Ian Kulkowski’s 2014 Rookie Valuation Rankings

Guest submission from DynaBowl GM Ian Kulkowski

The previous article and the upcoming Dynabowl Rookie draft got me thinking about the value of rookies.  This is an area that if a GM gets right could be the key to long term Dynabowl success which after all is what we all crave.  In 20 years time the only thing that will matter is the numbers of Championships you have won.

The 10 Dynabowl GM’s have employed different strategies when it comes to building their rosters. Some have taken a ‘win now’ approach (Firebirds, Losers, Kelkowski) and applied a correspondingly low value to rookies.  Some have taken the ‘dominate in the future’ approach (Bombermen, Dyna Hard, CotS) and have loaded their rosters with potential and don’t mind paying for it.  Some have taken the radical ‘win never’ approach (Sadness) and loaded up on valuable Safeties.

Which will turn out to be the triumphant strategy only time will tell.  Or maybe there is no correct way, maybe it’s all just down to dumb luck in the end.

One thing we do know going into the 2015 rookie draft is what the initial costs of our drafted rookies will be.  There’s a handy table in the rules section of the Dynabowl website (www.dynabowl.com) –

Pick Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4
1 $20, 4 years $10, 3-4 years $6, 2-3 years $3, 1-3 years
2 $19, 4 years $10, 3-4 years $6, 2-3 years $3, 1-3 years
3 $18, 4 years $10, 3-4 years $6, 2-3 years $3, 1-3 years
4 $17, 4 years $10, 3-4 years $6, 2-3 years $3, 1-3 years
5 $16, 4 years $9, 3-4 years $5, 2-3 years $2, 1-3 years
6 $15, 4 years $9, 3-4 years $5, 2-3 years $2, 1-3 years
7 $14, 4 years $9, 3-4 years $5, 2-3 years $2, 1-3 years
8 $13, 4 years $8, 3-4 years $5, 2-3 years $2, 1-3 years
9 $12, 4 years $8, 3-4 years $4, 2-3 years $1, 1-3 years
10 $11, 4 years $7, 3-4 years $4, 2-3 years $1, 1-3 years
11 $11, 4 years $7, 3-4 years $4, 2-3 years $1, 1-3 years
12 $11, 4 years $7, 3-4 years $4, 2-3 years $1, 1-3 years (and all deeper picks)

So I thought if I applied to these costs to each of the rookies selected in 2014, ranked by their initial auction value I could somehow gage where, if at all any value could be achieved.

Round 1

Pick 1 – Sammy Watkins

Auction value $37, Rookie Value $20

Watkins was one of the highest ranked rookies going into last season (behind only Sankey possibly) so it’s no surprise he attained the highest auction value.  At $37 this is way above what he would cost as a rookie.  Watkins was the 26th ranked WR in our game last year with 133 points which in any normal season would be stellar for a rookie.  Still Watkins will likely improve and should become a fixture in the top 20 WR’s.  If he ever had someone decent throwing to him his value would be even greater.

So the conclusion is if you’d taken Watkins with the first pick at $20 I think you’d be pretty happy with the value you’d got.  See where I’m going with this now?  No?  Not sure I do either.  Anyway….

Pick 2 – Brandin Cooks

Auction value $33, Rookie Value $19

The second highest ranked  rookie WR prior to last year’s draft was probably Cooks, especially given his nice landing spot with the Saints.  The $33 the Bombermen paid is again more than the $19 the 2nd pick in the rookie draft would have cost. Cooks ended up as the 59th ranked WR last year with just 88 points.  This came however in an injury shortened season where Cooks missed the last 6 games with a broken thumb.  His per game points were 8.8 ranking him 25th amongst WRs.  Looking forward Cooks is now the only receiver remaining in New Orleans so has tremendous potential, however the future remains unclear for the Saints so it’s difficult to judge how good a position being their no. 1 WR will be going forward.

At $19 though I think you would be pretty pleased with your investment of the no. 2 pick in Cooks.

Pick 3 – Teddy Bridgeater

Auction value $30, Rookie Value $18

Manboob clearly has the biggest mancrush on Teddy.  It makes me sick.  Of last season’s rookie QB’s he was probably most people’s no 1 by a small margin though I doubt many would have him ranked as the no. 3 rookie.  Bridgeeater was the 22nd ranked QB last season behind the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Alex Smith and just ahead of Kyle Orton.  He should improve this season and possibly trouble the top 10-15 QB’s.

$18 would represent reasonable value for Bridgeeater, there are however a number of ‘safe’ older top 15 QB’s in our league who cost much less (Rapistberger $8, Tannehill $2, Manning $1, Romo $4) so maybe using the pick differently would be wiser.

Pick 4 – Mike Evans

Auction Value $30, Rookie Value $17

Evans had an exceptional season as a rookie last year finishing as the no. 10 overall WR in our game with 177 points.  He has the opportunity to improve this season with a potentially improved QB situation with Heisman trophy winner and No.1 overall pick in this years NFL Jameis Winston behind center.

Evans is up there with the elite WR’s straight away so $17 represents exceptional value.

Pick 5 – Carlos Hyde

Auction Value $28, Rookie Value $16

Hyde was backup to Frank Gore in his rookie season with the 49ers hence he ended up as the 50th ranked running back with 69 points.  With Gore now gone Hyde will get his chance as feature back so this year will be when his value is revealed.  If Hyde doesn’t produce competition will come from Reggie Bush so he’s by no means a cert.

Determining Hyde’s value is difficult at this stage.  If he makes the 49ers backfield his own and ends up as a top 15-20 back then the $16 investment is worthwhile.  If he ends up in a committee then that price may not end up looking that good.

Pick 6 – Bishop Sankey

Auction Value $22, Rookie Value $15

Sankey was the no.1 ranked rookie going into last season but didn’t achieve that position amongst our rookies.  We must have known something as Sankey disappointed last year finishing 43rd amongst RB’s despite being the lead back at Tennessee.  He will get another shot as the lead back but will be on a shorter leash with this year’s 5th round pick David Cobb competing for time in the Titans backfield.

At this point $15 looks like poor value as there is a big chance Sankey could be a bust.

Pick 7 – Johnny Football

Auction Value $21, Rookie Value $14

Manziel’s rookie season was a disaster as he failed spectacularly to live up to the hype and spent the majority of the season as backup to Brian Hoyer for the Browns, ending up with a stint in rehab.  It’s doubtful whether Manziel will make any impact this or any year although competition in Cleveland is never too fierce so his time may come one day.

Currently Manziel has very little dynasty value so $14 would be wasted.

Pick 8 – Jadeveon Clowney

Auction Value $20, Rookie Value $13

The no. 1 overall pick in last year’s NFL draft Clowney was unsurprisingly the highest priced rookie defender in our auction.  Last year was a write off for Clowney after having two lots of surgery on his knee.  Health will continue to be a question going into the 2015 season and it remains to be seen if Clowney can get back to where he was.  If he does he will surely cement himself amongst the top LB’s in the game.

A fit Clowney should be amongst the top scoring LB’s but does $13 represent good value even here?  Probably just about although if you look at the top scoring LB’s from last season only 5 of the top 25 cost more than $4 with most costing only $1.

Pick 9 – Ryan Shazier

Auction Value $19, Rookie Value $12

A surprise pick at no. 9 in our draft it’s fair to say the Steelers 1st round pick was probably not regarded as one of the top fantasy prospects.  Like Clowney Shazier suffered with injuries in his debut season reducing him to only a handful of starts making it impossible to make a judgment at this stage.

Similarly to Clowney if Shazier delivers a fully fit season he could be amongst the top LB’s.  It is however doubtful whether this is enough to represent value at $12.

Pick 10 – Tre Mason

Auction Value $16, Rookie Value $11

Mason was amongst the top RB prospects in last year’s rookie class and ended up rounding out our first round of rookies.  After quickly usurping Zac Stacy & Benny Cunningham atop the Rams RB depth chart Mason performed well finishing 27th amongst RB’s despite not playing in the first 5 games.  Going into 2015 Mason again finds himself 2nd on the Rams depth chart behind this year’s first round pick (and best of class amongst 2015 rookie backs) Todd Gurley.  He undoubtedly has the ability to be a serviceable back but the situation doesn’t look great for the time being in St Louis.

At $11 Mason was decent value last year but the situation in St Louis makes the future uncertain.

Kommish Komment Korner

It’s worth noting that all of these players (I believe – I’ve not researched this Komment) were taken in the auction and the rookies taken in the post-auction roster filling exercise went much, much cheaper. Partially this was down to the by-then depleted finances of franchises but it was also, I believe, influenced by the fact that people were not directly bidding against each other. It is much easier to say “$19” for Ryan Shazier when someone has just said “$18” directly before you than it is to say “I’ll pay a maximum of $20 for Shazier” when you have no idea what else is also going on. The roster-filling stage had lots of bet-hedging going on and players went much cheaper than at auction. At least that’s how I’m explaining my overspending.


I am the Commissioner of the DynaBowl Fantasy Football Dynasty League. What I say goes.

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