Welcome to the latest installment of my Top 100 Rookies series, the 2018 post-draft dynasty rookie rankings edition. If you missed the November and January editions, feel free to look back on how wrong I was both here and here.
A lot has happened in the last few months, including the draft. It’s time to dive in and figure out how to rank all of these players now that we know where they’ll be playing. Get pumped!
I’ve been working on this list for over a year now, but I’m sure there will still be all sorts of disagreement with it. That’s fine. As I always say, use this list as just one data point in the big picture of your rookie analysis.
Please do leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter (@FF_TravisM). I’d love talk about your favorite players and hopefully learn something from you along the way. Anyway, there are 100 players to get through. Let’s get this thing started.
Tier 1 (The King of Rookie Drafts)
1) Saquon Barkley – RB1, New York Giants
Saquon Barkley has been the unanimous top incoming rookie for fantasy football purposes since Penn State’s game against Iowa last fall (at least). Now that the Giants selected him second overall, the first overall pick in rookie drafts feels even easier. No, the Giants haven’t exactly fixed all of their offensive line problems yet. Yes, the Giants run out of a lot of 11-personnel (pass heavy) formations. But the good news is that Barkley ran out of 11-personnel a ton at Penn State behind an even worse offensive line there. He should be a home run right out of the gate for fantasy owners lucky enough to pick him.
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Tier 2 (Elite Talents)
2) Derrius Guice – RB2, Washington Redskins
3) Nick Chubb – RB3, Cleveland Browns
4) DJ Moore – WR1, Carolina Panthers
5) Rashaad Penny – RB4, Seattle Seahawks
6) Ronald Jones II – RB5, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7) Royce Freeman – RB6, Denver Broncos
8) Kerryon Johnson – RB7, Detroit Lions
9) Sony Michel – RB8, New England Patriots
10) Courtland Sutton – WR2, Denver Broncos
There could be an entire book series written on this tier of talents. Any of them could wind up being the second best player in this draft class.
We may never know the exact reasoning behind the unexplainable drop of Derrius Guice to the late second round of the NFL Draft. Was it his video games? Did he have an altercation with an Eagles coach? Was it because he said a coach asked him if he was gay in an interview? It doesn’t really matter now. He’s immediately the starting running back for the Redskins. Now that they have Alex Smith at the helm and the same lackluster depth at wide receiver expect a heavy workload right away. He may even catch a few passes out of the backfield. Alex Smith has been known to find his running backs in the passing game.
Nick Chubb is still one of the best running backs prospects in the past few years, despite his lack of experience in the receiving game. For those who don’t watch college football, Georgia running backs caught a total of 33 receptions between all five of them. Chubb did, however, have a little bit of work catching the ball as a true freshman with 18 receptions. There are virtually no questions about his inside and outside running ability. If he adds some catches, RB1 potential is there early.
DJ Moore is the definitive WR1 for 2018. He has the perfect mix of production, athleticism, and solid film. And now he lands in Carolina as the immediate WR1. The ceiling may be limited early on due to passing volume, but he’s the best bet for quick production and a solid role at wide receiver this year.
Rashaad Penny was a huge surprise to many, coming off the board as the RB2 in the NFL Draft. He logged nearly 3,000 total yards this past season between rushing, receiving, and the return game. It seems the Seahawks may have grown weary punting the running back position ever since Marshawn Lynch left. If Penny can figure out pass protection, a feature back role is in his near future.
Ronald Jones II might have found himself the best landing spot in the entire class. The Buccaneers have virtually no other options at running back. The wide receiver and tight end talent can empty the defensive box for him. But it seems everyone is still somehow concerned with his size and lack of receiving experience (a common theme in this class). USC does not schematically force receptions to their running backs. In fact, they haven’t since Reggie Bush. Jones II is also thicker than Christian McCaffrey, but he was still a lock in the middle of round one in rookie drafts last year. Don’t overthink the opportunity here.
Royce Freeman found himself a pretty cushy landing spot too with the Broncos. His only competition is supposed to be Devontae Booker and maybe DeAngelo Henderson. Freeman posted the seventh-most yards from scrimmage in NCAA history and possesses one of the most balanced size-adjusted athletic profiles in this class. He is one of four running backs in this class that earned a “can’t miss” grade in my running back model. Don’t let him slide in your drafts.
Why is Kerryon Johnson over Sony Michel? He is the fourth running back who earned a “can’t miss” grade in my running back model (along with Barkley, Chubb, and Freeman). There’s no time to go into the nitty gritty with said model, but it essentially combines athleticism, draft stock, and production into one solid score. Kerryon carried the Auburn offense in 2017 as a true feature. As I mentioned in my pre-draft profile on him, he gained positive yardage on 92% of carries logged over a nine-game span. The Lions have struggled to find a true feature. Johnson is likely the grinding feature they’ve been seeking who can do it all.
Sony Michel was also somewhat of a surprise sneaking inside round one, especially going to the Patriots. If the Patriots truly commit to him as a feature, Michel is just as likely as any running back in this class to be an RB1 in fantasy football. But will they actually do it? Michel’s fans think so. His detractors do not. Michel put together one of the best performances in all of college football in the College Football Playoffs. This is true. But outside of that, he was Nick Chubb’s backup. He does many things well, but he rounds out the end of my top running back tier.
Last, but quite possibly not least, Courtland Sutton looks to be the long-term replacement for Demaryius Thomas in Denver. Sutton has been a hot name in dynasty for quite some time now. Since February he’s put together one of the best NFL Combine performances in the class and been selected in the top 50 picks of the NFL Draft. The time to believe is now. You might have to wait a year for real production, but he is one of maybe two or three real WR1-types in this class.
Tier 3 (Next Best Thing)
11) Christian Kirk – WR3, Arizona Cardinals
12) Michael Gallup – WR4, Dallas Cowboys
13) Calvin Ridley – WR5, Atlanta Falcons
14) James Washington – WR6, Pittsburgh Steelers
15) Anthony Miller – WR7, Chicago Bears
16) Dante Pettis – WR8, San Francisco 49ers
17) Baker Mayfield – QB1, Cleveland Browns
18) Josh Rosen – QB2, Arizona Cardinals
19) Lamar Jackson – QB3, Baltimore Ravens
Christian Kirk lands with the best quarterback in this draft class in Arizona. Once Larry Fitzgerald is gone, Kirk could lead the Cardinals in targets. Even if he works primarily from the slot, he holds immense value for fantasy football. This former five-star wide receiver checks most boxes. He just needs to diversify his route tree a tad and he’ll be golden.
Michael Gallup’s competition for targets is pretty uninspiring: Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Tavon Austin. Gallup handled 100 receptions just this past season for Colorado State. While Dallas doesn’t throw at a high rate by NFL standards his opportunities should come early and often. Gallup possesses an above average athletic profile, solid production, plays physical, and reads the deep ball incredibly well.
Calvin Ridley has been a favorite of many draft analysts for a long time, and for good reason. He carried the Alabama passing offense by himself in 2017 with subpar quarterback play. His routes are refined and ready to win on Sundays. There’s no doubt Ridley should be a contributor for a long time in the NFL. He just lacks elite athleticism and is already nearly 24 years old. Ridley is a safe pick here.
James Washington was the most productive wide receiver in college football in 2017. He averaged an astounding 19.8 yards per reception on 226 career receptions. If he can refine his short and intermediate game just a bit the JuJu Smith-Schuster and Washington duo is going to be a fantastic one to watch for a long time. This one will require some patience though thanks to Antonio Brown.
Anthony Miller and Dante Pettis are two ferocious competitors with some big games against big-time competition. They both also likely have their work cut out for them earning targets right away. These solid talents with exceptional route running abilities were selected in round two for a reason.
It’s very rare that it makes sense to pick a quarterback this early in one quarterback leagues. However, given how atrocious many of the landing spots are for running backs and wide receivers we’ll probably need to adjust. Baker Mayfield has plenty of weapons to play with right away in Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, David Njoku, Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson and more. Josh Rosen is quite possibly the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft. He gets a year to learn with one of the best wide receivers ever. Lamar Jackson could absolutely be the next Michael Vick, or just become a better Tyrod Taylor. Either way, he brings crazy value with his legs. He actually ran for more career rushing yards than Saquon Barkley did.
Tier 4 (Patience is a Virtue)
20) Kalen Ballage – RB9, Miami Dolphins
21) DJ Chark – WR9, Jacksonville Jaguars
22) Sam Darnold – QB4, New York Jets
23) Mike Gesicki – TE1, Miami Dolphins
24) Tre’Quan Smith – WR10, New Orleans Saints
25) Nyheim Hines – RB10, Indianapolis Colts
26) Ito Smith – RB11, Atlanta Falcons
27) Mark Andrews – TE2, Baltimore Ravens
28) Dallas Goedert – TE3, Philadelphia Eagles
29) Hayden Hurst – TE4, Baltimore Ravens
30) Josh Allen – QB5, Buffalo Bills
Kalen Ballage has all of the physical tools and some receiving chops too. If he can edge out Kenyan Drake the opportunity there is massive in Miami.
DJ Chark isn’t exactly refined, but he does have elite speed (4.34 forty). If he syncs up with Blake Bortles, Chark could offer some fantastic boom with varied bust early on his career thanks to his near-elite athleticism. He also brings some value in the return game. Chark is going to make some noise right away.
Sam Darnold has an uphill battle facing him on the Jets to kick off his career. He’ll need to clean up his mechanics, decision-making, and manage to work with sub-par offensive playmakers to find relevance quickly. However, his draft capital likely keeps his value afloat for four years even if he busts.
Mike Gesicki destroyed expectations with his crazy athleticism at the NFL Combine. He posted a 4.54-second forty, 41.5-inch vertical, near 11-foot broad jump, and the agility of a small wide receiver. Gesicki’s one area of improvement is definitely blocking, but he’s likely the TE1 in this class now.
Tre’Quan Smith may not have an opportunity to become the WR1 in New Orleans, but the WR2 slot is definitely open. His solid athleticism and physicality should allow him to line up wherever the Saints need him to. People will fade him due to landing spot, but he is the last of the solid wide receivers with any real chance at early productive impact.
Nyheim Hines and Ito Smith are two of the best pass-catching backs in a class without many. Both could have standalone value in PPR leagues early on in their careers. Ito Smith will likely just have to wait for Tevin Coleman to leave in free agency after 2018.
The tight end class was destroyed by horrifying landing spots everywhere. Mark Andrews is a much better receiver than Hayden Hurst. He could work his way into a productive role. Dallas Goedert has unbelievable ball skills but will be relegated to a small role until Zach Ertz is one day possibly gone.
Tier 5 (Definitely Draftable)
31) Jaylen Samuels – RB12, Pittsburgh Steelers
32) Jordan Wilkins – RB13, Indianapolis Colts
33) Troy Fumagalli – TE5, Denver Broncos
34) Ian Thomas – TE6, Carolina Panthers
35) Dalton Schultz – TE7, Dallas Cowboys
36) Justin Jackson – RB14, Los Angeles Chargers
37) DaeSean Hamilton – WR11, Denver Broncos
38) Antonio Callaway – WR12, Cleveland Browns
39) Deon Cain – WR13, Indianapolis Colts
40) Jordan Lasley – WR14, Baltimore Ravens
41) Chase Edmonds – RB15, Arizona Cardinals
42) Mark Walton – RB16, Cincinnati Bengals
43) Mason Rudolph – QB6, Pittsburgh Steelers
44) Keke Coutee – WR15, Houston Texans
This class, more than any I can remember, becomes especially gross after pick 30. However, there are some solid talents in not-so-ideal landing spots definitely worth a draft pick.
Jaylen Samuels has the most unique skill set in the all of the NFL Draft. He can play RB, HB, TE, slot WR, FB, and most likely anything else. He lands behind Le’Veon Bell, which doesn’t look great short-term. However, he (not James Conner) should earn the bulk of work if Bell goes down or ever leaves due to the lack of a ridiculous long-term contract.
Jordan Wilkins is nearly two years older than Marlon Mack, but brings solid size, and a balanced skill set to possibly challenge for early down duties.
All three tight ends in this tier could take over a significant opportunity early on in their career. Troy Fumagalli is an incredibly underrated TE talent who played the role of Wisconsin’s lead wide receiver, in-line and slot tight end, halfback and fullback. His only real competition is Jake Butt. Ian Thomas is a solid receiving tight end (within a small sample) that gets to learn from Greg Olsen for a couple years. Dalton Schultz lands with the Dallas Cowboys immediately after Jason Witten retires. Rico Gathers is still a basketball player who happens to be rostered on a football team. Schultz is a solid blocker and adequate receiver. That role is more likely to see the most snaps.
Justin Jackson, Chase Edmonds, and Mark Walton are all excited running back prospects that are just simply buried on a depth chart right now. Justin Jackson racked up the tenth most yards from scrimmage in NCAA history. He ran for at least 1,187 yards and caught at least 21 receptions every collegiate season for the embarrassing Northwestern offense. Chase Edmonds is a great small-school story, and an incredibly balanced athlete. He should eventually be the direct backup to David Johnson. Mark Walton is absolutely buried behind Gio Bernard and Joe Mixon, isn’t a great athlete, but has good college film and some draft stock going for him.
DaeSean Hamilton could (though unlikely) become the eventual Emmanuel Sanders to Courtland Sutton’s Demaryius Thomas for the Broncos in a couple years. There’s no denying that he’s one of the best route runners in this class.
Antonio Callaway got in trouble for credit card fraud, failed a drug test at the NFL Combine, and was drafted by the Browns to backup Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, and Corey Coleman. Yes, this draft class gets nasty fast. Callaway could work his way into some action one day on talent alone, but things look bleak early on.
Deon Cain and Jordan Lasley could both work into a significant target share if they polish up their route running. Lasley was incredibly productive catching passes from Josh Rosen at UCLA. Deon Cain wasn’t especially productive, but Clemson often had too many other four-star wide receivers hogging targets.
Tier 6 (Possibly Draftable)
45) Daurice Fountain – WR16, Indianapolis Colts
46) Richie James – WR17, San Francisco 49ers
47) J’Mon Moore – WR18, Green Bay Packers
48) Equanimeous St. Brown – WR19, Green Bay Packers
49) Marquez Valdes-Scantling – WR20, Green Bay Packers
50) John Kelly – RB17, Los Angeles Rams
51) Auden Tate – WR21, Cincinnati Bengals
52) Jordan Akins – TE8, Houston Texans
53) Kyle Lauletta – QB7, New York Giants
54) Boston Scott – RB18, New Orleans Saints
55) Jaleel Scott – WR22, Baltimore Ravens
56) Chris Herndon – TE9, New York Jets
57) Justin Watson – WR23, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
58) Bo Scarbrough – RB19, Dallas Cowboys
59) Dylan Cantrell – WR24, Los Angeles Chargers
60) Cedrick Wilson – WR25, Dallas Cowboys
61) Josh Adams – RB20, Philadelphia Eagles
62) Trey Quinn – WR26, Washington Redskins
63) Braxton Berrios – WR27, New England Patriots
64) Allen Lazard – WR28, Jacksonville Jaguars
This is the last tier of players who actually deserve near a full sentence written about them on a top 100 list. And they definitely don’t belong anywhere near the top two rounds of rookie drafts (looking at you Equanimeous St. Brown and John Kelly truthers).
Daurice Fountain was a Shrine Game favorite during draft season, but got snubbed at the Combine. Impressive routes and surprising athleticism could earn him some targets in Indy.
Richie James was one of the most productive small school wide receivers in the country before missing most of last season. In his first college game he dropped nearly 100 yards on Alabama. He can play slot, run the ball, return, and even throws well. It may look like a long shot, but there aren’t exactly young stud wide receivers on the 49ers.
The three Packers wide receivers look like a mess in the making. They’re all at least 6’3” and boast pro-level athleticism. However, they all have some questions. J’Mon Moore had major drop issues. Marques Valdes-Scantling didn’t break out until age 22. Equanimeous St. Brown actually seemed to regress and disappeared completely at times. Good luck figuring out which one gets to be the WR3 or WR4 in Green Bay.
Auden Tate and Allen Lazard are both huge wide receivers that can score in the red zone. However, that might be all they bring. Neither likely see significant snaps at all early on, if ever.
Jordan Akins is the other 25-year-old minor league baseball player turned tight end in this draft class (the other is Hayden Hurst). However, don’t let that distract you. He grew into a solid tight end for Central Florida and now has a real opportunity for snaps on the Texans. Akins could be a steal late in drafts or off your league’s waiver wire.
Chris Herndon could compete to start for the Jets at tight end where they desperately need playmakers.
Kyle Lauletta is another possible heir to the throne of Eli Manning in New York. That’s somewhat intriguing with all of the weapons there.
Boston Scott is a little guy with nice burst and receiving acumen. There isn’t much of a role for him in New Orleans though, sadly.
Bo Scarbrough and Josh Adams were favorites of dynasty owners for quite some time, but neither ever made sense as real competitors for lead roles in the NFL. Both present some possible handcuff value on good offenses.
Jaleel Scott is a massive person with decent ball skills, but he’s buried on the Ravens.
Justin Watson was this year’s FCS all-star wide receiver. He has legit pro athleticism, but he’ll be competing with some beasts in Tampa for targets.
Speaking of athleticism, Dylan Cantrell is the best one at wide receiver in this class. He’s a massive 6’3”, 226 pounds, but still runs below a 4.6 in the forty. He was also top five among all wide receivers at the NFL Combine in the vertical jump, broad jump, short shuttle, and 3-cone. That could be fun to watch.
Cedrick Wilson is a nice deep threat with huge final season production on a Cowboys depth chart without a ton of elite talent.
Trey Quinn blew up last season for Southern Methodist, but there’s nothing elite to his game. He has his work cut out for him making the final 53 with Jamison Crowder already owning the slot in Washington.
Braxton Berrios had a nose for the end zone for Miami even though he’s a bit undersized. Now he could be in line for the next Julian Edelman role.
Tier 7 (Dart Throws That Could Make You Look Smart)
65) Jester Weah – WR29, Houston Texans
66) Ryan Nall – RB21, Chicago Bears
67) Marcell Ateman – WR30, Oakland Raiders
68) Lavon Coleman – RB22, Houston Texans
69) Akrum Wadley – RB23, Tennessee Titans
70) Russell Gage – WR31, Atlanta Falcons
71) Tyler Conklin – TE10, Minnesota Vikings
72) Roc Thomas – RB24, Minnesota Vikings
73) Byron Pringle – WR32, Kansas City Chiefs
74) Simmie Cobbs – WR33, Chicago Bears
75) Ralph Webb – RB25, New England Patriots
76) Phillip Lindsay – RB26, Denver Broncos
77) Will Dissly – TE11, Seattle Seahawks
78) Mike White – QB8, Dallas Cowboys
79) Ray-Ray McCloud – WR34, Buffalo Bills
80) Trenton Cannon – RB27, New York Jets
81) Javon Wims – WR35, Chicago Bears
82) Larry Rose III – RB28, Tennessee Titans
83) Korey Robertson – WR36, Minnesota Vikings
84) Deontay Burnett – WR37, Tennessee Titans
85) Kyle Hicks – RB29, Kansas City Chiefs
86) Kamryn Pettway – RB30, Minnesota Vikings
87) Ka’Raun White – WR38, Seattle Seahawks
88) Cam Phillips – WR39, Buffalo Bills
89) Durham Smythe – TE12, Miami Dolphins
90) Jarvion Franklin – RB31, Pittsburgh Steelers
91) Damion Ratley – WR40, Cleveland Browns
92) Austin Proehl – WR41, Buffalo Bills
93) Demario Richard – RB32, Atlanta Falcons
94) Jordan Thomas – TE13, Houston Texans
95) Ryan Izzo – TE14, New England Patriots
96) Luke Falk – QB9, Tennessee Titans
97) Kurt Benkert – QB10, Atlanta Falcons
98) Logan Woodside – QB11, Cincinnati Bengals
99) Danny Etling – QB12, New England Patriots
100) Tanner Lee – QB13, Jacksonville Jaguars
Congratulations! If you made it this far, you have rookie fever as bad as I do. This last tier is labeled dart throws, but that’s probably being optimistic. It’s littered with undrafted free agents and players have massive holes in their game. However, there are still several potential diamonds in the rough.
Akrum Wadley could earn a long-term pass-catching role somewhere, even if it isn’t with the Titans.
Jester Weah was the most athletic undrafted free agent and belongs on a roster given his big play ability.
Ka’Raun White (Kevin White’s brother) won’t have much competition at wide receiver in Seattle after Doug Baldwin is gone.
Luke Falk likely has no starting future in Tennessee, but he was basically the offensive coordinator and quarterback for Washington State (he’s that smart).
Ralph Webb put together a productive career at Vanderbilt and completely killed his pro day. He likely wasn’t completely healthy for much of 2017, so his final numbers didn’t reflect his true talent level. He could already be the second or third best running back on the Patriots.
Cam Phillips broke out for Virginia Tech at an early age. The Bills need some playmakers to step up at wide receiver. He could work his way into the WR3 role there as soon as this season if he can wrap his head around a pro-style offensive scheme.
Truthfully all of these players deserve their own 1000-word piece. In fact, many of them will have plenty of coverage via the rest of the amazing team here at Dynasty League Football. But for now, that’s all I have on the top 100 rookies for fantasy football this year.
As always, if you have any questions feel free to reach me on Twitter @FF_TravisM. I always love chatting about players, and learning from you all. Thanks for reading, and keep living that Dynasty Life!