What is it that makes drafting rookies so much fun? I’m told humans don’t like change. Yet each season a new crop of players enter the NFL and us fantasy footballers are mesmerized by their shine. Captivated by the the unknown. Resistance to the changing of the fantasy football guard is feeble to non-existent. Maybe it’s the lottery factor at play. Humans resist big life changes, but not when those changes are the result of winning the lottery. And what’s a rookie if not a lottery ticket. I remember scratching off my Sony Michel ticket expecting to reveal Jamaal Charles. And that Laquon Treadwell quick-pick I hoped would result in a Randy Moss-like windfall. But now the savings are all gone and I’m eating two meals a day from dumpsters just to be able to afford my next rookie fix. Ahhh yes, just one more hit of the shiny stuff. Rondale Moore is sure to fill the cavernous spiritual void in my soul. Anyway, here’s my top 10 rookies for 2021 PPR dynasty leagues:

*Note: these rankings are geared towards half PPR, 1QB dynasty leagues

Tier 1 – If These Guys Stink I’ll Finally Give Up on Kerryon Johnson

1. Ja’Marr Chase | WR | Bengals | Round 1 Pick 5

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: A+

I’m not sure there was a better possible landing spot for Ja’Marr Chase. Joe Burrow connected with Chase 84 times for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns during their 2019 season together at LSU. You think these two might have a little chemistry?

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: B+

Burrow might have a little rust to knock off after his ACL/MCL surgery, but all signs point to him being ready for week 1. While Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins provide some legitimate competition for targets, I expect Chase claims the alpha receiving role in Cincy by the start of 2022, if not sooner.

2. Najee Harris | RB | Steelers | Round 1 Pick 24

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: B

For three straight seasons Mike Tomlin has shown incredible loyalty to James Conner, even when his bell cow looked pedestrian at best. That’s a positive for the new man in the Steel City. The real uncertainty with Pittsburgh is at the QB position, where Ben Roethlisberger has been on the brink of retirement for years. Is Dwayne Haskins their plan for the future? He might be, so I’m not crazy about getting overly invested in this offense at the moment.

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: A-

For now Big Ben is the man for another season and his running backs have always been plus fantasy assets ever since the Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker days. Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland will steal some touches, but first round draft capital seems to be a meaningful metric when predicting running back usage. Look for Harris to get the ball early and often.

 

Tier 2 – If All These Guys Stink I’ll Stop Sneaking Shirtless Pics of Darren Waller Into My Articles

 

3. Jaylen Waddle | WR | Dolphins | Round 1 Pick 6

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: B+

I’m higher than most on Waddle and the Dolphins offense as a whole. This lofty ranking is linked to my belief that Tua will take a big step forward in year two. If you aren’t a believer in the young Dolphins QB then moving Waddle down to the bottom of tier two, or lower, makes plenty of sense. Just keep in mind, he has huge upside.

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: B-

Devante Parker, Will Fuller and Preston Williams aren’t exactly soft competition for targets out of the gates. This group plus Tua’s mediocre rookie performance has me tempering my expectations a bit for 2021, as much as I do love Waddle’s upside.

4. Javonte Williams | RB | Broncos | Round 2 Pick 35

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: A-

Our man Bobby wrote up a nice think piece last month about Pat Shurmer’s extensive history of bell cow running back usage. This paints a positive mid to long-term outlook for the UNC product, Javonte Williams, with Melvin Gordon more than likely leaving Denver after the 2021 season. 

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: C+

The flip side to Shurmer traditionally leaning heavily on one RB is that Williams likely finds himself playing second fiddle for the 2021 season. Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay did each handle double-digit carries five times in 2020, but Lindsay saw over 11 carries only three times in his 11 games. I’ll be avoiding Javonte Williams in 2021 redraft leagues unless he falls really far.

5. Kyle Pitts | TE | Falcons | Round 1 Pick 4

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: B-

Pitts is the highest drafted tight end EVER. Landing spot be damned. But it’s actually a nice landing spot too. Remember the Falcons and Matt Ryan are the ones who made Austin Hooper look like the top receiving TE in the NFL two years ago. The real long term question in my mind is, what happens with Matt Ryan’s contract option at the end of the 2021 season? Is he worth the 16.25 and 20.5 million he’d be due to collect in 2022 and 2023? And if not, who’s the Falcons’ passer of the future? 

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: A

Tight ends are notorious for taking some time to acclimate to the NFL due to the dual learning of both blocking schemes and receiving packages. On the plus side for Pitts, he probably won’t be asked to block all that much and the void left by Julio Jones could vault him immediately into the #2 receiving option in Atlanta. Again, Matt Ryan likes his tight ends.

6. Travis Etienne | RB | Jaguars | Round 1 Pick 25

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: B+

There’s many worse long-term situations than a team that just landed arguably the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. This is also a franchise which just last year gave their undrafted rookie RB 240 carries. But it’s also a new regime in Jacksonville for the 2021 season. Will Urban Meyer be open to bell cow usage?

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: C+

Regardless of draft capital, Etienne will still have to deal with the incumbent James Robinson. The consensus opinion seems to be that we should write Robinson off since the Jags spent a first rounder on another back, and it’s hard to argue with that logic. But at the same time, it’s hard to argue with Robinson’s on field performance in 2020. I’m not saying he’s the next Arian Foster or Priest Holmes—dominant undrafted running backs—but it’s within the realm of possibilities. 

 

Tier 3 – Small Dudes, Big Hearts

7. Rondale Moore | WR | Cardinals | Round 2 Pick 49

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: A

Any receiver attached to Kyler Murray long-term has me wearing rose colored glasses. The diminutive Moore (5’7″ – 181 lbs) should have every opportunity to excel out of the slot in the Kliff Kingsbury offense. Also, the kid isn’t even of legal drinking age yet.

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: A-

There’s a bunch of mouths to feed in AZ with the rapidly aged A.J. Green joining Hopkins and Kirk, but Kingsbury isn’t shy about spreading the receivers out four-wide. I won’t be surprised to see Moore burst onto the scene, quickly becoming Murray’s second favorite receiving option in the desert.

 

8. Elijah Moore | WR | Jets | Round 2 Pick 34

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: B-

This is about as optimistic as I can get about the Jets. There’s new hope with Zach Wilson’s arrival and Adam Gase’s long overdue departure. But, ya know, it’s still the Jets

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: C-

Corey Davis, Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder is now a pretty decent wide receiver room for Moore join. For redraft, I can’t say I’m overly excited to jump into bed with a rookie QB’s #4 option heading into the 2021 season.

 

Tier 4 – Sunshine’s Tier

9. Trey Sermon | RB | 49ers |Round  3 Pick 88

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: A-

Kyle Shanahan spending a 3rd rounder on a running back has everyone’s interest piqued. It’s been a bit of a fantasy nightmare in the Golden City the past couple seasons if you were expecting one RB to separate themself from the pack. But remember, Shanahan leaned heavily on Alfred Morris and Devonta Freeman when he was the offensive coordinator in Washington and Atlanta. The willingness to pay the 3rd round pricetag for Sermon at least gives hope for a return to bell cow usage in San Fran.

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: C

While there is hope, it’s still a crowded backfield for 2021 with Mostert and Hasty now being joined by Wayne Gallman. The 6th round draft pick spent on Elijah Mitchell shouldn’t be completely overlooked either. There’s an outside chance for Sermon to be one of those league winning RBs this year, but I expect the draft day price tag may be a little too rich for my blood.

 

10. Trevor Lawrence | QB | Jaguars | Round 1 Pick 1

Long-term Landing Spot Grade: B

It’s more or less a blank slate for Lawrence in Jacksonville. Sure, you’d rather have a dominant offensive line in place and a well oiled, proven coaching staff. But that’s not realistic when it’s required that you’re the worst team in the league to land the most elite QB prospect of the last decade. A blank slate is about as much as we can ask for.

Short-term Landing Spot Grade: C-

The number one pick could do worse than coming into offensive weapons like Chark, Shenault, Marvin Jones, James Robinson and Travis Etienne. Actually I’m trying to think of a worse set of receiving weapons and few situations come to mind. *adjusts C+ rating to C-* But there’s legitimate potential for a sophomore Shenault breakout. And Chark, while I’m not a fan, has shown elite flashes in his own right. There’s pieces to work with here.

 

  1. Slimbo says:
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    Thanks for the article

    which side in a dynasty? Keep forever no cost

    Gaskin/P Campbell/Kmet or
    Moss/Logan thomas

    Thanks

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      Sure Slimbo. Thanks for reading.

      I’d want the Gaskin side but it’s fair. Pretty much a coin flip if I’m being honest.

  2. big league choo says:
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    No devonta smith? Too much injury risk like Desean Jackson with that frame?

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      Hey big league choo,

      Sorry I missed this.

      Yes, Boof went over his concerns in his rookie WR rankings posts and I agree with them. What other 6’1″/170lbs WR has succeeded in the NFL? I can’t think of one….

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