May 3, 2021

Fantasy Football: 10 Rookies Who Were Drafted by the Perfect NFL Team

With the 2021 NFL Draft in the rearview, this is the time of year when everyone wants to dissect the winners and losers. Usually, this is all about what teams came out on top and which ones made questionable decisions.

But what about the fantasy football angle of the NFL Draft? What players came out as winners of the draft in terms of going to a team where they can make an immediate impact? After all, there’s a whole new batch of rookies who will be available in fantasy drafts this year.

Let’s take a look at the players who were drafted by the perfect team and will be in a position to make a serious fantasy football impact as rookies in 2021.

Elijah Moore, New York Jets

The Jets were fortunate to grab Elijah Moore in the second round and he will be in a position to make an instant impact in fantasy leagues.

Drafting Moore likely means that the Jets will move on from Jamison Crowder, creating plenty of opportunities for the Ole Miss product. Corey Davis will likely be the top target of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, but other than Denzel Mims, there isn’t much competition for Moore as the second receiver in the New York offense, which should result in plenty of targets for the rookie.

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers represented the best landing spot for any rookie quarterback. 

Who wouldn't want a quarterback who was handpicked by offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan on a team that's stacked with talent on offense — including George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and a stable of running backs.

Forget the noise surrounding sitting Lance behind Jimmy Garoppolo. While he's still alive, he might not be a member of the Niners by the time Week 1 rolls around. That makes the dual-threat QB an option as the 1.01 in SuperFlex fantasy drafts ahead of Trevor Lawrence. Yeah, he's that talented. 

Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow may have been better off if the Bengals had drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, but he’ll gladly take his former LSU teammate.

When Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase were together in 2019, the latter amassed 1,780 receiving yards with 20 touchdown catches. This was arguably the best quarterback-receiver combination in the country that season, so you know there will be chemistry between Burrow and Chase.

Of course, the Bengals still have Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, so there will be some competition for targets. But considering Burrow’s familiarity with Chase, it’s a safe bet that he’ll be looking for his former LSU teammate a lot.

Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s worth noting that the Pittsburgh offensive line is still in shambles, so Najee Harris will have a lot of work to do on his own. But opportunity is king in fantasy football and with Harris' skills, landing spot and draft capital, it's almost guaranteed that the former Alabama back will be a workhorse with the Steelers. 

Harris is the type of powerful running back who will break some tackles and pick up a lot of yards after contact. He’s also a viable pass-catcher coming out of the backfield, which will work in his favor if Ben Roethlisberger has to check it down amidst pressure. Harris should have no problem stepping in as the starter right away and becoming the bell cow of the Pittsburgh backfield.

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Most quarterbacks that get drafted first overall aren’t in a position to succeed as rookies. But Joe Burrow did fine last year and he’s not nearly as talented as Trevor Lawrence.

The former Clemson star will be ready to play right away and he’ll have some decent receiving options at his disposal. D.J. Chark has come on strong and the Jags added Marvin Jones during the offseason. Plus, keep your eye on Laviska Shenault Jr. and the backfield of James Robinson, Travis Etienne and Carlos Hyde.

Lawrence should have enough help around him to at least be an average fantasy quarterback during his rookie season.

DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

DeVonta Smith and the Eagles are a perfect match for one another.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner should step right into the starting lineup and could be the team’s top target immediately. He’s such a polished route runner that there’s no reason to worry about Smith making a quick transition from college to the NFL.

His familiarity with Jalen Hurts from their days at Alabama together won’t hurt, either. But more than anything, Smith is an electric talent who is joining a team that desperately needs a receiver of his caliber.

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan is still the quarterback in Atlanta, and the veteran is going to love having Kyle Pitts as much as he loved having Tony Gonzales early in his career.

There are rumblings that Julio Jones could be traded before the season, which would create even more opportunities for Pitts. While he’s technically a tight end, Pitts can lineup all over the field and is essentially a tall wide receiver. That versatility will help him fill the void left if Jones is traded.

Outside of the obvious candidates like Travis Kelce and George Kittle, Pitts could be one of the best fantasy tight ends in the NFL as a rookie.

Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins made the smart move to draft Jaylen Waddle in the first round to give Tua Tagovailoa a familiar face in the huddle.

Of course, with DeVante Parker and Will Fuller also on the Miami roster, Waddle won’t necessarily be the team’s go-to receiver right away. But Waddle is too explosive not to get on the field and receive a healthy number of targets as a rookie.

If Tagovailoa ends up having a good year and taking a step forward, there’s a good chance that Waddle will be a big reason why. 

Amari Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

It’s worth noting that Amari Rodgers’ potential as a rookie is largely dependent on Aaron Rodgers still being the quarterback in Green Bay when the season starts. If the Packers trade him and hand the keys of the offense to Jordan Love, the equation changes drastically. But if Aaron Rodgers stays in Green Bay, his namesake will be well-positioned for a strong rookie season.

Rodgers caught 77 passes for over 1,000 yards in 2020 and is a polished receiver after four years at Clemson. The Packers still don’t have a consistent secondary target to complement Davante Adams, so the door is wide open for Amari Rodgers to have the second-most targets on the Packers as a rookie.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions

There is nothing set in stone at wide receiver for the Lions right now. Tyrell Williams might be the de facto No. 1 receiver, but he didn’t play at all in 2020. The Lions are more or less throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. That will give Amon-Ra St. Brown a great opportunity to make an impact as a rookie.

As a fourth-round pick, he’s not projected to be a star in the NFL by any stretch. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be Detroit’s best receiver in 2021 and become a meaningful contributor in fantasy leagues.

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