Written by Jordan Stiers
Now that the NFL draft has been finished, we can finally dig into the rookie rankings for the upcoming draft in your dynasty leagues. When looking into these, competitors need to find the right balance of talent and opportunity; untalented players with opportunities for major touches shouldn’t be overdrafted (see Ronald Jones). On the flip side, don’t take players off your board because they went to a crowded positional group (see Alvin Kamara).
This year’s rookie drafts should be very WR and TE-heavy in the early rounds, mainly because very few RBs went into promising situations. I expect 3-5 RBs will be selected in the first two rounds, and everyone else should be a pass catcher or Kyler Murray. In leagues with IDPs, it might be worth reaching for Devin Bush or Devin White at the end of round two, but that should be the only real exception. At the end of the day, fill holes on your roster with high floor players you can maximize their value while they’re still on rookie contracts. Drafting projects early is a bad idea; save that for rounds 3 and up.
The rankings below are based on a standard 1-PPR league.
Stock Up: N’keal Harry, WR, NE
When a top fantasy prospect like Harry gets drafted by a franchise like New England, it’s hard not to get excited. Harry was already a lock as a top-5 draft pick in rookie drafts. Now he should go no later than pick 3. Losing Gronk and Hogan leaves a big gap in the target shares, and Harry should soak those up easily. Hogan and Gronk were also the only real red zone targets -- more of a reason to love Harry. The only concern here is long-term play because of Brady’s age. If you’re lucky, he balls out on his rookie deal and you’re able to trade him right as Brady retires and Harry’s rookie deal expires. I see Harry going no later than the 1.3 in rookie drafts this year.
Stock Down: Hakeem Butler, WR, AZ
This one is a little closer to being even than the rest of the players we will discuss. Butler is still a very exciting prospect and is going to an offense that should be one of the more explosive in the league. The issue, however, is target distribution within the offense. They have a lot of mouths to feed after drafting four wide receivers in two years. They also have Larry Fitzgerald, who may never retire, and David Johnson, who wants a 1000-yard receiving total this season from the running back position. All this being said, Butler’s potential is the highest of the wideouts drafted. He still has a chance for a big rookie year; there is just more competition than most of the other prospects are facing. He should still be a late 1st or early 2nd in rookie drafts, just not a mid-to-high 1st.
Stock Up: Josh Jacobs, RB, OAK
It’s hard for a top prospect’s stock to go up. In Jacob’s case, it did. With Lynch retiring and Crowell tearing his Achilles, Jacobs is walking into over 250 touches with very minimal competition. I wasn’t as big of a Jacobs fan as some going into the draft, but with this perfect landing spot, he is the clear 1.1 in rookie drafts. With Carr behind center throwing to a new and improved receiver group, Jacobs shouldn’t face too many stacked boxes. Gruden has revamped that offense in a hurry, and I expect Jacobs to be a huge beneficiary of the new look attack. Jalen Richard might take some of his targets in the passing game away, but that’s about it for competition. He’s the clear cut first overall pick in rookie drafts this year.
Stock Down: Darrell Henderson, RB, LAR
I think I’m in the minority on this opinion. I understand that Henderson is going to a top offense that is very RB friendly. There is just one issue: the man, the myth, the legend, Todd Gurley. As long as Gurley is on the roster, I’m skeptical of Henderson’s value. Now, Gurley does have a lingering knee issue that might run his career downward in a hurry. However, I don’t like betting on any player’s health, especially with the advances in modern medicine. If you can get Henderson mid to late second, I’d take the gamble. Anything sooner isn’t worth it.
Stock Up: Mecole Hardman WR, KC
No one in this year’s class saw a rise quite like that of Mecole Hardman. I wasn’t crazy high on Hardman going into the draft; I felt like he was made for a certain offense and wouldn’t appeal to everyone in the league. Fortunately for him, he was drafted by the perfect offense for his skill set. I’m not going to get into the details of Tyreek Hill’s situation. What we can say is he most likely won’t see a football field for at least a year and certainly not for the Chiefs. Coleman is nowhere near the talent of Hill and I don’t expect anything near the production. Just don’t be surprised if Hardman finds himself as a premier deep threat in the league and has a WR2 finish as a rookie. Hardman shouldn’t fall out of round 1.
Stock Down: AJ Brown, WR, TEN
This one saddens me to my core. AJ Brown was one of my favorite prospects going into the draft. Now he will be catching passes from either Marcus Mariota or Ryan Tannehill. Either way, it’s a dumpster fire behind center. Brown was a top-10 lock in dynasty drafts before going to Tennessee; now you’re looking early second at best. If you can stash Brown for a season or two, he is well worth drafting. Just know you may have a horrible QB this year and a rookie QB next year. Cory Davis will demand certain coverages by the defense that Brown can certainly take advantage of. However, it’s all in the QBs hands. I wouldn’t pull the trigger on Brown until after 1.10.
Stock Up: Miles Sanders, RB, PHI
Miles Sanders is my favorite prospect in this draft. He has elite playmaking ability, you just need to feed him the rock. That’s where his stock gets shaky. Philly loves RB committees. They have a plethora of RBs in the roster, and they traded for Jordan Howard before the draft. Having said that, Sanders is more talented than everyone the Eagles have at the position, and I’m not sure it’s close. Howard, Clement, Smallwood and every other RB on the roster are built for a certain role -- no one is a polished 3-down back. Well, until Miles Sanders joined the team. Howard might steal some goal-line carries if he’s on the roster when the season starts, but he is the only real competition for touches. Sanders shouldn’t slip past 1.3 in this year’s rookie drafts.
Stock Down: Hollywood Brown, WR, BAL
Before I go into this, I want to state I’m a believer in Lamar Jackson. I just think they want to run the ball a lot more than most teams and lack the weapons that can take the focus off Brown in the passing game. Having said that, I love what Brown brings to the table. If they can build a Tyreek Hill-like role for Brown, he will succeed and he will succeed early. The problem is Baltimore doesn’t have a role like that yet, and the TEs eat up a lot of the target shares in the offense. If the Ravens want early production out of Brown, they need to manufacture touches for this kid early and often. Even with his stock down, I don’t feel I’m as low on Brown as some people are. I’ve been seeing him go as low as of late 2nd. That’s too low for the wide receiver taken in the draft. He shouldn’t slip past the first pick or two of the second round.
Stock Up: UP DK Metcalf, WR, SEA
There were only a few teams I saw Metcalf having legitimate fantasy success on. The Seahawks were near the very top of that list. Seattle seems to hide its player’s weaknesses and focus on their strengths. Players like DK thrive in Seattle. To make things worse, he has a chip on his shoulder due to him slipping to the last pick in the second round. On top of that, Baldwin’s career might be over, leaving little competition for Metcalf to see a heavy workload early, even with a team that loves to run the ball, Metcalf should have solid numbers with Russell Wilson throwing to him. I know he can’t run routes yet; trust me, I wasn’t a big DK fan prior to the draft. Now that he’s a Seahawk, I don’t think he should go outside of the top 10 in rookie drafts.
Stock Down: Bryce Love, RB, WAS
Going into the NFL draft, I saw Bryce Love as one of the absolute steals in the later rounds. I had him as potential late first, early second in rookie drafts if he landed in the right situation. Sadly, he went to one of the worst places possible for a running back: Washington. The Redskins have about 35 RBs on their roster (give or take a few), and four of them have legitimate reasoning to obtain a decent share of the touches out of the backfield. AP carried the entire offense last year in Guice’s absence, Thompson is an elite receiving threat out of the backfield when healthy, and Guice was the number 2 back in last year’s draft, second to only Barkley. This backfield is just way too crowded to have any idea how it will shake out. The current favorite to take the lead role is Guice if he can get back to full strength. Even with him healthy, this will be a full-blown committee. Love is only draftable after round 2 as a handcuff to Guice.