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JUST ASK JOE!

Need Someone to Weigh In on Your Next Fantasy Football Move? JUST ASK JOE!

*Note: If you have already read the introduction blurb (in a previous installment of JUST ASK JOE), please skip directly to the Q & A below.

How many times have you been pondering a move in one of your fantasy football leagues and just wanted to run it by someone? How many times have you asked some supposed fantasy football guru on Twitter or Facebook a simple question, only to have them provide a minimal response with no explanation?

In many cases, it seems that they are just trying to lure you into some paid scheme before they give you the time of day. Well, my first bit of advice for you is that there is no need to ever pay for someone’s fantasy football opinion.

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The Internet is loaded with free information, as well as knowledgeable and passionate people that are all too happy to share their two cents with you. And I am one of them!

While I do not profess to have all the answers, I do guarantee that any opinion I share with you will be honest, objective, well-researched, and based on more than two decades of fantasy football experience.

So, if you have any fantasy football questions, please feel free to JUST ASK JOE! That means hitting me up on Twitter and firing away. Of course, I would try to help you out with any aspect of fantasy football, but my real expertise lies in redraft and dynasty formats.

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In trying to build a championship team, every little bit helps!

I will be happy to try to answer as many questions as I can directly. And in this column, I will post and publish a few of the ones that I think would be of interest to a larger audience. Depending on the volume of questions I get, I will try to publish this column once or twice a month during the offseason and, hopefully, more frequently as the season approaches.

Below, I have shared a question from a fantasy football manager I crossed paths with on Sleeper. Note: To make questions easier to read, in some cases, I may make slight modifications to the structure and wording of the questions.

Fantasy Football Question and Answer (May 4, 2022)

League/Team Details: General question for dynasty rookie superflex leagues

Question: Now that the NFL rookie draft is over, how much should owners modify their rankings when drafting in dynasty rookie drafts?

Answer: This is a question that surprisingly (to me anyway) keeps cropping up in online fantasy communities. Even some grizzled veterans of fantasy football, who really should know better, tend to have a hard time moving on from their initial opinions and rankings.

Undoubtedly, those that are quick to adapt to everchanging situations in fantasy football have the upper hand. While tidbits from various NFL teams are disseminated almost every day, the NFL rookie draft is the pinnacle of the NFL news cycle. The NFL draft is illuminating in so many ways.   

2022 NFL Draft Day Three Recap: IDP
Teams always show their hands on draft day!

Over the course of three days, teams show us what their true plans are by the moves they make. Before the draft, front offices say all sorts of things. If you have followed football long enough, you will know not to believe a great deal of this rhetoric.

For instance, a coach or GM may proclaim that they are committed to their veteran quarterback moving forward. However, if they draft a rookie quarterback in the first round, clearly, they are not really committed to that quarterback. Indisputably, actions speak louder than words. 

NFL Week 2 Waiver Wire Pickups
Former sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew knew his days as a starter were numbered when the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Trevor Lawrence first overall in 2021.

Accordingly, my first piece of advice for anyone new to dynasty is to basically disregard all the pre-NFL draft rookie rankings. Without question, such rankings are of limited value because they do not take into account draft capital and landing spot, among other things.

You may be wondering then why fantasy organizations would go to the trouble of ranking rookies before the draft. Well, the simple answer is that people who are obsessed with fantasy football (like me) actually think it is fun.

Further, from a strategic standpoint, it is good to have a sort of baseline comparison of rookies and their talents. With this in mind, however, the rankings that come after the NFL rookie draft are the ones you should pay attention to. 

The discrepancy in player rankings can be seen by comparing RotoHeat’s pre-draft dynasty superflex rookie rankings to a post-NFL draft video mock draft that some members of the RotoHeat team recently took part in.

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The top twelve players in the RotoHeat pre-NFL draft dynasty rookie superflex rankings.
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The results of a RotoHeat post-NFL draft dynasty rookie superflex mock draft.

Most notably, it is clear from the pre-draft rankings of quarterbacks that the analysts had assumed that most of the quarterbacks would have been drafted much earlier.

I, too, am especially guilty of this. In an earlier edition of Just Ask Joe, I had advised owners to consider taking Malik Willis and Matt Corral early in the first round of their dynasty superflex rookie drafts. Clearly, that all goes out the window now.

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The 2022 QB draft class is considered to be among the weakest in recent memory.

Although I still believe in the potential of Willis and Corral and quite like their landing spots, their late third-round draft position in the NFL draft should cause them to fall to the second round of dynasty rookie superflex drafts. In the RotoHeat post-NFL rookie 12-team dynasty mock draft, Corral and Willis were taken at 2.2 and 2.5 respectively. That seems about right to me, too.

Only one quarterback, Kenny Pickett, was drafted in the first round of this year’s NFL rookie draft. The next quarterback, Desmond Ridder, was not selected until the middle of the third round. Thus, based on draft capital, the only QB worthy of a first-round selection in dynasty superflex rookie drafts in my opinion is Kenny Pickett.

Kenny Pickett
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted QB Kenny Pickett twentieth overall.

And whether you take him or not (and how early) will depend on the needs of your team, as well as what you think of him as a prospect. For what it’s worth, I am not especially high on Pickett. I think his ceiling is limited and do not even see him as an upgrade over Mitch Trubisky for the Steelers.

In the post-NFL draft RotoHeat mock dynasty draft, Pickett was drafted at 1.7. This also seems about right to me. This speaks to the fact that even though he was picked comparatively high (1.20 in the NFL draft), some in the fantasy community are not really sold on him either. Normally, QBs with high draft capital tend to go very early in rookie dynasty superflex drafts.

Some of you may be questioning why talented players in good landing spots would still fall. Well, this is not always the case. Certainly, if you fall in love with a prospect, you may reach for him to ensure you get him on your roster. For instance, QB Desmond Ridder, a third-round pick in the NFL draft, went 1.9 in the RotoHeat mock dynasty draft. If Ridder hits, this drafter will look like a genius for thinking outside the box.

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Desmond Ridder is one of the many polarizing QB prospects in the 2022 draft class.

As for me, I am not particularly enamored with Ridder as a prospect, so I will stick to playing the historical percentages. To me, Ridder is a mid second round value in dynasty rookie superflex drafts, and I will probably avoid taking him unless he somehow falls to me later than that.

More often than not, draft capital (especially for QBs) means a great deal. By waiting until late in the third round to draft Willis and Corral, the Titans and Panthers have simply not invested enough in them to be truly committed to them.

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Matt Corral and Malik Willis are the top two dual-threat QBs in the 2022 NFL draft.

The same can be said about QB Sam Howell. In the pre-draft rankings, he was ranked the twelfth best player. However, in the NFL draft, he was not drafted until the fifth round. Therefore, it makes sense that he fell to the third round of the post-NFL mock draft.

Accordingly, there is no pressure for the Falcons, Titans, Panthers, or Commanders to rush to get Ridder, Willis, Corral, or Howell onto the field. The good news, however, is that, due to questions surrounding the incumbent starters on their teams, all four of these QBs have a realistic path to getting on the field at some point.

However, if/when they do get on the field, they will likely only have a small window to show what they can do. That is, QBs with low draft capital really have to make the most of their limited opportunities, or they could be relegated to a backup role in the NFL very quickly.

In contrast, quarterbacks with high draft capital like Zack Wilson are viewed as franchise quarterbacks from the start. No matter how poorly they perform initially, organizations are committed to them (financially and in terms of draft capital) and, thus, tend to exhibit great patience and resources in developing them. 

Redrafting the 2021 Rookie Class
NY Jets QB, Zach Wilson, who was selected second overall in 2021 NFL Draft, enjoys job security despite coming off an abysmal rookie season.

One only needs to look at the past few drafts to see QBs drafted after the second round rarely ever see the field, let alone ever become reliable fantasy producers. In 2021, the QBs drafted beyond the second round include Kellen Mond, Davis Mills, Ian Book, and Sam Ehlinger. In 2020, it was Jacob Eason, James Morgan, Jake Fromm, Jake Luton, Cole McDonald, Ben DiNucci, Tommy Stevens, and Nate Stanley. In 2019, it was Will Grier, Ryan Finley, Jarret Stidham, Easton Stick, Clayton Thorson, Gardner Minshew, and Trace McSorely.

The only QBs named above to actually play in a handful of games were Mills and Minshew. Minshew had some initial (but fleeting) success for the Jags but was eventually replaced by Trevor Lawrence. Minshew is currently serving as a backup with the Eagles.

Similarly, while Davis Mills will be given the opportunity to start for the Houston Texans this year, many pundits believe he is simply a bridge to bide time until they can find someone better.

Redrafting the 2021 Rookie Class
Houston Texans QB Davis Mills is looking to make the most of his opportunity to start in 2022.

Thus, with the odds stacked against QBs drafted outside the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, it is probably not wise to expend high draft picks on them in dynasty drafts. In doing so, owners would not only be increasing their bust potential but would be conceivably passing up on impact players at other positions.

As for other positions, WRs such as Christian Watson and Skyy Moore have landed in extremely favorable situations. That is, they will both play in dynamic offenses with QBs that can get them the ball.

Moreover, these offenses recently lost target monsters. Hence, these young WRs have a chance to carve out important roles right away. In most post-NFL draft mock dynasty drafts, I am seeing them go around the end of the first round.

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WRs Christian Watson and Skyy Moore find themselves in great situations to contribute right away.

Lastly, there are two other things in the RotoHeat mock rookie dynasty draft that I wanted to comment on. First, I noticed that RB Dameon Pierce snuck into the first round. This makes great sense to me. He is a talented RB that landed in a very favorable situation.

While draft capital is generally important for all positions, it is less so for RBs and WRs than QBs. So, the fact that Pierce was chosen in the fourth round should not necessarily preclude owners from drafting him so early. Lovie Smith-led teams love to run the football, and it is easy to imagine Pierce surpassing Marlon Mack and Rex Burhead for lead-back duties early on.

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Texans RB Dameon Pierce is a sneaky good pick at the end of the first round.

Second, one thing that surprised me a bit was where Drake London was picked. Similar to his pre-draft ranking (1.8), London was selected 1.6 in the RotoHeat mock dynasty draft. I thought that was a bit low for him. In my opinion, London is the best WR in this class. In fact, I am going back and forth on whether he or Breece Hall should be the first pick overall.

London, undoubtedly, has the talent and draft capital, so why did some owners pass on him for other WRs? Perhaps they are scared off by his landing spot. His QB is Marcus Mariota, and no one really knows what that will look like fantasy-wise.

Having said that, however, besides Allen Pitts, the Falcons currently have a dearth of weapons. Hence, London could see a massive target share relatively early in his career.

Another possible concern with London is that he is coming off an injury. Some owners may worry as to whether this is a recurring trend and whether he can handle the rigors of the NFL.

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Falcons WR Drake London should go near the top of dynasty rookie drafts.

Thank you for reading the third installment of JUST ASK JOE! I really enjoyed tackling such a thought-provoking question, and hope I was able to shed a little light. Make sure to hit me up on Twitter or Facebook with more inquiries and/or to tell me how wrong you think I was. Either way, I can’t wait to hear from you!

For more analyses, be sure to check out our website, as well as the video of the dynasty rookie superflex mock draft that some members of the RotoHeat team took part in.

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