Which Player Will be Selected First?
By: Drew Feinberg
With the 2021 NFL Draft finally on the doorstep, there is arguably no more exciting time for dynasty fantasy football players. Will your favorite wide receiver be sent to purgatory in Baltimore? Will your favorite running back wind up in an offense on the rise in Buffalo? No matter what, chaos will surely ensue.
If you love dynasty as much as I do, you can’t wait to start rookie drafts as soon as the NFL draft ends. With that being said, if you are someone who is either new to dynasty, or just wants an idea of the values and ADP’s of the 2021 NFL prospects, then you’ve come to the right place; it’s time for the 2021 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft!
For this mock draft, we’re going to pretend that we are in a 10-team league, with PPR scoring and one starting quarterback. Following each pick, I’ll give my thoughts on the player chosen and a general look at their fantasy outlook.
1.01 – Najee Harris (RB – Alabama)
Standing at 6 feet 2 inches, and weighing 230 pounds, Najee Harris will surely be the premiere running back no matter where he is drafted. With prototypical NFL running back size, and hurdles for days, I have no problem drafting Harris with the first overall pick in the 2021 mock draft, especially in a 1QB league. If this were a super flex league, I would pivot and select either of this year’s top-tier quarterbacks, Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. If Harris gets mid-to-late first round draft capital, the sky’s the limit for Alabama’s all-time leading rusher.
1.02 – Ja’Marr Chase (WR – LSU)
I can’t think of a more “sure-thing” to make a splash in the NFL than Ja’Marr Chase. Posting 1780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns alongside now Pro Bowl receiver Justin Jefferson at LSU in 2019, one lucky NFL franchise is going to draft the league’s next alpha. Chase is a technician on the field with no glaring weaknesses. Whatever team selects Chase will be lucky they did so; the same goes for dynasty drafts. A very easy pick at the 1.02 in my opinion.
1.03 – Kyle Pitts (TE – Florida)
I don’t think there has ever been a tight end prospect who was clearly the best football player on any field; that was until Kyle Pitts entered our worlds, and shook them up. At 6-foot-5, 239-pounds, Pitts is built like a Tonka truck, yet is as smooth with his catching abilities as most NFL players. In the fantasy football world, considering the positional scarcity of tight ends, locking up an elite one can really benefit your team in the long run. It may seem like too early of a draft pick to spend on a tight end, but Pitts is really that special. Draft him and you’ll be a very happy camper in 10 years.
1.04 – Travis Etienne (RB – Clemson)
Travis Etienne is an explosive back who can threaten defenses with his lightning-quick burst and track-like speed. The ACC’s all-time leading rusher is projected as a second round pick, but if a team decides to take a shot on Etienne with their first round pick, I would consider taking Etienne with the 1.02. There has been chatter online that Etienne lacks the shiftiness and vision to be a star running back in the NFL, but I believe if drafted into the right system, Etienne could pay dividends later on.
1.05 – Rashod Bateman (WR – Minnesota)
In my opinion, Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman is the most NFL-ready receiver in the entire 2021 draft class. His game is so smooth, his hands are reliable and the kid is all-around a very good football player. If Bateman hadn’t opted out of the 2020 college football season, we’d be talking about him possibly being drafted above Ja’Marr Chase right now. I’ll be drafting as much of Bateman as I can get in my leagues, the dude will be a star in the league.
1.06 – DeVonta Smith (WR – Alabama)
The most polarizing prospect to project success for is easily wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The 2020 Heisman Trophy winner went ballistic in his final season at Alabama, putting up 1856 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. Drafting Chase and Bateman before Smith isn’t me trying to knock Smith’s game, I just like the fantasy outlook of the other two more. Time will tell, but Smith’s talent is clear. He may be a bit lanky, but his ability to burn opposing cornerbacks is legit. I’m excited to see where Smith ends up in the 2021 NFL draft, but for right now I would draft him with the 1.06.
1.07 – Jaylen Waddle (WR – Alabama)
Going from one Alabama receiver to another, Jaylen Waddle is a massively explosive and electric player who can win at just about any level of the field. Injury concerns are real with Waddle, which is why I have him ranked here. However, the dude can flat-out ball. He goes up to get the ball at the catch point and can create as much separation as anyone in the NFL. Although not as polished at the position as the other receivers I’ve named, Waddle will be a game-changer in the NFL, which is why you should select him with the 1.07.
1.08 – Rondale Moore (WR – Purdue)
For those of you who subscribe to the notion that “breakout age more-so than not leads to NFL success”, Rondale Moore is the guy for you. Putting up over 1,400 scrimmage yards and 600+ more yards on 33 kick returns as a true freshman in 2018, Moore enters the NFL draft with a breakout age of 18.2 (99th percentile). If Moore hadn’t been injured (played in only seven games due to injuries), who’s to know where he would be drafted in 2021. One thing is for sure, though. Moore is a baller; the dude makes people miss and is a bull on the field. He is a positionless wonder who, if drafted into a modern offense, can make a lot of noise in the NFL. I’d feel lucky snagging him in real life, and with the 1.08 in dynasty rookie drafts.
1.09 – Javonte Williams (RB – North Carolina)
Williams is a player who really wasn’t hyped up at this time last year. After two solid seasons as North Carolinas running back, Williams broke out onto the scene in 2020, averaging 7.3 yards per attempt and 22 total touchdowns. A running-style similar to Chris Carson, Williams low center of gravity makes it no fun for defenders to take on one-on-one. Considering that he split time throughout college with fellow prospect Michael Carter, I don’t see Williams seeing workhorse volume immediately. He’s certainly a project for an NFL team. If you draft him in fantasy, be prepared to wait out Williams. However, I believe the talent is there for Williams to be a very successful running back in the league.
1.10 – Trevor Lawrence (QB – Clemson)
There’s not much to talk about in terms of Lawrences on-the-field accolades. But what I can talk about is how much of a steal this pick feels like, even in a 1QB league. Lawrence is the “next big thing,” whether he likes it or not. The kid’s talent is abundantly clear. Taking Lawrence with the 1.10 and final pick in this dynasty mock draft was a no-brainer. Although quarterbacks are valued much less in a 1QB league than in other formats, it definitely doesn’t hurt to lock down a star for years to come. Plus, Lawrence’s value is only going to grow. So, this is a perfectly fine price to pay for me.