Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Drafts: Rookies Destined to be Underdrafted

Tim Riordan

Dynasty rookie drafts are not easy. There are so many factors that go into determining a prospect’s fantasy football value and future success. But, once the NFL Draft is in the books, there are bound to be players who are being underrated and underdrafted. A bad landing spot can be terrifying for a fantasy manager, but often talent will win out. On the other hand, pre-draft love can outweigh a horrible post-draft situation. Rookie valuations are a delicate balancing act between all of the information that we have at our disposal, not just the most recent or the loudest. We can’t ignore what happened during the NFL Draft, but we can’t overinflate its importance either.

Here is a list of players who have been underdrafted in early superflex rookie drafts, and why their value should be higher.

Drake Maye, QB NE (Round 1, Pick 3) (ADP: 6.8)

Maye was highly sought-after as the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. Teams were reportedly willing to part with as many as three first-round picks to move up to pick Maye, and the Patriots still turned those offers down and selected the Tar Heel quarterback. Once Maye went off the board, the desire to move up dried up. The Giants stayed put and took Malik Nabers, the Falcons shocked everyone and took Michael Penix at eight overall, and the Vikings only traded up one spot to 10 once panic started to set in that they could be leapfrogged for a QB. Despite that, Maye is going in the middle of rookie drafts, and after JJ McCarthy as the QB4.

The argument against Maye is understandable. The Patriots don’t appear to have any weapons on this team, despite drafting two wide receivers later on in the draft, and Maye may need to sit to start his career behind Jacoby Brissett. But, his talent and ceiling are special, and it’s in a different tier than McCarthy’s. McCarthy may have the advantage in his rookie year because of Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and TJ Hockenson, but taking a less talented quarterback with worse draft capital is short-sighted in fantasy football. I’d draft Maye as early as third overall in superflex drafts as the second quarterback off the board, before Jayden Daniels.

Blake Corum, RB LAR (Round 3, Pick 19) (ADP: 19.33)

Kyren Williams was one of the breakout superstars of fantasy football last year. After he only had 35 carries in his rookie season, he went off for 1,144 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2023. Despite that, the Rams decided to draft Corum, one of the biggest names at running back in the NFL Draft, in the third round with a top 100 pick. The presence of Williams is enough to push Corum down the board into the second tier of rookie running backs.

word image 1493038 1

Image Courtesy of RAS.Football.

It’s true, Corum could waste away the first two-plus years of his career as merely Williams’s backup. Sean McVay is well known for leaning heavily on one running back and forgoing the committee approach. But, could it be possible that Corum is a better running back than Williams? Corum had a better college career, tested better at the Combine and has much higher NFL Draft capital than Williams has. I believe Corum will cut deep into Williams’ production, and could even be the more valuable running back in Los Angeles as early as 2025.

Jermaine Burton, WR CIN (Round 3, Pick 16) (ADP: 25.22)

Burton is an incredible talent on the field. He is a speedster with great footwork and electric burst off the line. He led the SEC in receiving yards per catch in 2023 with 20.5 YPC and he didn’t have a single drop. The problem for Burton, and the reason he lasted into the third round of the NFL Draft, is what happens off the field. He had a highly publicized incident where he struck a female Tennessee fan on the field during a post-game celebration. He also had several unsportsmanlike penalties and reports are he butted heads with coaches at Georgia and at Alabama. Between high school and college, he’s played at six different schools over the last eight years.

Despite all of that, the landing spot for Burton is incredible. He goes to Cincinnati, where he could replace Tyler Boyd as early as this season. He could be Burrow’s number-two weapon as early as next year if Tee Higgins leaves. In Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, Burton will have some good role models that will hopefully influence him towards NFL success. It is a risky pick, as we’ve seen some wide receivers with off-the-field concerns burn us in recent memory (Rashee Rice and Henry Ruggs come to the top of mind quickly), but if he stays on the straight and narrow, he could be the next big thing to come out of this Cincinnati offense. His ADP has him as an early third-round pick, but I’d start to consider him in the mid-to-late second.

Ja’Lynn Polk, WR NE (Round 2, Pick 5) (ADP: 25.3)

I know what you’re saying. “Another Patriots player on this list?” You could call this bias (I’m certainly not shy about my Patriots love on X), but I sincerely believe these players are being underrated by the fantasy community because of the landing spot in New England. He is the WR14 right now in rookie drafts despite being the 10th player drafted in the NFL Draft. Even Troy Franklin, who was a day three pick, is being selected before Polk. That’s crazy and deserves to be called out.

Polk wasn’t a darling of the fantasy community in the pre-draft process, but NFL analysts kept ranking him high in mock drafts and big boards. The biggest red flag for Polk comes from his production. He really only broke out for real when Jalen McMillan suffered an injury last season. But, I believe his skill set pairs up perfectly with the type of passer that Drake Maye is. Polk is a deep threat with great hands who is a wizard at contested catches. Maye is a strong-armed quarterback who struggles with his accuracy, and may need to rely on his receivers to go up there and make big plays. Polk has been a mid-third-round pick in two of the three rookie drafts I’ve participated in already, including a superflex and a 14-team league. He is slipping in drafts because of the “NE” next to his name, and some pre-draft biases, but he should be a second-round pick in all dynasty formats.

Kimani Vidal, RB LAC (Round 6, Pick 5) (ADP: 35.5)

I’ve doubled up on Patriots players and now I’m doubling up on Los Angeles running backs. Vidal is an interesting player in this rookie class. He’s a small-school running back out of Troy and a sixth-round pick. Despite that, he’s actually a value in rookie drafts because of his opportunity with the Chargers. On tape, Vidal actually looks very similar to Blake Corum. He’s a powerful runner who is great at maintaining his balance through contact. Corum, of course, was the centerpiece of Jim Harbaugh’s offense at Michigan. Now that Harbaugh is with the Chargers, the first running back they drafted was a Miller Lite version of Corum.

Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman should run one of the most run-heavy systems in the NFL in 2024. Despite the projected volume, the running backs on the roster with Vidal are JK Dobbins coming off of an Achilles injury, Gus “The Bus” Edwards and 2022 bust Isaiah Spiller. Roman has a history with Dobbins and Edwards, so it may be tough for Vidal to beat them out this off-season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of the 2024 season, Vidal is the most productive running back on this team. He’s a great value at the end of the third round.

Dynasty rookie drafts are all about reading the board and finding value. Keep these players in your queue and when they start to slip, be ready to pounce!

tim riordan