Fantasy Files: What Can Rookie Picks Do For You (Part Three)?

Part 1 (round 6)
Part 2 (round 5)

A week at the beach and one beard later, it’s time to get back to work.

In previous posts, I chatted about rounds 5 and 6 of my Zealots dynasty rookie drafts. This year will be our tenth edition, and it was fun to review the picks, even the Andrew Walters and John Becks of the world. What can you expect from round number four?

Despite anecdotal evidence, in this case me getting Vincent Jackson with pick 4.01 in the 2005 draft, the fourth round isn’t for sissies. I ended up trading Vincent Jackson as a throw-in for a first-round rookie pick that turned into Matt Forte or Ray Rice.

If you draft a WR or RB in this round, it’s what’s called a reach. It pays off often enough to be worth the shot, with V-Jax in 2005 and Brandon Marshall in 2006 (that’s me taking Abdul Hodge one pick before that selection). If you go IDP, you might get a constant LB starter like Barrett Ruud or a safety who’s still going strong eight years later in Eric Weddle. Or you could get a guy who’s been in the league that long without making much of an impact at all (Michael Griffin). I’m not sure how you quantify a pick like that, but I know Fantasy Douche is up to the task. You can re-learn an important gift, like don’t draft a Missouri skill-position player (Will Franklin, 2008).

The best pick of the lot is probably Rob Gronkowski at pick 4.04 of the 2009 draft. Aaron Hernandez, taken later in the NFL draft by the Pats, went 2.08, and that paid off for a few years, which is about the lifespan you can expect for most fantasy players, capital crime or not. The guy taken after Gronk was LeGarrette Blount, the highest UDFA player taken in league history, and he did pretty well. I recall it wasn’t a deep RB class that year.

When it comes to IDP, you’re still taking near the top of the crop. You may be in the second tier of LBs but you’ll get a top safety/cornerback or defensive lineman if you are patient. I got Kiko Alonso in last year’s draft, thanks in part to the very generous home scorekeepers.

Let’s look at it by position:

QB: Pretty much a wasteland with John Skelton, Dan Orlovsky, Josh Johnson (had high hopes for him)
RB: Best include Ahmad Bradshaw and LeGarrette Blount, worst have to include Aaron Brown and Jacob Hester (tweener, which is fantasy football for wasted pick)
WR: Marshall, V-Jax, Cecil Shorts (feeling warm, right?), Joe Adams, Clyde Gates, Mardy Gilyard, Taylor Price, Deon Butler, Paul Williams (dear lord make it stop)
TE: You could get Rob Gronkowski, or you could get Dominique Byrd
DL: Jason-Paul Pierre may not get back to his top level, but he wasn’t bad. Remember Kentwan Balmer?
LB: Barrett Ruud was a stud for a while (pre-Titans era). Remember Shawne Merriman’s rookie year? Imagine if you traded him then. You might have ended up with a whole 12-pack of Meister Brau.
DB: Eric Weddle, oh how I wanted the Titans to draft you. Another guy I thought I would be a stud and I got in a different dynasty league was Tyrell Johnson.

It’s too easy to say take a particular position or side of the football with each of your rookie picks. It depends a lot on what your league mates do and how deep the positions are. I got Justin Houston, fourth rounder in 2010, in last year’s free agency binge. One thing you really shouldn’t do is dump a guy after one bad year, especially on the defensive side where you see a lot of guys get into starting lineups after their rookie year.

When we get to the third round, things get a little more interesting. The difference between franchise-changing great picks and flaming busts become more apparent.

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