Updated: Sep 6
Breaking down a recent Dynasty Start-Up Draft I completed this month - who is a value, and who is overrated?
Start-Up draft season is already here for dynasty gamers! It’s an interesting time to see where certain gamers value players so soon after the 2021 regular season has ended. Some NFL players have risen in the rankings because of their efforts in the playoffs, and others have fallen because of their lack of production to end the year. For those drafting now, or soon, there are great values to be had in every round of your drafts. Today, I will be highlighting some of the best (and worst) picks from a recent start-up I completed this month.
Here is the format for my league, which affected a lot of players’ draft positions:
27 players per team, 12 teams in the league (324 players drafted)
Starting lineup: 1QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 3 W/R/T flex, 1 SuperFlex (Q/W/R/T)
1 point per reception, 1.5 points per TE reception, standard scoring for everything else
No kickers, team defense, or individual defensive players
Keep in mind that in 2QB or SuperFlex leagues, QBs are drafted earlier than in leagues that only start 1QB. Some start-up drafts include rookie picks in the drafts as well, but this one did not. Rookie picks were randomly assigned to teams after the draft was complete - though some teams did trade away future rookie picks to move up in the draft.
Enough with the disclaimers and such, I know why you're still reading…let’s go round by round for the first five rounds, then look at values and reaches for the mid-to-late parts of the draft.
Round 1 - best value - Patrick Mahomes: The starting QB on the Kansas City Chiefs went 2nd overall in this draft, with Josh Allen being selected at the 1.01. Mahomes has already won a Super Bowl and might be on his way to a second one this year. He is also locked down until 2031 with a contract. All of this points to Mahomes being an elite fantasy scorer for the next 10+ years. He's a value any time he doesn't go 1st overall in a SuperFlex or 2QB draft.
Round 1 - worst value - Najee Harris: The rookie workhorse RB was the 6th pick in our draft. He had a great 2021 season from a fantasy perspective. Here are my concerns about his long-term value: Najee is one of the older rookie RBs in recent memory, he will already be turning 24 this upcoming season. His fantasy-scoring peak might not be as long as other RBs due to age alone. He also got a lot of fantasy production this year by catching dump-off passes from Ben Roethlisberger, which should be less frequent if Pittsburgh brings in a new QB in the offseason. He also runs behind a below-average offensive line, which will continue unless the Steelers address those positions in the offseason. Najee is a great player, but I don't think he has more long-term value than Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Justin Jefferson, or Ja'Marr Chase, who all went after him in this SuperFlex start-up draft.
Round 2 - best value - Jalen Hurts: after a lot of uncertainty at the beginning of the 2021 season, Jalen Hurts proved to be the answer to the biggest question for the Eagles...who is our QB of the future? The Alabama product answered that question by leading the Eagles to the playoffs with a 9-8 record. From a fantasy perspective, Hurts was a top 6 QB and led all QBs in rushing yards and TDs. In a run-first offense, he proved to be the right player to fit in their system. I expect Hurts to be a starting QB in the NFL for at least the next 5 seasons after showcasing his dual-threat abilities this season. The best part? He'll only be 24 next season and can only improve his passing abilities. Hurts was a great value with the 3rd pick in the 2nd round, 15th overall in SuperFlex.
Round 2 - worst value - Russell Wilson: The long-time Seattle Seahawks QB was the 9th pick in the 2nd round, which is the 21st player overall. Wilson is a quality QB in both real-life and fantasy, but there are some glaring issues with him from a long-term perspective. First, where will he play next season? Second, how many high-quality years does he have left? He is currently 33 and came off of a finger injury this season, both of which make me worried that he might be starting his age-influenced decline. Finally, what is his rushing upside in 2022 and beyond? Wilson went ahead of other QBs like Deshaun Watson and Justin Fields, making him a reach in dynasty.
Round 3 - best value - Cam Akers: The LA Rams running back was left for dead before the 2021 season, with many proclaiming that his career was all but over after suffering an achilles injury. Fast-forward 5 months, and the 22 year old is back and playing as the Rams' feature-back in the playoffs. He will be 100% healthy at the beginning of the 2022 season, and with his youth, he will still have 3-4 prime seasons ahead of him. Not to mention he's a part of one of the best offenses in all of football. Akers went with the final pick in the 3rd round, number 36 overall, making him a great value in start-up drafts.
Round 3 - worst value - Dalvin Cook: The Vikings running back has been nothing short of impressive in his NFL career so far. If you've rostered him in fantasy over the last 3 years, you probably won your league at least once. Here are my problems with taking Cook in the 3rd round of a SuperFlex start-up: he will be 27 next season, which typically comes with a decline in production. Running backs age much faster than most other positions in football due to the contact they absorb every play. There is also a chance that he loses some work to Alexander Mattison or Kene Nwangu in 2022, both of whom are younger running backs in the Vikings' system. Finally, what does the coaching change in Minnesota mean for the Vikings' game plan? All of these factors make Cook a stay-away for me in start-up drafts, making this pick at the 3.11 a reach. He's valued highly because of his past production, not because of what he will offer moving forward.
Round 4 - best value - DK Metcalf: Remember a couple years ago when NFL analysts claimed that DK Metcalf could only run straight-line routes? Well, this young alpha has proved many of the doubters wrong in his young career so far. He's averaged over 1,000 yards and about 10 TDs per season each year he's been in the NFL. He survived Geno Smith playing almost half of the Seahawks' games, and should continue operating as the clear #1 option in the passing attack for years to come. He just turned 24 and will be an elite fantasy option for at least the next 3 seasons. He is arguably more valuable than Tyreek Hill in dynasty, who went almost a full round before DK.
Round 4 - worst value - Aaron Rodgers: Taken at the 4.06 (42nd overall), the Packers' QB has a ton of questions heading into this offseason. Will he retire? Will he change teams? Will he stay in Green Bay? Will he host Jeopardy? If he leaves Green Bay, it's hard to see him being more productive than his best seasons with the Packers. He would need to go somewhere with a lot of offensive weapons already, like Pittsburgh or Denver. I'm not ruling out either of those places for him - there is just a lot of uncertainty. He's also a reach because these players all went after him in the draft: Matt Stafford, Diontae Johnson, Jaylen Waddle, and Travis Etienne.
Round 5 - best value - Elijah Mitchell: I am predicting that this man is going to be a big time dynasty riser this offseason. His team is winning playoff games, and he is still the featured back in one of the best running systems in the NFL. Mitchell won the starting job after being a 6th round draft pick this past April, and he looks to have a firm hold on it for next season and beyond. He was drafted at the 5.07 in our startup, 67th overall, and I believe he should be a top 50 dynasty asset before the beginning of the 2022 fantasy season.
Round 5 - worst value - AJ Dillon: While he could be the lead back for the next few years in Green Bay, Dillon was drafted at the 5.02 (62nd overall). He was drafted ahead of players like Nick Chubb, DJ Moore, Elijah Mitchell, and Terry McLaurin. The talent is certainly there for Dillon to be a great fantasy asset moving forward. But there are questions around his QB next year, which will affect the offense as a whole. Not to mention, Aaron Jones is still a member of this backfield.
Aside from these players taken in the top 5 rounds, here is a quick list of other players with great value attached to their draft postion:
Brandon Aiyuk - 49ers WR - mid 7th round
Marquise "Hollywood" Brown - Ravens WR - mid 8th round
Jakobi Meyers - Patriots WR - mid 9th round
Rondale Moore - Cardinals WR - late 9th round
Gabriel Davis - Bills WR - late 11th round (sure to rise after his 4TD game in the playoffs)
Jimmy Garoppolo - 49ers QB - late 12th round (he will be a starting QB in the NFL next season, whether in San Fran or elsewhere)
Brevin Jordan - Texans TE - late 13th round
Ke'Shawn Vaughn - Bucs RB - mid 14th round
Corey Davis - Jets WR - mid 16th round
Scotty Miller - Bucs WR - mid 24th round (if your draft even goes this long)
There are also players that might be too risky because of how high they are going in drafts. Here are some other players to avoid at their current draft position:
Kyle Pitts - Falcons TE - drafted at 2.06, 18th player off the board
Jonathan Taylor - Colts RB - drafted at 1.04 (risky to take an RB over high-quality QB talent)
Mac Jones - Patriots QB - drafted at 4.04 (he's a quality QB but was drafted as a low-end QB1, when he's more of a QB2)
Darren Waller - Raiders TE - drafted at 5.06 (going to turn 30 this year)
Tony Pollard - Cowboys RB - drafted at 6.09 (3 picks after Ezekiel Elliot)
Alexander Mattison - Vikings RB - drafted at 8.08 (glorified handcuff as long as Dalvin Cook is around)
Kareem Hunt - Browns RB - drafted at 8.12 (glorified *aging* handcuff)
Carson Wentz - Colts QB - drafted at 10.02 (before Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo)
Adam Thielen - Vikings WR - drafted at 11.07 (age)
Trey Sermon - 49ers RB - drafted at 11.11
Rex Burkhead - Texans RB - drafted at 18.01 (age)
Here is a link to the full draft board: https://sleeper.app/draft/nfl/786347419943186432
You can also follow along with a Twitter thread that recaps all of my personal picks in this draft! Here is the link to the first tweet: https://twitter.com/aquinnff/status/1481261749017976835?s=21
Follow me on Twitter at @AQuinnFF for more dynasty content this offseason!