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Dynasty League Buy, Sell - Rookie Round Up for Week 11


Each week, I'll take a look at how NFL rookies are performing from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Last week, I ran through the rookies and made a buy or sell recommendation for each. This week I'm doing a deeper dive into two polarizing players: John Ross and Mike Williams.

Both were prodigious college talents and top-10 picks in last year's draft, but neither has accomplished much yet. Between them, they've appeared in just seven games and have managed just four receptions (all by Williams). Ross has recently been called out by his coach, both have struggled with injury, and Williams is stuck in a deep wide receiver corps.

So, are they buys or sells for dynasty leagues?

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Rookie Wide Receivers

Courtesy of Pro Football Reference, this table shows every first round WR since 2000 that managed fewer than 32 receptions (an average of two per game, symbolizing a modest but consistent level of involvement) as a rookie. The table is sorted by receptions.

Player Year G GS Tgt Rec Yds TD
Braylon Edwards 2005 10 7 59 32 512 3
Mike Williams 2005 14 4 57 29 350 1
Roddy White 2005 16 8 69 29 446 3
Travis Taylor 2000 9 8 54 28 276 3
Reggie Williams 2004 16 15 54 27 268 1
Reggie Wayne 2001 13 9 49 27 345 0
DeVante Parker 2015 15 4 50 26 494 3
Troy Williamson 2005 14 3 52 24 372 2
Javon Walker 2002 15 2 50 23 319 1
Nelson Agholor 2015 13 12 44 23 283 1
Charles Rogers 2003 5 5 52 22 243 3
Plaxico Burress 2000 12 9 65 22 273 0
Demaryius Thomas 2010 10 2 39 22 283 2
Freddie Mitchell 2001 15 1 43 21 283 1
Jonathan Baldwin 2011 11 3 52 21 254 1
Craig Davis 2007 13 1 34 20 188 1
Kevin White 2016 4 4 36 19 187 0
Phillip Dorsett 2015 11 0 39 18 225 1
Corey Davis 2017 5 4 35 16 176 0
R. Jay Soward 2000 13 2 34 14 154 1
Robert Meachem 2008 14 3 20 12 289 3
Darrius Heyward-Bey 2009 11 11 40 9 124 1
Michael Jenkins 2004 16 0 20 7 119 0
Rashaun Woods 2004 14 0 23 7 160 1
Mike Williams 2017 4 0 7 4 46 0
Josh Doctson 2016 2 0 6 2 66 0
Santana Moss 2001 5 0 17 2 40 0
Laquon Treadwell 2016 9 1 3 1 15 0
A.J. Jenkins 2012 3 0 1 0 0 0
John Ross 2017 3 1 2 0 0 0

 
There are 27 names on this list (not counting Ross and Williams), and while we could debate the merits of some, it's safe to say that only a handful went on to become fantasy stars. The cutoff I used here is arbitrary, but the point stands: the inability to get on the field as a rookie is a bad omen for future performance.

 

Adjusted Dynasty Values

What does this mean for Ross and Williams? By my count, about 20 percent of these players are fantasy stars, which certainly suggests that Ross and Williams are now worth less than the dynasty rookie draft pick that was spent to acquire them. The question is how much less?

I won't post the entire table, but here are all 44 first-round WRs since 2000 that had more than 32 receptions as a rookie. Again, we could quibble about some of the players, but I have a hard time finding more than 14 that were multi-year fantasy stars. That means that only about 32 percent of first-round WRs are dynasty "hits." That's better than the cohort that Ross and Williams belong to, but it's still not great.

Let me summarize my thoughts like this:

  • Ross and Williams were mid-first round dynasty rookie picks.
  • Their rookie season comparables are unfavorable, so their value drops.
  • The fantasy outlook for any first-round NFL draft pick isn't as great as we might think it is, so their value doesn't drop too much.

 
In a vacuum, I'd say something like an early second round rookie pick, or a second and third, would be fair value. Here's the problem: in a vacuum, someone who spent a mid-first on Ross or Williams isn't likely to sell at a loss this soon.

 

Looking Forward

Here are the scenarios I can think of where buying or selling Ross or Williams makes sense:

Sell:

  • You are contending for a title this year. They're not helping your lineup now, and their outlook is less than you expected when you drafted. Sell for a veteran that can help you to a title.
  • You aren't contending for a title this year, and have a lot of roster holes to fill. Consider making a one-for-two trade where you give up Ross or Williams and get back two assets (picks, players, or a combination).
  • You own Ross or Williams and you're straight-up loaded at WR but short on draft picks.

Buy:

  • You aren't contending for a title this year, and have veteran assets that may not have any value next year.
  • You have multiple first or early-round rookie picks next year.
  • You can acquire them for less than their sticker price.

 

More 2017 Dynasty League Strategy