After months of anticipation, mock drafts, and speculation, the NFL Draft has finally come and gone. This year’s draft boasted another strong rookie RB class, a solid crop of potential franchise QBs, and a deep but unspectacular group of wideouts. The draft itself was chaotic and eventful, and the dynasty implications were far-reaching. To simplify everything, I’ve compiled the go to dynasty rookie rankings to help you crush your rookie drafts.
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants – No surprise here, as Barkley dominated at Penn State and throughout the draft process. Arguably the best RB prospect in over a decade, Barkley is the perfect fit for the modern NFL. The Giants selection of him at #2 overall, ensure he’ll see a steady dose of touches. Barkley enters the NFL as an elite dynasty asset on par with the elite RBs of the league.
2. Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins – Guice was viewed by many as the second best RB in the draft class but he suffered a surprising draft slide to the bottom of the 2nd round and was only the 7th RB drafted. The slide, however, appears to have been a result of character concerns rather than talent and he managed to fall into an ideal landing spot in Washington with a team that believes in him. With that in mind, I feel comfortable trusting the talent and taking Guice second overall.
3. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks – Penny’s selection in the 1st round on Thursday night came as a surprise to most. However, his tape shows an impressive and highly productive runner at San Diego State. His biggest flaw coming out was his poor pass blocking which is known to keep rookie backs of the field. His selection in the 1st round, however, should guarantee that he will see both the field and the ball a lot. Seattle’s offensive line is poor, but Penny will see enough catches and Russell Wilson dump offs to be a very good fantasy RB from the get go.
4. Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots – Michel was also a bit of a surprise to see go in the end of the 1st round and many people are skeptical of his landing spot in the Patriots backfield. Personally, I think this is a good spot for Michel. Michel is a physical runner who can also succeed as a pass catcher making him an excellent all-around fit for the New England offense. If the Patriots are willing to select Michel in the first round, I’m willing to trust that they’ll make sure Michel is heavily involved in what should be a high-octane offense.
5. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns – Chubb is an excellent between the tackles runner who has ideal size and tested very well at the combine. His lack of proven receiving ability likely hurt his standing as a prospect but the Browns still believed in him enough to take him 35th At first glance, this is a poor landing spot for Chubb. He’ll compete with Carlos Hyde for early down work and likely lose all 3rd down and passing game work to Duke Johnson. However, Cleveland should be an offense on the rise and the Browns wouldn’t have take Chubb at 35 if they weren’t willing to get him involved. His upside is limited by Hyde and Johnson’s presence in the short-term but Chubb has the talent to become a workhorse back.
6. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions – The Lions liked Johnson enough to trade up in the 2nd round and select Johnson 44th Last year when the Vikings made a similar 2nd round trade up, their target, Dalvin Cook, was given a steady diet of touches before being lost to injury. Johnson may lose passing down work to Theo Riddick, but the Lions should give him the ball plenty. Johnson lacks top end athleticism or size, but he’s a patient and talented inside runner who has been compared to Le’Veon Bell thanks to his running style. The Lions have also invested heavily in their offensive line, which should help make Johnson’s transition to the pros a smooth one.
7. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos – Freeman is the first 3rd rounder to appear on this list and he appears before a handful of 1st and 2nd round draft choices thanks to his great landing spot in Denver. Devontae Booker and DeAngelo Henderson shouldn’t be tough competition for as productive and well-rounded a back as Freeman. Freeman can shoulder a heavy workload, run inside and out, and contribute in the passing game meaning he has a real shot to be a genuine 3 down workhorse back from day 1.
8. Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronald Jones was an early day 2 selection to a RB needy team. Jones should have every opportunity to be the go to back in Tampa Bay. I, however, just haven’t been able to bring myself around on Jones. He’s fast with great acceleration and he runs hard between the tackles, but I found myself disappointed by his tape. He rarely broke tackles and seemed to like the sudden lateral agility necessary to make defenders miss. I frequently saw him slow down to make a jump cut yet be met head on by a defender who simply wasn’t fooled. Add to that his unproven pass catching ability (he never caught more than 15 passes for USC and was frequently replaced on 3rd downs) and his small size for a workhorse back and I just can’t bring myself to buy in. That being said, the draft capital is encouraging and the landing spot is fine so I feel obligated to place him in this tier despite my personal disinterest in him.
9. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers – Moore is a great athlete (4.42 40, 39.5” vertical) who managed to statistically dominate in Maryland’s offense despite horrid quarterback play this past year. On film, he’s explosive and impossible to tackle in the open field. He does however still need to work on his route running to truly dominate in the NFL. With the Panthers he should earn immediate playing time and plenty of targets from Cam Newton. Moore is underwhelming as the top receiver in a draft class but I’m excited to see him play in what should be a fun Panthers offense.
10. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons – The knocks on Ridley are well-known. He lacks #1 WR size at 189 pounds, is already 23 years old, and isn’t a physical jump ball receiver. It’s hard to imagine Ridley as truly dominant outside receiver. But Ridley is already a fantastic receiver. His route running is easily the best in the class and he should transition to the NFL easily thanks to how refined his game is. As the #2 receiver in the Falcons offense opposite Julio Jones, Ridley should immediately step in and produce. Ridley doesn’t carry the excitement and upside of some of the other receivers in this class but he’s the best bet to be a productive NFL player and dynasty asset at the position.
11. Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys – When I was doing my pre-draft scouting at the WR position, I was blown away by how good Gallup looked. To me, he was on the same level as Moore and Ridley as a prospect. Then he fell into the perfect landing spot with Dallas. The Cowboys badly need WR help and Gallup should provide that. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him as the most valuable receiver in this class a year from now. The only thing keeping him from being my top WR from the start is his 3rd round draft capital compared to Moore and Ridley’s 1st round selections.
12. Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals – Kirk is a little like this wide receiver class as a whole. He has a deep and solid skill set but lacks special traits to make him jump out as a prospect. His route running, hands, athleticism, and running after the catch are all solid. I fully expect Kirk to be a solid slot receiver in Arizona especially after being paired with Josh Rosen on a WR needy team. He should produce from day 1.
13. Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos – Sutton may be the highest upside WR in this class. He has ideal size and good athleticism for his size. Unfortunately, he needs a bit of work still. His route running and hands aren’t where you want them to be. Luckily for Sutton he should have a chance to develop and learn a bit behind Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas in Denver. On the other hand, it will likely be hard for him to produce much early in his career.
14. Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami Dolphins – Ballage has all the upside in the world thanks to excellent athleticism and receiving ability that makes him a great fit for the modern NFL game. He also landed in a solid landing spot in Miami as the Dolphins don’t seem to be too committed to Kenyan Drake as their starter. Of course, Ballage was a late 4th round pick for a reason – he needs a lot of work as an actual RB in order to become a productive player. In the second round of your rookie drafts, however, the upside is going to be hard to pass up.
15. Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears – Miller is a good route runner with solid athleticism and hands. The WR needy Bears made him a 2nd round pick which means he’ll likely see the field a fair amount this year and could fit in nicely as a complement to Allen Robinson.
16. James Washington, WR, Steelers – Washington is one of my favorite wideouts in this class. He dominated in college at Oklahoma State as a deep threat and the Steelers will likely slot him into Martavis Bryant’s old role after taking him in the 2nd The Steelers have had a lot of success drafting WRs too. Juju Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown will block Washington from any chance of being a top fantasy option though.
17. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens – Ok, I can’t hold off any longer. I know he was only the 5th QB taken in the draft and I know he has to sit behind Joe Flacco for a bit, but hear me out. Jackson has sky high upside. Think Michael Vick with the Eagles upside. And even if he never reaches that level, he’s sure to be Baltimore’s starter at some point in the near future and his rushing ability will make him a solid fantasy option almost by default. Ultimately, though, this is simply about Jackson’s tantalizing upside as a fantasy QB and that can’t be matched by anybody else in this class.
18. Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers – Pettis is yet another of the many receivers in this class who project to be solid NFL players, but lack the upside to be legitimate #1 receivers in the NFL or fantasy. Still, Pettis was taken in the 2nd round and the 49ers wanted him enough to trade up for him. I could see him being a productive slot receiver for San Francisco.
19. Baker Mayfield, QB,Cleveland Browns – Last year’s Heisman winner was statistically dominant in college. The Browns are putting together some very nice pieces on offense so Mayfield should have plenty of help whenever the Browns decide to go to him. He can’t run like Jackson, but Mayfield still has good upside in an ascending offense.
20. Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins – Gesicki brings the most athleticism and upside to the the tight end position in this years class. He should factor into Miami’s offense as a pass catcher from the get go since he isn’t much of a blocker.
21. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals – Rosen slipped to #10 overall in the draft despite some analysts thinking he was the best passer in the class. This might be a blessing in disguise for Rosen. Instead of landing with the Bills or Jets he landed in Arizona where he can pass to Larry Fitzgerald and fellow rookie Christian Kirk.
22. Sam Darnold, QB New York Jets – Darnold is neck and neck with Rosen for me. The Jets lack of quality receiving options (how much can we trust Robby Anderson after his repeated off field issues) is the difference maker.
23. DJ Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars – Chark is fast, tall and a 2nd round pick. He’s also thin, a receiver in need of development, and going to be catching passes from Blake Bortles in a run heavy offense. Add in the presence of a handful of young receivers in Jacksonville already and its hard for me to envision Chark amounting to much. He does have enough physical talent to earn a draft pick though.
24. Jordan Wilkins, RB, Indianapolis Colts – Wilkins was a late 5th round pick to Indianapolis. He has solid size and athleticism for an NFL back. The Colts look like they may use a committee led by Marlon Mack but Wilkins has a better path to carries and even a starting job than most late round running backs in this class.
25. Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts – The Colts actually drafted Hines earlier this year than they drafted current projected starter Marlon Mack last year. Hines is fast but he’s also small and unlikely to ever take over the backfield. I’d prefer to bet on Wilkins and I’d take Mack over either of them.
26. Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens – Hurst is actually a very solid prospect. He’s a good route runner and reliable pass catcher and the Ravens liked him enough make him a first round pick. Joe Flacco and the Ravens love to throw to their tight ends so he could be a usable tight end from the jump. He will be 25 at the start of his rookie season though, so the question is how much upside he has.
27. Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles – Goedert was the 3rd tight end taken over the weekend and the last tight end on the list today. Goedert is another solid receiving prospect at tight end. Like with Hurst, I question his upside. Unlike with Hurst, Goedert will struggle to earn targets out of the gates behind Zach Ertz. Of course, Goedert is younger so he can afford taking a little time to get going.
28. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo – Allen was the 7th overall pick but I just don’t expect much from him in Buffalo. His upside is impressive thanks to prototypical QB size and a ridiculous arm but Allen struggles with his accuracy and the mental aspects of the game both of which are more important to being a successful NFL QB than size and arm strength. If he had gone to a team with a solid veteran to sit behind and/or excellent weapons to make his life easy I would have been more forgiving but Buffalo seems to be exactly the opposite of what he needs.
- Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints
- Daesean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos
- J’Mon Moore, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons
- Jaleel Scott, WR, Baltimore Ravens
- Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Deon Cain, WR, Indianapolis Colts
- Jordan Lasley, WR, Baltimore Ravens
- Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans
- John Kelly, RB, Los Angeles Rams
- Jaylen Samuels, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Bo Scarbrough, RB, Dallas Cowboys
- Braxton Berrios, WR, New England Patriots
- Ian Thomas, TE, Carolina Panthers
- Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets
- Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
- Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys
- Javon Wims, WR, Chicago Bears
- Durham Smythe, TE, Miami Dolphins
- Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals