Most, but not all, dynasty rookie drafts are over. If you used my Top 30 dynasty rookie rankings as a reference, well, thanks – and also, sorry.
Why sorry? Well, I warned you from the start these rankings are fluid. And, oh boy, have they changed.
RANKING CHANGE FACTORS
I purposely waited as long as I could to make what is potentially my final rookie ranking list heading into the 2021 NFL season.
Prior to watching rookies in live NFL action, I was simply going off of my own evaluation, keeping in mind which team drafted them, their draft capital, the system they’ll be in, competition at their position, etc.
All of that still comes into play with my most recent updates, but let’s be honest, it’s weighted differently now. We have seen the majority of these players in preseason action, deal with injuries, and react to their current situations.
Below you will see a similar layout as before that includes tiered rankings and a synopsis of each tier. Basically it’s a way of separating a group of players in order for readers to know there is a significant enough distinction between the last player of a tier, and the first player of the next tier.
Also, you will find in parentheses where the player was ranked a month ago.
OFFICIAL DYNASTY RANKINGS
Side Note: As always, your current team makeup and league’s scoring system will determine who you target in your drafts. This is a general ranking system of a lot of different factors.
Here is my updated 2021 Dynasty Football Rookie Rankings. In parenthesis was their previous ranking in my Top 30 Dynasty article:
- Najee Harris (1) – RB – Pittsburgh Steelers
He’s officially in his own tier. The separation is partly his doing and partly his fellow rookies behind him. Pittsburgh has thrown him into the fire, and for good reason. His passing chops are as advertised, as is his vision and athleticism. Harris will get volume, and that’s what owners should look for. The only question, if you subscribe to the narrative, is whether his ceiling is capped with a below average offensive line and an aging quarterback.
- Ja’Marr Chase (2) – WR – Cincinnati Bengals
- Kyle Pitts (5) – TE – Atlanta Falcons
- Javonte Williams (3) – RB – Denver Broncos
So I have to preface this by saying Ja’Marr Chase is still my number two. However, the gap between him and Harris is enough to drop him a tier. Am I concerned about his preseason drop issue? Absolutely not. At this very time last season, many were saying Obi Johnson of Minnesota was going to take over the number two wide receiver spot over…Justin Jefferson.
Secondly, there’s a fog around Chase and some off field issues. At the time of writing this article, nothing has gained much traction. So if he’s clear off the field, he’s still my number two. Dude is good. Don’t overthink it, don’t fade him.
Kyle Pitts continues to jump up. Sure, he hasn’t done much in the preseason, but there’s still a lot of hype and apparently Matt Ryan is peppering him at practice. Javonte Williams drops back one but looks like he’ll be a legit NFL running back.
- Trevor Lawrence (6) – QB – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Jaylen Waddle (7) – WR – Miami Dolphins
- Justin Fields (17) – QB – Chicago Bears
- DeVonta Smith (9) – WR – Philadelphia Eagles
This is the third tier and we’ve already seen one of my largest jumpers in the rankings.
— Bryan Perez (@BryanPerezNFL) August 15, 2021
I mentioned in my Dynasty Rookie Top 30: Version 2.0 that I was simply too low on Justin Fields in my first version, so he moved up from 24 to 17 even before any game action. There were question marks on Fields but those seem to be fading quickly. Just watch him. He is going to be a significant dual threat quarterback. My issue is that he’s in Chicago, where quarterbacks go to ruin their careers. He may transcend the past, though, and for the first time in seven decades, Chicago may have found their guy.
Trevor Lawrence is still my top quarterback, but that gap has shrunk, and DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle seem like two of the safest dynasty rookie wide receivers out there. Both need to get 100 percent healthy.
- Zach Wilson (15) – QB – New York Jets
- Trey Lance (18) – QB – San Francisco 49ers
I’ve had Zach Wilson over Justin Fields the entire time. I still love Wilson and I’ve been on him since Day 1. He reminds me a little of Brett Favre, with a side of Aaron Rodgers. NO, I’m not saying he is as good as them. Stop. As far as the way he plays the game, though, yes. Wilson loves to throw down the field and will take his shot. He is accurate and can throw on the run. And to me, what’s most impressive, is that he can manipulate the pocket. I think the Jets have found something.
As for Lance, his rise is a combo of raw talent and a bunch of other guys dropping in my rankings. Listen, Lance hasn’t played a lot of quarterback, so he’ll need time. But it’s obvious he’s talented, has an absolute cannon, and was drafted number 3 overall for a reason.
- Travis Etienne (4) – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Rashod Bateman (8) – WR – Baltimore Ravens
This is yet another two-man tier. The last one was a “signs are pointing up” tier with two young quarterbacks. This one is more of a “injuries suck” tier.
Etienne is out for the year so he dropped from 4 to 11. His fall had to stop somewhere. You have to decide in your rookie drafts, or in trade negotiations, how you value him. You’re in luck if your league has a taxi squad or multiple IR slots. He simply needs a redshirt year to start his career.
Bateman, fortunately, should be back early this year after he had to have groin surgery. He was making waves in camp, but his ceiling is obviously capped with the Ravens passing game. I’ve liked Bateman from the jump. He was number 6 in my initial rankings. Many will have him lower right now, but I’m sticking with him.
- Rondale Moore (12) – WR – Arizona Cardinals
- Terrace Marshall Jr (13) – WR – Carolina Panthers
- Trey Sermon (14) – RB – San Francisco 49ers
- Elijah Moore (10) – WR – New York Jets
Up to this point Elijah Moore is my biggest wide receiver faller. He’s made some highlight catches, and apparently he’s a handful to cover. But when a soft tissue injury happens already (a la Bateman), I tend to cringe. Obviously these rookies are young enough to recover, but when he’s in a new system with new coaches and a rookie quarterback, it kind of snowballs. I think Moore might start a little slow but eventually be a stud.
Rondale Moore just looks fun. He reminds me of a pinball machine. He’s been on my radar since he declared out of Purdue. I’m not sure I believe in Kliff Kingsbury though, so there’s that.
Rondale Moore put this DB in a spin cycle 🤧
— PFF (@PFF) August 4, 2021
Marshall Jr. has looked great in his chances, and although Robby Anderson just re-upped to a two year contract, Marshall will be on the field a lot. I like his long term upside but I think he’ll still have plenty of value early on.
- Michael Carter (15) – RB – New York Jets
- Kenneth Gainwell (20) – RB – Philadelphia Eagles
- Dyami Brown (15) – WR – Washington Football Team
- Amon-Ra St. Brown – WR (19) – Detroit Lions
- Rhamondre Stevenson (28) – RB – New England Patriots
This is the “running backs rule” tier. Initially there was a very clear top trio of running backs – Harris, Etienne and Williams – and then a bunch of them fighting to see who could become relevant. Well, here you have it.
Trey Sermon is in the tier above this, but Michael Carter, Kenny Gainwell and Rhamondre Stevenson are doing their best to be mid round rookie draft diamonds.
Out of the three, my favorite is Gainwell. Granted he may not have an immediate impact, but it’s obvious the talent is there. He was 13 in my initial rankings, then fell to 20 once he was drafted to Philadelphia. Since then, the Eagles have cut Kerryon Johnson, and deployed Gainwell as a slashing wide receiver and running back combo. He comes from the touted Memphis Tigers system, which has given the NFL players like Antonio Gibson, Darrell Henderson, and Tony Pollard. I think Gainwell is better than all of them sans Gibson. He’s young, raw, and exciting.
Rhamondre Stevenson has the talent to be RB1 on an NFL roster pic.twitter.com/y8SzpRL9qc
— Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL) August 20, 2021
I’m not totally buying into the Stevenson hype since most of his production came against backups. But let’s be honest, his stock is rising and he’ll likely cut into Damien Harris’ carries, or at least have a third down role. Plus, Sony Michel was just traded.
- Nico Collins (23) – WR – Houston Texans
- Mac Jones (29) – QB – New England Patriots
- Pat Freiermuth (26) – TE – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Kadarius Toney (21) – WR – New York Giants
There’s a mix of question marks and safe players in this tier. The biggest question marks are Nico Collins and Kadarius Toney.
Toney literally hasn’t played this preseason while dealing with a foot injury. I still have him in my Top 30 simply because the Giants have nobody else, so he’ll get an opportunity right away. Plus, he’s a first round pick. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt – for now.
As for Collins, he has a slight muscle pull and apparently is being brought along slower than initially thought. Sooner or later though, he will see the field consistently.
Mac Jones is the last of the “Big 5” quarterbacks. Many forgot about his prolific collegiate career and frankly took it for granted. He’s going to start for New England this season at some point. Book it.
- Tylan Wallace (27) – WR – Baltimore Ravens
- D’Wayne Eskridge (22) – WR – Seattle Seahawks
- Chuba Hubbard (25) – RB – Carolina Panthers
- Amari Rodgers (NR) – Green Bay Packers
- Jarrett Patterson (NR) – Washington Football Team
There are two players in this tier that I think could really move up the rankings and make a name for themselves.
Add D’Wayne Eskridge to the long list of rookie preseason injuries. The good news is that he was activated last week and might even play in their third preseason game. The only person Eskridge needs to be out to be Seattle’s third wide receiver is Freddy Swain. I like his chances. Obviously the Seahawks offense isn’t overly pass happy, so efficiency might be an issue.
My other favorite is Tylan Wallace. With Bateman out, and Hollywood Brown still out with an injury, Wallace was forced into action. After a quiet start, he’s apparently turning some heads in camp. He caught a couple passes in their second preseason game and will be looked at to step up early in the season. A lot of pressure on the rookie, but volume might be coming his way.
— Nic Mason (@British_Raven19) August 22, 2021
Players Who Dropped Out of Top 30
- Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago
- Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco
Players Knocking on the Top 30 Door
- Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Tennessee
- Jaret Patterson, RB, Washington
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ROOKIE RANKINGS
What if all five of the 2021 first round quarterbacks end up really good? Some of the initial vibes to start 2021 mirrors that thought, and my rankings also reflect that. It’s a perfect year to get one of these young quarterbacks if your dynasty team has been rolling with guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, or even someone like Deshaun Watson who likely won’t play this year.
Sometimes when you’re sitting in a rookie draft and you’re choosing between a handful of players, simply go with your gut. It’s easy to say, and it’s not great actionable analysis, but there will be a chunk of these wide receivers who you like, but don’t know which one will be the next Justin Jefferson or Brandon Aiyuk. For example, Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., DaVonte Smith, and Rashod Bateman. Just shoot your shot. Right now, I hold picks 5 and 8 in the first round of my rookie dynasty draft for 2021. Players like Rondale Moore, Waddle, and all of the quarterbacks, are on my radar. It’s going to get interesting.
Getting back to my Top 30, there were only two new players (Rodgers and Patterson), and in total, 14 wide receivers, 9 running backs, 5 quarterbacks and 2 tight ends find themselves on the list.
To me, if you haven’t drafted yet and you hold a top five pick, I’d continue to play hardball on any trade offers. Once again though, anything is on the table. There might be an owner who is in love with Kyle Pitts and will give up some quality assets to get him. Take it!
For more great dynasty and fantasy football content follow me on Twitter at @lilpeds and follow us at @WiscoHeroics1! To keep up with everything in Wisconsin sports, including my Dynasty takes, click here.