Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft: Two Rounds (2021 Fantasy Football)
Fantasy football never stops, especially when you’re in a dynasty league. So it’s no surprise that while watching the NFL playoffs, my mind starting wandering into strategizing for my dynasty league’s 2021 rookie draft.
Yes, I’m strategizing for rookies who haven’t even been drafted yet. Some call that crazy. I call it planning ahead.
With that in mind, I sat down and put together a mock draft for the first two rounds of a rookie draft. Obviously, many things can change between now and when we actually sit down to draft later this year. Here’s an early look at the rookie class in a 12-team, 1-QB, half-point PPR dynasty league draft.
1. Najee Harris (RB – Alabama)
Harris’ stock continues to rise. In fact, he reminds me of another Alabama tailback who just ran for more than 2,000 yards this season – Derrick Henry. But what’s more exciting about Harris is he could carry value as a pass-catcher at the next level.
2. Travis Etienne (RB – Clemson)
It’s a close race between Harris and Etienne for the top pick in dynasty drafts. They’re completely different prospects, as Etienne is more of a home run hitter who could be a nightmare for opposing defenders in the passing game. The landing spot and situation might be the ultimate tiebreaker between the top two tailbacks in this class. With little top-end depth in this running back class, I expect drafters to target these two at the top of drafts.
3. Devonta Smith (WR – Alabama)
I fell in love with Smith last draft season when watching the film of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. I thought Smith was better than both guys back then, but I didn’t expect what happened next. Smith won the Heisman Trophy and emerged as the most electric player in college football. His size concerns me at the next level. But his ability to separate from defenders can’t be taught. If he lands on a team with a good quarterback situation, he’ll have a chance to be the NFL Rookie of the Year.
4. Ja’Marr Chase (WR – LSU)
Ja’Marr Chase will be a great consolation prize for the team that doesn’t wind up with Smith. The LSU star sat out the 2020 season, but there wasn’t much else he could do to improve his draft stock. Chase will likely be off the board within the first 15 picks, if not sooner. He should be a target at the top of dynasty drafts.
5. Jaylen Waddle (WR – Alabama)
Waddle is an explosive prospect who had his 2020 campaign shortened by injuries. He’s clearly the No. 3 receiver in this class, but he’s also a step ahead of the receiving prospects below him when completely healthy.
6. Rashod Bateman (WR – Minnesota)
While the receivers taken above Bateman are more athletic freaks, Bateman uses his exceptional size and technique to get open. Bateman can stretch the field vertically and should see the field right away as a rookie no matter where he lands.
7. Kyle Pitts (TE – Florida)
Taking a tight end this early might seem premature, but Pitts is an exception. He’s a converted defensive end who is an athletic freak at 6-foot-6. He’s good enough to become an elite option at this position in a couple of years.
8. Rondale Moore (WR – Purdue)
Moore is the ultimate wild card. He’s as dynamic as any player in his draft class. But his durability issues are a major concern. He’s a do-it-all type of playmaker in the mold of a Percy Harvin or Curtis Samuel as a more recent example. He might not get many touches on a per-game basis, but he has plenty of potential to make the most of it. Dynasty drafters who are willing to embrace some risk will jump on Moore late in Round 1.
9. Trevor Lawrence (QB – Clemson)
At this point, my favorite skill position players are off the board. This makes it a perfect time to nab Lawrence. The Clemson QB is deemed a transcendent prospect by many. Barring any insane circumstances, Lawrence will be paired up with Urban Meyer in Jacksonville. That’s an exciting tandem, to say the least. Plus, Lawrence will have a decent supporting cast with D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and James Robinson alongside him.
10. Jevonte Williams (RB – North Carolina)
As you can see, there’s a huge dropoff between Harris and Etienne and the rest of this running back class. However, I think there will be drafters at the tail end of Round 1 who try to snag the next best back on the board, given the position’s overall scarcity. Williams runs with a bruising style and sneaky elusiveness. His ability to catch passes and block will give him opportunities right away.
11. Terrace Marshall (WR – LSU)
Make it two LSU pass catchers in the first round. Marshall played well and took advantage of Chase opting out. He profiles as a possession receiver at the next level. However, his landing spot will make a big difference on where he goes in dynasty drafts. He could very well go in the second round.
12. Kadarius Toney (WR – Florida)
We end the first round with a receiver with a ton of upside. Toney best profiles as a nightmare weapon out of the slot. He has similar traits to Henry Ruggs or K.J. Hamler in that his speed must be accounted for at all times. He needs seasoning, but the talent is there.
13. Chris Olave (WR – Ohio State)
Olave is a polished prospect who might not have quite as much upside as the players ahead of him. However, his advanced technique gives him a good shot of seeing the field early as a rookie.
14. Michael Carter (RB – North Carolina)
Carter was the lightning to Williams’ thunder for the Tar Heels last season. Carter’s an outstanding receiver who also can run between the tackles or off the edge. I expect him to have a career similar to Indianapolis Colts tailback Nyheim Hines. The overall lack of running back talent in this draft class could push Carter further up dynasty boards.
15. Kenneth Gainwell (RB – Memphis)
Gainwell has a similar game to his former Memphis teammate, Antonio Gibson. In 2019, Gainwell was actually the lead back alongside Gibson at Memphis. He rushed for 1,459 yards and caught 51 passes for 610 yards while tallying 16 total touchdowns. Gainwell also lined up often in the slot. He profiles as a versatile weapon with home run ability.
16. Tylan Wallace (WR – Oklahoma State)
There’s something about Wallace that entices me. At the very least, he enters the league with big-play potential. However, he could face a learning curve at the next level, as Oklahoma State’s Air Raid schemes don’t ask much of its receivers from a route running perspective. Wallace will need to land on a team that embraces Spread principles.
17. Nico Collins (WR – Michigan)
Collins is another wideout with big-time upside. Collins uses his 6-foot-4 frame well when going downfield and hauling in contested balls. A player of Collins’ stature also could become an immediate red zone threat on his future team.
18. Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – USC)
Similar to his former teammate, Michael Pittman, St. Brown is a competitive pass catcher with a sharp route running technique. He’s likely a Day 2 pick with the upside to be a contributor right away.
19. Chuba Hubbard (RB – Oklahoma State)
I don’t really understand why Hubbard is falling in draft circles. Yes, an injury-plagued season didn’t help. But he’s just a year removed from a 2,000-yard season. That doesn’t just happen out of pure luck. What excites me about Hubbard is his cerebral running style. He knows how to find the hole and could be a great fit in an outside zone run scheme like San Francisco’s.
20. Elijah Moore (WR – Ole Miss)
At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Moore seems destined for a role in the slot at the NFL. Despite his size, Moore was incredibly productive at Ole Miss, hauling in 86 receptions for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns. Moore is a name to watch as we get closer to draft day.
21. Trey Sermon (RB – Ohio State)
Sermon was the definition of a late bloomer this season. Sermon rushed for 636 yards in his final three games of the season, including a 331-yard performance on 29 carries in the Big Ten Championship Game. A true power back, Sermon likely will be a valued handcuff as a rookie with upside down the road, similar to the role A.J. Dillon has played in Green Bay.
22. Justin Fields (QB – Ohio State)
If I’ve learned anything through this exercise, it’s that this is a weaker draft for skill position players. Because of that, I could see up to three quarterbacks being taken in the first two rounds of dynasty drafts. Fields is a polarizing prospect, and his performance in the College Football Playoff is primary evidence of his peaks and valleys.
Against Clemson, Fields showed off his arm talent and mobility. Against Alabama, Fields looked lost, and his struggles with progressions really showed. Fields will be a high-risk, high-reward pick in dynasty leagues.
23. Zach Wilson (QB – BYU)
It’s hard to exclude a third quarterback who could be drafted in the top 5 of this year’s class. Labeled by some as the “Mormon Mahomes,” Wilson has incredible arm talent and could end up being drafted ahead of Fields in the NFL Draft. The decision on Wilson vs. Fields in dynasty leagues will likely be dependent on when and where each passer goes on draft day.
24. Pat Friermuth (TE – Penn State)
This is a pretty weak tight end class. Friermuth is the next best prospect behind Pitts in this group. He’s not a dynamic athlete, but he’s reliable when working the middle of the field. Given the lack of depth at the tight end position, Friermuth could crack the end of Round 2 in dynasty drafts.
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