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Recapping the Big 3's Rookie Draft
How did the 5-round rookie draft go for Adam, Bobby, Josh, and their league mates?
As you’ve heard us talk about many times on the podcast before, our main league is The XFFL, which is a salary cap league hosted by Reality Sports Online. It’s a 12-team league with 45 roster spots, 22 starters (11 offense, 11 IDP), and 9 IR spots. We do our rookie draft first, usually a week after the NFL Draft, and then our free agent auction, where players whose contracts expired (or undrafted rookies) are available to be signed to new deals. It’s as close to running an NFL team as we’ll get.
Our rookie draft was on yesterday, May 7, and I’ll be recapping my picks below (this is Josh). My leaguemates were also kind enough to send in the thought process behind their picks. My hope is that, if you have a rookie draft coming up in a 1 QB league, this will serve as a rough guideline of when certain players will be selected.
With that said, let’s jump into the first round!
1.01: Bijan Robinson, RB, Falcons
Nico: The pick of Bijan at 1.01 speaks for itself. (But have you seen those glutes?)
1.02: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Lions
Lorne: Before the draft, I was leaning towards going JSN. But after Gibbs was drafted 12th overall and D’Andre Swift was traded, I felt Gibbs here was a no-brainer.
1.03: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Seahawks
Nico: I traded up to 1.03 because I thought there was a pretty large tier break after JSN/Gibbs. JSN seems to be the best WR in the draft class. I also had a plethora of picks in the coming years, so I wanted to do my best to get difference-makers.
1.04: Jordan Addison, WR, Vikings
Charlie: I took Addison here for a few reasons. He's an excellent route runner with great college production, and the targets will be there. No doubt in my mind he'll make better use of those targets than Thielen did last season. The Vikings have a great track record picking WRs and I think Addison will continue in that tradition.
1.05: Quentin Johnston, WR, Chargers
Sam: This was an easy pick, right before the drop-off (as I saw it). Willing to wait on a QB and always dodging a Ravens receiver, give me the big and fast playmaker tied to Justin Herbert.
1.06: Anthony Richardson, QB, Colts
This was my 1st pick after I traded back from 1.03. Once it seemed Gibbs was going 1.02, I decided to go Richardson as my team has no QB and Richardson has a chance to be the next cheat code QB for fantasy. I traded with Jon to get back to 1.06, figuring the new Colts QB would be there after the top 3 WRs went off the board.
1.07: Zay Flowers, WR, Ravens
Jon: I knew at this point in the draft I’d just be taking the best player available and to me that’s Flowers. Even as a smaller receiver, he’s shown he can win inside or outside and gain separation so I’m betting on him being a significant part of Baltimore’s passing attack under Todd Monken.
1.08: Will Anderson, LB, Texans
Ben: At 1.08, I was able to grab the guy I wanted most. Going into the draft I had Myles Garrett on a long-term deal and Montez Sweat on the last year of his deal. Bringing in Anderson creates a mean three-headed monster and paves the way for a mid-season Montez trade or letting him walk away. Outside of roster construction, Anderson was a talent I valued immensely coming in at #5 overall on my big board.
This is due to his all-world production, above-average athleticism, and a picture-perfect landing spot with Demeco Ryans in Houston. While 2022 was a fine year, 2021 is the year that sold me on Anderson. Totaling 101 total tackles 31 TFL and 17.5 sacks Anderson’s 2021 season may have been the best defensive performance we’ve seen in the last 15 years (in the SEC no less). Anywhere after the top 3 guys (Bijan, JSN, Gibbs), Anderson should be in consideration.
(Note: Many of the edge rushers listed here as LBs will be changed to DE in 2024.)
1.09: Kendre Miller, RB, Saints
Lorne: I liked his landing spot and his opportunity for snaps with the Saints. I felt he was the best player after the four 1st-round WRs, Anthony Richardson, and Will Anderson were picked before him.
1.10: Jack Campbell, LB, Lions
Sam: These two consecutive picks were tough, with lots of talent still on the board. Slight buyer’s remorse, no matter what decisions I make, is unavoidable. With Jack Campbell, I considered our new RSO positional designations, which moved many LBs to DE this offseason. I made this pick with future LB scarcity in mind. Give me the rare green dot defender on an ascending team at 1.10.
1.11: Devon Achane, RB, Dolphins
Sam: The fast just got faster. Achane was drafted to another ascending offense, by a coaching staff that knows what to do with world-class speed, and I want a piece at 1.11.
1.12: Dalton Kincaid, TE, Bills
Ben: Kincaid is another player I was very excited to still see on the board at my pick here. Kincaid came in as the #6 player on my big board, one spot behind Anderson, so I was ecstatic to land them both. As the Kelce manager, it finally felt like time to look toward the future.
In RSO, tight ends are extremely cheap and retainable through extensions for much of their careers. Getting in early is key, and Kincaid is a talent that I believe can produce in all the ways that matter for fantasy. That offense in Buffalo is in need of a 2nd option and I think Kincaid could become that for Josh Allen’s high-octane offense.
2.01: Zach Charbonnet, RB, Seahawks
Nico: At 2.01, Charbonnet was the BPA. Don’t love his landing spot due to Kenneth Walker being there, but Charbonnet is a player who everyone was high on plus he got good draft capital. A lot of people had him as RB3 prior to the NFL Draft and even post-draft, so I was happy to get him at 2.01.
2.02: Roschon Johnson, RB, Bears
Jon: On a smaller sample size in college, Johnson earned some of the highest marks in terms of stable metrics for running backs. He doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear on him after playing second fiddle to Bijan Robinson at Texas. He’ll have a shot to emerge with a significant role if he can outperform D’Onta Foreman and/or Khalil Herbert.
2.03: Tyjae Spears, RB, Titans
Jon: Spears is one of the best in this class at creating yards after contact and making defenders miss and I couldn’t risk leaving this draft without Spears, even if he is entering the NFL without an ACL in his right knee. I’m not one to sign RBs past their first NFL contract anyways, so let’s ride that decrepit knee like the Titans surely will once they move on from Derrick Henry.
2.04: Jonathan Mingo, WR, Panthers
Charlie: I didn't go position-hunting in this draft. I tried to take the “best player available” route and I saw value in Mingo. He’s a hyper-athletic WR with great draft capital and should grow into a solid role in Carolina based on his last couple seasons in college. He'll have a chance to start and develop his career with Bryce Young as his QB, which bodes well for his chances of making noise in the league.
2.05: Rashee Rice, WR, Chiefs
Ben: After going with two safer prospects at lower-value positions, it felt like time for a big swing. Rice has a boom or bust profile that definitely raises concerns. However, Rice won the landing spot lottery and reportedly has some chemistry with Mahomes established. Rice plays a lot like Juju Smith-Schuster and could end up filing his role in that offense with the potential for a lot more.
2.06: Michael Mayer, TE, Raiders
Ben: Now this pick felt… odd. I had a major tier break after the top 17 of this class. I expected more surprises than there were and only one player (Tyjae Spears) from outside my top 17 was drafted. Mayer was the only player on my board left at the spot, and my overall #13. With Kelce leading the room and Kincaid already in-house, I was hoping that Mayer would go earlier or someone else would get pushed down. This didn’t happen so I stuck with my board, and despite the odd fit, I feel like I got a tremendous value. The talent and value line up, now it’s time for Kincaid vs. Mayer to become the heir to Kelce’s throne!
2.07: Bryce Young, QB, Panthers
Sam: With Rodgers’ career in its twilight and Kyler recovering from an ACL tear, QB is a long-term need. I’m happy to take the #1 overall pick at the 2.07.
2.08: Jayden Reed, WR, Packers
Charlie: People seemed to be passing on a lot of WR talent which is why I decided to go so WR-heavy. Jayden Reed is undersized but I didn't let that scare me off of such an explosive and versatile WR. His RAC ability and WR instincts sold me on using the 2.08 on Jayden. To be honest, I didn't think he'd be available there.
2.09: Sam LaPorta, TE, Lions
Sam: I’m a fan of what the Lions are doing offensively, and I like LaPorta’s skillset paired with having no competition in front of him at the position. With Mayer and Kincaid off the board, I see this as a value pick in the late 2nd round.
2.10: Tank Bigsby, RB, Jaguars
Sam: This was a bit of a reach on my part and, unlike some analysts are saying, I don’t think he’s a better prospect than Etienne. However, I do think that Etienne, for all his upside, coughs up the ball too much and hurts his team, which means Bigsby will get an opportunity. Let’s roll the dice on Bigsby at 2.10.
2.11: Josh Downs, WR, Colts
Bobby: At this point, Josh Downs had fallen far enough. Even though some top-end IDP talent was looming, finding what could be a security blanket in Downs was worth the risk.
2.12: Drew Sanders, LB, Broncos
Sam: I realize this wasn’t a great landing spot for him, but I don’t need an immediate starter at LB and I’m happy to wait for him to develop and earn a big role. I’m pleased to grab my pre-draft LB1 here and trust in talent over landing spot long-term.
3.01: C.J. Stroud, QB, Texans
Nico: Stroud at 3.01 was an easy decision. Everyone at that point is a dart throw and Stroud was the 1.02 in the NFL Draft, plus he has a lot of talent.
3.02: Jalen Carter, DT, Eagles
Along with Richardson, Carter was the other top target on my board. I contemplated trading up into the 2nd to get him but thankfully he ended up falling to me here at 3.02, filling a huge need for my team, which has zero DTs. There are a few good rentals in the auction, but now I have a young cornerstone to build around.
3.03: Marvin Mims Jr., WR, Broncos
Much to Jon Macri’s chagrin, I snatched up Mims here after he surprisingly fell into the 3rd round. I was debating between him and Hyatt, but it was actually Jon’s draft big board—where Mims was a mid-2nd round pick—that swayed me to take Denver’s newest WR. I needed RB way more than WR, but I couldn’t pass up the value here.
3.04: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Giants
Bobby: At 3.04, I felt the same as I did at 2.11 with Downs: Jalin Hyatt had fallen far enough. While there has been some recent chatter about his lack of route running ability, what he doesn’t lack is speed, and I made the selection to see if the NFC East DBs can keep up with him (unlike the Alabama DBs).
3.05: Tyree Wilson, LB, Raiders
Adam: 3.05 was my first pick of the draft and by this point, the offense was severely picked over. IDP was where the value was at, so I went with Tyree Wilson. He didn’t perform at the combine due to injury but we know he was drafted 7th overall and is 6’5”, 270 lbs, and has 35-inch arms. He walks into an ideal situation playing alongside Maxx “Triple X” Crosby and Chandler Jones (112 career sacks, which is 26th all-time).
Both of these guys will be good influences and mentors, and I expect the Raiders to move on from Chandler after the 2023 season, opening up more playing time for Wilson in year 2. Frequently comped to Myles Garrett, Wilson could easily be viewed as the best EDGE in the class a few years from now. That’s a no-brainer at 3.05.
3.06: Myles Murphy, DE, Bengals
Ben: In the run-up to this pick, I watched my board get decimated. I had team need at LB and DT and was hoping a top option between Carter and Sanders would fall. With both of them gone, I pivoted to the next best IDP. It was between Van Ness and Murphy. Murphy’s college experience as a starter, along with the fact there’s an avid Bengals fan in our league, led me to press the button. Looking back, I may have been better served going Tank Dell or Chase Brown here due to my next pick at 4.03.
3.07: Cedric Tillman, WR, Browns
Adam: Tillman is one of the few big-body receivers in this draft. I like Tillman’s all-around game and that Cleveland offense is trending up. Donovan People-Jones is likely gone after the 2023 season.
3.08: Luke Musgrave, TE, Packers
Jon: Musgrave has untapped potential as a receiver that we only got to see in two games in 2022 before sitting out the rest of the year. Those two games, however, were among the best you’ll see from a tight end prospect, posting 3.38 YPRR on 11 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown. This Beaver is dripping with fantasy potential should the Packers choose to feature him as a consistent passing option in the NFL.
3.09: Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Chiefs
Charlie: I’m not sure how long it’s going to take me to learn to correctly pronounce his name, but I went with the Chiefs’ 1st round selection, an edge rusher with opportunity and upside. Watching his college highlights is almost like watching porn. He certainly looks the part and has the tools to excel at the NFL level. Whether he does or not is anyone's guess, but if he plays like he did at K-State, I expect good things from him in Kansas City.
3.10: Chase Brown, RB, Bengals
My decision to take the value and pass on RB paid off, as the next RB off the board was my pick here at 3.10. We have a Bengals fan in our league and he said Brown should fill the Samaje Perine role this season and could potentially take over as the lead dog in 2024 if Mixon is cut. And if he’s cut before then? Wheels up, baby!
3.11: Nolan Smith, LB, Eagles
Lorne: This was my first pick since the 1.09 and I was just looking for value. I took him here because I wasn’t sure he’d make it past Josh and Adam on the turn.
3.12: Tank Dell, WR, Texans
I could’ve gone Israel Abanikanda or Zach Evans here given the RB need, but this felt like another value I couldn’t pass up. I have several WRs expiring after 2023, so this gives me a nice trio of young guys with Dell, Mims, and Alec Pierce to replace the three I’m losing. My hope is at least one of these guys works out, and Dell has a nice shot on a sketchy WR depth chart with new franchise QB, C.J. Stroud.
4.01: Daiyan Henley, LB, Chargers
Adam: Didn’t expect to have Henley available here since he’s most people’s LB2 or LB3 in the class. I roster Eric Kendricks so this makes a lot of sense for me PLUS I know a lot of my league mates love this guy and may come calling. 😈
4.02: Zach Evans, RB, Rams
Lorne: This part of the draft is a total dart throw area and I took Zach Evans. I really didn’t want another RB but felt he was the best player left on the board. There could be snaps available for him in that weak Rams backfield.
4.03: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Packers
Ben: After a lot of internal debate between Murphy and Van Ness at 3.06, I was surprised that he made it back around to 4.03. I felt like this pick represented my best value in the draft. Getting a top-15 player with elite athleticism this late felt nice. After grabbing Murphy—who I believe can provide more early—I was glad to grab Van Ness, who I believe will take patience to develop.
In our league specifically, this year the auction is weak at DE and strong at LB. Going into the draft weak at DE and leaving with a room of Myles Garrett, Montez Sweat, Will Anderson, Murphy, and Van Ness feels pretty great. Overall, I felt much of the noise around this class was about the strength at EDGE and TE. Leaving with the top two TEs and 3 of my 4 top EDGEs is a win in my book.
4.04: Darnell Washington, TE, Steelers
Aaron: Arguably the steal of the NFL Draft, Washington is a 6'7” athlete that can move like the wind. I believe the Steelers, with a young QB in the building, were the perfect landing spot for Washington.
4.05: Will McDonald IV, DE, Jets
Adam: What an EDGE class. Here’s another athletic freak (9.66 RAS, 6.85 3-cone) walking into a great situation. Having Quinnen Williams should allow McDonald plenty of 1-on-1s and opportunities to clean up. Think Leonard Floyd or Dante Fowler with Aaron Donald.
4.06: Brian Branch, S, Lions
Lee: Branch was arguably the best safety available in the draft, and for him to land with a team where he could come in and make an immediate impact with the Lions was worth a shot.
4.07: Michael Wilson, WR, Cardinals
Lorne: Wilson is a good-sized WR in a not-very-deep WR room in Arizona. I’d been looking for a WR but thought there was more value elsewhere, so I didn’t select a WR before now. I thought this was a good spot to take him.
4.08: Dorian Williams, LB, Bills
Lee: All my picks were essentially low-risk guys that I thought fell into good situations, including Williams. With Tremaine Edmunds gone and the Bills having a good track record with LBs in the past, he was worth the shot.
4.09: Trenton Simpson, LB, Ravens
Bobby: Trenton Simpson wasn’t my favorite LB in the draft but at 4.09, it was simply a “best player available” situation. He will have opportunity sooner rather than later as Patrick Queen has proved he is just a guy.
4.10: Israel Abanikanda, RB, Jets
Sam: There’s no big idea here. Abanikanda is a good all-around runner who can fill in for Breece Hall while he heals from injury.
4.11: DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Cowboys
Lorne: I was looking for an LB and I thought he was the best one available.
4.12: Kayshon Boutte, WR, Patriots
Lorne: He’s on the Patriots (my favorite team) and they need WRs badly. Last year, Boutte was considered one of the top prospects in this class. He didn’t have a great year but seemed like a good dart throw this late in the draft.
5.01: Charlie Jones, WR, Bengals
Adam: Did I just draft the next Cooper Kupp?!? To be continued. Tyler Boyd is in the last year of his deal and this team has some massive extensions looming. I’m a big fan of Charlie and have been taking him pretty much everywhere I can in the 5th/6th.
5.02: Deuce Vaughn, RB, Cowboys
Bobby: Deuce Vaughn was simply a heartstrings pick in the 5th. Hard not to root for a guy and a story with his dad like that. (Here’s the video if you missed it.)
5.03: Hendon Hooker, QB, Lions
Aaron: As a Tennessee fan, I think the Lions got the most underrated passer in the draft. Going 58-5 in just shy of two seasons is nothing to scoff at. He has a chance to get healthy after a late-season injury and be a perfect fit in the Lions’ new high-powered offense next year.
5.04: Calijah Kancey, DT, Buccaneers
Zack: This was my first pick, and I was shocked to see Calijah Kancey still on the board. We will see how he fits into the TB defense at DE next to nose tackle Vita Vea, but he has all the talent to be a strong inside player for years to come on my team.
5.05: Marte Mapu, LB, Patriots
Lorne: He’s a 6’3” former DB turned LB that I’ve read is being thought of as a future box safety.
5.06: Derick Hall, LB, Seahawks
Zack: Derick Hall was a player I had targeted in the later rounds to provide depth to my LB corps and work his way into the starting lineup in the years to come. LB is always important in the Seattle schemes, and I am excited to see how his fit from Auburn translates to the northwest.
5.07: Syndey Brown, S, Eagles
Adam: One of the most athletic safeties in class with a 9.68 RAS. Brown racked up 320 tackles in 50 games at Illinois (6.4 per game) and played 87% of his snaps in the sweet spot his final year of college. The Eagles desperately needed safety help, so Brown should contribute immediately.
5.08: Isaiah Foskey, DE, Saints
Lee: With Foskey, I had some Notre Dame bias there with him being an Irish boy. Anybody who can be compared to Justin Tuck—who is the all-time sacks leader at ND—is worth a shot in the 5th round, especially with 2nd-round draft capital.
5.09: Jordan Battle, S, Bengals
Nico: Battle was the IDP BPA at this point. I went with him because I’m more likely to hit a dart throw on an IDP in the 5th than I am an offensive guy.
5.10: Eric Gray, RB, Giants
Sam: Another all-purpose runner who could get some opportunity behind the brittle Saquon Barkley. Happy to have him as a deep dart throw.
5.11: DeWayne McBridge, RB, Vikings
Jon: McBride is an explosive runner, and even without top-end speed, showed off an ability to break away on a frequent basis in college, earning a 19.6% career explosive run rate. With uncertainty surrounding Dalvin Cook’s future in Minnesota, a late 5th-round pick on a potential beneficiary of his departure feels like good value to me.
5.12: Tucker Kraft, TE, Packers
Zack: With the last pick in the draft… this year's draft class was very deep in the TE pool, so I wanted to snag Tucker Kraft. I think they will use 2 TE sets a lot with Love under center, and Tucker will be a great compliment to Musgrave.
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So, there you have it: 60 picks with insight into the thinking behind each one! Thanks again to our league mates: Jon, Charlie, Lee, Zack, Aaron, Ben, Nico, Sam, and Lorne. And if you’ve never tried a dynasty league on RSO before, we highly recommend it! You can use our promo code IDPSHOW for 10% off your site fee for 2023.
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