Rookie Dynasty Rankings: Pre-Combine
With the NFL combine set to kickoff one week from today I decided to put out my initial fantasy football dynasty rankings. These will 100% change after the combine and 100% change again after the NFL draft in April, but It's good to start slotting these guys now to set a baseline that can be adjusted throughout the evaluation process.
My process: In general I lean running back during the first round of rookie dynasty drafts. It's harder to find solid running backs in fantasy and their hit rates are safer. They also tend to be more NFL ready year one. Wide receivers usually take longer to develop and don't pop as much during that first year. The past four NFL draft classes are littered with wide receiver flops like N'Keal Harry, Parris Campbell, Corey Davis, John Ross, Zay Jones, Corey Coleman, Laquon Treadwell and Josh Doctson, to name a few. That's not to say there have not been running back busts, but in general it's just easier to hit on running back. This is why I have CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy a bit lower in these rankings.
Here are some of my quick early thoughts on these players. I'll have more in depth profiles as the offseason goes on.
D'Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins: These two backs profile very similarly. They are both in that 5'9" - 5"10 215 pound range. The are compact, shifty runners who are able to make defenders miss. Both would benefit from a zone blocking scheme. Neither show elite top end speed, but they are able to get what is needed. I like the pass catching ability of both. Dobbins had the better junior season with a lot more production than Swift, but that has more to do with how Georgia uses their running backs and not a knock on Swift. I don't think they, or any of the running backs in this draft class are as good as some of the backs we've seen in recent draft classes, but they are versatile and should be good in the right system.
Jonathan Taylor: I really like Taylor. He has good size and speed and was insanely productive behind Wisconsin's elite offensive line. I wonder how he would translate to a team where he had to make some of his own yardage as he seems stiff to me. Something I don't like about Taylor is he fumbled A LOT, and NFL coaches hate that. He will need to fix that in the NFL. I imagine he will test well in the 40 at the combine, but will skip the agility drills. His usage was insane. It reminds me of Ricky Williams. He has only 60 less college touches than Alvin Kamara has college + pro touches, which is crazy. That gives him a slight ding in his long-term dynasty outlook, but he's only 21 years old, so I'm not too worried about it.
CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy: Both of these guys profile to be good NFL wide receivers. Both are great playmakers. I'm very interested in seeing how they test, and I think that will likely decide who gets drafted first. Lamb gets the nod from me do to his versatility in the return game and the fact that he was the main guy defenses had to focus on. Jeudy had the benefit of playing with an amazing WR corp where defenses did not have to focus their game plan around him.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: When watching him I can't help but think of Devonta Freeman. He's smaller, but compact. He's shifty, but lacks top-end speed. He's a good receiver out of the backfield. His 55 receptions his Jr. season has me very interested. I think he will likely be a complimentary 3rd down back like an Austin Ekeler, but in the right system he could be awesome.
Cam Akers: He was good on a bad team. He didn't benefit from his teammates as some of the other backs on this list did, but was still able to be productive. This appears to be a recurring theme with a lot of these backs, but he looks more quick than fast. He has a lot of tread on the tires similar to Taylor, but doesn't look as athletic. He has decent receiving ability. I'm curious to see where in the draft he goes.
Tee Higgins: I've seen him comped to A.J. Green and that feels about right. I like that he played all over the field and wasn't just used on the outside, which is rare for a 6'4" wide receiver. If he goes to the right system where the coach takes advantage of his versatility, look out!
Jalen Reagor: This guy is VERY athletic. I love his versatility. Looks the part of a Curtis Samuel or Hollywood Brown. Can score on any play.
Laviska Shenault: His biggest concern is his durability, but when on the field he was outstanding. Similar to Tee Higgins he was used all over the field and showed the kind of versatility you want to see. He was also used a lot as a runner in the backfield. Watching him sort of reminds me of a bigger Deebo Samuel. I bet he tests well, which could catapult his draft stock.