NFL Draft prospects have either already had or are they getting ready for their upcoming team pro days due to the NFL Combine’s cancellation. Get a head start on your 2021 fantasy football rookie drafts with our updated dynasty rookie rankings. While these rankings will fluctuate with landing spots and measurements, the talent of these players is undeniable.
2021 Dynasty Rookie Rankings | First Round
1) Najee Harris (RB1 – Alabama)
Najee Harris is the slam dunk 1.01 in 1QB leagues. He has shown every trait desirable in a potential fantasy stud. Harris’ agility in the hole is incredible given his 6’2″, 230-pound frame. In addition, his vision is the best in the class.
Harris will not be a burner, and honestly, I don’t care what his 40-time is or his age. The tape speaks for itself. Not only did he go back to college to win a National Championship, but he ran for 1,466 yards and caught 43 passes while scoring 30 total touchdowns in just 13 games. He is the clear cut 1.01 in my 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.
2) DeVonta Smith (WR1 – Alabama)
What has DeVonta Smith left to prove to prospective fantasy managers sitting on the clock? Look beyond the size (6’1″, 175 pounds) and look at the incredible production of Smith. Smith led Alabama in receiving yards and touchdowns for two consecutive seasons, despite being surrounded by first-round talent at the position. As a result, he was the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard in 1991.
Since 2019, Smith has led the nation in yards after the catch with 1,701 receiving yards. That’s 657 more yards than the next receiver. He has worked in both the slot and to the outside. His route running is a different level, and so is his release.
In fact, I can’t overstate how smart Smith is on his routes. He can decipher the defense and vary his route speed to stay in the zone and not run into coverage. Moreover, he brings a versatility that will likely make him the first WR taken in the NFL Draft and the WR1 in my 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.
3) Kyle Pitts (TE1 – Florida)
Kyle Pitts might be the most overly-athletic guy in the entire class. He makes contested catches look easy, and he is a receiving weapon with a diverse route tree. He’s not just a tight end who can catch the ball.
Pitts is already my TE5 in dynasty, and he hasn’t even put on a jersey yet. The most athletic player in the position with the biggest drop-off in talent. Therefore, I am absolutely paying up to land Pitts on my teams.
4) Javonte Williams (RB2 – North Carolina)
Javonte Williams has a perfect build for an NFL running back (5’10”, 220 pounds). He breaks tackles effortlessly with his physicality and shows surprising agility and elusiveness. Williams is not a player you can bring down with an arm tackle.
He was one of the biggest risers this year. Javonte Williams ended his 2020 season with 1,140 rushing yards, 305 receiving yards, and 22 total touchdowns. He checks every box from footwork to power and can be used in the passing game.
5) Ja’Marr Chase (WR2 – LSU)
I understand I am in the minority as most have Ja’Marr Chase as the de facto WR1 in their 2021 dynasty rookie rankings. This is not a recency bias due to him not playing in 2020. I see things on tape that don’t lead me to the same conclusion as everyone else — that is all.
When on the field, yes, he had a better statistical season than Justin Jefferson. Yet, Jefferson looks better on the same field. Joe Brady did an incredible job scheming Chase open, and he played with the best college QB in recent memory not named Trevor Lawrence. He has stupidly strong hands and will turn a 50/50 into a 90/10.
My issue is he is overly reliant on physicality to create separation. He wins using his arms at the line, not his feet or route running. When matched against a physical corner, he just wants to stay at the line and initiate contact for some reason.
That was all he wanted to do against Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain, both NFL-caliber corners. He can just run lazy routes at times. Chase has the prototypical size we want, and the skills are there. He could be an alpha for a team down the road, but I have my concerns.
6) Travis Etienne (RB3 – Clemson)
Travis Etienne is one of two running backs in this class who won’t be caught from behind once he gets past the first level. The acceleration and top-end speed (4.44) are off the charts. He also became a weapon in the passing game. Etienne packed on some weight for his Pro Day and still performed up to expectations. What we need to remember is the weight you enter camp with is not your playing weight. He will slim back down to the 205 range due to the rigors of the training.
Etienne will make a push to be the first RB taken in the draft, and the margin between him and Williams is incredibly thin. He showed good contact balance in college, but not sure if that will work against larger NFL defenders. Therefore, Etienne is my RB3 in the 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.
7) Rondale Moore (WR3 – Purdue)
While some are concerned with injuries, I am not. The 2020 season was a lost one for the Big Ten overall, and in 2019, Rondale Moore dealt with a nagging hamstring injury. However, none of that worries me. Look at what he did on the field as a true freshman.
He made his collegiate debut against Northwestern, where he racked up more than 300 all-purpose yards. Moore also tallied 14 touchdowns on the season, 1,258 receiving yards, and an additional 213 rushing yards. We can’t forget what he did against Ohio State, either. After the catch, there might be no one better.
At his Pro Day, Moore tested off the charts with a 42.5-inch vertical, 24 reps on the bench, and ran a 4.29 40-yard dash. However, all anyone can talk about is the 5’7″ measurement. Look, if you thought he was going to be 6′ you were fooling yourself, and those who were off the train already, this changed nothing. How about this nugget? Despite the nearly 6″ height difference, Rondale Moore has a wider wingspan (78.5) than A.J. Brown (78″).
Rondale Moore is going to be a slot WR, and I couldn’t be happier. He will be a target monster. Lined up inside, unless you put your top CB on him, he will cook any nickel cornerback or linebacker across from him. His release rivals Smith for best in the class. Everything he does is at full-throttle even when not being targeted. Throw in his thick frame, and Moore will be dominant after the catch.
8) Rashod Bateman (WR4 – Minnesota)
Rashod Bateman could very well be this year’s Justin Jefferson. I have heard people say he is the most “NFL-ready” WR in this class, and I can see it honestly. He has the size to play the “X” (6’2″, 210 lbs) and can run any route in the playbook. The only “flaw” is a lack of elite speed, but there is plenty in the tank to take passes to the house. He reportedly ran a 4.39 40 at the EXOS Pro Day. Bateman is an in-route specialist but can also run off a DB before breaking outside. While nothing in his game screams “elite”, Rashod Bateman is one of the most well-rounded receivers in the 2021 NFL Draft.
9) Jaylen Waddle (WR5 – Alabama)
Jaylen Waddle might be the most explosive athlete in the class. It’s a shame we couldn’t see what he could do with a full season alongside Smith and Mac Jones. With the ball in his hands, he is a home run waiting to happen.
Waddle has the type of upside to be a real game-changer at the wide receiver position, and he should slide in as an impact player early on in his rookie year. Waddle at WR5 is a tier break in my 2021 dynasty rookie rankings. Walk away with any one of these receivers, and your team is in great shape. Just do me a favor and don’t call him “the next Tyreek Hill.”
10) Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR6 – USC)
Watching Amon-Ra St. Brown dominate defenses was enough of a reason to stay up for Pac-12 after dark. His nuance as a route runner combined with solid body control and consistent hands will make him an immediate NFL producer. During his pro day, St. Brown posted a 4.51 40-yard and threw up 20 reps on the bench. While other WRs in this range were uncontested on their teams, Amon-Ra St. Brown was surrounded by talent.
In 2019, Michael Pittman Jr. was still with the program along with Tyler Vaughns, who is one of my favorite sleepers in this class but that deserves its own article. In that season, St. Brown was second on the teams in receptions (77), yards (1,042), and touchdowns (6).
At 6’1″ and 194 pounds, Amon-Ra St. Brown has the athleticism and skills to be a positionless receiver in the NFL, allowing offensive coordinators to move him around the offense. So long as he can work past some concentration drop issues that cropped up early in his career, he could easily step in as a WR2 out of the gate.