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Dynasty Rookie Draft Strategy Advice (2021 Fantasy Football)

May 5, 2021

The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, which means it’s time to look ahead to our dynasty rookie drafts. Our writers are prepared to hand out some advice, both for 1QB and SuperFlex dynasty leagues.

Check out all of our 2021 NFL Draft coverage >>

Q1. What rookie draft advice do you have for 1QB dynasty leagues?

There were a ton of exciting prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft that have now landed with their respective franchise for the next four to five years. With teams having attempted to develop and upgrade their rosters in a reduced salary cap season, fantasy managers have a trove of talented players to target during upcoming rookie drafts in 1QB dynasty leagues. Understanding and studying the skill set unique to each player, the offensive play-calling, and current rosters of every team will give you the upper-hand in upcoming 2021 rookie drafts. Volume is king in fantasy football, so targeting players like Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith in the first-round is a great way to strengthen your roster for 2021 and beyond. Smith lands in an offense with former teammate QB Jalen Hurts, who finished his rookie campaign throwing for nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns in four starts behind an injured Eagles’ offensive line. Sure, Jalen Raegor was selected in the first round out of TCU during the 2020 draft but he took awhile to get going, battling injuries and finishing with just one touchdown on 54 targets across 11 games. Smith is slender but dominated SEC defensive backs throughout his senior year at Alabama, leading the Crimson Tide to another National Championship win and receiving the Heisman and Biletnikoff Awards due to a monstrous display of elite receiving throughout the season. Without question, Smith could easily see 100-120 targets in his rookie season. He is the clear alpha in the Eagles’ new-look receiving corps and benefits from having a talented quarterback throwing the football.

Meanwhile, the Steelers selected Najee Harris, another Alabama prospect who absolutely dominated out of the backfield for two seasons under Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban. Harris progressed in each of his four seasons at Alabama, showing nimble feet while relying on his 6’1″, 231-pound frame to bounce off defenders and break through arm tackles. Harris is a fantastic fit in Pittsburgh, who let James Conner hit free agency after one of the worst collective rushing years in franchise history. Harris is an elite pass-catcher out of the backfield, meaning he should soak up plenty of targets from QB Ben Roethlisberger, whose passing ability notably declined in 2020. Some might be concerned about the usage Harris received his final two years at Alabama, logging 729 carries, as well as going into a situation that lacks an elite offensive line. The Steelers used third and fourth-round selections to build up their depth at offensive line, showing that head coach Mike Tomlin understands the need to improve run-blocking at the line of scrimmage. Harris’ talent is too much to ignore and he will be the Steelers’ RB1 from day one, making him a valuable asset in a potent, high-powered offense to acquire in upcoming rookie drafts for 1QB dynasty leagues.
– Matt MacKay (@Matt_MacKay_)

Even though quarterback is an important position in the NFL, it is not that important in fantasy football. If you look at the Top-30 fantasy scorers last year, 20 of them were quarterbacks. It is possible to stream two very good quarterbacks and there is no reason to buy into the hype of these franchise changing quarterbacks and drafting them early in your dynasty leagues. Trevor Lawrence is a generational talent, but Andrew Luck was also a generational talent and he was the 10th ranked fantasy quarterback in his rookie season. I think the two rookies that have the best chance to have success as rookies are Trey Lance and Mac Jones. Lance joins a team that was in the Super Bowl in 2019 and is loaded with offensive talent. Jones joins a Patriots team that was a prolific offense until Tom Brady left in free agency and they struggled with Cam Newton under center. Still, Jones may end up being a game manager and a better NFL rookie quarterback than a fantasy quarterback. Lawrence has the most talent while Lance has the most upside due to the team he is joining and I expect those two to be fantasy hits immediately. I just do not think either will have breathtaking numbers that are worthy of an early dynasty selection. You will be better off taking Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Kadarius Toney, Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, and Rashod Bateman with those early dynasty picks over any of the five rookie quarterbacks taken in the first round that may need a year or two to develop at a position that is not as important in the NFL as running back and wide receiver.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

The best advice I can give in 1QB leagues is that if you’re not in the top 6 picks do what you can to get up there. The talent level drops pretty steeply after the top 3 RBs, 2-3 WRs, and TE Kyle Pitts. I would advise taking pick 1.10 or later and packing it up to see if you can move into that top tier. Focus on teams that have multiple needs or have weak overall rosters who may need more picks than a single stud. Lots of times draft day trades can be expensive, but this year I think it’s entirely worth it, especially if your team is on the verge of contending for a title. Oh, and in 1QB leagues don’t take a QB in the first round, not even Lawrence. Sure, he might be the next Andrew Luck, but that’s his ceiling, and in 1QB you should be focusing more on players at the other positions since there are likely QBs on benches that you can get in a pinch for a late round rookie pick. Take Lawrence at 2.01 if you must, but please don’t be that guy reaching for a QB when he already has Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins on his 1QB roster.
– Andrew Hall (@AndrewHallFF)

When it comes to 1QB dynasty leagues, taking as many of the top-tier options at running back early in the draft that you possibly can is a smart way of doing things. Waiting for a quarterback until the mid-to-late rounds can allow you to stock up on running backs and wide receivers, giving you an edge over the rest of your league. Similar to redraft leagues, running backs and wide receivers reign supreme in 1QB dynasty leagues. But unlike redraft, you have to be more cautious selecting guys like Adam Thielen and Julio Jones due to their windows of being impact players nearing a close. While you can still find value in adding those guys, make sure you have a contingency plan in place for the older players you select. Also, for the tight end position, if you are unable to snag one of the elite options, you might as well wait to select one while you continue to bolster other spots on your roster.
– Skyler Carlin (@skyler_carlin)

There is a lot of good advice here but the method that has worked best for me in 1QB leagues is to be flexible and take the best rookie available in the early rounds regardless of position. In general, I try to avoid getting too hung up on the idea that quarterback is devalued in fantasy. There are a lot of advantages to locking in a top-10 option at the position through the rookie draft and taking a “set it and forget it” mindset with your lineup. If a prospect like Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, or Kyler Murray is available, I think regardless of where you are drafting in the first round, it is foolish to look at positional value over best available. Be open and honest with yourself as to how you want your roster to look and don’t worry about what others will think if you take someone like Lawrence over Najee Harris or Kyle Pitts.
– Jason Kamlowsky (@JasonKamlowsky)

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Q2. What rookie draft advice do you have for 2QB dynasty leagues?

My advice is different in a 2QB league, because there are only 32 starting quarterbacks, which means that 20 of them will need to be in a lineup each week in a 10-team league. The reason that a quarterback is not that valuable in a 1QB league is that you can only play one and there are a ton of good options. In a 2QB league, there are not enough great quarterbacks to go around and having two great fantasy quarterbacks that you can play in the same week can give you a massive scoring advantage. If you would have had Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers in a 2QB league last year, you were almost guaranteed 50 points on an average week between those two players. That is much different than being guaranteed an average of 25.4 points in your starting lineup if you go with Allen and 24.2 fantasy points on your bench with Rodgers in a 1QB league. Therefore, if you have a player like Josh Allen and no second quarterback in a 2QB league, taking a rookie quarterback early in the draft may help you have those two elite fantasy quarterbacks. That does not mean that running back and wide receiver are not important in 2QB leagues, but it does make it easier to justify taking any of the rookie quarterbacks in the first round over the elite running backs and wide receivers. Instead of taking a rookie quarterback that may be on your bench most weeks in a 1QB league, you may be adding immediate fantasy points to your starting lineup with a second good quarterback on your roster.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

In Superflex this year, at least for me, any pick in the first round has value. As I stated in my 1QB advice, there are six players I want in 1QB and there are five QBs that I want in SuperFlex. This means that any pick in the first likely has potential to be a great pick. Even 1.12, actually, because there are always random managers that reach for someone like new San Francisco RB Trey Sermon early, or who believe that new Baltimore WR Rashod Bateman is worth a top 5 pick, even in SF leagues. Obviously you want to play the room and see how things unfold, but if I had a top-three pick in a SF rookie draft I’d be looking to move back and add more picks, the higher the better. A trade like 1.03 for 1.09 and 1.12 might be possible in some leagues, and I’d love a trade like that. It’s impossible to give advice in a bubble, but that’s how I will approach my own SF drafts this year at least.
– Andrew Hall (@AndrewHallFF)

As for 2QB dynasty leagues, grabbing an elite fantasy quarterback early is a wise plan to deploy. Grabbing at least one quarterback that brings rushing upside for the present and future seems to be an ideal strategy. The last thing you want to do in a 2QB league is keep pushing back when you’re going to select a quarterback and be stuck with unreliable options at the position. Of course, running backs and wide receivers are still vital in 2QB dynasty leagues. Taking two definite starters at quarterback, and other quarterbacks that have upside for the future, can set you up for success long-term. There’s a ton of value to be had in taking some of the quarterbacks who are in their early-to-mid 30s as some people tend to avoid them. But in reality, quarterbacks are playing longer than ever before and can be fantasy-viable players for plenty of years still. For instance, guys like Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan still have a few years of relevancy, which can give you some time to find their replacements in the future. That way of thinking can allow you to build a well-balanced roster in 2QB leagues while not sacrificing too much at the quarterback position. So don’t be afraid to make one of the so-called “older” quarterback one of your two starters at the position.
– Skyler Carlin (@skyler_carlin)

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Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to more advanced strategy – like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? – to learn more.