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Jahnke: 2021 Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings

The 2021 NFL Draft class offered a plethora of talent that will help replenish dynasty fantasy football rosters. In dynasty rookie drafts, we are ideally drafting the best player available rather than targeting needs. But now is a great time to plug any roster holes through trades — especially as values have shifted a bit over the summer and we inch closer to training camp.

Editor's Note: PFF's 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Guide and 2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets are LIVE!

As such, here are my top 60 dynasty rookies heading into 2021 fantasy football. You can find my entire top-200 dynasty rankings hereFor more information on each of these rookies, check out PFF's 2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Scouting Report.

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Last updated: July 14, 2021.

First Round
Rank Position Name Team Position Rank Draft Round Draft Pick
1 WR Ja'Marr Chase Bengals WR1 1 5
2 RB Najee Harris Steelers RB1 1 24
3 RB Travis Etienne Jaguars RB2 1 25
4 RB Javonte Williams Broncos RB3 2 35
5 TE Kyle Pitts Falcons TE1 1 4
6 WR DeVonta Smith Eagles WR2 1 10
7 WR Rashod Bateman Ravens WR3 1 27
8 RB Michael Carter Jets RB4 4 107
9 WR Jaylen Waddle Dolphins WR4 1 6
10 WR Rondale Moore Cardinals WR5 2 49
11 WR Elijah Moore Jets WR6 2 34
12 QB Trey Lance 49ers QB1 1 3

Ja’Marr Chase tops the list for 2021. The 21-year-old out of LSU is the top wide receiver on the  PFF Big Board and was the first wide receiver taken. One of the only negatives for Chase is that he had Joe Burrow throwing to him during his breakout sophomore season, but now that he’s reunited with Burrow there isn’t as much to worry about. He has the makings of an elite fantasy wide receiver with a high floor. The only concern is that the Bengals already have two wide receivers who both saw over 100 targets last season, which could limit Chase’s target share.

A trio of running backs follows. Najee Harris landed with the Steelers, as many expected. He should be the every-down back in Pittsburgh. There will be very few backs from this class that will see close to as many touches as Harris will as a rookie, and the position scarcity helps move Harris and other backs up the board.

Travis Etienne’s situation is a little less clear. He has much more competition for playing time, but running backs aren’t selected in the top-25 to stand on the sidelines. Etienne will be one of the few backs in this class that should see the majority of his team’s touches.

The next three wide receivers each offer something that stands out. Landing spots played a heavy role in where they ended up ranking. DeVonta Smith should immediately lead the Eagles in targets and be their best offensive weapon. Rashod Bateman has the opportunity to be the top receiver for his team but has more competition at the position and landed on a more run-first team. Jaylen Waddle was the second wide receiver off the board but goes to a team that already has two wide receivers who could be the top wide receivers on some teams. The wide receivers ahead of him at least have guaranteed high targets or a better quarterback situation, but Waddle doesn’t have either.

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

Kyle Pitts comes in fifth; he's the most difficult player to place on this list. Pitts is arguably the best receiver in the draft regardless of position. Roughly half the teams in any given dynasty league will be looking to upgrade at tight end. The problem is how unfamiliar this situation is — we have plenty of data to show how often top wide receivers or running backs turn into elite fantasy prospects, but it’s rare for a tight end to be a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft. Pitts landed in a solid situation with a good quarterback but has plenty of competition for targets.

Trey Lance ends up ahead of Trevor Lawrence among quarterbacks even though he might not start right away. George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are all 27 or younger, comprising one of the best receiving rooms in the league. Lance will have several years throwing to these three receivers; his second receiving option is notably better than Lawrence’s best receiving option. Lance will likely also put up more rushing production than Lawrence. 

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