Pre-Draft Dynasty Rookie Rankings
We have 3 of the 4 pieces of the dynasty rookie rankings puzzle. The 4th will come at the NFL Draft later this week.
But before we find out where all these new guys will be playing, let’s set a foundation by ranking the rookies based on their college production, athleticism and tape. We’ve spent the past couple of months laying out detailed scouting reports on these guys for you.
Smola, Schauf and English each submitted pre-draft rankings. Then we averaged them out for a composite list. We’ll get together post-draft to hash out a unified set of rankings for your dynasty rookie drafts.
Below you’ll find top 25 overall rankings, followed by some commentary on guys with the biggest discrepancies in our individual rankings. Finally, check out the positional rankings — the top 8 QBs, 20 RBs, 25 WRs and 8 TEs.
Top 25 Overall
Schauf (2nd): Butler was my favorite WR on tape. He did something fun every time I watched Iowa State -- even when I was trying to watch David Montgomery cut-ups. Combine that with intriguing size, strong testing (especially for his size) and a fairly nebulous WR class, and I’m starting with Butler near the top. There’s certainly room, though, for the draft to change my WR board.
English (6th): I don’t love being lowest on Butler. He brings rare length and athleticism and showed big-play ability at Iowa State. I think he’s a bit boom or bust, though. He broke out at an advanced age, while he’ll enter the league at 23.3 years old. He also lacks polish as a route runner and struggled with drops (16 over the past 2 seasons, per Pro Football Focus).
Smola (2nd): Arcega-Whiteside checks every box. He clocked a 4.49-second 40 time at 6’2, 225 pounds at his Pro Day. He soaked up 30.7% of Stanford’s receiving yards and 46.7% of the receiving scores over his 3-year career -- elite market shares. And he’s capable of winning both in the big WR game with his contested-catch ability and in the small WR game with impressive quickness in his routes. I’m willing to come down on Arcega-Whiteside if he drops outside the first 2 rounds of the NFL Draft, which I do think is possible.
English (7th): This guy’s Dynasty League Football ADP is 18th overall. 18th! I’m on board with Jared’s assessment and would be thrilled to land Arcega-Whiteside in Round 2 of rookie drafts.
English (4th): By most accounts, Jacobs will come off the board by early round 2 as the RB1 in the NFL Draft. So he’ll likely have a shot at immediate fantasy value. Excellent size, elusiveness and receiving ability give him the tools to stick as a long-term lead back.
Schauf (11th): I don’t dislike Jacobs. I’m just not chasing a RB from this class unless I really need one and am set at the other positions. Otherwise, I’m more interested in getting 1 of the early WRs, T.J. Hockenson or Kyler Murray. The last piece to this ranking: I love everything about Darrell Henderson so far and see no reason to put any space between him and Jacobs. I’m probably letting someone else draft the Bama guy.
English (5th): Brown’s Lisfranc surgery presents risk, but I think it’s more immediate than long-term. Besides, NFL Network insiders Daniel Jeremiah and Ian Rapoport have indicated that teams believe Brown will return to pre-injury form. If so, he’ll project as a dangerous downfield threat following 2 productive years at OU (132-2,413-17).
Smola (11th): Brown’s combination of elite speed and quickness is exciting -- and certainly gives him big fantasy upside at the next level. I also think he’s a better route runner than he’s typically given credit for. But we’ve seen very few sub-170-pound WRs have NFL success (Brown tipped the scales at 166 at the Combine). And he’s recovering from Lisfranc surgery -- an issue that’s caused lingering problems for numerous WRs. Those risks bump Brown down my rankings.
Schauf (6th): I get it. History says I shouldn’t expect much from him in 2019. Beyond that, though, everything else indicates I could get big stuff from this year’s top TE. Combine that with a deep crew of WRs and an unexciting RB group and I’m willing to look TE earlier than usual this year.
English (14th): Hockensen’s one of the most polished TEs to come out in recent memory, and he’s a Round 1 lock. But I’ll pass on his relative safety at ADP (14th overall) in favor of an upside RB or WR — especially since this class is loaded with intriguing TEs.
Schauf (5th): My arguments for Murray and Hockenson are basically the same. Murray goes before Hockenson, though, because I see a LARGE gap between him and the rest of this QB class (whereas the next few TEs sit closer to Hockenson). I’m also chasing Murray much earlier than the typical QB because I think his atypical combo of elite rushing ability and elite accuracy gives him the chance to deliver big fantasy numbers quickly and then consistently thereafter.
English (18th): Murray’s easily my QB1. I can’t question the accurate traits he displayed at OU — or his clear rushing upside. My pause comes from his small stature and a single year of production. With an ADP in mid-Round 2 -- per Dynasty League Football -- I’ll likely pass and address a higher-demand position.
Smola (6th): His 36th percentile SPARQ score is worrisome. But I’m choosing to trust the production, tape and advanced metrics here. Montgomery topped 1,100 rushing yards in each of the past 2 seasons while compiling 58 catches. For my money, he’s the best tackle avoider/breaker in this RB class. Pro Football Focus’ numbers agree: Montgomery finished 1st in missed tackles forced per attempt and 4th in Elusive Rating in 2018. At 5’10, 222 pounds with a 3-down skill set, Montgomery boasts RB1 fantasy upside as a pro.
Schauf (24th): I wouldn’t say I dislike Montgomery. There’s just nothing about him that excites me the way he has affected many others. If Montgomery had tested better, I might be rethinking my stance. But his poor testing only confirms my impression. Barring some tremendous landing spot, you can have him.
English (9th): Size, production, hands and contested-catch ability leave me optimistic here. I came away intrigued by Harmon’s 2018 tape, particularly his performances against Wake Forest and Syracuse. Perhaps he drops to late Round 3, but I’m guessing his name gets called in Round 2.
Schauf (19th): Harmon got passed in market share by teammate (and fellow draft classmate) Jakobi Meyers. Then he tested unimpressively. And the tape I watched struck me as just OK. I think there’s more upside elsewhere.
Smola (12th): I bet Sanders would be higher in most rankings if it wasn’t for that Saquon Barkley dude. Sanders was the #1 RB in the 2016 recruiting class. Then after playing behind Barkley in his first 2 seasons at Penn State, he racked up 1,274 yards and 9 TDs on 5.8 yards per carry last year -- adding 24 catches for another 139 yards. The 5’11, 211-pounder helped himself by registering a 73rd percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. He’s largely unproven but has as much upside as any RB in this class.
Schauf (23rd): We all have Sanders in the same spot on the RB board, so this is clearly about the position rather than the player. As I’ve said regarding other RBs here -- and, previously, on the podcast -- there’s not much I’m chasing at RB. Sanders is fine. But I don’t think he looks significantly better than several other RBs behind him on my list. I’ll be surprised, for example, if he’s drafted way ahead of Notre Dame’s Dexter Williams.
Schauf (16th): I might be overrating the tape here, and I’m counting on NFL Draft position to help sort that out. But Sternberger looks like a stellar receiving TE. And his production agrees. Besides the raw numbers, Sternberger ranks 5th in the class in market share of receptions, 4th in market share of receiving yards and tops in TD market share by a healthy margin (40% vs. 33.3% for the next guy). Of course, if I already got Hockenson or Noah Fant in Round 1, I’m skipping right past this guy in Round 2.
Smola (27th): I’m surprised to be the low man here -- and even more surprised that Schauf has him way up at 16th! Sternberger turned in a big 48-832-10 line this past season. And I was impressed by his seam-stretching ability on tape. But he was a 1-year wonder, totaling just 22 grabs across his first 3 college seasons (2 at Kansas and 1 at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M). And he tested as just a 22nd percentile athlete at the Combine. Sternberger seems more likely to emerge as a mid- to low-end TE1 than a real difference-maker for fantasy squads.
Smola (12th): He’s Baby David Montgomery. The 5’8, 203-pound Singletary registered an 8th percentile SPARQ score at the Combine. But he puts big check marks in the production and tape boxes. Singletary racked up 4,287 rushing yards, 397 receiving yards and 67 total TDs (!!!) over 3 college seasons. The tape shows excellent vision and elite tackle-breaking prowess. In fact, Singletary ranked 2nd in this draft class in missed tackles forced per attempt and 3rd in Elusive Rating, according to Pro Football Focus. I’ll bet on that ability translating to the next level.
Schauf (unranked): I love Singletary’s tape. I also loved Kenneth Dixon’s tape. And I loved the tape for Paul Perkins, who fared great in PFF’s ratings. The point: Your eyes can lie. That’s why draft analytics are on the rise. Singletary’s putrid speed score (86.1) scares me. Frankly, I hope I’m too low on him. But I’m starting out cautious.
Smola (17th): Harris’ tape doesn’t get my juices flowing. But this guy led stacked Alabama backfields in rushing in each of the past 3 seasons and leaves school with a beefy 6.4 yards-per-carry average. He also showed some pass-catching chops with 52 career grabs. At 5’10 and 216 pounds, Harris looks capable of leading his NFL backfield in touches for a handful of seasons.
Schauf (unranked): I didn’t need to hear about Smola’s juices. Harris is yet another RB in this class who looks like he could be fine. Honestly, I’m looking for the NFL Draft to sort some of this out. If a bunch of these guys come off the board by the end of Round 3, then I’ll be more interested. If, however, we’re looking at a bunch of Day 3 guys, then Imma keep waiting in my rookie drafts and take late shots on players such as Bryce Love, Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo. What I like most about Harris is that he was good enough to keep Josh Jacobs from ever passing him in the workload hierarchy.