As dynasty GMs prepare for their rookie drafts, they should bear in mind both a player’s overall talent and upside as well as the scheme fit and surrounding offense. These dynasty rookie rankings balance the likelihood of each rookie player in terms of both immediate fantasy production early on in their careers versus their long-term fantasy ceilings. With the 2021 NFL Draft in the books, here are my updated top-36 dynasty rookie rankings assuming a standard 1QB format with PPR scoring (you can find my superflex rookie rankings here).
With a top-heavy running back class this year and a bevy of talented running backs in the 2023 class, who and when to draft at running back is a hot topic. Many are excited about Breece Hall, and rightfully so. Hall is a good runner with the acceleration and speed needed to break long runs, and he’s a great fit for the Jets’ zone-running scheme. But while Hall is my top running back in this class, he’s not my top overall rookie. Although Hall is an able receiver, he’s hardly the dynamic pass-catcher some have made him out to be a la Alvin Kamara or Austin Ekeler. Another worry is that while Hall figures to take the lead role in the Jets’ backfield, Michael Carter is a good runner in his own right and will remain involved, which precludes Hall from an elite fantasy ceiling. These two factors are enough to push Drake London and Jameson Williams ahead in my rookie rankings, both of whom have traits that show elite fantasy upside if they eventually see above-average quarterback play.
Isaiah Spiller and James Cook are two names to look out for in the back half of the first round of rookie drafts or in the early second round. Spiller’s poor combine performance dropped both his NFL and fantasy stock, but his game has never been predicated upon breakaway speed. He has great vision and suddenness to his runs and enough acceleration to blow by defenders for consistent gains, and Spiller is a capable receiver as well. And though Austin Ekeler‘s presence caps Spiller’s short-term usage and fantasy production, he’s in a great situation long-term behind a strong offensive line and in an efficient offense overall with Justin Herbert at the helm. Ekeler will be 27 years old this season, has missed significant time in two of the last three years, and has little dead money remaining in 2023. Spiller should see some change-of-pace work even as a rookie, and he could contribute in a major way sooner rather than later.
As for Cook, the younger brother of Dalvin Cook deserves more hype than he’s getting. There were rumblings of Hall cracking the top tier of dynasty running backs had Buffalo selected him in the late first round of the NFL Draft, and yet Cook isn’t getting much love despite having joined the Bills as a second-round selection. He’s a smooth runner with good vision, but where Cook really shines is as a receiver. Cook is a mismatch for linebackers and can be a downfield threat for big gains as well on vertical routes. It wouldn’t be surprising if he were to immediately win the third-down role in Buffalo, and he’s a good enough runner to earn some early-down work as well. Cook won’t be a workhorse, but even in a committee role on an efficient Bills offense, Cook can be a flex option in PPR formats as a rookie with RB2 upside if Devin Singletary were to miss time.
What about a potential sleeper in the later rounds? Brian Robinson just missed the cut on my top-36 rookie rankings. Robinson is a big, bruising back and not overly fast, but he’s quicker than expected considering his size and a functional receiver as well. He’s unlikely to see immediate playing time in a Washington backfield that’s likely dominated by Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic, but both of those running backs have dealt with injuries in the last couple of seasons. Robinson could be a viable fill-in if either were to miss time, and he’s a powerful runner who could see vulture some goal-line touches even when Gibson is healthy. That’s all for now. Good luck in your rookie drafts!
2022 Dynasty Rookie Rankings
Last updated on Tuesday, May 10th.
|1||WR1||Drake London||WR||ATL||London wins 50/50 catches with great body control, has good route-running and speed considering his size, and steps into an alpha WR1 role in ATL.|
|2||WR2||Jameson Williams||WR||DET||Williams has impeccable body control and good hands with blazing speed. Don't expect much as a rookie, but he has elite upside long-term.|
|3||RB1||Breece Hall||RB||NYJ||An agile runner with good vision and speed, he's a great fit for the Jets' zone scheme but is likely the 1A in a committee backfield.|
|4||WR3||Garrett Wilson||WR||NYJ||Wilson has good burst and route-running and should be a solid contributor for the Jets if they scheme him open to create yards after the catch.|
|5||WR4||Chris Olave||WR||NO||Olave is an excellent route runner and has speed to create big plays downfield. Volume is a short-term concern, but he has high upside long-term.|
|6||WR5||Skyy Moore||WR||KC||Given his lack of experience at WR, Moore is a solid route-runner and has decent speed and agility. He has WR2 upside with Mahomes.|
|7||RB2||Kenneth Walker||RB||SEA||A powerful runner with lateral agility, Walker is a great fit to be SEA's early-down RB, but receiving usage and overall offensive efficiency are concerns.|
|8||RB3||James Cook||RB||BUF||Cook has good vision as a runner and is an excellent receiver. In BUF's efficient offense, he could be a dynamic weapon with high fantasy upside.|
|9||WR6||Treylon Burks||WR||TEN||Burks has good hands and can win contested catches, but he profiles as a big slot WR for TEN, so lack of volume and TDs are both worrisome.|
|10||WR7||Christian Watson||WR||GB||Watson is a size/speed mismatch, but he's a raw route runner with inconsistent hands, so he'll need to develop more to win Rodgers's trust.|
|11||RB4||Isaiah Spiller||RB||LAC||Despite lacking top-end speed, Spiller is an explosive runner and capable receiver. Ekeler will be 27 this year with little dead money in 2023.|
|12||WR8||Jahan Dotson||WR||WAS||Dotson is a great route-runner and has speed to make big plays. He'll be a good complement to McLaurin but is unlikely to see high target volume.|
|13||RB5||Pierre Strong||RB||NE||Strong is an elusive and explosive runner who can also catch the ball. He could quickly move up the depth chart in NE and become a PPR flex option.|
|14||RB6||Dameon Pierce||RB||HOU||A good runner who powers through contact, Pierce should be HOU's early-down back but offers limited fantasy upside barring major TD production.|
|15||RB7||Zamir White||RB||LVR||White has good vision and burst and projects to play on early downs in 2023 with the Raiders having declined Jacobs's fifth-year option.|
|16||QB1||Malik Willis||QB||TEN||Willis has the raw tools but will need to develop behind Tannehill. If he can improve as a passer, he'll have a high fantasy ceiling due to rushing upside.|
|17||WR9||George Pickens||WR||PIT||Pickens is a decent route-runner who can make big plays downfield, but he enters a talented receiving room and has injury concerns.|
|18||WR10||John Metchie||WR||HOU||While unlikely to contribute much as a rookie, Metchie can be a good complement to Cooks and provides YAC ability as a receiver.|
|19||WR11||Alec Pierce||WR||IND||Pierce can be a deep threat for IND and win contested catches but has some work to do as a route-runner and profiles as a no. 2 receiver.|
|20||WR12||Wan'Dale Robinson||WR||NYG||Robinson is a YAC playmaker who can be used in a variety of ways and could start for the Giants in the slot as a rookie.|
|21||RB8||Tyrion Davis-Price||RB||SF||Davis-Price has experience in zone schemes and is a powerful runner. As a potential goal-line option for SF, he could be a TD-dependent flex.|
|22||RB9||Isaih Pacheco||RB||KC||Any RB tied to Mahomes piques interest. Pacheco is a tough runner and good pass protector with long-term upside with Jones on a one-year deal.|
|23||WR13||Khalil Shakir||WR||BUF||Shakir is a versatile player who is great at creating YAC. He could quickly become a reliable outlet option for Allen and a solid PPR flex play.|
|24||QB2||Kenny Pickett||QB||PIT||Pickett can go through progressions and avoids turnovers, but he may lack an elite fantasy ceiling. Still, he will be surrounded by weapons in PIT.|
|25||TE1||Jelani Woods||TE||IND||With his athleticism and catch radius, Woods could become a red-zone threat for IND but figures to share snaps with Alie-Cox and Granson.|
|26||TE2||Trey McBride||TE||ARI||McBride is a good all-around TE and can make some big plays as a receiver, but he's a long-term hold given Ertz's presence in ARI.|
|27||WR14||Jalen Tolbert||WR||DAL||Tolbert has decent speed and hands to be a deep threat but has a ways to go in developing his route-running ability.|
|28||RB10||Tyler Allgeier||RB||ATL||Allgeier is a physical runner with good vision but lacks any elite traits. He can be an immediate contributor but probably won't see a ton of touches.|
|29||RB11||Rachaad White||RB||TB||White has good vision and agility as a receiver with a high weekly ceiling in PPR if he becomes the complement to Fournette on third-downs.|
|30||RB12||Hassan Haskins||RB||TEN||A big, bruising back, Haskins is a high-upside fantasy handcuff in TEN who could see a lot of snaps if Henry were to miss time in 2022.|
|31||WR15||Justyn Ross||WR||KC||Ross's neck condition and surgery caused him to go undrafted, but if healthy, he can be a dominant WR prospect and is paired up with Mahomes.|
|32||QB3||Desmond Ridder||QB||ATL||An athletic QB who can progress through reads, Ridder doesn't have many highlight-reel plays but is pro-ready and could beat out Mariota as a rookie.|
|33||QB4||Matt Corral||QB||CAR||An accurate QB with fair mobility, Corral offers a high fantasy ceiling but fell in the draft due to alcohol-related concerns. He's a risk/reward prospect.|
|34||QB5||Sam Howell||QB||WAS||Howell needs to work on accuracy and pocket presence, but he could have a chance to start as a rookie if Wentz has a slew of poor games.|
|35||WR16||Tyquan Thornton||WR||NE||Thornton's speed gives NE's offense a deep threat, but at best he'll be a boom or bust WR3 option in fantasy with NE favoring a run-heavy offense.|
|36||RB13||Keaontay Ingram||RB||ARI||Ingram has the speed to break some long plays in a change of pace role behind Conner and the size to vulture some TDs near the goal line as well.|
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