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IDP Value in an Offensive World, Pt. 4

@DynastyNuke looks to the Safeties and D-Linemen as top rookie picks for your IDP Dynasty Team.

In IDP Value in an Offensive World pt 3, I limited the information to 1st Round Running Backs and Cornerbacks.  We spent a lot of time on Running Backs because they prove to be a statistical outlier in rookie hit rates.  The rest of the article was dedicated to Corners because of the surprising results of their predictability to have a top 24 finish.  I wanted the material to convince some of you to buck the conventional wisdom and look to the possible value in Cornerback Rookie Picks.  I ran a poll on twitter to get an idea of the lack of respect for CB’s in fantasy football.  The results were not surprising:

Clearly the community is a little over zealous about LB’s

You can see that the Cornerbacks get very little respect in our community.  Again we find “conventional knowledge” providing us an opportunity for value.

In this article, we will look at the Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, and Safety.  1st Rounders at those three positions represent the next tier of rookie players with higher than average hit rates.  We will also see the Round 2 Runningback Rookies results and how they compare to the three IDP positions.  We will use this information, and a solid understanding of our league positional values, to maximize the potential of our rookie picks to have a top 24 finish.

Second Foundation (cont.)

If you read part 3 of this series, then you know that I pulled every draft pick since 2012 and counted the top 24 fantasy performances (except QB and TE were counted for top 12).  I sorted that data to determine the “hit rate” of each position at each round.  As we continue to compare the players, it is essential to understand the players’ overall statistics.

Fantasy Players DraftedTop 24 FinishesTop 24 RateMulti Top 24 FinishesMulti Top 24 rate
Top 24 Finishes of players drafted since 2012

The above chart shows us that a little less than a quarter of the players drafted (at a fantasy position) will see a top 24 finish at their job.  Only about half of those players will see a top 24 finish multiple times during their careers.  That means only one in eight players drafted will give you a top 24 finish.  That means we have to find value where it lies to maximize our potential. 

Safety in Numbers

After the 1st round RB, the Safety has the most substantial hit rate.  To be more specific, we find high fantasy value in Safeties drafted in the first, second, and third rounds!  Let’s start with the first-rounders:

1st Round Safeties

The data above brought me a lot of joy!  The first round Safety is the highest hit rate behind first-round RB’s!  How many of your league mates even know the names of safeties drafted each year?  In my leagues, LB and DE are the first players off the board, but clearly, this data shows us we should be focusing more on the success of the Safety.

As you can see, almost 62% of Safeties drafted in the first round will see a top 24 finish, and 46% (nearly half) will see multiple top 24 finishes!  Compare that to the 58% we saw in the RB first-rounders.  Now, look at the first-year hit rate.  54% will see a top 24 in their first season.  I would also like to point out the consistency of that number.  Every year a Safety was drafted in the first round, at least one of them was a startable asset in your league.

Multiple Season Predictor

We see that Safeties with multiple top 24 productivity all saw a top 24 in at least one of their first two seasons.  Make sure you are evaluating your rosters appropriately.  If your safeties haven’t met this metric, then do not expect a top 24 asset.  The data is evident.  I will be looking to my rosters and moving to acquire guys like Derwin James, Darnell Savage, and Jonathan Abrams.  If the last two don’t produce in 2020, I will move them for whatever I can.  I can rest assured knowing that the odds of them having multiple years of use are very low.

Second and Third Round Safeties

The next two rounds of safeties are no slouches!  Both boast a 33% hit rate for multiple Safety 2 seasons.

2nd Round Safeties
3rd Round Safeties

You can see that the numbers are very similar.  Both groups have low 40’s for top 24 finishes and 33% for multiple top 24’s.  But now the information diverges significantly at the rookie season numbers.  This data clearly shows the bias of GM’s and HC’s to give their higher draft picks more opportunities regardless of ability.  Both draft groups are capable of putting up the same percentages of top 24 finishes, but the second-rounders get the chance in their first two seasons a lot more than the 3rd rounders.  

Use the Data to Your Advantage

How do you exploit this data?  Pay special attention at the first and second season success rates of 2nd round Safeties.  Do you notice anything?  They are the same!  We can also see that 80% of the multiple top 24 players have success in their first two years.  So, if you need safety help, and want it cheap, find that second round Safety who didn’t perform that well in their rookie season.  Get them from their owner, or most likely the waiver wire, and stick them on your bench.  See how their sophomore season plays out.  If they post a top 24, then you know you struck some gold!  Using that strategy could have landed you Buddah Baker before his 2018 break out season.  Safeties to try in 2020 are Juan Thornhill (on the PUP), Marquise Blair (really cheap right now), and Nasir Adderley.  

Don’t Draft 3rd-Round Safeties

Don’t draft third-round Safeties!  Easy!  Pick them up in a trade or on the waiver wire in their 2nd and third seasons. By then, they will have been labeled irrelevant.  When I make my projections, I will search for the opportunity of a couple of these guys busting out a top 24 when the team dynamic allows the possibility.  The numbers say that the third rounder is just as successful as the second; it comes at a later point in their career.  Now, all we have to do is find those undervalued players and stick them on our roster.  They will be pretty cheap and worth the gamble.

First Round Defensive Linemen

Let’s move on to the big men in the trenches.  Many of us do not play in Defensive Tackle required leagues.  In this next section, I will break them down at an individual position level and as a whole.  I think it’s essential to understand specific data.  I concede that most leagues combine DE and DT. 

First, the Tackles

A 63% hit rate is even higher than those boastful Safeties.  However, I do not love the drop in multiple Top 24’s.  One in three isn’t terrible compared to the overall average, but it is a significant drop from the first round Safety numbers.  It is also equal to the second and third round Safety numbers.  I will prioritize round one DT’s over the second-day safeties because I know the potential value of finding them on waivers or as part of a trade, as we discussed earlier.  The last column does give us some hope of predictability.  If my 1st round DT doesn’t see a top 24 finish in his first two seasons, I will feel very safe dropping him from my team.

Defensive Ends

Ouch!  How many of you saw Chase Young go at the top of the second round in your IDP leagues?  Defensive Ends do not see the highest hit rates in the IDP world.  They are still above average, but one in two is a far cry from a guaranteed success.  That doesn’t mean to avoid them, though!  Like the round two/three safeties, we see the success rate for the sophomore season is double that of the rookie season. 

That is where we can find the value!  78% of DE’s with multiple top 24 finishes saw a top 24 in one of their first two years.  So, target the Ends that disappointed in their rookie season and try to get them cheap the next year.  It is also crucial to understand that the 1st round DE’s see a more significant number of multiple top seasons than first-round Quarterbacks (although it’s close), Linebackers, and Wide Receivers!

DL Combined Leagues

Top 24 DLs
DT’s1st Rounders2nd Rounders3rd Rounders4th Rounders>5th Rounders
Top 24 DT’s in DL combined leagues

The above tells you how hard it is to use a Defensive Tackle in a DL combined league.  One of the reasons I prefer DT leagues.  What’s even more fun is knowing that six of those first-rounders are just one man, Aaron Donald!  DeForest Buckner (3) and Ndamukong Suh (3) make up six more.  So twelve of that twenty-two are only three players!  If you have one of them, keep them!  If not, then try acquiring Jonathan Allen?  Good luck!  You probably need to stick to drafting Defensive Ends in DL combined leagues.

Running Backs from the Second Round

Second-round RB’s do not see the success of their first-round RB’s, but the numbers are very close to Safety 1 numbers.  Depending on your league’s scoring, these guys will and should go high in your rookie drafts.

2nd Round RB

But do not rely on these draft picks.  They are not guaranteed to hit, so don’t pretend that they are.  75% of the multiple top 24’s see a startable season in their first two years, so that is where I will focus.  The other two players will slip out of my hands before their big seasons, but hopefully, I will have filled their empty roster spots with one of the safeties.  For those of you who have been playing for a while, let’s reminisce on some second-round RB names.  Remember how the draftniks felt about them during the fantasy draft season.

Do Not Rely on 2nd Round RB’s

It looks like I will be selling my Kerryon and RoJo shares.  ~sigh~  Derrick Henry, Carlos Hyde, and Dalvin Cook are three players I would have missed out on by following this strategy.  By selling Kerryon and RoJo now, I may miss their breakouts, but how many disappointments do you notice above?  I bet I could find some bench space for more productive players and let them become someone else’s roster clogs/third-year breakouts.  I won’t sell them for free, mind you.  And I will wait to make this an in-season trade.  Both of these players’ values are pretty low right now.  How much lower will it go if they have a bad beginning to their season?  But if their season starts strong, I can, hopefully, get a little more for them.

An Attempt at a Summary

I have relayed a lot of information to you in this piece, so I will summarize the best way I know—theory to practice.  Let’s put ourselves in a scenario.  We are in a single QB, TE premium, IDP123 league with a twist.  In this IDP league, we start individual DT’s, Safeties, and CB’s.  We have the 1.05 pick in the 2020 rookie draft.  We have already calculated the VORP for our league and will now use our new-found knowledge to build our draft board.

The VORP calculations for the top 24 at each position result in the following order of value:

VORP Results for Pretend League

At the 1.05

Our strategy is to pick the best player available.  At 1.05, I can assume that Clyde Edwards-Helaire would not be possible.  If he were, I would take him!  Not because I think he’s the best player.  I also wouldn’t take him because of the “perfect” situation.  The situation is a fleeting advantage in Dynasty.  I would take him based on the fact that 83% of first-round RB’s achieve the top 24 status.  So, aside, I will be looking to a second-round rookie RB with their 50% hit rate and 40% multi-season hit rate.  I would be looking at J.K. Dobbins (my favorite), Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, or A.J. Dillon.

At the 2.05

At 2.05 is where many would take the best WR.  I urge no!  Know your league!  Someone has most likely drafted an LB by this time, and Chase Young might still be available.  Tempting, but are there any Defensive Tackles left on the board?  YES!  Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw are still there.  I know I won’t take a TE at this spot, you will see their abysmal numbers later in this series. 

So it’s down to Chase young or one of those Tackles.  I can take Chase here and assume that one of these DT’s is available in the third.  I can trade down later into the second and pick up another rookie then.  With my later second-round pick, I will take one of those DT’s.  Lastly, I can just take one of these tackles here and feel confident about my pick.  Know your league!  How do the guys in your league typically draft?  In our hypothetical league, I know that DT’s are not respected, and I will get one of these guys in the third.  So, Chase Young, it is!

At the 3.05

The 3.05 comes around, and it turns out I was wrong about the DT’s!  You know how drafts go.  All of the first and second-round RBs are gone, no WR’s to target.  So LB or Safety?  Again, first-round safeties boast the second-highest hit rate, so I think it’s a no brainer.  Besides, it isn’t realistic to believe that an LB1 is still available this late in the draft.  So my target is my favorite of Xavier McKinney, Kyle Dugger, Grant Delpit, Antoine Winfield (favorite), or Jeremy Chinn (other love).

Here are the results of a Sleeper mock draft with the above strategy.

IDP Mock Draft

Many of you are probably shaking your heads. Chase Young, in the second, doesn’t make sense. But let’s really look at the implications of this pick. I have missed out on Brandon Aiyuk, Laviska Shenault, and Bryan Edwards. To be honest, I didn’t notice A.J. Dillon was still there, which would have been my pick over Chase Young based on the numbers. This is just an example.

The first-round WR’s in the NFL draft were Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Reagor, Justin Jefferson, and Brandon Aiyuk. Historical data tells us that only 3 (45%) of these guys will see a top 24 fantasy finish during their entire career. One, maybe 2, (24%) of these guys will see multiple top 24 finishes. Second and third-round WR’s have even lower hit rates. The VORP calculations for our pretend league indicate that top 24 DE’s are more valuable than top 24 WR’s. Why wouldn’t I take Chase Young here?

I Will End on My Soapbox

In vanilla dynasty leagues (you know, the ones without half of the players), we spend so many of our first-round rookie draft picks on the Wide Receiver position.  The community has taught us to load up on WR’s in our rookie drafts, but the truth is only 24% of the WR’s picked in the first round of the NFL draft will see multiple top 24 seasons!  And since 2012, 87% of all multi-season starters (regardless of round drafted) saw top 24’s in their first two seasons!  So why do we hold onto them for so long expecting the breakout?

The data I have shown you suggests that you have a higher chance of seeing multiple top 24’s from a DE than a WR, but in the IDP world, we do not push drafting a DE over a WR.  Don’t even consider it!  I argue that the above data, and the knowledge of your specific scoring system, tells you to buck the conventional wisdom and draft smarter.  You will get more bang for your buck! If you think it is bold to choose Javon Kinlaw, Derrick Brown, or Chase Young over Brandon Aiyuk, Bryan Edwards, and Tua, then please — Let’s boldy go!


Again friend, thank you very much for reading!  I have enjoyed the research for these articles, and I think they have made me a better team owner.  But I also enjoy the fact that you are reading the content and maybe looking into the data yourself.  If you are and find some nuggets of fantasy gold that I missed, please feel free to share that down below or on twitter.  If you have feedback for what I wrote here or want to argue some points, feel free to do the same thing!  Healthy debate builds a level of knowledge.  Remember, IDP is the final frontier, and heroes boldly go!

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