Kyle Yates’ Top-10 Dynasty Rookie Sleepers (2021 Fantasy Football)
If there’s one thing you can bet on every single year, it’s the fact that NFL Draft/Dynasty Twitter is going to have its fair share of hot takes and differing opinions on incoming rookies. Depending on who you ask about a specific player, you could get two wildly varying summaries on what they bring to the table.
There’s a lot of noise on Twitter and half the battle for the average Dynasty player is learning to weed out the good analysis from the simple hot takes. My goal as an analyst is to provide in-depth rationale for my rankings and what I’m witnessing when I put on the tape. After that, I assign grades for each specific key trait and average those out to build out my rankings. This is certainly not the only way to build out rankings and many analysts take different approaches. This is not even the correct way to build out rankings because there simply is no correct way.
Our ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings) here at FantasyPros bring together several different analysts to determine the average ranking for a specific player. This combines many different schools of thoughts, ideas, approaches, etc. and allows readers the opportunity to see what happens when all of these come together. For this exercise, I will be looking at our ECR and comparing it with my own specific rankings to determine players that I believe the general public is sleeping on.
The gap will be three spots difference so that I’m not mentioning someone that I’m one spot higher on than the average. There’s not really much benefit to that, but hopefully this allows you to be able to view my thoughts and opinions on the player. In the player cards for each player listed below, you can find my in-depth scouting notes and analysis if you want a deeper dive too.
Without any further hesitation, let’s take a look at my 2021 Dynasty Rookie sleepers based on my film grade evaluations.
10. Dax Milne (WR – BYU)
ECR Ranking: WR31
My Ranking: WR24
Zach Wilson came out of nowhere this past season to rise to – most likely – the No. 2 overall pick. Milne was a huge reason why Wilson was so successful. He’s able to operate so well when the play breaks down and give his QB an easy out. He has excellent hands, is able to track the ball well deep downfield, and has enough athleticism to win in the NFL. Is he going to be a guaranteed NFL starter? Probably not. However, he’s shown that he has the football IQ that indicates that he’s going to be in the NFL for a very long time.
9. Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – Oklahoma)
ECR Ranking: RB10
My Ranking: RB7
Stevenson has his doubters, but the talent and size is there for him to be a workhorse back in the NFL. He doesn’t have the burst and top-end speed that some people might want, but he has more than enough to succeed in the NFL at his size. It’s likely that we see Stevenson go off the board on Day 3, which is hit-or-miss for a player’s fantasy football outlook, but he could be a steal in rookie drafts if he lands in the right spot.
8. Larry Rountree III (RB – Missouri)
ECR Ranking: RB17
My Ranking: RB8
Rountree’s not the flashiest player on the football field, but he has the main skills and traits that I look for when evaluating the RB position. He’s another projected Day 3 pick, so the landing spot is going to be crucial for his long-term outlook, but he could be a factor for fantasy if he falls into the right situation.
7. Jake Funk (RB – Maryland)
ECR Ranking: RB29
My Ranking: RB16
Here’s a super deep sleeper for you that not many people are talking about. Funk’s film isn’t overly flashy and he’s not going to wow you with splash plays over and over again. However, the athletic profile is there for Funk to rise up a NFL depth chart. It might take a little while, but he has the athleticism and key traits that NFL coaches are going to love in a RB.
6. Tamorrion Terry (WR – Florida State)
ECR Ranking: WR17
My Ranking: WR10
Terry’s a borderline 1st-round player when you put on his tape. He’s got enough speed to stretch the field, but he also has the size to be a contested catch player in the red zone. While his NFL Draft stock is a mystery due to him leaving the FSU program this past fall, he’s got the talent to make an impact for fantasy football. It’s all going to come down to the draft capital for him though.
5. Elijah Mitchell (RB – Louisiana)
ECR Ranking: RB14
My Ranking: RB11
Mitchell’s tape is certainly good, but it wasn’t anything that necessarily wowed you. He’s a smart and efficient runner, but he wasn’t consistently going to pop off for big plays. However, he just showed up to his Pro Day and completely reworked his body. He was listed as playing at 217 pounds, but he showed up at 201 and ran a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash. Now, Mitchell has the potential to be a fantastic change-of-pace back and receiver out of the backfield, but that isn’t what lines up with the tape. He can make an impact, but are NFL teams going to be concerned about his transition in the pre-draft process? I’m a little more optimistic than ECR.
4. Jonathan Adams (WR – Arkansas State)
ECR Ranking: WR35
My Ranking: WR14
This is the biggest gap in my rankings compared to ECR. Adams Jr. is barely talked about in this class, but he has the skillset to absolutely make an impact in the NFL. He’s a contested catch monster and has some truly jaw-dropping grabs. He has the size to be a red zone nightmare and he also combines it with solid athleticism. Coming out of Arkansas State, teams might not be as willing to pull the trigger on him with early draft capital, but he can absolutely be a force for fantasy football when he gets adjusted to the speed of the NFL game. I’m excited to see what Adams can become in the NFL.
3. Kylin Hill (RB – Mississippi State)
ECR Ranking: RB9
My Ranking: RB6
Hill has some experts torn on his projection to the NFL. He has solid athleticism and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, but he’s far from a refined product. He could be a RB that comes into the league as purely a third-down back, but then gradually over time is given more and more work on the ground. Either way, Hill has the potential to be very valuable for fantasy football and I believe he’s worthy of being selected just after the “top-5”.
2. Jaelon Darden (WR – North Texas)
ECR Ranking: WR19
My Ranking: WR12
There are many NFL Draft analysts that are enamored with Tutu Atwell, but I have absolutely no idea what they’re seeing. (We’ll talk about him in the next article.) For everything that people think Atwell is, Darden brings that skillset to the table and more. He has tremendous agility and burst and NFL defenders simply aren’t going to be able to get their hands on him. He is going to fill a slot role nicely for a NFL team and bring explosive play after explosive play.
1. D’Wayne Eskridge (WR – Western Michigan)
ECR Ranking: WR13
My Ranking: WR5
This is one player that I simply have no idea what people don’t see in him. Eskridge is twitchy at the line of scrimmage, plays with an edge, is a good route-runner, and has game-changing speed. He needs to improve his consistency as a receiver, but everything else is there for him to make an immediate impact in the NFL. If his ECR stays this way, I will have a lot of shares of Eskridge on my Dynasty rosters.