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Rookies and Sophomores Fantasy Tournament Strategy

rookies and sophomores

Rookies and Sophomores (R&S) is the newest best ball tournament on Underdog Fantasy, and in the spirit of these quick-hitting 4-person, 12-round drafts that take 10 minutes, this will be (by far) my shortest strategy guide of the 2023 offseason. I'll cover the tournament rules, a few basic strategies, players that are mispriced, and my favorite final round picks in this format.

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Tournament Structure

  • $10 entry fee, 11,200 total entrants, 150 entries max per person, 10.7% rake
    • $20,000 to 1st place
  • Only players that will be in their first or second year in the NFL are in the player pool
  • 4-person drafts, 12-rounds, 48 total picks per draft
  • Best ball format, with your best QB, RB, 2 WR/TE, 1 FLEX entering your optimal lineup each week
    • Note that TEs are folded in with WRs
    • The flex can be any RB/WR/TE
  • Tournament contains four rounds of scoring
    • Weeks 1-14 cumulative, top-scoring team advances
    • Week 15, 10-person groups with the top-2 teams advancing
    • Week 16, 10-person groups with the top team advancing
    • Week 17, 56 person final

Basic Strategies

  • Aim for 1-3 quarterbacks, 2-4 running backs, and 5-7 wide receivers on your roster
  • Do not neglect the quarterback position
    • Kenny Pickett, Bryce Young (scouting report), and C.J. Stroud (scouting report) are the only three quarterbacks I'm confident will start at least 12 games next season
    • Quarterback is more important in this format
    • Quarterback accounts for one of five starting roster spots each week, while other best ball formats usually have QB as one of eight or one of nine starting spots
  • Capitalize on mispriced players (next section)
  • Take a player who is frequently undrafted with your final pick (final section)

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Mispriced Players by ADP

When attacking the Rookies and Sophomores tournament on Underdog Fantasy, we should be treating it as a portion of our larger best ball portfolio. This is a trick I've learned from betting on player props, where you search for the best lines and odds (line shopping).

We can utilize Big Board ADP, which is a 112,800 person tournament that's already halfway full. We can treat this larger sample size as "ADP gospel" and we should roughly expect rookies and sophomores ADPs to converge to the holy music.

Bryce Young vs. Kenny Pickett

  • Young goes ahead of Pickett in the Big Board (ADP 136 vs. ADP 151).
  • In the R&S tournament, Pickett goes at pick 3, while Young falls to pick 6.
  • Clearly, drafters are concerned about how many games Young starts. I'm not particularly worried and will be overly exposed to Young in this format.

Brock Purdy vs. Desmond Ridder

  • Brock Purdy goes ahead of Desmond Ridder (ADP 220 vs. ADP 224) in the Big Board.
  • Ridder goes at pick 24, while Purdy falls to pick 33 in R&S.
  • Best guess would be Ridder starts a few games for the Falcons, while Purdy plays the second half of the season for the 49ers.
    • Games late in the season are more important in this format, and Purdy looks like a nice value.

Zach Charbonnet vs. Rachaad White

  • Zach Charbonnet goes one pick ahead of Rachaad White (ADP 96 vs. ADP 97) in the Big Board.
  • White goes at pick 28, while Charbonnet falls to 34 in R&S.
  • I don't understand this difference in ADP, and will have a lot of Charbonnet in my R&S portfolio.

Christian Watson vs. Drake London

  • Christian Watson is a mid-fourth round pick in the Big Board (pick 44), while Drake London goes in the fifth round (pick 51).
  • In the R&S tournament, London goes at pick 9, while Watson is at pick 10.
  • I'm pounding the table for Watson in this format, as there's no reason for this discrepancy.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba (JSN) vs. Jameson Williams vs. George Pickens

  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba (pick 58) goes ahead of Jameson Williams (pick 60) and George Pickens (pick 71) in the Big Board.
  • Pickens (12), JSN (13), and Williams (16) have a different order in R&S.
  • Fully fade Pickens in this format, opting for Smith-Njigba and Williams instead.

Quentin Johnston vs. Jahan Dotson

  • Quentin Johnston (pick 80) and Jahan Dotson (pick 83) go at a similar spot in the Big Board.
  • Their ADPs are flipped in R&S, with Dotson (20) going ahead of Johnston (23).
  • This discrepancy is fairly minor, though I'd skew exposure slightly in favor of Johnston in this format, given the larger sample size behind Big Board ADP.

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Best Final Round Picks

With your final pick, I'd recommend taking a running back with an all-purpose skill set — think of players that could realistically be the hot waiver wire add for a 2-3 week stretch during the 2023 season.

All four of the below running backs go undrafted in this tournament, yet have significant upside. If one of these players pops in the best ball playoffs, you gain massive leverage over the tournament field.

Jaylen Warren

  • Came out of nowhere to steal 77 carries and 28 receptions from Najee Harris as a rookie.
  • If Harris goes down, Jaylen Warren should command 15-20 touches per game.

Roschon Johnson

  • Bijan Robinson's backup in college.
  • 6-foot, 219 pounds and ran a 4.58 40-yard-dash, demonstrating he has feature back size and adequate speed.
  • Capable in all phases and should get Round 3 or Round 4 draft capital.

Eric Gray

  • 5-foot-10, 207 pounds at the NFL Combine.
  • Projected to go early Day 3 in the NFL Draft.
  • 1,366 rushing yards and 33 receptions as a Senior at Oklahoma.

Evan Hull

  • 5-foot-10, 209 pounds with 4.47 speed, demonstrating he has size and athleticism.
  • Likely gets drafted early to mid Day 3 (Rounds 4-6).
  • Over 1,000 rushing yards as a junior at Northwestern, followed by 55 receptions and 546 receiving yards as a senior.
  • The profile is great outside the expected draft capital.

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We hope you enjoyed this Rookies and Sophomores tournament strategy article. Be sure to check out all our best ball content, like our top-250 Underdog rankings.

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