2021 Rookie Dynasty Rankings: Top 40 Prospects Heading Into NFL Draft
Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Etienne
The 2021 NFL Draft is one week away, so it’s time for me to update my rookie dynasty fantasy football rankings.
This version is significantly different than my way-too-early February version, now that we’ve had free agency, pro days and more time to research the prospects and project their likely draft ranges.
2021 Rookie Dynasty Rankings
Pre- vs. Post-Draft Rookie Rankings
As long as my draft position projections are relatively accurate, there probably won’t be many massive changes when I update the rankings after the draft.
Why is it that?
The tetrad of college production, physical profile, recruitment grade and draft capital mean more than our initial perceptions of a guy’s early-career circumstances.
It’s not hard for us to know — to quantify — a guy’s college production, physical profile, recruitment grade and draft position. We can put exact numbers to each category. And once those numbers are in place, they never change.
But we’re not very good — especially shortly after the draft — at evaluating a guy’s landing spot and projecting the usage he’s likely to have with his team. That’s something we just can’t know.
And yet that seems to be what most people focus on immediately after the draft. That’s misguided.
We’re not great at evaluating circumstances anyway — and circumstances can (and often do) change.
So unless I’m significantly off with my draft capital projections, and unless many players have notable issues with their landing spots that simply must alter the way we view them, I’m hoping that my pre-draft rankings will be fairly similar to my post-draft top 50.
Famous last words.
Here are some general notes on my ranking process and perspective.
- Age: I place a premium on youth, which correlates with longevity and degree of future production. As a result, I tend to have younger players ranked ahead of older players: The younger players have more long-term upside.
- Production window: In creating the rankings, I’ve focused most on the production we can reasonably expect from players within the next three years. After that time frame, projections are highly uncertain, although I still value the unknown long-tailed potential younger players possess.
- Positional scarcity: I tend to devalue players at positions of depth. As a result, quarterbacks are usually low in my rankings because there are so many viable options at the position.
- Longevity: Everything else equal, I usually rank wide receivers ahead of running backs because receivers as a group last longer in the league and maintain value deeper into their careers.
- Projected draft position: In general, the higher a player is selected in the draft, the more productive he’s likely to be in the NFL. I don’t let draft position dictate my entire process, but if I rank contrary to draft position, I need to have a good reason for doing so.
Positional Value In Rookie Dynasty Rankings
In dynasty, it’s hard to build a consistent contender if you aren’t strong at wide receiver and tight end. Patching together production is much easier to do at running back and quarterback, and that knowledge informs the way I rank players, draft rookies and build teams.
I place a high priority on finding wide receivers and tight ends with difference-making potential. Players at these positions take longer to develop than running backs, which is unfortunate, but sharp dynasty investors can use that fact to their advantage.
In search of immediate alpha, too many people take running backs early in rookie drafts. In doing so, they not only buy into volatile short-lived assets but also allow value-seeking patient investors to acquire stable long-term production at a notable discount.
Each year, there are dynasty players who crave the sugar rush of running backs taken in Rounds 2-3, and so they forego the protein of wide receivers selected in Rounds 1-2.
In the long run, such dynasty players lose.
Top 40 Dynasty Rookies
In Consideration For Top 40
- Davis Mills: Senior, Stanford
- Kyle Trask: Redshirt Senior, Florida
- Jermar Jefferson: Junior, Oregon State
- Pooka Williams: Junior, Kansas
- Javian Hawkins: Redshirt Sophomore, Louisville
- D’Wayne Eskridge: Redshirt Senior, Western Michigan
- Marlon Williams: Senior, Central Florida
- Dazz Newsome: Senior, North Carolina
- Jonathan Adams: Senior, Arkansas State
- Tommy Tremble: Junior, Notre Dame
Matthew Freedman is 1,004-797-37 (55.7%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
Last year, he was 124-88-1 (+26.2 units) betting the NFL draft.