• IDP Dynasty Rookie Hit Rates (2023)


    A player’s NFL draft capital is the most important factor their profile for dynasty rookie drafts. But what does that draft capital mean, and how can we use it to our advantage?

    We are reaching the peak of rookie season. The NFL combine has passed, and it won’t be long until the NFL Draft is here. For dynasty rookie drafts, a player’s NFL draft capital is by far the most important factor in a player’s profile. But what does that draft capital mean, and how can we use it to our advantage? Keep reading to find out.

    You may have read one of the previous versions of this article, but for those who haven’t, we are looking at the historical hit rates by position and round for all IDPs. A hit is defined as having a top 6, 12, 24, or 36 seasonal finish at any position within 3 years of their draft year. Why three years? Because most players break out at the top-24 level in their first three seasons.

    It is not a perfect, but it is clear and can be consistently applied across positions. Player statistics were taken from pro-football-reference.com and scored using IDP123. Player positions try to reflect True Positions as much as possible. Players from the 2011 to 2020 drafts are included, as more recent classes haven’t been in the league long enough.

    Why is This Important?

    It is important to remember with incoming rookies that, no prospect has a 100% chance of being a hit. Players get hurt, or maybe they have off-field issues to overcome. Maybe their coaches are idiots, and the player never fully develops. We have no idea what will happen to these players in the future.

    A popular question at this time of year is “When do I draft IDPs in rookie drafts?”. Hit rates help answer this question (but more on that later). Hit rates should be the starting point for rookie rankings, and drastic variations from draft capital should be questioned.

    One notable example occurred last year, with third-round linebacker Nakobe Dean often being drafted after First Round linebacker Quay Walker. Three years ago, it was common for Jordyn Brooks to be drafted 20 picks after his fellow First Round linebackers, Patrick Queen, Isaiah Simmons, and Kenneth Murray.

    Ultimately, we rely on the vast resources of NFL scouting departments to do our work for us. Inefficiencies in the rookie draft market can be found and exploited with knowledge of hit rates.

    Defensive End Hit Rates

    Defensive End hit rates within first 3 career years 2011 to 2020 drafts

    Defensive end is the most top-heavy defensive position and features a significant split between high and low picks in the First Round. This makes sense because the defensive end is a premium position in the NFL. If a player is truly a great prospect, they get picked early.

    Late round-one, round-two, and round-three hit rates are very similar, except for the top six and top 12 rates for round one. There is room in that range to stray from draft capital alone when ranking prospects.

    Defensive Tackle Hit Rates

    Defensive Tackle hit rates within first 3 career years 2011 to 2020 drafts

    While defensive tackles still have a noticeable split between the top and bottom of the first round, that split is less pronounced than defensive end. Here, round two is noticeably better than the rest of the draft, with rounds three to five blending together.

    Linebacker Hit Rates

    Linebacker hit rates within first 3 career years 2011 to 2020 drafts

    First-round linebackers get significant playing time at some point in their rookie contract, leading to the highest rate of top 24 and top 36 seasons of any position. Linebacker is not a premium position in NFL, so there are half as many players selected in the first round than at defensive end or defensive tackle.

    There are significant drop-offs in hit rates between rounds. However, the drop-offs are not as steep as those for defensive linemen. It is difficult to justify later-round linebackers being drafted over highly drafted ones.

    Cornerback Hit Rates

    Cornerback hit rates within first 3 career years 2011 to 2020 drafts

    Cornerback features some of the worst hit rates for early-round picks of any position. With every team starting two or more cornerbacks, there are just too many players with full times roles, diluting the player pool.

    Safety Hit Rates

    Safety hit rates within first 3 career years 2011 to 2020 drafts

    Safeties are often drafted later into rookie drafts than defensive linemen or linebackers. Safety offers high hit rates through the Third Round. After Round Three, there is a significant drop-off in safety hit rates.

    Safety is the flattest IDP position in terms of hit rates, so there is much more room here to rank players differently from their draft capital.

    Repeat Rates

    IDP repeat rates by position and round

    The chart above shows the average number of top 24 finishes by a player’s position and first season in the top 24. Players with early breakouts are more likely to have multiple additional hit seasons. However, there is some bias as later breakouts have fewer chances to repeat.

    The two defensive line positions have higher repeat rates than the other positions. These two positions correlate more directly between player quality and fantasy success, while the other positions are more volume driven.

    How Can We Use This?

    Rookie hit rates are an excellent way to set up your rookie draft board. I believe several factors should be considered:

    • The hit rates for each player's draft round and position.
    • The impact that each position has on your league, based on scoring, number of starters, and number of teams. This includes adjustments if your league does not separate defensive ends from defensive tackles or cornerbacks from safeties.
    • Typical positional repeat rates
    • Future trade value. For example, if the top Defensive End is only ever worth the rookie 1.06 in your league, it’s difficult to justify taking a Defensive End with the same pick.

    How detailed you want to get is up to you. In some of my 2022 drafts, I looked at typical scoring from the past 3 seasons and multiplied the hit rates for each player by the value above last starter that corresponded to that hit. Additionally, I played Average Draft Position games, as I’m always looking to maximize value with my selections.

    Thank you for reading this comprehensive review of IDP rookie hit rates. You can find my other articles on my IDP Guys author page and me on Twitter @djkelltown.

    David Kelly

    A Canadian fantasy football player for longer than he remembers. Enjoys the NHL, a good CFL game, and a lively IDP fantasy league.

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