Fantasy Files: What Can Rookie Picks Do For You? Part Four, Third Round

It’s a hard thing to do. Know you want something, see the exact something that you want, and say “not yet”. When you are in a dynasty fantasy league, it’s part of the game.

Rookie drafts are coming soon, not as soon as we’d like. Instead of whining like Twitter is about the extra two weeks before Roger Goodell finally walks to the podium, use the time for your advantage. Learn your rookie prospects (two ways that will cost less than a decent steak are Matt Waldman’s RSP and The FF Ghost’s Orange Report at DLF). Know that in the rookie draft you’re building your team for 2016, not necessarily 2014.

The third round of your rookie draft is where you can get those long-term prospects. There may have been an IDP prospect or two off the board, perhaps not, and the skill-position guys seem to have been picked clean.

The first third-round pick in Zealots history was Alvin Pearman, taken by the future two-time champion Tampa Bay Bucs. Let’s take a look at the journey of the guy taken 3.02 in that draft.

The NFL franchise who drafted this player had used the previous two first-round picks to acquire players at the same position, and neither worked out at all. Oh yeah, the guy was old (24 as a rookie, virtually guaranteed to be ignored by the RotoViz crowd).

During his rookie year, he didn’t get in a starting lineup until Week 12, and he had a typical wide receiver after the breakout performance. In Week 11 he went 4/108. In Week 12, 2/25. He did score 12.5 points (2/65/1) in Week 14, a playoff loss for the Falcons.

Rookie year stats: 29/446/3. In short, yeah, this was a rookie wideout.

Second year stats: 30/506/0. Sure feels like a bust to me.

Third year stats: 83/1202/6. Wait a second, that “third-year breakout WR” article that used to be a fantasy staple like “Jared Cook’s going to break out this year, we mean it”, it actually was a thing? It was.

By now you’ve caught on and see that I’m talking about Roddy White. His 2007 breakout led to a six-year run of fantasy awesomeness. He was WR14 in 2007, and was no lower than WR10 through 2012. If you can be patient with your third-round pick, you might get this kind of result. If you get six good years, you’ll probably be less devastated by White’s injury-laden 2013.

How does one “win” the third round? White’s a rare exception of a first-round skill-position draft pick who slipped. The Falcons traded for Peerless Price in 2003 and drafted Michael Jenkins in 2004. The team was swinging mightily and getting nowhere near the ball. I don’t have a 2004 draft near me, but I bet Jenkins went in the first round.

Looking at the other side of the ball, here are the IDPers taken in the third round in 2005. We get Thomas Davis (bionic knee guy), David Pollack (nice career as an announcer), Antrel Rolle (still a contributor), and Demarcus Ware (stud DE for years). The hit rate is better on D, although when you hit on an offensive guy, it feels like a bigger win.

Speaking of delayed gratification, the best third-round pick in Zealots history was taken by the same franchise with the same 3.02 pick. Jimmy Graham (hold as audience goes “woo!”) had 17 catches as a converted basketball guy from Miami as a senior in college. He was another old rookie with no experience. As a rookie, he had a 31/356/5 line. I tried to trade Chris Cooley for him, and I probably should have offered a bit more than that.

The third round isn’t without its potholes, from 2005 3.12 pick Adrian McPherson, known more for being run over by Tennessee Titans’ mascot T-Rac with a golf cart than any NFL production, to epic defensive busts like Vernon Gholston. My first third-round pick was Andrew Walter. My third-round history includes a lot of cool breezes from my bat as well, guys like Cedric Peerman, John Beck, and Jacquizz Rodgers.

I’m feeling a bit hopeful about this year’s third-round pick, as I traded up to the magic 3.02 spot, and I’m looking forward to going shopping again.

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