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Draft Strategy

2017 Dynasty IDP Rookie Rankings

By Matt Schauf 1:05pm EDT 5/8/17

These IDP rankings might not work for your rookie draft.

Don’t worry. I’m not discrediting my own work and telling you to ignore the rest of this article. That would have meant I wasted lots of time over the past couple of weeks.

What I’m saying is: Please don’t blindly apply these rankings to your draft. IDP formats vary—widely. If you play in a tackle-heavy fantasy football setup, then most of the edge-rushing OLBs below won’t help you a whole lot. If your league favors sack scoring, however – and especially if it also counts stats such as tackles for loss – then you should probably bump those guys up.

I’ve tried to balance these rankings as best I can amid the varied formats. Most of all, I’ve tried to show where I think players at the same position are grouped together—or spaced apart.

As plenty of our IDP dynasty players can attest, you can always email me (via info@draftsharks.com) with any specific questions as you head into and then navigate through your rookie draft.

Below, you'll find write-ups on the top 30 overall, followed by expanded lists for each position (54 total players).


Top 30 Overall


1. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns

The draft’s top player gains fantasy value with an initial DE designation on MyFantasyLeague.com. His special pass-rush skills would draw plenty of value even at LB, though (in most scoring formats). And even if Garrett does enter 2017 as a LB in your league, there will always be a chance for a Khalil Mack-style switch to DL.


2. Reuben Foster, LB, 49ers

It doesn’t matter why Foster slipped in the NFL Draft, relative to expectations. He landed with a Niners team that loves him and has room to start him right away—as long as Foster’s shoulder is ready. Even if that limits him in 2017 (a la Shaq Lawson in Buffalo last year), there’s big IDP upside long term.


3. Jarrad Davis, LB, Lions

Detroit grabbed Davis with Foster still on the board. Whether that was the right call or not, it shows how much the Lions think of their rookie. GM Bob Quinn has said they plan to play Davis in the middle. Whether he stays there or settles on the outside, he’s a near-lock to start Week 1 this fall.


4. Jamal Adams, S, Jets

Adams’ 3 years at LSU produced 18 tackles for loss, 5 INTs and 14 pass breakups. His tackle counts likely would have been larger had he played in a less talented defense. The Jets’ iffy LB corps will help right away on that front, and Adams should spend plenty of time “in the box.”


5. Derek Barnett, DE, Eagles

There are bigger EDGE players in this class and lots of guys with better speed scores. But no player out-produced Barnett in college. The 3-year starter at Tennessee led the whole group with 10.7 sacks and 17.3 tackles for loss per year.


6. Solomon Thomas, DE, 49ers

Thomas delivered solid numbers over 2 starting years at Stanford, including 8.5 sacks last season. But his combo of size (273 pounds) and athleticism (6th among this class’ EDGE players in SPARQ, 5th in speed score) suggests a high production ceiling in the pros. In San Francisco, he’ll play on a suddenly enticing – and likely ascending – D-line.


7. Takkarist McKinley, DE, Falcons

There’s no questioning the effort here, but McKinley will need to work on his pass-rushing moves and strength to become a productive pro. His 112.6 speed score ranks 6th in the class, though, and keeping a DE designation (over LB) would help his fantasy value.


8. Haason Reddick, LB, Cardinals

Reddick’s athleticism – including a group-leading 4.52-second 40 – suggests his sack ceiling rises higher than the 9.5 he posted as a Temple senior. So do the 22.5 tackles for loss that ranked him 3rd in the country last year. The big question might be whether he settles in as a true edge player in Arizona or fills multiple roles. That said, Reddick might be ready to deliver the IDP goods either way.


9. Jonathan Allen, DE, Washington

Allen will step into a position – 3-4 DE – not commonly associated with big stats. But he racked up 22.5 sacks and 30.5 total tackles for loss over the past 2 seasons. So he clearly brings some stat potential with him.


10. Raekwon McMillan, LB, Dolphins

McMillan might have trouble finding immediate opportunity, with Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons locked in at the 2 stat-building LB spots in Miami. But Timmons is 30 and on a 2-year deal. Perhaps that will give McMillan time to develop his cover skills and emerge as a 3-down player befitting his 4.61-second 40 time at the Combine. His 2nd-round selection suggests the Dolphins believe in that potential.


11. Zach Cunningham, LB, Texans

Frankly, I don’t see any special value in McMillan or Cunningham. So if your league favors pressure stats or you’re pretty well set at LB, I’d skip over them and grab an upside EDGE. But most IDP formats still like tackles a lot. Cunningham looks like the heir to Brian Cushing, and I still don’t believe Benardrick McKinney is as good as his 2016 numbers might lead you to believe.


12. T.J. Watt, LB, Steelers

Watt only had 1 year of production to go on at Wisconsin, after beginning his career as a TE. But combine that with a pair of knee injuries and the fact that he entered the league a year early, and it’s pretty clear that Pittsburgh loves Watt’s upside. You’ll probably have to be patient if you draft him. But Watt rocked the Combine tests, showing the athleticism he has to build on. And he landed with arguably 1 of the league’s best franchises at developing young players.


13. DeMarcus Walker, DE, Broncos

Walker might not have garnered as much pre-draft chatter as he should have. His 1.23 sacks per game in 2016 led this class, and his 1.5 tackles for loss per game tied for 5th. Walker doesn’t rate high in athleticism, but his position as a 3-4 DE doesn’t call for as much speed as 4-3 DE would.


14. Jordan Willis, DE, Bengals

Willis, on the other hand, draws upside primarily from his strong athletic profile. He topped the class in speed score and ranked 2nd only to Garrett in SPARQ. Landing in Cincinnati – where he’ll play DE as opposed to OLB – helps his fantasy value.


15. Jabrill Peppers, S, Browns

There are legit concerns about the ball skills of Peppers, who intercepted just 1 pass across 3 seasons at Michigan. But playing SS for the Browns should keep him busy in the tackle category. And his 10 pass breakups as a safety in 2015 (before he played LB almost exclusively last year) suggest upside in coverage as well.


16. Taco Charlton, DE, Cowboys

Charlton finished his Michigan career with a 10-sack senior year and then joined a defense with an immediate need at his position. He should be a quick-value addition, even if his ceiling doesn’t rise as high as some others’.


17. Charles Harris, DE, Dolphins

Harris didn’t rate highly in speed score and never reached 10 sacks in a college season. As a 1st-round pick to Miami – where Cameron Wake’s presence will allow Harris to work in slowly – there’s upside. But I’m not as excited about him as I am for others.


18. Tyus Bowser, LB, Ravens

Bowser vs. Tim Williams is basically a toss-up. But the Ravens drafted Bowser a round earlier. He beat Williams in both speed score and SPARQ. And he tallied more sacks per game (3rd most in class) and tackles for loss per game last season—granted, against lesser competition.


19. Tim Williams, LB, Ravens

Williams probably would have gone earlier with a cleaner off-field profile. But he got arrested on a gun charge in September and admitted to failing multiple drug tests. Fortunately, though, we’re not employing him. We’re just betting on his talent and situation. Williams spent 2 years starting for the Tide and tallied 18.5 sacks. He joins a Baltimore defense that needs to reboot its pass rush.


20. Carl Lawson, LB, Bengals

The Bengals plan to play Lawson at strong-side LB and then use him as a situational pass rusher. That makes him more interesting than if he were set to play either role on its own. There’s enough pass-rushing potential that some analysts projected him as a 1st-rounder, though his 4th-round draft position suggests they might have overrated him as an EDGE prospect. Playing 4-3 OLB should help his tackle numbers—as well as getting him on the field faster. Playing DE would find him battling Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson and classmate Jordan Willis for snaps. The LB corps, meanwhile, watched Rey Maualuga and Karlos Dansby walk in the offseason.


21. Tarell Basham, LB, Colts

The Colts found Basham in the middle of Round 3, but he ranked 7th in speed score among the 36 players listed as DE at the Scouting Combine. He never posted a double-digit sack season at Ohio, but his 6.8 sacks per year tied for 6th most in the class. Indy could use his help right away.


22. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Saints

Hendrickson racked up 23 total sacks over his 2 full seasons as a starter at Florida Atlantic. His 7.4 sacks per year over 4 years tied for 3rd among this EDGE class. Hendrickson helped himself further by testing well in pre-draft season. His 4.65-second 40 at the Combine produced the group’s 3rd-highest speed score, and Hendrickson ranked 8th among EDGE guys in SPARQ score.


23. Derek Rivers, DE, Patriots

Rivers tallied 41 sacks across 4 seasons at Youngstown State. That ranks 3rd in this class in sacks per season, with the only other double-digit producers playing 3 (Barnett) and 2 (Garrett) years. Rivers checked in 8th among 36 Combine DEs in speed score.


24. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Chiefs

He played EDGE in college, but the Chiefs plan to ask Kpassagnon (don’t bother trying to pronounce it; I tried with my daughter for about 10 minutes before she gave up) to bulk up and play 3-4 DE. He posted a strong 11-sack, 21.5-TFL season as a Villanova senior.


25. Ryan Anderson, LB, Washington

Anderson vs. the next 2 LBs depends on your scoring format (tackle-heavy vs. big-play scoring). Anderson didn’t blow anyone away with his post-season testing numbers. His 4.74-second 40 notched an average speed score for the position, while his total profile earned a 1st percentile SPARQ rating. Anderson also posted just solid numbers at Alabama.


26. Obi Melifonwu, S, Raiders

Melifonwu registered a SPARQ score in the 100th percentile for an NFL safety. It’s hard to display more upside than that. And he’s not a total projection by any means. Melifonwu tallied 118 total tackles and 4 INTs as a senior. If he doesn’t take S Reggie Nelson’s job right away in Oakland, then he should claim it by the start of 2018. The only real question will be whether they play him some at CB, too.


27. Malik Hooker, S, Colts

Look for Clayton Geathers to be the tackle guy in what Indy hopes will be the new starting safety duo for a while. But Hooker’s ball skills present big-play upside, as you might have guessed from his 7 INTs last season—3 of which he returned for TDs.


28. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Lions

Detroit should also be planning open competition for this summer—likely at all 3 LB spots. First-rounder Jarrad Davis is the favorite to start in the middle. But Reeves-Maybin could be a candidate for that spot or an outside position right away. He led Tennessee in tackles each of his 1st 2 seasons before losing time to a shoulder injury last year. That might have lowered Reeves-Maybin’s draft stock. But he ran well at his pro day (4.65), and NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein calls him a potential “steal” who can play all 3 downs and displays “cover talent.”


29. Anthony Walker, LB, Colts

The Harvard Sports study of Combine results that we’ve mentioned multiple times on the podcast determined 40 time to be a key indicator of early NFL contributions at ILB. Walker rates well on that front, delivering the 7th best 40 time (4.65 seconds) among LBs at the Combine this year. Indy should be holding an open competition for its ILB jobs this summer.


30. Samson Ebukam, LB, Rams

Ebukam’s not as tall (6’1) or big (240 pounds) as the NFL would like its edge rushers to be, but you can’t argue the athleticism. He ranks 3rd among the EDGE class in SPARQ score, thanks in large part to a group-leading 4.50-second 40. We’d bet on either Ebukam or Ejuan Price growing into a pass-rush contributor for the Rams and new DC Wade Phillips. So let’s bet here on the guy they picked 3 rounds earlier.


DL

1. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns
2. Derek Barnett, DE, Eagles
3. Solomon Thomas, DE, 49ers
4. Takkarist McKinley, DE, Falcons
5. Jonathan Allen, DE, Washington
6. DeMarcus Walker, DE, Broncos
7. Jordan Willis, DE, Bengals
8. Taco Charlton, DE, Cowboys
9. Charles Harris, DE, Dolphins
10. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Saints
11. Derek Rivers, DE, Patriots
12. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Chiefs
13. Daeshon Hall, DE, Panthers
14. Malik McDowell, DT, Seahawks
15. Ejuan Price, DE, Rams (likely an OLB in current scheme)
16. Dawuane Smoot, DE, Jaguars
17. Chris Wormley, DE, Ravens
18. Deatrich Wise, DE, Patriots
19. Avery Moss, DE, Giants
20. Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Browns


LB

1. Reuben Foster, LB, 49ers
2. Jarrad Davis, LB, Lions
3. Haason Reddick, LB, Cardinals
4. Raekwon McMillan, LB, Dolphins
5. Zach Cunningham, LB, Texans
6. T.J. Watt, LB, Steelers
7. Tyus Bowser, LB, Ravens
8. Tim Williams, LB, Ravens
9. Carl Lawson, LB, Bengals
10. Tarell Basham, LB, Colts
11. Ryan Anderson, LB, Washington
12. Anthony Walker, LB, Colts
13. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Lions
14. Samson Ebukam, LB, Rams
15. Alex Anzalone, LB, Saints
16. Kendell Beckwith, LB, Buccaneers
17. Duke Riley, LB, Falcons
18. Blair Brown, LB, Jaguars
19. Marquel Lee, LB, Raiders
20. Vince Biegel, LB, Packers
21. Jayon Brown, LB, Titans
22. Ben Gedeon, LB, Vikings
23. Elijah Lee, LB, Vikings
24. Ben Boulware, LB, Panthers


DB

1. Jamal Adams, S, Jets
2. Jabrill Peppers, S, Browns
3. Obi Melifonwu, S, Raiders
4. Malik Hooker, S, Colts
5. Marcus Williams, S, Saints
6. Budda Baker, S, Cardinals
7. Adoree’ Jackson, CB, Titans
8. Justin Evans, S, Buccaneers
9. Eddie Jackson, S, Bears
10. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints

CBs are a low-value investment in your dynasty rookie draft. So if you’re going to bother with 1 at all, I’d take the guy with big INT and return upside.

Mike Mayock calls Adoree’ Jackson “a developmental corner,” but he played well enough in 2016 to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top DB. Jackson grabbed 5 of his 6 college INTs in that season, but defensed 8+ passes each of the past 3 years. His 8 career return TDs on special teams caps the big-play potential.

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