YPR

Current Depth Chart - Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Wes Hills/, Jason Huntley

 

As the second runningback taken in the 2020 NFL draft D’AndreSwift was selected with the third pick of the second round. It was surprising to me that Detroit used a top 35 pick on a runningback with Kerryon Johnson on the roster who was an early second round pick in 2018. Johnson has only managed to play in 18 games in two years which likely contributed to the early selection of Swift. With two very talented young backs on the roster who are essentially the same size and offer similar skill sets. It is hard to imagine a scenario where they aren’t used interchangeably in a timeshare situation, at least until Kerryon Johnson is no longer a member of the Lions. Which if he plays out his contract will be after the conclusion of the 2021 season. The fact that a full on timeshare may ensue in Detroit for years, combined with the history of Motown being a graveyard for talented backs and an O-line projected to be bottom half of the league. Swift at 29th overall is way too expensive for me as a mid third round startup pick, that is a steep investment. With Amari Cooper, Odell Beckham, D.K. Metcalf, Calvin Ridley, D.J. Chark, and Courtland Sutton being drafted later than Swift. Many rookie runningbacks and wide receivers landed in very favorable situations, although Swift ending up in Detroit may be detrimental to his dynasty value. The talent is there however the situation is less than ideal, the O-line is mediocre, and history is not on Swift’s side. So tread cautiously when investing third round startup draft capital in D’Andre Swift.

July 2020 Trades:

(12 Team PPR SF) DeAndre Swift - Justin Herbert

DTC Results: 22.4 - 21.7

(12 Team PPR) DeAndre Swift & 2021 3rd - Kenyan Drake & 2021 1st 

DTC Results: 24.2 - 31.5

(12 Team 0.5PPR) DeAndre Swift & 2022 2nd - D.J. Moore

DTC Results: 25.9 - 34.8

(12 Team PPR) DeAndre Swift - K.J. Hill & 2, 2021 1st’s

DTC Results: 22.4 - 33.0

(12 Team PPR) DeAndre Swift - Jalen Reagor, Tony Pollard, & 2021 2nd

DTC Results: 22.4 - 26.4

(12 Team PPR) DeAndre Swift - Ronald Jones, Hunter Renfrow, & 2021 1st

DTC Results: 22.4 - 23.4

 

Cam Akers Floida State: 

Heigh/Weight/D.O.B. - 5’11/212/June 22, 1999

Drafted - 2:20 L.A. Rams

2019 College PFF Grade - 79.2

2019 O-Line Ranking - 31st

2020 O-Line Projection - 25th

Dynasty Ranking - 37th (RB17)

Startup ADP - 30.33 (RB18) 33th Overall

Rookie ADP - 5.70 (RB5) 5th Overall

2019 Team Run% - 38.01% (25th) Home - 39.73%, Away - 36.79%

Three Year Team Run% - 32.72% (30th)

2019 Rushing Attempts Per Game - 25.1 (17th)

2019 Rushing Yards Per Game - 93.7 (26th)

Rushing TD % - 43.48% (8th)

2019 Runningback Targets - 61 (31st)

2019 Yards Per Game/Plays Per Game/Yards Per Play - 374.9 (7th) / 65.9 (8th) / 5.7 (11th)

2020 Projected Stats - 179/776/9TD/4.3YPC - 31/267/3TD/8.6YPR

Current Depth Chart - Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, Cam Akers, John Kelly, James Gilbert, Xavier Jones

 

Many experts had Akers in their top three leading up to the NFL draft, some even had him as their RB1 pre draft. Which on talent alone I can see, Akers managed an incredible final season at Florida State considering his O-line was horrendous. Almost every time Akers carried the ball in 2019 he was hit by defenders in the backfield. Unfortunately that isn’t likely to change with the Rams as they ranked 31st as an offensive line in 2019 and are projected to be 25th in 2020. He also finds himself in a murky situation as far as the Rams backfield goes. With Malcolm Brown, 2019 third rounder and Twitter favorite Darrell Henderson, as well as John Kelly currently ahead of him on the depth chart. Akers has his work cut out for him to ascend the depth chart in 2020, although I ultimately believe that Akers will be the top RB for the Rams in the not too distant future. It was concerning to hear coach Sean McVay’s comments when recently asked about his backfield. McVay pointed to the division rival 49ers as a possible blueprint, noting how Kyle Shanahan assembled a top notch rushing attack without using any one player as a bellcow. Shanahan's approach is a stark contrast from what we've seen in Los Angeles, where Todd Gurley just ripped off four straight seasons with a snap share of 73.9%. Brown has the advantage of three years experience in McVay's system, while Henderson is probably the fastest of the bunch and might also prove to be the best receiving weapon. It was also a bit surprising to hear McVay mention Kelly, who has played just eight games through two pro seasons and was demoted to the practice squad at one point last fall. I would take the same list of players as I listed for D’Andre Swift over Cam Akers in a dynasty start up draft.

July 2020 Trades:

(12 Team PPR) Cam Akers & 2021 2nd - Kareem Hunt, Devin Duvernay & 2021 1st

DTC Results: 26.7 - 24.7

(12 Team PPR TE Premium) Cam Akers & 2021 1st - Travis Kelce & Kareem Hunt 

DTC Results: 36.9 - 44.9

(12 TeamPPR TE Premium) Cam Akers - Calvin Ridley & O.J. Howard

DTC Results: 21.8 - 24.9

(12 Team PPR) Cam Akers - Amari Cooper

DTC Results: 21.8 - 27.2

(12 Team PPR) Cam Akers & 2022 2nd - Le’Veon Bell & Marquise Brown

DTC Results: 24.8 - 25.0

(12 Team PPR) Cam Akers & 2021 1st - Joe Mixon, & 2021 2nd

DTC Results: 39.1 - 42.3

As you can see from the majority of the trades that have been completed over the course of the past month people are willing to pay a premium to own any of the top five rookie runningbacks. The fact that five rookie runningbacks are inside the top three rounds of startup drafts is quite remarkable. If they turn out to be anywhere as good their ADP indicates this may be a RB class for the ages. As I mentioned earlier, barring a huge start to the season for any of them, their current dynasty value should decrease as owners get impatient waiting for them to ascend their teams depth charts. I personally believe that of the five runningbacks Jonathan Taylor is the best dynasty asset, as I feel he is, and please excuse the overused term a “Generational Talent”. Not many runningbacks that are nearly 225 pounds can run a 4.39, 40. That almost defies physics.

By: @BMartzy