• Squib

Rookie Draft Picks: Christmas in April

Updated: May 27, 2020

Have you ever woken up Christmas morning as a child and saw a room filled with presents and just couldn’t hold back but to wake up your parents early, or as an adult who continues to spend weekly paychecks just for that feeling of hope a scratch-off ticket could land you millions? This week is Christmas morning and Friday paychecks being spent at the local gas station rolled into one. This week is NFL draft week.

Come Thursday all eyes will be on the best young players destined to be selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. If you are currently holding a first-round rookie pick in your fantasy league and you’re in need of wide receivers then you might as well be Santa Claus. This week is the perfect time to dangle your big red bag filled with presents across your league without them knowing if it’s a brand new bike or sack of coal. The thought and anticipation of holding a first-round draft pick during the NFL draft will cause owners in your league to overpay for such an asset just to see what’s inside.

The image below represents the high/low values of a draft pick vs player as the season progresses. The first peak for a draft pick values are surrounded by the combine hype before it takes a slight dip into “high value”, then again reaching peak value during rookie draft fever. If you missed out on Black Friday deals during the combine now is your chance to still get that package you desire before landing spots are determined.

Photo Credit: Erik Kortz

Looking back over the past five seasons, rookie wide receivers with a first-round ADP (average draft position) in rookie drafts haven’t performed very well thus far. Since 2015 there have been 24 receivers with a first round ADP according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Of those 24 receivers, only nine have produced as a top 24 (six in top 12) wide receiver in their career. Those 24 receivers have combined for 77 seasons in the NFL, in which only 16 combined seasons reached the mark of a WR2 or better. This is less than a 20% hit rate on players valued extremely highly in rookie drafts. Take out the four seasons from Michael Thomas as a WR1 plus Amari Cooper’s four seasons in the top 24 and you’re left with a 10% (8/69) hit rate. If it wasn’t for DeVante Parker’s fifth season break out this year, we wouldn’t even be blessed with a top 12 receiver since 2015 drafted in the first round of rookie drafts. You had better hope the player you draft delivers Cooper or Thomas type numbers and not the other 22 receivers if you, in fact, hold on to that pick.

The depth in this class is one of the best we have seen in years and I suggest, and plan on, taking full advantage of such a gift. First-round talent will fall to the second and so forth. To increase your percentage of drafting a receiver that becomes productive for you, you will need to recognize where value is hiding. In this scenario, the value lies in the second and third rounds of rookie drafts. The more second-round picks you can acquire the better chance you have of drafting a top receiver. Find that owner in your league who is willing to give up a handful of second/third round picks for your first and thank him for the extra 33% chance of finding a star.

Wide Receivers with second and third round ADP in 2020 are as follows:

2.02 Tee Higgins

2.03 Laviska Shenault Jr.

2.04 Brandon Aiyuk

2.05 Michael Pittman Jr.

2.07 K.J. Hamler

2.09 Van Jefferson

2.10 Bryan Edwards

3.01 Tyler Johnson

3.03 Chase Claypool

3.04 Donovan Peoples-Jones

3.05 K.J. Hill

3.06 Devin Duvernay

3.07 Antonio Gandy-Golden

3.10 Quintez Cephus

3.11 Gabriel Davis

3.12 Quartney Davis