The draft is very much in the rearview mirror, and the NFL season is quickly approaching. NFL teams have completed their rookie minicamps and mandatory minicamps. On fantasy football calendars, however, rookie drafts are still taking place. So, get a head start on your 2021 fantasy football rookie drafts with our updated dynasty rookie rankings.
2021 Dynasty Rookie Rankings | Round 1
Starting with the 1.01, let’s work our way down!
1) Najee Harris (RB1 – Pittsburgh Steelers)
When you have the first pick in a dynasty rookie draft, you need a sure thing. There might be no more of a sure thing than Najee Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Harris totaled 3,843 career rushing yards and scored 57 total touchdowns during his time in Tuscaloosa, which both rank first in Crimson Tide history. In addition, his 4,624 all-purpose yards rank second in school history.
He is the best running back the Steelers have had since Le’Veon Bell was a part of the “Triple B’s.” Harris could see 17 to 22 opportunities per game right out of the gates.
2) Ja’Marr Chase (WR1 – Cincinnati Bengals)
Not only is Ja’Marr Chase one of the most talented receivers in recent years, but he now plays with his former college QB Joe Burrow in the NFL. Burrow connected with Chase for 84 receptions, 1,780 yards, and 20 touchdowns in 14 games against the best of the best in the SEC when Chase was a true sophomore.
He will eat up the majority of the 34.5% of vacated targets left by A.J. Green and others, and I would not be surprised if he surpasses 130 targets as a rookie.
3) Travis Etienne (RB2 – Jacksonville Jaguars)
Etienne finished his collegiate career with 686 rushes for 4,952 yards and 70 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 102 passes for 1,155 yards and 8 receiving touchdowns in 1,852 career snaps over 55 games. Furthermore, Etienne is also the NCAA FBS record holder for most career games scoring a touchdown (46 of his 55 career games).
4) Kyle Pitts (TE1 – Atlanta Falcons)
Every so often, a player comes around who redefines the term “freak athlete.” That player for this generation is Kyle Pitts. He is the next evolution in humankind. During his 2020 season at Florida, Pitts played in eight games, hauling in 43 catches for 770 yards (17.9 avg) and 12 touchdowns.
Selected No. 4 overall by the Atlanta Falcons, Pitts can obliterate all rookie records for tight ends, especially with Julio Jones now with the Titans. His floor is 95 targets with a ceiling of 120 due to the 213 vacated targets on the Falcons’ offense.
5) DeVonta Smith (WR2 – Philadelphia Eagles)
Selected at pick No. 10 in the NFL Draft, DeVonta Smith slipped a bit further than most expected. However, he lands on a team with a massive need at wide receiver and will be a fantasy contributor from Week 1. Smith forms an incredibly explosive tandem with 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor.
Jalen Hurts will progress in his second season, and Smith should be his first read in his progression. While he won’t reproduce his 1,856 yards and 23-touchdown campaign that brought home the Heisman Trophy, Smith will be a target monster for the Eagles and have no issue returning value for years to come.
6) Javonte Williams (RB3 – Denver Broncos)
Selected at pick No. 35 by the Denver Broncos, many lamented the landing spot for Javonte Williams since they have Melvin Gordon. But I believe Williams ends up surpassing Gordon by mid-season. From there, his ceiling is the roof.
Williams runs with the aggression of someone who just insulted your mom and said your puppy wasn’t cute. His draft stock rose significantly last season after accumulating 1,444 total yards on 187 opportunities. His 1,140 rushing yards were the 13th-most in North Carolina history, sixth-most in the country, and third-best in the ACC.
As a junior, he rushed for 1,140 yards on 157 carries, averaging 7.3 yards a carry. Additionally, Williams took a step forward in the receiving department and caught 25 passes for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns. He led the nation with 75 avoided tackles, was second with 42 rushes of 10 yards or more, and was third with 72 rushing first downs.
7) Jaylen Waddle (WR3 – Miami Dolphins)
While everyone was fixated on Smith, the Dolphins went with Tua Tagovailoa’s other former Alabama teammate in Jaylen Waddle at No. 6 overall. Waddle will shine thanks to Tua’s innate accuracy, and from the slot, no one will be able to keep up with him off the line. Combined with DeVante Parker and Will Fuller, the Dolphins have a dangerous trio of receivers.
Waddle has incendiary speed that defenders simply are not ready for in open space. He ended his career playing in 34 games over three seasons, catching 106 passes for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns. As a returner, he racked up 947 yards on 47 kicks with 3 touchdowns.
8) Rashod Bateman (WR4 – Baltimore Ravens)
Rashod Bateman might be the most pro-ready receiver in the entire 2021 draft class. He is a route-running savant, and if you are looking for this year’s Justin Jefferson or Tee Higgins, Bateman is at the top of the list. Of course, the volume will always be an issue with the Baltimore Ravens, but Bateman is the prototypical “X” WR that has been sorely missing.
Bateman played in five games in 2020 due to health concerns but recorded 36 receptions, 472 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns. In his previous two seasons, he totaled 111 receptions for 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns.
9) Elijah Moore (WR5 – New York Jets)
Elijah Moore is an explosive playmaker who should give Zach Wilson a home run threat from the slot. It honestly was surprising to see Moore last until Round 2 because the talent jumps off the screen. If not for Smith’s incredible year, Moore would have led the SEC in most stats (86 receptions, 1,193 yards, and 8 touchdowns).
Every report coming out of Jets’ camp is raving about Moore, and it is easy to see why. He is the 2021 version of Antonio Brown with explosiveness in his breaks and crisp route running. In both a dynasty league and a redraft league, Moore will have value.
10) Trevor Lawrence (QB1 – Jacksonville Jaguars)
No one was surprised to see the Jaguars select Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick. That was written with a Sharpie three years ago, and all that changed was the team at the top.
The former Clemson quarterback had a sensational collegiate career from 2018-2020. Lawrence completed 758 of 1,138 career passes for 10,098 yards with 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed 231 times for 943 career rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns.
He is the definition of the modern NFL quarterback — a quick information processor, big-frame with a bigger arm, and athleticism to move the chains if the pocket breaks down.