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Mike Tagliere’s Top-50 Dynasty Rookie Rankings (Fantasy Football)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
May 8, 2018

Saquon Barkley is in a tier all by himself atop the dynasty rookie rankings

We’re now in May, which can only mean one thing… it’s time for your dynasty rookie drafts over the next few months. Some incoming rookies have had their draft stock dramatically increased by their landing spot, while others lost value due to where they were taken in the draft.

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It’s important to remember to properly assess your team, too, as running backs will have more immediate value if you’re competing for a championship in 2018. I wrote an article about how much value rookies present in their first season depending on where they were taken in the NFL Draft. If you’d like to read that one, click here. But let’s take an overall look at how I’d rank the 2018 rookie class if we were starting with a fresh slate.

1. Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)
2. Sony Michel (RB – NE)
3. Ronald Jones (RB – TB)
4. Derrius Guice (RB – WAS)
5. Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA)
6. Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL)
7. Royce Freeman (RB – DEN)
8. Nick Chubb (RB – CLE)
9. D.J. Moore (WR – CAR)
10. Kerryon Johnson (RB – DET)

The ranking of Barkley is an obvious one, but after him, you’ll see a different order of how analysts value the rookies. Michel was someone who I compared to LeSean McCoy in his rookie profile, so to know that he landed in an offense that’s ranked as a top-three scoring offense in each of the last eight seasons, you should know why he’s ranked as my No. 2 player. Jones is going to a Bucs team that was in desperate need of a lead-back, and he’s going to walk into 15-plus touches per game on an offense that might be better than most realize. If there’s one thing that’s clear in this area of drafts, it’s that running backs are king. Why? It’s a young man’s game at the position.

Outside of the top three players on this list, the next five can be interchanged in a lot of ways. It’s no secret that I love Ridley as a player, though his landing spot isn’t going to vault him into 120 targets any time soon. If you’re looking for a contributor now, he’s not likely to live up to this draft spot, but I’m thinking long term with him. Guice has solid enough hands, but he’s not playing many third-downs with Chris Thompson on the roster. Penny is going to play behind a brutal offensive line and for an offensive coordinator who hasn’t had much success running the football outside of his time with LaDanian Tomlinson. Freeman is a great one-two down back, but I don’t think he’s going to rack up many catches out of the backfield, limiting his upside. As for Moore and Johnson, they’re volume guys. I worry about Newton’s accuracy with a somewhat smaller wide receiver and the Lions are likely to employ a pretty wide timeshare behind a subpar offensive line.

11. Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
12. James Washington (WR – PIT)
13. Michael Gallup (WR – DAL)
14. Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)
15. Anthony Miller (WR – CHI)
16. Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA)
17. Dante Pettis (WR – SF)
18. Hayden Hurst (TE – BAL)
19. Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE)
20. Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI)

This is where you should expect leaguemates to attack the wide receiver position, as there weren’t really many alpha-dogs in this draft class. Sutton presents true No. 1 potential because of his body-type, but is now likely to sit on the bench for a year and learn from Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. This is not ideal for a young receiver. Washington has higher potential right away than most realize, but the fact that Ben Roethlisberger could retire after one more season presents question marks. Gallup, Kirk, and Miller are all players who can contribute from day one, but it’s unlikely they’ll be the No. 1 wide receiver on their teams. They are, however, the ones who I believe present the most stability, so again, know your roster.

Outside of the top-15, you should start looking at the tight end and quarterback position. Mayfield is going to be a threat with both his arm and legs, and has a bevy of options to throw to. After comparing him to Russell Wilson, getting him at No. 19 should be considered a steal. Gesicki is likely to have a new quarterback throwing him the ball in 2019, so his ceiling in the future is massive. Hurst should be able to contribute right away for a contender, as he’ll be 25 years old at the start of the season and Joe Flacco has historically targeted tight ends a lot. Goedert fell into a great offense, but plays behind one of the best receiving tight ends in the game. Pettis has appeal because he’s now tied to Jimmy Garoppolo for a really long time.

21. Keke Coutee (WR – HOU)
22. Kalen Ballage (RB – MIA)
23. Mark Andrews (TE – BAL)
24. Josh Rosen (QB – ARI)
25. Sam Darnold (QB – NYJ)
26. Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL)
27. Tre’Quan Smith (WR – NO)
28. John Kelly (RB – LAR)
29. D.J. Chark (WR – JAX)
30. Antonio Callaway (WR – CLE)

The “sure things” are off the board by this point, so most are searching for upside with these picks, or quarterbacks who should be around for a long time (Rosen and Darnold). Some will say that Jackson is too low on this list, but I think there’s a lot of risk with him. There were a lot of QB-needy teams who passed on him and the Ravens are going to give Flacco every last opportunity not to fail. He’s an upside pick, while Rosen and Darnold are safer. Coutee went to a less-than-ideal landing spot alongside both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, but I believe he’s too much of a playmaker to keep him off the field. Ballage could be a winning lottery ticket because you can’t teach his size/speed combo, but it’s worrisome that he wasn’t the lead back for his own team in college.

By the time you get down to the 25-30 range, the starting running backs are gone, but you can get yourself a high-quality backup that can do some damage if the starter should get hurt. Kelly is atop that list and would be an every-week RB1/RB2 if something happened to Todd Gurley. Callaway would be higher on this list if he didn’t play alongside so many other weapons, not to mention the added risk with his failed drug tests. Smith will be tied to Drew Brees in the immediate future, but will the offense be as good when Brees retires? Chark may be too low on this list, but I simply wasn’t a big fan of his game.

31. Jordan Wilkins (RB – IND)
32. Josh Allen (QB – BUF)
33. Ian Thomas (TE – CAR)
34. J’Mon Moore (WR – GB)
35. Equanimeous St. Brown (WR – GB)
36. Mark Walton (RB – CIN)
37. Nyheim Hines (RB – IND)
38. DaeSean Hamilton (WR – DEN)
39. Deon Cain (WR – IND)
40. Chase Edmonds (RB – ARI)

It’s very possible that we see Wilkins move up this list by the time the season rolls around, as he’s got the frame to carry a big workload, something the Colts didn’t seem to want Marlon Mack to do last year. While Allen isn’t my favorite quarterback, he will put up some fantasy points with his legs and the weapons in Buffalo have to be addressed at some point, right? Moore is now playing with Aaron Rodgers, which gives you hope for massive upside and he was drafted two full rounds before the more popular wide receiver St. Brown. Walton might be the Giovani Bernard replacement after 2018, which does give you some value, especially in PPR formats. Cain is one of my favorite late-round sleepers in rookie drafts, as he might just win the possession receiver role with Andrew Luck.

41. Jaleel Scott (WR – BAL)
42. Justin Jackson (RB – LAC)
43. Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL)
44. Jordan Akins (TE – HOU)
45. Mason Rudolph (QB – PIT)
46. Jordan Lasley (WR – BAL)
47. Bo Scarbrough (RB – DAL)
48. Ito Smith (RB – ATL)
49. Martez Carter (RB – WAS)
50. Korey Robertson (WR – MIN)

Most of those listed in this area are guys who just fell into a bad situation, though their talent may move them up depth charts in time. Jackson is the most intriguing because of how much the Chargers talked about upgrading Melvin Gordon‘s backup. He was a workhorse while at Northwestern. While I’m not a fan of Scarbrough, he might just be the new Alfred Morris in Dallas backing up Ezekiel Elliott, though my money would be on Rod Smith. Even if Rudolph does turn into a competent NFL starter, he’s not going to be a top-10 fantasy quarterback. He’s simply depth on your dynasty roster.

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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