Expert lessons from the PFF Friends & Family dynasty rookie draft

When the smartest minds in the fantasy business get together, you can pick up some strong takeaways. Dan Schneier recaps the draft.

| 6 days ago
Corey Davis

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Expert lessons from the PFF Friends & Family dynasty rookie draft

The PFF Friends & Family dynasty league gets together once a year for an email rookie draft that picks up the pace immediately. The rookie draft is the lifeline of any dynasty league, and in PFF F&F, it’s the time to declare yourself a buyer or seller for the coming seasons. The best way to do that is via trade, and this rookie draft featured 11 total trades in just seven rounds.

There were twists and turns, and early nods to IDP players who could end up emerging as difference-makers. Even the first pick overall was a bit unorthodox when compared to early ADP. It turned out to be one of the most active and memorable rookie drafts I can remember. Let’s jump right into the action.

Round 1

1.01 Joey Cartolano Corey Davis TEN WR Pick traded from Mike Clay
1.02 Mike Clay Leonard Fournette JAX RB Pick traded from Joey Cartolano
1.03 Dan Schneier Christian McCaffrey CAR RB
1.04 Jeff Ratcliffe Joe Mixon CIN RB
1.05 Wes Huber Dalvin Cook MIN RB Pick traded from Pat Thorman and Nathan Jahnke
1.06 Wes Huber Mike Williams LAC WR
1.07 Mike Clay Kareem Hunt KC RB Pick traded from Shawn Siegele
1.08 Akshay Anand O.J. Howard TB TE Pick traded from Ross Miles
1.09 Nathan Jahnke John Ross CIN WR
1.10 Tyler Loechner Samaje Perine WAS RB
1.11 Scott Spratt JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT WR
1.12 Akshay Anand Alvin Kamara NOS RB

The draft started off with a bang, when Joey Cartolano traded with Mike Clay to move up one spot. Don’t worry though, he didn’t pull a Ryan Pace and give up the world to move up one spot and select Mitchell Trubisky. The cost for Joey to move back was simply five draft spots in the second round. Having said that, in a dynasty rookie draft, the No. 14 vs. No. 18 pick makes a difference as value thins out in the second round. As long as Mike wasn’t married to one prospect, and he never seems to be, the deal should work out well for his franchise. Joey gets the player he has a clear tier above the rest and who fits his roster best.

Nathan made it clear that he was willing to move one of his two first-round picks and Wes swooped in with an interesting offer for what was once Pat’s pick. Wes traded DeAndre Hopkins for pick 1.05, Marshawn Lynch, and pick 2.09. It was a massive haul for Hopkins, for sure, but Nate grabs a proven long-term asset who is expected to remain in Houston as their franchise receiver. In the short term, this deal could look very good for Wes. Consider this: Latavius Murray was one of the least effective starting running backs in the NFL in 2016, and he still managed 12 touchdowns with this Raiders supporting cast.

Considering the track record of receivers versus running backs in dynasty leagues, it’s interesting to see Mike Williams fall to No. 6 overall. His short-term back injury may have played a slight role. Kareem Hunt and Samaje Perine don’t project as your typical first-round running backs from a talent standpoint, but they both posted excellent elusive ratings (forced missed tackles and yards after contact) and their paths to playing time are fairly clear.

Howard at 1.08 is a testament to who he is as a prospect. He combines 4.51 speed (at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds) with an exceptionally high overall grade from our PFF Draft analysts. Tight ends don’t usually go in Round 1, but Howard is an exception.

John Ross continues to be underappreciated both in dynasty and redraft leagues. The fastest player in combine history also wins with savvy route-running, according to our analysts. He’s more of a complete prospect than given credit for here.

Round 2

2.01 Mike Clay David Njoku CLE TE
2.02 Mike Clay Zay Jones BUF WR Pick traded from Joey Cartolano
2.03 Dan Schneier Evan Engram NYG TE
2.04 Jeff Ratcliffe Chris Godwin TB WR
2.05 Wes Huber Curtis Samuel CAR WR Pick traded from Pat Thorman
2.06 Wes HUber D’Onta Foreman HST RB
2.07 Joey Cartolano Carlos Henderson DEN WR Pick traded from Shawn Siegele and Mike Clay
2.08 Ross Miles Joe Williams SF RB
2.09 Wes Huber Taywan Taylor TEN WR Pick traded from Nathan Jahnke
2.10 Tyler Loechner Marlon Mack IND RB
2.11 Scott Spratt ArDarius Stewart NYJ WR
2.12 Akshay Anand Myles Garrett CLE DE

There were several second-round picks traded from previous seasons, as you can tell above, but only one deal was struck during the draft that involved a second-round pick. After dealing Hopkins for two premium picks and Lynch, Wes continued to unload current assets in an attempt to rebuild his team for the future. Wes traded Doug Martin and Duke Johnson to Pat for Pick 2.05, Pick 5.05, and a 2018 third-rounder. Martin has received glowing reviews from Bucs camp so far and the Tampa Bay offense stands to take a step forward in year three with Jameis Winston after adding DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard into the mix. Johnson was a premium draft pick during his rookie season. This seems like a hefty sum to unload when you consider the return. It’s possible that Wes was so high on Samuel that he didn’t want to take a chance on someone scooping him before his pick at 2.09.

Engram rounds out three tight ends selected in the first 15 picks overall. This highlights the unique strength of this tight end class. Njoku and Howard are more of the traditional style tight ends, but Engram could find himself used mostly as a “big slot” in Ben McAdoo’s offense. Savvy owners could find themselves with a receiver who qualifies at tight end — this should remind everyone of the old-school days when Marques Colston qualified at tight end.

Jeff’s second-round pick was recently compared to Roddy White by his head coach. Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter worked with White for several years. Not a bad haul here for Jeff at No. 16 overall. Williams was handpicked by Kyle Shanahan and his new regime. We saw what that meant for Tevin Coleman in Atlanta after Shanahan arrived.

It’s an IDP league and our first defensive player comes off the board at the end of round two and he’s a defensive end. Garrett definitely has a chance to be special, but it might be tough for him to separate himself in the stats that produce fantasy point and there will be plenty of potential stat-grabbers at defensive end in the final rounds.

Round 3

3.01 Mike Clay Jarrad Davis DET LB
3.02 Pat Thorman Kenny Golladay DET WR Pick traded from Joey Cartolano
3.03 Dan Schneier Jamaal Williams GB RB
3.04 Jeff Ratcliffe Deshaun Watson HST QB
3.05 Joey Cartolano Jeremy McNichols TB RB Pick traded from Pat Thorman
3.06 Wes Huber Gerald Everett LAR TE
3.07 Pat Thorman Jonnu Smith TEN TE Pick traded from Shawn Siegele and Mike Clay
3.08 Ross Miles James Conner PIT RB
3.09 Nathan Jahnke Reuben Foster SF LB
3.10 Tyler Loechner Patrick Mahomes KC QB
3.11 Scott Spratt Jamal Adams NYJ S
3.12 Akshay Anand Aaron Jones GB RB

Our third round featured two new trades. In perhaps the most perplexing trade of the draft, at least from my vantage point, Pat gave up Pick 3.05 and Erik Swoope to grab 3.02 and a 2018 third-round pick from Joey. Maybe Joey knows something about Swoope that we don’t. The converted basketball player is 6-5, 257 pounds and averaged 19.8 yards per catch in 2016 — he is still just 25 years old and he is now No. 2 on the Colts depth chart at tight end.

Pat continued his aggressive ways in the third round. Clearly, he saw a lot of value to be had in this round. He traded a 2018 second-round pick and Theo Riddick to Mike for Tyrod Taylor, pick 3.07, and a 2018 fourth-round pick.

Linebacker Jarrad Davis comes off the board to start Round 3, giving us back-to-back IDP players. Davis has the look of a prototypical IDP star — he plays in the middle at linebacker, he’s aggressive in the run game, and he can blitz.

The first QB comes off the board 3.04 with DeShaun Watson. You won’t find a wider range of opinions on rookie QB dynasty value than in a dynasty rookie draft. Patrick Mahomes, a long-term favorite, went off the board a few picks later. Mitchell Trubisky — No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft — remains on the board after Round 3.

Jonnu Smith is the player Pat traded a future second-round pick to make sure he snagged. The pick shows savvy by Pat. Smith is a small-school prospect who tore up the combine. Titans starter Delanie Walker is entering his age-33 season and the Titans like to use 12 personnel (two tight ends).

Round 4

4.01 Mike Clay Chad Williams ARZ WR
4.02 Joey Cartolano Elijah Hood OAK RB
4.03 Dan Schneier Dede Westbrook JAX RWR
4.04 Shawn Siegele Haason Reddick ARZ LB Pick traded from Jeff Ratcliffe
4.05 Wes Huber Brian Hill ATL RB Pick traded from Pat Thorman
4.06 Wes Huber Cooper Kupp LAR WR
4.07 Shawn Siegele Jabrill Peppers CLE S Pick traded from Shawn Siegele and Mike Clay
4.08 Ross Miles Josh Reynolds LAR WR
4.09 Nathan Jahnke Mitchell Trubisky CHI QB
4.10 Tyler Loechner Ryan Switzer DAL WR
4.11 Scott Spratt DeShone Kizer CLE QB
4.12 Akshay Anand Wayne Gallman NYG RB

Jeff did his best Bill Belichick impression and swapped 4.04 for Shawn’s 2018 third-round pick. Shawn is clearly high on the prospect of Haason Reddick, with a linebacker position designation, mixing in off the edge and in different spots for an aggressive Cardinals defense.

Blockbuster trades can happen at any time in a dynasty rookie draft. That was the case in Round 4m when Shawn and Mike came to an agreement. Shawn sent his 2018 first-round pick, his 2018 fourth-round pick, and his 2018 seventh-round pick to Mike for the rights to Zay Jones and the 4.07 pick. Mike had grabbed Jones at 2.02.

Westbrook offers the Jaguars receiver corps something they don’t have — 4.34 speed. He led all draft-eligible receivers in yards per route run (4.08) and forced 20 missed tackles in 2016.

It’s interesting to see Trubisky drop all the way to No. 45 overall, but it’s even more interesting to see Kizer come off the board just two picks later. This goes to show how much on effect early offseason buzz can have. At the time of this draft, Kizer’s name was being tossed around as an immediate starter. Neither quarterback should play much for either fantasy manager’s team in 2017.

To this point, only six IDP players have been selected in the Top 48.

Round 5

5.01 Mike Clay Donnel Pumphrey PHI RB
5.02 Joey Cartolano No pick
5.03 Dan Schneier Mack Hollins PHI WR
5.04 Jeff Ratcliffe Elijah McGuire NYJ RB
5.05 Wes Huber Zach Cunningham HST LB Pick traded from Pat Thorman
5.06 Wes Huber Derek Barnett PHI DE
5.07 Jeff Ratcliffe Adam Shaheen CHI TE Pick traded from Shawn Siegele
5.08 Ross Miles Raekwon McMillan MIA LB
5.09 Nathan Jahnke Chad Hansen NYJ WR
5.10 Mike Clay Alex Anzalone NOS LB Pick traded from Tyler Loechner
5.11 Scott Spratt Amara Darboh SEA WR
5.12 Akshay Anand Jake Butt DEN TE

(Note: There is a roster limit in the league, and teams must immediately cut down to it after the draft, so in some instances, owners simply passed on their option to draft a player when their roster was otherwise full.)

Hansen was one of the most efficient receivers in the NCAA in 2016 at Cal and is a darkhorse to emerge as a bigger threat for the Jets receiver corps than Stewart in the short term. He’s a good value here.

Shaheen was selected in the second round of the actual NFL draft — he lasted all the way to the fifth round at No. 55 overall here. The Bears management thinks Jeff got the absolute steal of the draft with Shaheen here.

Pumphrey is already getting ”significant work” with the first-team offense.

Round 6

6.01 Mike Clay Takkarist McKinley ATL DE
6.02 Joey Cartolano Ishmael Zamora OAK WR
6.03 Dan Schneier Chad Kelly DEN QB
6.04 Jeff Ratcliffe Solomon Thomas SF DT
6.05 Wes Huber Malik Hooker IND S Pick traded from Pat Thorman
6.06 Wes Huber Robert Davis WAS WR
6.07 Shawn Siegele Tarik Cohen CHI RB Pick traded from Shawn Siegele and Tyler Loechner
6.08 Ross Miles Bucky Hodges MIN TE
6.09 Nathan Jahnke No pick Pick traded from Tyler Loechner
6.10 Shawn Siegele T.J. Logan ARZ RB
6.11 Scott Spratt Malachi Dupre GB WR
6.12 Akshay Anand Jalen Reeves-Maybin DET LB

Tyler really wanted Panthers safety Mike Adams, so he shipped picks 6.07 and 6.10 to Shawn, who has always loved to clean up with additional picks in the late rounds of this draft.

In a standard late-round dynasty rookie trade, Wes grabbed 6.05 from Pat for a 2018 fifth-round pick.

Kelly got injured and it has set him back during OTAs, but his college numbers rivaled both quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart and he played in the SEC. Cohen has impressed early on in OTAs and could earn the passing down role right away in Chicago.

Thomas was a top pick in the actual NFL draft for a reason. He consistently creates pressure and this could and should lead to him emerging as a productive IDP find. Jeff may look back at this as the pick he’s most proud of.

Round 7

7.01 Wes Huber De’Angelo Henderson DEN RB Pick traded from Mike Clay
7.02 Joey Cartolano No pick
7.03 Dan Schneier George Kittle SFO TE
7.04 Tyler Loechner Devante Mays GB RB Pick traded from Jeff Ratcliffe
7.05 Pat Thorman Budda Baker ARZ S
7.06 Wes Huber T.J. Watt PIT LB
7.07 Tyler Loechner Jordan Leggett NYJ TE Pick traded from Shawn Siegele
7.08 Shawn Siegele Matt Breida SF RB Pick traded from Ross Miles
7.09 Nathan Jahnke Michael Roberts DET TE
7.10 Tyler Loechner Jehu Chesson KC WR
7.11 Scott Spratt Charles Harris MIA DE
7.12 Akshay Anand Jonathan Allen WAS DE

In a dynasty rookie, the trades never stop. The seventh round saw two minor trades. Mike sent 7.01 to Wes for his 2018 sixth-rounder. Note: Wes approached all 11 members about trading into Round 7. He must be excited about Henderson. Ross sent 7.08 to Shawn for his 2018 sixth-rounder.

Kittle is already running with the first-team offense in San Francisco and Kyle Shanahan’s scheme is very tight end-friendly. Watt is in a solid spot to make some early noise in IDP.

Dan Schneier is a staff writer for PFF Fantasy, a former FOX Sports NFL scribe, and an auction format enthusiast.