Ranking players for Dynasty Leagues is a dubious endeavor. Dynasty rankings differ vastly from the typical redraft dreck. It’s an inexact science, as the ranker must account for projected longevity and situation. Predicting a player’s future circumstance can be a fool’s errand. You can look to contract length, but NFL contracts are not guaranteed, which doesn’t account for trades. Guessing where a player will go in free agency is just as imprecise. Who knows which team a player signs with two to three years from now? I elected to focus attention on longevity, as I believe it to be a more stable metric to project.
According to Careertrend.com, the average career length of an NFL running back is less than three seasons, 2.57 years to be exact; the same is true of wide receivers (2.81), but the average length of an NFL quarterback’s career is 4.44 years. Talent plays a role in suppressing these numbers. The players who cannot sustain a career in the NFL typically retire early. It’s not easy to build a life when your career bounces you from city to city just hanging on to a spot on the practice squad. One of my favorite NFL players, Devine Ozigbo, started the season on the Jaguars’ practice squad, then went to the Saints, then back to Jacksonville, and now is on the Patriots practice squad. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s four moves in 17 weeks (not ideal). I hope Ziggy continues to play, but I would completely understand if he retired tomorrow. The players on this list won’t have to worry about early retirement, so we can reasonably expect their careers to last longer than the average, but those averages provide valuable perspective.
After digging into these numbers, I discount the Runningback position in dynasty leagues. The rest of the fantasy industry is adjusting glacially to the new NFL. The Quarterback is the primary playmaker in this league, and by design, the rules facilitate the passing game. Dynasty leagues have been ahead of this curve for some time now. It’s playoff time. Stability is in the QB position, and dynasty managers love a reliable source of points. Look at the rosters of the playoff teams in your league. Who do they have at QB? You will see Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. There may be a team with captain Kirk in there, but for the most part, it will be well-established stud QBs. I wrote all this to prepare you to see multiple QBs in a fantasy football top 10. Hold onto your butts.
Rank. Player Name | Age | Position | NFL Team
1. Jonathan Taylor | 22 | RB | Colts – J.T. Hold the T is the latest heartthrob to have the fantasy football world feeling gushy. His interests are Long runs, stiff arms, and (endzone) dancing. Taylor’s most impressive feature is his ability to improve. His speed and strength are apparent not as obvious are his intelligence and diligence. Taylor considered going to Harvard but instead chose Wisconsin, a quality school with significant academic standards, where he double-majored in physics and astronomy with a 3.5 GPA. Smart players get better, and Taylor’s intelligence is a big reason he has turned weaknesses into strengths. When Taylor arrived in Indianapolis, the rookie was unaccustomed to taking handoffs from the shotgun formation. He had run more “traditional” under-center handoffs with the Badgers. Three weeks into 2020, he was relegated to the bench, watching Marlon Mack on gamedays. Taking handoffs at a standstill was something Taylor had to improve, and that’s what he did. Jonathan adjusted to the quicker reads and abbreviated timing of the shotgun run and, he hasn’t seen the bench since. NFL RBs have a limited shelf life, but I like this Colt to carry your fantasy team for the 4-8 years.
2. Justin Jefferson | 22 | WR | Vikings – Justin Jefferson is a glider. He seems to be going faster than his body would indicate and, that inexplicable deception makes him almost impossible to defend. Jefferson is arguably the best WR in the league and only 22 years old. In 2020, Justin’s 1,400 receiving yards were the second-most for a rookie in NFL history, and he is getting better. Jefferson is on pace for 111 receptions for 1,640 yards in his second season. He’s a smooth runner, great after the catch and, he has some of the best hands in the league. The only “con” I can think of to put on his list is future uncertainty with the QB position. Captain Kirk is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Cousins once took a knee when he intended to stop the clock with a spike. Who can predict a player like that? Kirk’s withstanding, J.J. is a top 5 receiver for the next ten years.
3. Patrick Mahomes | 26 | QB | Chiefs – He has thrown 144 passing TDs in the last four years! Let sink in a minute. His other numbers are about as impressive: 18,000 passing yards and over 1,000 rushing yards with eight rushing TDs. Notice that he is still only 26 years old. I think it’s reasonable to expect another 8-10 years of similar production, which means if you have Mahomes in a dynasty league, you have likely locked up a top-five scorer for over a decade. So why is he not rated number 1 overall? He doesn’t need to be. 3rd is as high as you will see Mahomes, or any other QB ranked on any dynasty list. Jonathan Taylor is great, but he won’t be a top-five scorer for a decade. RBs don’t last that long. This game requires at least two RBs, and position scarcity is the primary reason Jonathan ranks above Patrick.
4. Ja’Marr Chase | 21 | WR | Bengals – He’s the youngest player on the top ten and, he arguable has the brightest future. Chase is the unique receiver that can do it all. He has sure hands, runs meticulous routes, and is a dynamic runner after the catch. Ja’Marr has already put up 1,000 yards receiving in his rookie season, and you can expect many more as he settles into the Queen City. Chase is a big-play receiver, so his games could be a little hot and cold. Fantasy managers will need to be patient with him. I expect the Bengals to be very patient. He has earned the trust of his QB and coach. I think all three will remain in Cincy for the foreseeable future, and that consistency bodes well for Ja’Marr. He is the biggest wildcard on the list, but you want to hold all the wilds one can get to be numero UNO in this fantasy game.
5. Najee Harris | 23 | RB | Steelers – Harris has always been the man. He was a 5-star prospect in high school. He went to Alabama and scored 57 touchdowns. It’s one thing to be labeled a blue-chip, another thing to surpass those expectations. Najee has done all of that. Harris was arguably the best player on the best college football team, and he has a strong argument for that title on the 7-6-1 Steelers. He creates so much production with so little help around him. He is on pace for 1,100 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving, and 80 receptions. Touchdowns are the only statistic that projects low (12).; that should correct itself as his career progresses. The supporting cast the Steelers have surrounded him with is not great and, that will likely continue to limit some of his production. I think you can realistically expect Najee to keep up similar (if not better) numbers for the next four to six seasons.
6. Justin Herbert | 23 | QB | Chargers – Santa can skip at the Herbert house on Christmas because Justin has all the gifts a QB could wish for. He is a 6′, 6″ 240 lbs. bazooka-armed thrower with quick feet and brilliant processing. Herbert has already put up 500 yards rushing and 8,000 yards passing in less than two seasons. The Chargers have a middle-of-the-pack rushing attack (currently ranked 16th in the league) do not be surprised if the team leans more heavily on Herbert as he matures. The former duck will fly atop fantasy ranking for years to come. When it comes to his potential, the sky is the limit. The fantasy manager could get another decade of 4,000 yards passing and 40 TDs per season.
7. Christian McCaffrey | 25 | RB | Panthers – Injury caveats apply. Has he put too many muscles on that frame? Is that a ridiculous question- probably. Who knows why he keeps getting injured; certainly not a non-doctery not a doctor like me. The Panthers would be wise to monitor his workload closely in the future, so the 400 touch year is not happening again. I also question if we will see another 1,000-yards rushing and 1,000-yard receiving season from him as we did in 2019. That said, McCaffrey will be the primary playmaker on the Panthers for the next few seasons and, he has proven to be capable of providing massive production. Bet on his previous production. Bet on his upside and be prepared to adjust if he can’t swat away the injury bug. Don’t expect anything in the future with McCaffrey, but I recommend you ride this rollercoaster player through the loopdy-loops and maybe trade him later, just before you throw your hands up for the drop.
8. Tyreek Hill | 27 | WR | Chiefs – The elder statesman of the top ten has plenty of youth left in those lightning-quick legs. He has averaged over 75 receptions per year since he joined the NFL six years ago and, he has already seen 130 targets for 90 catches this season. Do those numbers represent a peak or just an upswing in production? Whatever the case may be, Hill’s increased volume is an indication that he is not slowing down at this moment. I don’t want to delve too deep into character issues, but Hill has many, so be wary of off-field behavior- The only person who can stop Tyreek Hill is Tyreek Hill. His production puts him in the top tier at WR and at 27 years old, catching passes from the best QB in the game. Fantasy league managers should expect at least 4-6 more years of that elite production.
9. Josh Allen | 25 | QB | Bills – Allen is one of my favorite players to watch in the NFL. He’s the hero cowboy of the spaghetti western, coming from Wyoming to Buffalo. He will vanquish our foes and lead the town(franchise) into prosperity. Sheriff Allen wills the Bills to victory; heck, pert near done it against dem Buccaneers. Allen is closing in on 14,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing for his career, tack on 125 total TDs and, you can understand why he belongs on this list. QBs who come from talent-deficient college teams seem to deal with the adjustment to the NFL better than QBs who come from great college teams. The QB from the poor team knows how to take over the game and become the primary playmaker. Josh Allen carries the Bills and, he will haul your fantasy team for the next 8-10 years. He may slow down as a runner, but his arm is legit and, that should keep him going in the late years of his career.
10. Alvin Kamara | 26 | RB | Saints – Kamara was not utilized well by his college coaching staff which suppressed his draft stock and clouded his fantasy future. The fantasy managers who peered through the pettifog found a dynamo. Kamara can run it and catch it. He can beat defenses with power or speed, or both. By the end of this season, he will probably have over 7,000 total yards and 70 TDs in his career, so Kamara has already earned his keep. He is placed 10th on this list because the trajectory is tapering off. For the first season in his decorated NFL career, he is averaging less than 4 yards per rushing attempt and, he will be limited to fewer than 80 receptions. Injuries are beginning to be an issue for him, and the departure of Drew Brees has not helped. Kamara is a hard worker and, his talent is off the charts, so I expect a rebound next year with better health. Managers can expect to get a few more years of top-five RB production.