News & Analysis

Jahnke: 2021 Dynasty Fantasy Football Rankings

Nov 8, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) scores a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is less than a month away, but it’s not too early to prepare for dynasty leagues. There was a window to make trades before free agency during which players like Chase Edmonds and Anthony Firkser were a value. Those who realized they are likely to have larger roles in 2021 had plenty of time to trade for them. 

Similarly, there's a window right now to make trades before the draft. The following top 200 dynasty rankings include more than 40 rookies. The rookie rankings will change a lot depending on where they land and how early they're drafted. But this top 200 should offer a good sense of where current NFL players can be valued against each other and against the newcomers in a neutral setting. 

As always, you can find these and other rankings at PFF's main rankings page, including positional rankings sortable by league format and fantasy analyst. I'll provide commentary on the first 120 players here. 

1. RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

2. RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

3. RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

4. RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

5. WR Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

6. RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

7. WR Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

8. WR D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

9. RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

10. WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

11. RB Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

12. WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

The top of my dynasty rankings look very similar to the re-draft rankings. That's because these players are still at the peak of their careers with plenty of years ahead of them.

At running back, four reliable backs are holding off the 2020 rookie class at the top of the list. They're also four of the top 10 backs by PFF grade over the last three seasons. The top of this list includes two of the top three leaders in carries over that time, while the other two are in the top three in targets. 

Two second-year backs found their way into the top 12. Jonathan Taylor led his class in overall PFF grade, rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns. Marlon Mack’s return might hurt Taylor’s production a little in the short term, but his long-term outlook is the brightest. Cam Akers moved to second in his class due to his potential for opportunities and for being a full year younger than a few of the other backs in his class.

At wide receiver, there is plenty of excellent talent, but Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill benefit from playing with MVP quarterbacks who still operate at an elite level. This keeps the two wide receivers ahead of the pack despite being a few years older.

They are followed closely by the three best young wide receivers, whose rankings are based in their current situations. D.K. Metcalf has the best quarterback situation of the three in the most pass-happy offense. Both Jefferson and Brown might be more talented, but Metcalf should see the most targets in the near-term.

13. RB James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

14. WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

15. RB Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

16. RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

17. WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

18. TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

19. RB Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team

20. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

21. RB D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

22. WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

23. RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

24. TE George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

This group of players is highlighted by three running backs entering their second seasons as well as the top two tight ends.

The 2020 running back draft class is taking over the position, with 14 backs from the class sitting in one of the top two spots on their team's depth chart. Most of the running backs ranked 11-20 in re-draft are from this class. They will be ranked higher in dynasty leagues — a total of five of the top 21 players are second-year backs.

Antonio Gibson had the best PFF rushing grade of the class, while James Robinson and D’Andre Swift are expected to be bigger parts of the offense compared to the second-year backs they rank ahead of.

Nov 22, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates his touchdown pass scored against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Kelce remains at the top of the tight end group despite his age. He should be a first-round pick in re-drafts but falls a bit in this format. Kelce is 31 years old, but he’s coming off the best season of his career. His closest competition is only a few years younger, but Kelce has a far superior quarterback situation. The gap between him and the other tight ends is large enough that a few more years of this play is just too valuable compared to other tight ends. 

25. WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

26. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

27. WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

28. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

29. QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

30. WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers

31. WR Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears

32. WR Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team

33. WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

34. TE Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

35. WR Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers

36. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Rookie

Tier 3 is home of the second-year wide receiver, with Lamb, Aiyuk, Higgins and Claypool. The four receivers ranked second to fifth in PFF receiving grade among the draft class last season behind Justin Jefferson. They were also four of the top six in terms of targets. The combination of age, opportunity and skill makes it hard to pass them up.

This group also includes the first rookie in Ja’Marr Chase. It might be surprising to see so many other wide receivers before Chase in dynasty, but it’s important to remember that not all rookies work out. Three of the first four wide receivers picked in 2020 are ranked much lower than this, while few people expected Jefferson to look the best of the group after one season. The uncertainty pushes him and the rest of the rookie class down.

This tier also includes Patrick Mahomes, who should be the first quarterback off the board in any format.

37. RB J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

38. WR Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

39. WR D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

40. RB Travis Etienne, Rookie

41. WR Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

42. WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

43. RB Javonte Williams, Rookie

44. QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

45. RB Najee Harris, Rookie

46. WR Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

47. QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

48. WR Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

This next group is highlighted by a trio of rookie running backs. There is plenty of debate over which back should be selected first in fantasy drafts. Where the backs land will greatly influence their rankings. Few teams have a clear need at running back, so some of these RBs could become the second part of a one-two punch. Some could end up on a team where they could get the majority of snaps right away.

A number of talented wide receivers also fill this group, though each player has a question mark around their age, quarterback or their target share. They are all clear starters who will probably be drafted higher in redraft leagues, but the overall number of talented young wide receivers pushes them down the rankings in dynasty formats.

Jan 3, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins in the first quarter at Bills Stadium. Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Allen and Kyler Murray also find their way into the top 50. They scored the first- and second-most fantasy points at the position last year. Six of the top 12 QBs in fantasy points are 32 years old or older. This makes the young quarterbacks who are proven QB1s all the more valuable.

49. RB Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

50. WR Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers

51. WR Kenny Golladay, New York Giants

52. RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

53. WR Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos

54. QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

55. WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

56. RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

57. WR Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams

58. QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

59. TE Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

60. WR DeVonta Smith, Rookie

This interesting bunch of players is mostly younger running backs or wide receivers with more red flags than the previously listed players, along with veterans in newer situations.

Kenny Golladay is the highest-ranked player that has found a new home this offseason, leaving him with a wide range of possibilities for his production. Both Rams wide receivers have a new quarterback and as always will be competing with each other for targets.

Miles Sanders is one of the biggest gambles outside of rookies in dynasty leagues. He’s about to turn 24, so he may not have hit his peak yet. His PFF grade of 62.8 is second-lowest among those with at least 1,000 snaps in the last two seasons, only ahead of Todd Gurley. Philadelphia has 11 draft picks, so competition could be coming sooner rather than later.

This tier also includes Diontae Johnson and Jerry Jeudy. Both are very promising young wide receivers, but each will have plenty of competition for targets for the foreseeable future.

61. WR Jaylen Waddle, Rookie

62. RB Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

63. WR Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

64. RB A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers

65. TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

66. WR Rashod Bateman, Rookie

67. QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

68. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

69. WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

70. TE Kyle Pitts, Rookie

71. QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

72. WR D.J. Chark Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

Quarterbacks highlight this area of the rankings, showing some of the depth at the position. Jalen Hurts appears to be a polarizing player within the Eagles organization as well as in dynasty drafts. Hurts finished as QB3 from Weeks 14-16, and he should have more talent around him. The return of Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson will significantly upgrade the offensive line, while the draft should bring in some skill players to help Hurts as well. The second-year QB has the upside to be the top quarterback in fantasy football with his rushing ability, but he could also be backup by 2022.

Dak Prescott is lower on the list then some might expect. He’s the oldest quarterback in the rankings so far and is coming back from injury.

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts (84) during the first half against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Four rookies can be found from ranks 60-70, each of whom is expected to be called on the first day of the draft. Most notable is Kyle Pitts. Scarcity at tight end keeps pushing Travis Kelce and George Kittle up draft boards. If anyone can join that tier in the next few years, it is Pitts.

Two Jaguars receivers can also be found here. Both are expected to see a spike in fantasy production with Trevor Lawrence presumably throwing them passes in 2021.

73. QB Trevor Lawrence, Rookie

74. RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

75. WR Rondale Moore, Rookie

76. RB Kenneth Gainwell, Rookie

77. TE Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

78. WR Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

79. QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

80. WR Terrace Marshall Jr., Rookie

81. RB Michael Carter, Rookie

82. QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

83. WR Will Fuller V, Miami Dolphins

84. WR Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills

A Trevor Lawrence receiver is ranked 72, with Lawrence right behind at 73. The 70s and early 80s are full of players likely to go in the late first round of rookie drafts. After this point, rookies will be sprinkled in throughout the rankings.

The non-rookies are mostly players recovering from injury or in a new situation. Josh Jacobs and Gabriel Davis are exciting young players, but their teams added competition in free agency. Dallas Goedert has been moving up the rankings with the presumptive release of Zach Ertz, but as of now, Ertz is still on the roster.

85. RB Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

86. TE Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

87. RB Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

88. WR Curtis Samuel, Washington Football Team

89. WR Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears

90. RB Melvin Gordon III, Denver Broncos

91. TE Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

92. WR Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

93. RB Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

94. WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

95. RB Chuba Hubbard, Rookie

96. WR Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

Running backs in this group have question marks when it comes to playing time, while wide receivers in the group are fighting for targets.

Both Zack Moss and Ronald Jones have found themselves in three-back committees after the Bills added Matt Breida and the Buccaneers brought back Leonard Fournette. Having three backs might not stop their teams from drafting another running back. Chase Edmonds and Melvin Gordon III are currently in great positions now, but that could change with a draft pick.

Sep 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (29) against the Washington Football Team at State Farm Stadium. Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

All of the wide receivers on this list are both relatively young and talented, but each is expected to finish second on his team in targets at best. They could fill fantasy starting lineups for a number of years but might never reach the top tiers.

At tight end, the top five in dynasty and re-draft are the same and won’t have much dispute. Kyle Pitts is the wildcard, and then tight end becomes more of a gamble. Tonyan tied for the league lead in touchdowns among tight ends but is coming off of 11-straight games with five or fewer targets. Gesicki finished fourth in receiving yards and is only 25, but Will Fuller will cut into his target share. Despite the concerns, both remain clear top-10 tight ends.

97. RB Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

98. WR Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles

99. WR Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

100. RB Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins

101. TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

102. QB Zach Wilson, Rookie

103. RB Khalil Herbert, Rookie

104. WR Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts

105. WR Elijah Moore, Rookie

106. RB Salvon Ahmed, Miami Dolphins

107. TE Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

108. WR Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders

Most running backs with a starting job in the NFL have been drafted at this point. The Dolphins backfield is an exception because of a few question marks. Both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed graded out well in their first meaningful snaps. The Dolphins added Malcolm Brown, who can be a mentor to these young backs and ideally not take many snaps. One of the two could be a steal at this point, although it’s not out of the question for Miami to draft a back.

The 2020 season gave us a lot of exciting rookie wide receivers, and this is the point where we see the WRs we thought could produce as rookies but didn’t. Jalen Reagor, Michael Pittman Jr. and Henry Ruggs III each finished with overall PFF grades of 64.0 or lower. Plenty of wide receivers have had slow rookie seasons and turned their careers around, but there are also several highly drafted receivers who never did. Their low ranks compared to this time last year corresponds to their risk.

109. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

110. RB Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers

111. WR Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans

112. QB Justin Fields, Rookie

113. RB Damien Harris, New England Patriots

114. WR Denzel Mims, New York Jets

115. RB Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams

116. TE Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

117. WR Corey Davis, New York Jets

118. TE Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings

119. QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

120. RB La'Mical Perine, New York Jets

Tyler Higbee and Irv Smith Jr. highlight the tight ends coming into 2021 with more upside compared to recent years. They are no longer competing with Gerald Everett and Kyle Rudolph for snaps, which means they should see all of the receiving targets at tight end. The Rams' upgrade at quarterback offers Higbee even more upside. Minnesota’s offense looks nearly identical compared to last season, and that consistency mixed with a better defense should help Smith score touchdowns.

Oct 18, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. (84) runs with the ball after a catch for a 36-yard gain in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium. Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets offense is also highlighted here, as the team is expected to draft Zach Wilson or another quarterback to lead the team. Perine has the most upside among the running backs currently on the Jets roster, while Davis and Mims should be Wilson's outside wide receivers for the next few seasons at least.

121. WR Tylan Wallace, Rookie

122. WR Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

123. RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

124. QB Trey Lance, Rookie

125. WR Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers

126. TE Jonnu Smith, New England Patriots

127. WR Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

128. RB Trey Sermon, Rookie

129. WR Kadarius Toney, Rookie

130. QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

131. TE Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

132. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Rookie

133. RB Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

134. WR K.J. Hamler, Denver Broncos

135. RB Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

136. QB Mac Jones, Rookie

137. WR Seth Williams, Rookie

138. RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Rookie

139. RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

140. WR Dyami Brown, Rookie

141. QB Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

142. TE Hunter Henry, New England Patriots

143. RB Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers

144. WR DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

145. TE Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys

146. WR Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns

147. RB Anthony McFarland Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers

148. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns

149. QB Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts

150. RB David Johnson, Houston Texans

151. TE Pat Freiermuth, Rookie

152. QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

153. WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Rookie

154. TE Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons

155. RB Javian Hawkins, Rookie

156. WR Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

157. RB Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

158. QB Daniel Jones, New York Giants

159. WR Darius Slayton, New York Giants

160. RB Jaret Patterson, Rookie

161. QB Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

162. WR Josh Palmer, Rookie

163. TE Adam Trautman, New Orleans Saints

164. RB Kylin Hill, Rookie

165. WR Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams

166. RB James Conner, Free Agent

167. TE Evan Engram, New York Giants

168. QB Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

169. WR Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

170. WR Tutu Atwell, Rookie

171. QB Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

172. RB Demetric Felton, Rookie

173. TE Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans

174. QB Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

175. WR Jamison Crowder, New York Jets

176. QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

177. RB Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders

178. WR Sterling Shepard, New York Giants

179. WR Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots

180. RB Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons

181. WR Allen Lazard. Green Bay Packers

182. TE Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks

183. TE Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers

184. RB Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

185. WR Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders

186. QB Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

187. RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona Cardinals

188. WR Jaelon Darden, Rookie

189. TE Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

190. WR Collin Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars

191. WR Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins

192. QB Kyle Trask, Rookie

193. WR Anthony Schwartz, Rookie

194. RB Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans

195. RB Larry Rountree III, Rookie

196. RB Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions

197. TE Donald Parham, Los Angeles Chargers

198. RB Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers

199. RB Pooka Williams Jr., Rookie

200. WR Nico Collins, Rookie

 

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