Mike Tagliere’s Dynasty Rookie Rankings: Superflex (2021 Fantasy Football)
Now that the NFL Draft has passed, it’s time to focus on your dynasty start-up and rookie drafts. We’re here for you, and that includes those in superflex formats. We’ve already looked at Kyle Yates’ top-12 superflex rookie rankings as well as his top-70 overall rankings. Next up, Mike Tagliere provides his first-round selections. You can also find Tags’ top-50 dynasty rookie rankings here.
1. Trevor Lawrence (QB – JAC)
It’s not often you’ll see me recommend drafting a quarterback in the first round of a dynasty rookie draft, but Lawrence is an exception to the rule. He’s not just an accurate pocket-passer with great size. He also has plenty of mobility, which should net 300-plus rushing yards and five-plus rushing touchdowns, providing you with a consistent QB1 production right out of the gate.
2. Najee Harris (RB – PIT)
When a running back gets drafted in the first round, they’re going to be heavily utilized. When that particular running back is uber-talented and a true three-down back in the Steelers’ offense, they’re going to be valued as an RB1 right away. Harris will be a workhorse in this league for a long time and is worthy of the No. 1 pick in rookie drafts.
3. Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN)
Getting reunited with Joe Burrow is definitely not a bad thing for Chase, as he’s got instant chemistry upon entering the NFL. The only issue with the landing spot is that Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are both there, and both deserve high target totals themselves. Still, that didn’t stop Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup from producing, right? Chase is going to be a fantasy star for a long time.
4. Trey Lance (QB – SF)
This was a best-case scenario for Lance, as he landed with a bright playcaller who’ll utilize his strengths. On top of that, they mortgaged their future to come up and acquire him, so they’re going to give him every opportunity, even if he struggles out of the gate. With his big arm and incredible mobility, a future top-five fantasy quarterback is what we may have.
5. Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
I can make the argument to move Fields up the ranks a bit more, though I have my reservations about Matt Nagy building his offense to suit Fields’ strengths. Still, if he doesn’t, he’ll be gone in 2022 and the Bears will have a new coaching staff, so it’s not too much of a knock against Fields’ dynasty stock. With his mobility, Fields should be a usable fantasy quarterback almost immediately.
6. Travis Etienne (RB – JAC)
Etienne received first-round draft capital, which is huge for his projection, though we mustn’t forget James Robinson is still on the roster, so it will be somewhat of a timeshare. Still, I’m not worried about Urban Meyer saying that Robinson and Carlos Hyde are the 1-2 down backs and Etienne is the third-down back. Why? You don’t draft a third-down back in the first round. If he’s used like Alvin Kamara, that’ll be just fine for fantasy purposes.
7. Kyle Pitts (TE – ATL)
Pitts has been dubbed as the “next great” tight end, though we’ve seen highly-touted tight ends bust before. Pitts reminds me of Vernon Davis, who took a few years to get going. He’s currently the No. 3 option in the Falcons passing game, so he’s not going to win leagues right out of the gate, but he should already be in the top-five dynasty tight end conversation.
8. Zach Wilson (QB – NYJ)
The Jets were obviously in love with Wilson, as they decided on him very early in the draft process. He has some mobility to his game, which makes him more appealing in fantasy, and you hope that his performance in 2020 translates to the tougher competition in the NFL. It helps to have a young playcaller who came from the Kyle Shanahan tree, and the Jets did their best to surround him with playmakers in both free agency and the draft.
9. DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI)
Some are worried about his size at the next level, but the game has changed in a lot of ways in order to make it less violent, which certainly helps Smith. If it’s press coverage you’re worried about, don’t be – Smith is a wizard at getting off the line of scrimmage. The Eagles traded up to get their go-to receiver for Jalen Hurts. He’ll be a force in fantasy from the get-go.
10. Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA)
He went No. 6 overall in the draft, which means he’ll get plenty of opportunity in the Dolphins’ offense. With Will Fuller on the roster, I’d imagine they’re going to use Waddle in the slot, which is great for his projection. Tua Tagovailoa was having a tough time last year because his receivers were failing to generate separation, and that’s something Waddle won’t have an issue with in the slot, so he’ll likely become the favorite of Tagovailoa. High target numbers will be hard to come by with Fuller and DeVante Parker on the roster, but Fuller is on just a one-year deal and may be gone in 2022, which would only increase Waddle’s value.
11. Javonte Williams (RB – DEN)
Some won’t love Williams’ landing spot in Denver with Melvin Gordon there, but he’s got just one year left on his deal and is still facing a potential suspension from the NFL for his drinking and driving incident. On top of that, the Broncos seemed to want a timeshare with him and Phillip Lindsay, so it’s not like Williams won’t have fantasy appeal in 2021. This offense is a quarterback away from exploding, which gives Williams massive upside on his rookie contract.
12. Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL)
You won’t find a bigger Bateman fan than me from a skill level, but the landing spot isn’t ideal for his fantasy appeal. The Ravens have targeted their wide receivers just 393 times over the last two years combined, a number that four teams topped in 2020 alone. Even if he takes over as the No. 1 go-to receiver for Lamar Jackson, we still have Mark Andrews in the mix, so Bateman may be capped around 90-100 targets.