Introducing DLF’s 2018 Rookie Rankings

Ryan McDowell

This might be the most exciting time of the year to be a football fan and dynasty fantasy player. Nearing the culmination of the NFL season, we are simultaneously turning our collective attention to the incoming rookie class, which was finalized less than a week ago with the passing of the underclassmen declaration period.

Here at Dynasty League Football, we pride ourselves on keeping you informed. Although the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and of course the NFL Draft are all yet to come this off-season, we have released our preliminary set of consensus 2018 rookie rankings.

Currently, our rankers include myself, Jeff Haverlack, Dan Meylor, Travis May, Rob Willette and Steve Gill. Here’s a look at our current top-ranked rookies in the deep class of 2018.

This class features a pair of game-changing running backs at the top, followed by a deep tier of backs and receivers that will surely see massive changes throughout the off-season. In fact, our rankings may have already undergone changes by the time you’re reading this. Next week’s Senior Bowl, next month’s Combine and the plethora of pre-draft workouts will all play a large role in ultimately determining how to value these players compared to each other.

1. Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State

Average Rank: 1

When it comes to Barkley, the debate is less about how he compares to his peers in this class and more about how much dynasty owners should be willing to give up to acquire the Penn State star. Barkley has been called the best running back prospect ever and his dynasty value will likely match that. Regardless of where Barkley lands, he’s the closest thing to a lock to be the top pick as we’ve ever seen.

2. Derrius Guice, RB LSU

Average Rank: 2

The Barkley hype has overshadowed LSU’s Guice, who would be considered the top running back prospect in the typical draft class. Guice is well-suited to be an every-down back in the NFL, though the running back depth of both the incoming rookie class as well as the overall collection of NFL backs might make Guice a relative value to acquire. Like Barkley, Guice is a near certainty to be the second pick in dynasty rookie drafts.

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3. Courtland Sutton, WR SMU

Average Rank: 5.1

After the top two picks, we see a huge gap until the deep second tier. According to our rankers, that tier is currently led by SMU’s Sutton, who spurned the NFL a year ago to return to college only to be out-produced by his teammate Trey Quinn. Interestingly, Sutton is unlikely to be the first receiver chosen in the NFL Draft, but he remains the favorite to be the top wideout drafted in rookie drafts.

4. Sony Michel, RB Georgia

Average Rank: 5.8

Only a few weeks ago, Georgia’s running back Michel was viewed as a sleeper, undervalued in comparison to his teammate Nick Chubb. Since then, Michel shined on college football’s biggest stage and now comes in as our fourth-ranked player. Michel is expected to be an early Day Two pick and has all the hype in this early portion of the off-season.

5. Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama

Average Rank: 6

I mentioned earlier that Sutton is not expected to be the top-drafted receiver in the NFL Draft. Currently, that honor goes to Alabama’s Ridley, who is routinely being projected as a top ten pick. While the NFL seems enamored with the expert route runner, his advanced age (for a rookie) already has some dynasty owners scared off.

6. Nick Chubb, RB Georgia

Average Rank: 6.2

Chubb is another player who opted against declaring for the NFL Draft following the 2016 season, to the disappointment of many fantasy players. Chubb proved he has recovered from his 2015 knee injury, but he also didn’t look like his freshman-self. The Combine will be huge for Chubb in proving he can handle the workload of the NFL.

7. Ronald Jones II, RB USC

Average Rank: 7

The success of Saints running back Alvin Kamara has dynasty owners chasing the next do-it-all type of athletic back and some think that could be Jones II, even though he wasn’t heavily used as a receiver out of the backfield in college. Jones II is another player expected to be a second-day pick and slots as a mid-late first round dynasty pick.

8. James Washington, WR Oklahoma State

Average Rank: 7.5

One player our rankers seem to disagree on is Oklahoma State’s Washington, who ranks as a top-five player for three of our rankers and comes in at ten or later for the other half of our group. Washington is a solid deep threat even though he lacks top-end speed, but some worry he is a product of a high-powered offense led by quarterback Mason Rudolph.

9. Christian Kirk, WR Texas A&M

Average Rank: 11.3

Another do-it-all asset is the former Texas A&M receiver Kirk, who served as a safety valve close to the line of scrimmage for much of his college career but also showed off his speed on the occasional deep ball. Kirk will be a key special teams contributor and should man the slot from day one.

10. Rashaad Penny, RB San Diego State

Average Rank: 11.3

Playing for a non-Power Five school on the west coast, there are many dynasty players who have yet to see Penny play. This could cause him to fall to the later portion of the first round, which would be a steal for the versatile back from San Diego State. Penny was active in the passing game, but also has the power to run between the tackles. He can even be an asset in the return game.

11. DJ Moore, WR Maryland
12. Kerryon Johnson, RB Auburn
13. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR Notre Dame
14. Michael Gallup, WR Colorado State
15. Auden Tate, WR Florida State
16. Deon Cain, WR Clemson
17. Mark Walton, RB Miami
18. Josh Adams, RB Notre Dame
19. John Kelly, RB Tennessee
20. Josh Rosen, QB UCLA
21. Royce Freeman, RB Oregon
22. Mark Andrews, TE Oklahoma
23. Akrum Wadley, RB Iowa
24. Kalen Ballage, RB Arizona State
25. Sam Darnold, QB USC

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ryan mcdowell