Rookies That Move Up in the Draft

You’re in line at the grocery store. It’s a long line. Then another register opens up and the cashier points at you to come to the front of the new line. That’s a good feeling, isn’t it?

In any of life’s situation, when a person has the opportunity to “move up” or is singled out for advancement, it usually works out well for the person. The Jeffersons sitcom from 1975 had a catchy theme song about the joys of “movin’ on up” in life.

Recent history shows that the same advancement applies to the NFL draft.

For most players awaiting to be drafted, it is an exercise in patience as your collegiate value is weighed and ranked against other prospects. In other words, you have to wait in line. Then out of the blue, an NFL team calls an audible. A team makes a draft-day trade to “move up” to select that special player they just have to have.

It bears asking: Does this process of moving up in the draft to secure a specific player translate to the fantasy value of the player?

In short, yes! Obviously, in most instances, the higher a player is drafted may be part of what factors into their value to their team. Whereas players that are drafted in the middle and late rounds may have more of an uphill battle to prove their worth.

Yet when you look at recent draft history, teams that have moved up to secure a specific player, in many cases, that player seems to be rushed into the starting role sooner! For example, look at the 2017 draft class.

  • The Vikings traded up for Dalvin Cook (41).
  • Saints moved up for Alvin Kamara (67).
  • Chiefs too traded up for Kareem Hunt (86).

All 3 saw immediate action and became fantasy relevant.

  • The Bears, Chiefs and Texans all moved up to nab QB Mitch Trubisky (2), Patrick Mahomes (10) and DeShaun Watson (12) respectively.

All 3 of these QB started in 2017, which can be a rare feat for a rookie QB.

Zay Jones was the only WR a team moved up to draft (37). He too started 10 of 15 games for the Bills. Jones’ productivity (27/316/2) may be debatable, but he was targeted a buffalo-sized 74 times. Not bad for a rookie.

TE David Njoku was nabbed earlier by the Browns (29). Njoku had hot and cold weeks but ended with similar numbers to Jones (32/386/4). This is respectable, considering that the expected NFL learning curve for a TE is generally longer.

There were a couple of mid-round moves that were bitten by the injury bug. The 49ers traded up to draft Joe Williams (121). He hurt his ankle and camp and spent 2017 on IR. Also the Eagles moved up to draft Donnel Pumphrey (132). He tore his hamstring and was placed on IR. Rumor is that both Williams and Pumphrey each faces an uphill battle for a 2018 roster spot.

Glancing at the 2016 and 2015 drafts reveals similar “immediate” expectations from the players whose teams traded up to get. But not everything was as promising for Paxton Lynch (2016 #26), Dorial Green-Beckham (2015 #40), and Maxx Williams (2015 #55). So like any other rookie, the success rate is not always a guarantee.

In case you missed it, a new checkout line just opened up for 2018. Here is a list of the 2018 rookies that got to move up to the front of their figurative line:

  • Jets > QB Sam Darnold (#3)
  • Cardinals > QB Josh Rosen (#10)
  • Ravens > QB Lamar Jackson (#32)
  • Lions > RB Kerryon Johnson (#43)
  • Niners > WR Dante Pettis (#44)
  • Eagles > TE Dallas Goedert (#49)
  • Bears > WR Anthony Miller (#51)
  • Steelers > QB Mason Rudolph (#76)
  • Browns > WR Antonio Callaway (#105)
  • Vikings > TE Tyler Conklin (#157)

You may want to give them special consideration in your personal draft rankings. Perhaps giving them an extra bump in dynasty formats.

(Draft history courtesy of ProFootball Reference.)

This is as good a time as any to release the NFL Schedule Grid for 2018, courtesy of the Fantasy Assembly. Between the grid, my fantasy strength of schedule chart, and of course this article, you should be able to make an educated guess as to whether or not that rookie is worth moving up come draft day.


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Joe Mica

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Joe has been passionate about fantasy football since 2001. He has experience as an owner as well as a commissioner in H2H, auction, redraft and IDP leagues. He has written fantasy football columns since 2010. Submit any fantasy football questions you may have to me on twitter @averagejoem

One thought on “Rookies That Move Up in the Draft”

  1. Interesting article. A little surprising that K. Johnson was the only RB a team moved up to draft. May have move him up a bit in my rankings.

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