With the deadline to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror and all eyes on the 2021 Senior Bowl, get a head start on your 2021 rookie drafts with our updated dynasty rookie rankings. Running backs and wide receivers will obviously rise to the forefront of these rankings. However, a top-heavy quarterback and tight end class sets the 2021 NFL Draft class apart from recent years.
2021 Dynasty Rookie Rankings First Round
1) Travis Etienne (RB1 – Clemson)
Clemson running back Travis Etienne began his career as a negative in the passing game, even going as far as to admit that he was nervous with the ball headed his way. Etienne has taken that weakness and turned it into his biggest strength this season.
Combine the improvement in the passing game with elite speed and surprising power to break through arm tackles, and it’s easy to see why Etienne is number one in our 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.
2) Najee Harris (RB2 – Alabama)
With elite size, quick feet, and tremendous hands, I won’t argue with anyone that has Alabama’s Najee Harris as RB1 in your 2021 dynasty rookie rankings. Harris is a special running back prospect built to sustain the brutality of the NFL. Harris was a late addition to the 2021 Senior Bowl, giving Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins coaching staff a first-hand look at the talented running back.
While my personal football man-crush on Etienne won’t allow me to rank Harris above him, there’s no doubting that the top two stand above the rest of the running back group. Both Etienne and Harris should come off the board by the middle of Round 2. That will give both running backs the draft capital and potential volume needed to excel in fantasy football.
3) Ja’Marr Chase (WR1 – LSU)
After being one of the first college football players to opt out of the 2020 college football season, LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase gave himself a head start on training for the 2021 NFL Draft. While sitting out gives Chase plenty of time to work on his physique and improve his athletic traits, you have to wonder if NFL evaluators drop the wide receiver a bit due to recency bias.
Chase is a terrific route-runner that excels in contested catches. There are some questions about his athletic traits, however. A good showing at the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine could go a long way towards cementing his status as WR1.
4) DeVonta Smith (WR2 – Alabama)
DeVonta Smith is smaller (6’1″, 175 pounds) than most 2021 NFL Draft prospects. Don’t let that fool you. Smith is projected as an early first-round pick, making the Alabama wide receiver one of the safest bets in our 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.
The 2020 Heisman Trophy winner has played the majority of his career snaps as an outside receiver, but Jaylen Waddle’s injury led to Smith taking more snaps inside. That versatility is exactly what NFL franchises want in their wide receivers. DeVonta Smith is a Marvin Harrison clone with the skill set to lead your franchise to fantasy glory for years to come.
Even though the finger injury suffered in the 2021 College Football National Championship will keep the wide receiver out of all 2021 Senior Bowl drills, this weekend could be worth millions for DeVonta Smith. The Alabama wide receiver will spend all week with the Miami Dolphins, who happen to hold the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, have a clear need at wide receiver, and currently employ former Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
5) Jaylen Waddle (WR3 – Alabama)
Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, a personal favorite of mine, is a rising star in the devy and dynasty fantasy football community. After being overshadowed by wide receivers like Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, and DeVonta Smith for the majority of his career, Waddle finally showed why he’s so regarded in NFL circles this season.
Waddle only played in four contests this season, but he finished with 557 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Waddle had over 100 receiving yards in all four games he completed this season, but a fractured ankle on the opening kickoff against Tennessee ended the wide receiver’s season prematurely. With plenty of time to recover, Waddle shouldn’t see his draft stock negatively impacted.
6) Javonte Williams (RB3 – North Carolina)
One of the fastest risers in the 2021 NFL Draft, North Carolina running back Javonte Williams has entered his name into the discussion for RB3 in our 2021 dynasty rookie rankings. Williams is built like a tank (5’10”, 220 pounds) and is an asset in the passing game.
With Williams joining a long list of Tar Heels that opted out of the 2020 Orange Bowl, the running back ended his 2020 season with 1,140 rushing yards, 305 receiving yards, and 22 total touchdowns.
7) Rashod Bateman (WR4 – Minnesota)
Wide receiver Rashod Bateman has prototypical size (6’2″, 210 pounds) for the wide receiver position. His combination of hands, route running, and YAC ability is among the best in this year’s class. Bateman has dropped slightly in these rankings, but he is still an elite prospect to target in 2021 dynasty rookie drafts.
8) Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR5 – LSU)
Often seen as the Robin to Chase’s Batman, LSU’s Terrace Marshall Jr. is proving that he can be a leading man in an NFL offense. Marshall Jr. has terrific ball skills and ideal size (6’3″, 200 pounds) for the wide receiver position.
The former five-star high school prospect has steadily risen draft boards. After a dismal season in Baton Rouge, Marshall Jr. was a late opt out as he turns his attention to the 2021 NFL Draft.
9) Rondale Moore (WR6 – Purdue)
When on the field, Purdue WR Rondale Moore is one of the most explosive prospects in all of college football. Even though Moore has slipped a bit due to injury concerns, he could fly back up draft boards with a dominating performance at the NFL Combine.
10) Trevor Lawrence (QB1 – Clemson)
There aren’t many sure things in football, but Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is as close as it gets. After entering college as one of the most-hyped quarterback recruits in recent memory, Lawrence has somehow outplayed the lofty expectations. It’s hard to gauge quarterback values in 1QB leagues, but it’s difficult to imagine Lawrence making it to the second round of many rookie drafts.
In Jacksonville, Lawrence will be paired with wide receivers D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, Collin Johnson, and an over-achieving running game led by undrafted running back James Robinson.
11) Kyle Pitts (TE1 – Florida)
One of the best route runners in college football, Florida’s Kyle Pitts is an elite tight end prospect who can contribute immediately. While his struggles in the blocking game might not be a natural fit for all NFL franchises, whoever drafts Pitts will have a plan for the modern-day tight end prospect. He lands just outside the top 10 of our 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.
12) Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR7 – USC)
USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, a technician with excellent route-running skills, is often overlooked in a crowded 2021 wide receiver class. St. Brown’s ability to get open shouldn’t be understated. NFL teams will undoubtedly have their eyes on the talented prospect with NFL bloodlines.
13) Kenneth Gainwell (RB4 – Memphis)
With an eye on the 2021 NFL Draft, Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell opted out of the 2020 college football season. After biding his time behind Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard in 2018, Gainwell burst onto the scene in 2019 with 1,459 rushing yards, 610 receiving yards, and 16 total touchdowns. As a running back that excels on the ground and in the air, Gainwell is a natural fit for the modern-day NFL.
14) Trey Sermon (RB5 – Ohio State)
After transferring over from Oklahoma, the first few contests of Trey Sermon’s Ohio State career left much to be desired. Splitting time with fellow Buckeyes running back Master Teague, Sermon failed to reach the 70-yard rushing mark in any of his first four games. As the season progressed, however, it became clear that Sermon was the superior talent to Teague.
That realization led to Sermon getting more work, eventually leading to the running back’s eventual breakout. An injury against Alabama on the opening play slowed the running back’s momentum a bit, but Sermon has every tool necessary to be a successful power back in the NFL. However, to truly excel at the next level, he’ll need to improve in the passing game.
15) Chuba Hubbard (RB6 – Oklahoma State)
It’s been a tumultuous season for Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard. Hubbard struggles in pass protection and doesn’t add a lot in the passing game. That may put him in danger of being typecast as a complementary piece at the next level. Personally, I’m fading Hubbard at his current price tag.
16) Justin Fields (QB2 – Ohio State)
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is a notch below Trevor Lawrence in our 2021 dynasty rookie rankings. However, that doesn’t mean that Fields isn’t a future asset in fantasy football. Fields is an accurate dual-threat quarterback that will likely hear his name right after Lawrence on draft night. Keep in mind that a potential marriage with the New York Jets could be in the quarterback’s future.
17) Kadarius Toney (WR8 – Florida)
Another fast riser in the 2021 NFL Draft, Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney has worked his way into the top 20 of our updated dynasty rookie rankings. With the rare ability to turn any reception into a long gain, Toney (70-984-10 TD) slowly morphed into one of the most explosive weapons in all of college football this season.
Some serious off-field concerns in Toney’s past will become a topic of discussion over the next few months. His on-field play, however, warrants his inclusion here in our 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.
18) Tylan Wallace (WR9 – Oklahoma State)
So far this season, Tylan Wallace has looked healthy and just as dominant as ever. Wallace leads the Cowboys receivers (53 receptions, 877 yards, six touchdowns) in every statistical category, including an 11-187-2 performance against Texas.
19) Elijah Moore (WR10 – Ole Miss)
Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore is among the prospects that have improved their stock the most this season. Entering the season as a mere afterthought, Moore’s 2020 season has many NFL Draft evaluators heading back to the film room.
After initially being known for his unfortunate touchdown celebration in the 2019 Egg Bowl, Moore changed the narrative over the course of the 2020 season. With the help of head coach Lane Kiffin, Moore is simply one of the best slot wide receivers in the entire 2021 NFL Draft.
20) Javian Hawkins (RB7 – Louisville)
There will be plenty of concerns about his size, but there won’t be many questions about the ability of Lousiville running back Javian Hawkins. An electric playmaker with wiggle and home run ability, Hawkins could be one of the biggest steals of early 2021 rookie drafts.
2021 Dynasty Rookie Rankings Third Round
21) Seth Williams (WR11 – Auburn)
22) Zach Wilson (QB3 – BYU)
23) Michael Carter (RB8 – North Carolina)
24) Pat Freiermuth (TE2 – Penn State)
25) Sage Surratt (WR12 – Wake Forest)
26) Rhamondre Stevenson (RB9 – Oklahoma)
27) D’Wayne Eskridge (WR13 – Western Michigan)
28) Brevin Jordan (TE3 – Miami)
29) Tutu Atwell (WR14 – Louisville)
30) Kylin Hill (RB10 – Mississippi State)
2021 Dynasty Rookie Rankings Fourth Round
31) Trey Lance (QB4 – North Dakota State)
32) Demetric Felton (RB11 – UCLA)
33) Dyami Brown (WR15 – North Carolina)
34) Anthony Schwartz (WR16 – Auburn)
35) Hunter Long (TE4 – Boston College)
36) Amari Rodgers (WR17 – Clemson)
37) Jaret Patterson (RB12 – Buffalo)
38) Jermar Jefferson (RB13 – Oregon State)
39) Khalil Herbert (RB14 – Virginia Tech)
40) Kenny Yeboah (TE5 – Ole Miss)