The NFL Draft and Your Dynasty Team
With so much draft talk lately, I started to wonder if there were any trends to look out for this week that would help my various dynasty teams. Obviously first round picks are popular, but was there a magic pattern or round where I could find that one player to lead me to dynasty glory?
In order to find this smoking gun, I looked at the top fantasy performers over the last five years to see where they were drafted. I took the top 12 performers at quarterback and tight end in a standard scoring league (according to our own PFF data) and the top 20 running backs and wide receivers and recorded which round they were selected in. I broke the data down by round and position.
While the results aren’t that surprising, I’ll definitely use some of the information for various rookie dynasty drafts. First, the numbers, and then some breakdowns:
Quarterback: With a whopping 63 percent of fantasy’s top performers at the position drafted in the first round, and clearing every other offensive position by more than 20 percent, it’s evident that drafting a first-round quarterback is the way to go.
Of course, they’re given a longer leash due to the added investment and coaching, but it still results in high production. Which isn’t to say there’s not value in Rounds 2-3 with a combined 22 percent of fantasy’s top performers but you can probably skip day three of the draft as only 9 percent of the top performers were drafted in the fourth round or later. Quarterbacks also had the lowest rate of undrafted top performers of any of the major offensive positions.
Running Back: Before looking at the numbers, I expected the running back position to have top performers drafted in every round. It’s true this is the only position that had a top performer from the last five years drafted in every single round, led by those drafted in the first round with 42 percent. It even led all other positions with 12 percent of top performers being undrafted.
However,of the numbers are uneven, with few players drafted Rounds 4-7. In fact, you’d do just as well with a player drafted in Rounds 4-7 as one that was undrafted. Needless to say, running backs can be found in a variety of places.
Wide Receiver: The wide receiver position had no discernible trends, with 39 percent of their top performers drafted in the first round, 18 percent drafted in the second, and 15 percent in the third round. None of the numbers were the best or worst among the other positions. Nor were there any spikes in Rounds 4-7 as they had 17 percent of top performers, good for second among the four positions. The only number that would be considered unique might be the number of undrafted performers at 11 percent.
Tight End: Perhaps the most interesting position in my research was tight end. While staying consistent with running back and tight end as far as Round 1 top performers (38 percent), nearly a quarter of the top performers at tight end were drafted in the third round. Tight ends also had the highest number of players drafted in the first four rounds (83 percent) behind only quarterbacks.
In conclusion, drafting a quarterback for your dynasty league that was picked in the first round is highly advisable. However, for running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, only 40 percent of fantasy’s top performers at each position were drafted in the first round.
Beyond the first round, the second round appears to be the limit at quarterback but for the rest, drafting someone who was selected in the second or third is viable. Perhaps most surprising was the fact that, across the board, you would do just as well picking someone for your dynasty team that was undrafted that was selected in rounds 4-7. It doesn’t mean you won’t find a diamond in the rough on the third day of the draft (See: Brady, Tom) but your chances are slim.