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The Fantasy Ferret’s Pre-Draft Rookie Tiers 2021

football players

By Matthew Walters

We are almost there people! The NFL draft will be upon us shortly and with it, our own rookie drafts in fantasy. While rookie fever has already taken off (thank you to the league mate that offered Dalvin Cook for my 1.04 which I gladly accepted), it is needed to have a gameplan going into your rookie drafts. Personally, I try not to draft for need in a rookie draft because you end up reaching on a player and then being stuck in purgatory for years trying to claw your way out of it as rookie drafts are a shot in the dark no matter the round. Within this tier list, I also have included the DLF dynasty superflex rookie ADP in parenthesis to give an idea of where the consensus is for a given player at this moment. Hope this helps you come draft time, and without further adieu, away we go!

Tier 1 +

  1. Trevor Lawrence (1) QB: Whether or not I believe Lawrence is a transformational prospect that will be in the league for the next 15 years or not is irrelevant at this point. He is the number 1 pick in superflex leagues. If you do not believe he is going to be what many believe he will, then try to trade down and take a king’s ransom when you do. Even if he doesn’t have a hall of fame career, he most certainly will be given ample opportunity to be the guy going forward and will not be a wasted pick by any means.  

Tier 1

  1. Justin Fields (2) QB:. He was fantastic in college and looks to have the skills needed at the pro level. This lazy argument of OSU QBs not succeeding and therefore Justin Fields will not succeed is asinine. By that logic, no quarterback would be able to play in the pros. Do not let Dwayne Haskins scare you away from Fields. 
  2. Javonte Williams (9) RB: Here is where I differ greatly from the ADP. I would take Williams as high as 3rd in rookie drafts. Right behind the 2 elite QBs for me. I think no matter where Williams is drafted he will be utilized and the team will fall in love with his skill set. If you get Williams at his current ADP, you are getting an extreme value in my opinion. I’m all aboard the Javonte train! 
  3. Najee Harris (4) RB: I’m right in line with ADP here. Whoever gets Harris in their rookie drafts will be quite happy I believe. Look, I’m not going to argue with you if you take Harris above Williams, and after I see landing spots in the draft, it is possible Harris jumps Williams for me. I’m looking to grab Harris wherever I can if those 3 above him are gone though. 
  4. Travis Etienne (6) RB: You will probably see Etienne go in the 5-7 range which feels like a steal. I personally would take him ahead of any of the top receivers mainly due to my philosophy of wanting players at the top that will be used sooner rather than later and that can see their value rise significantly. That way one of two things happen. If I still need to rebuild, I can then sell this player for more value than I drafted them (See Jonathan Taylor) or they have helped me jump into the playoffs and be a contender. Wide receivers take longer to develop than people give them credit for and while it is true receivers generally have a longer shelf life, I am looking at just the next three years mostly with my teams. That is my philosophy. 
  5. Ja’Marr Chase (3) WR: If Ja’Marr Chase starts off slow people are going to freak out. Here is the thing though, most receivers do not produce highly their rookie year. Does it happen? Sure, just look at Jefferson last year. However, If you are looking to turn your dynasty around quickly, receiver is generally not the way to go. If you are looking to build for the future or you have the luxury of a talented roster that you do not need the immediate help then start to take a shot on the receivers. All this is not to say I do not love Chase either. He is my number 1 receiver in this class after all. 
  6. Rashod Bateman (12) WR: I love me some Bateman. He looks to be a stud in the making. You really cannot complain about his current ADP either. Getting him at the end of the first round feels like the steal of the century to me.He looks to be a stud at the next level, and I love everything about his game.  
  7. Devonta Smith (11) WR: Who knows where his ADP will eventually end up. People are all over the map with Devonta because of his BMI. Sometimes it really is as simple as someone is really good at football. With his current ADP, you really are not reaching too much with Smith so do not feel bad about grabbing him towards the end of the first round. 
  8. Kyle Pitts (8) TE: If someone truly believes Kyle Pitts is going to be the cornerstone of the tight end position for the next 10 years then you should draft him way higher than I have him and what his current ADP. It is not that I do not love Kyle Pitts. I just do not think the tight end position is worth taking early. The elite tight ends seem to take a year or two to develop and most of them honestly are not highly drafted players. That does not mean Pitts will not get there. Personally, I want my early round picks to contribute early and often. This allows them to help you out of the purgatory of being a bad dynasty team or they jump in value and now you can sell them off and add assets to retool going forward. His current ADP feels like a good place to take a shot on him though.

Tier 2 : Look, I already know what you are saying. “Bro, where are the QBs??”. After all, this is a superflex tier list. I just believe the upcoming QBs pose a fairly large bust risk. They could end up being great (which is why they are still first round picks for me) or they could end up being just another guy. I highly doubt come draft time these QBs will still be on the board late into the first of rookie drafts. This means that more of those tier 1 players are going to be pushed further and further down the boards. Personally I’m trying to trade for those late firsts and still end up with one of my first tier of players. 

  1. Zach Wilson (7) QB: I know. I know. He is going to be highly drafted in the actual NFL draft and probably in rookie drafts as well. At his current ADP, I do not really mind taking a shot on him if you feel strongly about him. It’s a tad of a reach for me, but I would not fault a QB needy team taking him at 7. However, I think his ADP will shoot up after the NFL draft at which point I would not want to grab him. The potential is there but the bust risk is also pretty great for a QB that had one stellar year against pretty mediocre competition. 
  2. Trey Lance (5) QB: The talent is there, no doubt. However, he played in the FCS and had 1 outstanding year. Once again, I’m just not willing to place all my eggs in that basket for the price right now. I hope he proves me wrong and goes on to have an excellent career. Now if he does fall to late in the first in your rookie draft then go ahead and grab him.
  3. Mac Jones (10) QB: It is really looking like he will at least get a shot to be a starter somewhere. The rumor mill is all over the map though. His upside for fantasy is limited compared to the other QBs in rookie drafts due to his no rushing upside, but that’s also baked into his ADP. Jones is also the last QB that I will probably consider in my rookie drafts. Sorry Kellen Mond. 
  4. Kenny Gainwell (15) RB: Drafting Kenny Gainwell in the 2nd round gives me tingles all over. The talent is explosive! Now this is current ADP, and we could very well see a CEH situation where a team takes Gainwell or any of the running backs coming up and they shoot up rookie drafts. Keep this in mind come draft time. 
  5. Rondale Moore (14) WR: 5’7”. This is going to scare people away and might make his ADP drop even more unless he is drafted by the Chiefs and then it will be Rondale Moore to the moon! Rondale is electric with the ball and with his current price, you should not be scared to take a shot on him. You really cannot ask for more in a 2nd round pick and guess what if he was 6’2”, he would not be going in the 2nd round. 
  6. Dyami Brown (23) WR: He is currently going at the end of the 2nd in rookie drafts which feels low to me as he is my WR5 in this class. I love me some Dyami Brown and recommend grabbing him in that mid 2nd range. I think Brown could fly up in ADP after the actual NFL draft as well. 
  7. Jaylen Waddle (13) WR: It is honestly funny. I feel like I am way lower on Waddle than everybody else and then I have him ranked about where his current ADP is. I think Waddle is one where he will end up being a lot better of an NFL player than a fantasy football asset. Think DeSean Jackson as he extends the defense. Not a bad player, just will not get the fantasy results that you are hoping for.  
  8. Tamorian Terry (33) WR: Terry is going to be a steal for anybody that drafts him in the rookie draft. Where he is currently going, I will be taking him all day, every day. Obviously I am a lot higher than consensus right now but that is just how strongly I believe in Terry. He’s big and he’s fast. He is also currently going at the end of the third round in rookie drafts! 
  9. Tylan Wallace (18) WR: I have fallen in love with Wallace, and I appear to be right in line with ADP. I think Wallace is going to be a huge asset to whatever team drafts him and has both a high floor and high ceiling for the NFL, and now that I am thinking about it may be moved up in this tier.. 
  10. Terrace Marshall (16) WR: Rumor mill has him going relatively high in the NFL draft but also possibly to Baltimore. He seems to be creeping up ADP. Depending on where he is taken in the draft, he could shoot up boards. I like Marshall quite a bit, I just like everyone in front of him more. After the draft I could see him rising up this tier though some though. 

Tier 3: Up until now, I’m pretty stoked with all the prospects in tier 1 and 2. We now enter the tier of the questionables. These players have a lot to like about them, but they also have quite a few questions as well. Would I be surprised if any of these players truly became something at the next level? Not at all. Would I be surprised if they fizzled out and were not in the league in 3 years? Not at all. Basically after the mid second round it’s going to be even more of a crap shoot than rookie drafts already are. 

  1. Jermar Jefferson (22) RB: He had a less than inspiring pro day. While I still like the talent he showed at Oregon State, I am definitely hesitant now. I could see him dropping lower in this tier after the draft if he falls in it but for now he holds on barely to the top of my tier 3. 
  2. Chuba Hubbard (19) RB: Chuba is hard to pinpoint. On the one hand, he is only one year removed from one of the most impressive college seasons in recent history. On the other hand, he definitely did not impress last year. Depending where he is taken in the draft he could have a shot to be the man somewhere. 
  3. Amon-Ra St. Brown (21) WR: I may draft him simply for his name. All joking aside, he has immense talent and could really make a name for himself in the NFL. I am definitely excited to see where he lands in the draft. 
  4.  Elijah Moore (17) WR: It is starting to look like I will not have much Elijah Moore on my teams. I love his talent, but I do not love how much attention he is getting and how much he is starting to rise up ADP. If he falls to the late second take a shot. Anything earlier, and I am staying away. 
  5. Jaret Patterson (38) RB: You will be able to draft Patterson later in drafts than I have him most likely. I love his talent but the questions are about whether he can catch the ball or not. He really was not asked to do that in college. However, Buffalo really did not need to as they would dominate on the ground. 
  6. Michael Carter (20) RB: Another player starting to creep up boards. I have even heard some say he is the better of the two UNC backs. I personally do not agree as I love Javonte, but Carter can play. He is going to come in and contribute on a team. It really is just a matter of how much. 
  7. Sage surrat (46) WR: Finally a player that is falling in ADP. I love me some Sage Surrat. He was a heck of a player in college and is a big body receiver that can make some great contested catches. With where he is going in the draft you really should not be scared taking a shot on him. 
  8. Pat Friermuth: (24) TE: Here’s the tight end I love taken a shot on in this range. If it was not for Pitts, Friermuth would probably be going higher in drafts. If you can get him late second or early 3rd I would do it. Any earlier and I would probably steer clear. 

Tier 4: If the last tier was the questionables then we are really getting into the dart throw territory. These upcoming players are more likely than not to never amount to any bit of fantasy football success. That does not mean I won’t be letting those darts fly though! This round more than most will really start to be draft dependent for me. 

  1. Jonathan Adams (NA) WR: Probably my favorite late round receiver. I will be grabbing him in the fourth of almost every rookie draft. I love his game and he reminds me a ton of Dez Bryant. Will he truly be a difference maker at the next level like Dez was? We will have to see. His current ADP makes it worth the shot though. 
  2. Kylin Hill (31) RB: Kylin Hill is starting to climb up the ADP. I would not be surprised to see a huge jump after the draft depending on his landing spot. I like his game a lot but if he jumps up in ADP, I will be out on him. I do love him for his current ADP though. 
  3. Javian Hawkins (40) RB: He’s a small guy so he probably will not be drafted highly and will probably be moved down in this tier after the draft. I like Hawkins though and think he could find a role at the next level. 
  4. Khalil Herbert (39) RB: Apparently I am higher on Herbert than his ADP. So if you can grab him late in drafts then go get him. He is worth a shot.
  5. Trey Sermon (25) RB: Trey Sermon is the guy that everyone says they love and then he ends up being a third round pick. I am not in love with Sermon’s game at all. I’ll most likely let others draft him to be disappointed.
  6. Damonte Coxie (N/A) WR: This man is getting zero love in the upcoming draft. Might as well use that 4th or 5th round pick and take a shot on a guy like this. 
  7. Tutu Atwell (36) WR: I’m not the type to really care about a guy’s weight but 155 pounds is not going to cut it at the next level. I love his game and think he could have a role somewhere, but I seriously question if it is safe for him to play at his current weight. 
  8. Amari Rodgers (30) WR: The talent is there for sure. Just a matter of opportunity. He also is quite young for a 4 year guy. I do not hate taking the shot on his talent with his current ADP. 
  9. Seth Williams (27) WR: Everyone’s favorite sleeper. I am out on Williams at his current ADP. There are just too many players at that range that I would rather have. If his ADP starts to drop some, then maybe I will take a shot on him. 
  10. Kadarius Toney (26) WR: I have a feeling he will jump in ADP after the draft and even at his current ADP, I am out on him. While yes he can be electric with the ball, he just does not check any of the boxes for me personally. 

Tier 5: Now for the best of the rest. This is generally where I start to like to take shots on tight ends in rookie drafts. Odds are stacked against most of these players anyways. One note that I would like to make is Brevin Jordan’s current ADP is out of control. Please do not draft him any sooner than the 4th if you do draft him. 

  1. Jaelon Darden (49) WR 
  2. Brevin Jordan (28) TE
  3. Rhamondre Stevenson (35) RB
  4. Elijah Mitchell (42) RB
  5. Marquez Stevenson (NA) WR
  6. Pooka Williams (45) RB
  7. Stevie Scott (NA) RB
  8. Rakeem Boyd (63) RB
  9. Larry Rountree (58) RB
  10. Warren Jackson (NA) WR
  11. Noah Gray (NA) TE 
  12. Hunter Long (41) TE 

Tier 6: The leftover group. Based on current ADP, I will have approximately zero shares of Collins and Eskridge entering the season. These are the players that if you happen to have 5 rounds of rookies to draft, you can say a prayer and hope one of these guys turns into something at the next level. 

  1. Anthony Swhartz (43)  WR 
  2. Dazz Newsome (48) WR 
  3. D’Wayne Eskridge (34)  WR
  4. Nico Collins (37)  WR
  5. Dax Milne (NA) WR

Well, there you have it folks. I hope this list helps you come rookie draft time. I am going to do my best to have an updated post draft tier list up quickly after the draft as there can be some wild swings. Hopefully this article helps you get your guy in the upcoming draft or facilitate trades where you can still grab a player in the same tier. At the end of the day, your team is yours, and it really does not affect me if you want to take your shot on a player you believe in. Rookie drafts are a dart throw no matter what. It is just that some players have a larger dart board to hit than others.  

Matthew Walters – Writer
Ride or Dynasty
Twitter: @fantasyferret

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