Category Archives: Blog

Structural Drafting: Kalen Ballage is a Cheat Code

Rookie drafts are a key area to acquire RB depth in dynasty.  One of the findings as I go along writing The Analytics of Dynasty is finding clear target areas for players. For example, round 1 NFL QBs and day 2 NFL TEs in round 3 of rookie drafts are great ways to fill in players while fading the start one positions in startup drafts.

Another area is RB. RB should be clear targets in the first two rounds of rookie drafts outside a select few WRs.

This year, my rookie draft plan after the top 8 RBs (including RoJo), was Christian Kirk, Courtland Sutton, James Washington, and then Kalen Ballage. Ballage is a player to sit dead red on in the middle of the second round because of the athletic upside and receiving ability in a 228-pound frame.

In chatting with a book purchaser earlier this week, I noticed a historic trend. The historical hit rate of producing a starter  (top 24 finish) for RBs in the second round of rookie drafts is 35%.

Since 2013, there have been 10 RBs who weigh 215 pounds or more, drafted in rookie drafts between picks 13 and 24 in rookie drafts: Terrance West, Jeremy Hill, Zac Stacy, Christine Michael, Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard, David Johnson, David Cobb, Andre Williams and D’Onta Foreman.

Of those 10, 6 produced top 24 seasons, West, Hill, Stacy, Ajayi, Howard and Johnson. Cobb and Williams were athletic duds, Foreman is only in his second year, while Christine Michael rose to a sixth-round startup pick in 2014, a clear value upgrade over his rookie valuation.

This 60% hit is significantly better than the market, and if you exclude poor athletes in Williams and Cobb, your 75% top 24 rate is double the market success rate.

The upside is good as 5 of the RBs produced top 12 seasons, while David Johnson was a league winner in 2016.

That is a good success rate at any point in the draft, but especially so in the second round of rookie drafts.

Much of the narrative around dynasty drafts is focused on debating which two players to pick at a given spot in the draft. This approach is like a general drawing a battle plan: the general can make the best tactical plan imaginable, but if he is fighting the battle in Russia in the winter, he is going to lose the war.

Instead of debating specific players, take a step back, identify a strong strategy, and ask yourself which players best reflect that strategy.

This year Kalen Ballage is a later second-round draft pick, who fits the criteria of this highly successful type of players. At nearly all points of rookie drafts RBs are better bets than WRs, and with the historic success rates in the range, Kalen Ballage reflects a strong strategic approach in the second round of rookie drafts.

Pre-order The Analtyics of Dynasty before September 1st and you will get a one-on-one strategy session including an advance preview of the strategy and tips from the book.

Hitting from Deep in Startup Drafts at RB

Since 2008, there have been 612 RBs with yearly startup ADPs between rounds 11 and 20. Only 1 has hit as a top 6 running back twice in the three years after he was selected in that range: Arian Foster in 2009.

Foster finished as RB1 in Y2 and RB3 in Y3 and then continued into Y4 as RB3 and Y6 as RB6 before fading off (Y5 was an injury-filled season).  His production of 4 top 6 finishes at the RB position would be high for an elite pick but is unmatched deep in startup drafts.

Below is a chart that you might find useful in startup drafts, and is a preview of The Analytics of Dynasty. The chart is organized by rounds from left to right, and show the rate of RBs producing top 6 finishes by year after their selection in that round of startup drafts. There is a steep drop off outside of round 3 in Y1, while there are opportunities to hit in the mid rounds, largely with younger players, beyond Y1. A common debate in the dynasty is the value of youth, but the value of longevity is notable in the mid rounds, where younger backs progress to match far earlier rounds in Y3.

As the research of The Analytics of Dynasty continues, this is a conclusion that finds continuous support. Pre-order The Analytics of Dynasty and you can chat with me about this and much more in a one-on-one strategy session before the start of the 2018 season.

Flashback: Rob Gronkowski’s Dominant 2011 Season

I’ll use this space to keep you updated on some of the fun of this journey. Looking through some data tonight, and Rob Gronkowski’s 2011 is worth a shoutout.

Rob Gronkowski scored 324.7 points in 2011, with 90 receptions, 1327 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was dominant throughout the season, fininshing as the top TE 6 weeks out of the year, and a top 3 TE scoring week 9 times.

By way of reference, since 2008, Jason Witten is the next highest top TE weeks with 5 in 2010.

In 2017, no TE had more than 1 top TE week, and the last time a TE had more than 2 top TE weeks, was Jordan Reed in 2015.

Jimmy Graham finished second in TE scoring in 2011, with 296 points. This finish ranks third since 2008, finishing only behind Gronkowski in 2011 and Graham’s 2013 (303.5 points). Gronkowski’s 2011 was more than 2 PPG better than Graham’s season.

While The Analytics of Dynasty is a primarily a dynasty book, there are other broader takeaways from the data. This is a good example, where paying up for a TE in DFS has been no guarantee the past two years.

What You Will Get From The Analytics of Dynasty

The Analytics of Dynasty is designed to make you a better dynasty player. The book is a deep dive into statistical, production, and market research in dynasty football from 2008 through 2017. The information in the book will allow you to make better strategic decisions in startup drafts, rookie drafts, and trades.

A lot of the advice on the open market is tactical advice.

“Should I trade player A and B for player C and D?”

“You should take player X at 1.03 in a rookie draft.”

“Player Z is a good value in round 6 of a startup.”

That type of advice is nice but does not move the needle much for your dynasty win rate.

The type of analysis in this book will.

The book will focus on some of the following topics:

  • How to exploit a player’s age.
  • How much does NFL draft position matter for rookies?
  • The type of production you should strive for with a pick in a draft.
  • How to value rookies versus veterans.
  • Startup draft strategies that beat ADP.
  • The single most important thing that can increase your likelihood of winning a championship.
  • How win-now startup draft strategies go wrong and how to fix them.
  • The Rule of 7

This is just a preview of some of the topics in The Analytics of Dynasty that will increase the likelihood of winning a dynasty league.

Welcome to The Analytics of Dynasty

  • Asking who to draft or acquire in a trade is the wrong question.

The right question is what players are the best reflection of a winning dynasty strategy. The Analytics of Dynasty is an e-book being released in January 2019. The e-book is a historical and data-driven dynasty strategy that will give you an edge over your competition in startup drafts, rookie drafts, and free agency.

A pre-order is $25 and comes with a one-on-one phone call strategy session. The pre-order offer ends on September 1st, but do not wait. Your one-on-one strategy session will give you a preview of the strategy and an edge on your opponents in the 2018 dynasty season.

 About The Author:

Jordan McNamara is a contributor and podcast co-host at, a feature writer at and contributor to with over 20 years of fantasy football experience. Follow him on twitter @mcnamaradynasty.