Dynasty Fantasy Football: Ranking the 10 Best Rookie Wide Receivers
Welcome to Lying Season in the NFL.
The talking heads on ESPN and Fox Sports are busy wading through the plethora of smoke screens that inevitably fill the dead time between the end of free agency and the start of the NFL Draft.
But not us! We’re not wasting our time with all the noise. At least, not in fantasy football, we aren’t.
With dynasty rookie drafts on the horizon, it’s time to look at the most important position in sports: quarterback.
In dynasty fantasy football, we prefer to swing for the fences and bet on upside. We’re star hunting here, folks. We’re trying to hit homers, not singles. That means for receivers, we like outside pass-catchers with size and speed (duh) who have the potential to be WR1s.
Before the NFL Draft screws all these rankings up by giving us actual draft capital and landing spots, here are the 10 best rookie receivers in fantasy football.
10. Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC
While Amon-Ra St. Brown won’t wow you with his athleticism, the USC product was a reliable target and strong route-runner in college which should translate to the NFL.
One of my favorite things about Amon-Ra St. Brown is his motor. Checkout this amazing effort right here to keep the play alive for his QB. pic.twitter.com/zGJSwHlbdz— Luke Sawhook 🏈 (@lukesawhook) April 10, 2021
Unfortunately, St. Brown doesn’t look to have the size to play on the outside and his average speed probably makes him a slot receiver only in the NFL, which caps his value.
9. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State star is a bully in the passing game.
One of the best route-runners in the class, Tylan Wallace has the physicality to be a starting outside receiver in the NFL, which means he’ll get higher-value targets.
Generally I have a strong preference for early declare WRs.— Patrick Kerrane (@PatKerrane) April 6, 2021
But if drafting a 4 year WR I’m looking for a profile like Tylan Wallace.
- 35% career MSY
- Broke out as true sophomore
- 50% dominator rating as true junior
- Elite 3.09 YPRR as underclassman
Wallace, who suffered a torn ACL in his junior year, bounced back in the COVID-19-shortened college football season to reel in 59 catches for 922 yards and six touchdown catches in 10 games.
That injury is obviously a red flag, but Wallace will be a year removed from blowing out his knee in his rookie season. If Wallace is drafted in the first three rounds then he’s the type of receiver to bet on in the second or third round of dynasty rookie drafts over other slot-only receivers.
8. Dyami Brown, North Carolina
The North Carolina offense was absolutely stacked.
Brown appears to be the Tar Heels’ top receiving prospect, but the key to his fantasy value is becoming more than just a deep threat.
Not enough people are talking about UNC WR Dyami Brown as a high upside 2nd round rookie pick— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) April 11, 2021
💥Back to back 1000+ yard seasons
💥Averaged over 20.0 yards/reception
💥19.8 breakout age
Full write up this week with @TheFFBallers
This double move 😍😍😍 pic.twitter.com/MYAptAmfAp
Brown ran a limited route tree in North Carolina so he could take some time to develop, but he has plenty of upside.
7. Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Elijah Moore is a hot name as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches.
Despite his size — 5-foot-10, 178 pounds — the Ole Miss product could become a star in the slot in the NFL if he lands on the right team. Thanks to his 4.4 40-yard dash speed and elite short-area quickness, Moore has drawn some lofty pro comparisons. NFL Media lists his pro comp as Antonio Brown.
Elijah Moore had the lowest drop rate among SEC WRs last season— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 16, 2021
With a college dominator rating in the 91st percentile and 19.4 breakout age, Moore could be one of the best slot receivers in the league.
If he could somehow become an outside receiver then the sky would be the limit for the potential first-rounder.
6. Rondale Moore, Purdue
Speaking of prospects who lack size, Rondale Moore will be a fascinating case to see how the NFL values an electric player who is a whopping 5-foot-7 and 181 pounds.
Moore looks like one of the most dynamic players in the entire draft, but there are plenty of red flags when it comes to the Purdue product.
Other than his size, Moore’s injury history and lack of production in the deep and intermediate passing game should give teams something to think about.
That being said, what he did to Ohio State was borderline erotic.
Rondale Moore is my pick if we decide to hold off on a WR till Day 2.— Steven (@stevenxvision) April 10, 2021
Moore is a risky bet to be an outlier, sure, but he could be the next Steve Smith or Tyler Lockett.
5. Terrace Marshall, LSU
While everyone rightfully talks about Ja’Marr Chase, don’t sleep on the other LSU receiver in this class, Terrace Marshall.
Despite his thin frame, the 6-foot-3 receiver is dripping with upside. Marshall, who averaged more than 10 yards per catch last season, emerged as the Tigers’ No. 1 receiver with Chase and Jefferson moving on — and he didn’t disappoint.
In the NFL, Marshall projects as a solid WR2 who can threaten teams deep and excel in the intermediate and deep passing game.
4. DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Everybody knows what DeVonta Smith can do on the gridiron.
The Heisman Trophy winner absolutely dominated on an Alabama offense stocked with talent. After Jaylen Waddle broke his ankle, Smith became an even bigger part of the Crimson Tide’s offense, but there’s no getting past Smith’s lack of size.
DeVonta Smith WR @AlabamaFTBL has excellent deep speed & separation on his routes. His size of 5-10 170 is comparable to that of HOF WR Marvin Harrison of 5-10 175 coming out of college. The video highlights his excellent hands @NFLDraft @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/MtxmxhrDbK— Charley Casserly (@CharleyCasserly) April 9, 2021
The rail-thin receiver is a smooth operator who was almost untouchable at the line of scrimmage in college. And his speed and playmaking ability should absolutely transfer over to the NFL, but at just 170 pounds, Smith might not be worth the investment in fantasy formats.
Smith could be an outlier and turn into the second coming of Marvin Harrison, sure, but it’s probably not worth the risk unless he lands in an ideal situation. The likely top-15 pick, who is coming off a Heisman Trophy win, will probably be overvalued by other players.
3. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
DeVonta Smith definitely deserves praise for his unbelievable senior season, but he wasn't even the best receiver on ‘Bama. That title belongs to Jaylen Waddle.
Waddle has the uncoachable: game-breaking speed. That will make him a hot commodity in the NFL Draft, just like Henry Ruggs was a year ago. Except, Waddle is a much better player — and prospect — than Ruggs.
Jaylen Waddle’s speed makes everyone around him look as if they’re in slow motion. He turns small plays into explosive ones, plays bigger than his size, has the ability to track and high point the ball out of the air, and he's also an excellent returner. pic.twitter.com/WKgEVXKQHH— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) April 12, 2021
And even though he’s not the biggest guy, Waddle plays a lot stronger than he looks. A big part of being a deep threat in the NFL is making contested catches and that’s not something that Waddle has a problem with.
Jaylen Waddle may be 5-10, 182 lbs, but he's tough and plays big.— WBG84 (@WBG84) January 22, 2021
Shows off his contested catch ability, hands and toughness by making a leaping grab in traffic, taking the big hit over the middle while securing the football with two hands. #TogetherBlue #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/I9jZeeJjLf
Waddle’s an early declare with rare speed. If he gets in an offense that will properly utilize him then he could be a huge steal at WR3.
2. Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
In our never-ending search for WR2 in the 2021 NFL Draft Class, Rashod Bateman has become a popular name ever since he was named Big Ten Receiver of the Year in 2019.
But after measuring in shorter and smaller than what was listed, Bateman’s upside took a big hit.
Rashod Bateman has been slowly shrinking since high school.— Robert Mays (@robertmays) April 6, 2021
Comp: Keenan Allen/Benjamin Button. pic.twitter.com/Nyd813GyHi
But thanks to his route-running savvy and physicality, Bateman is still our second-favorite rookie receiver in fantasy football.
While he might not jump off the screen athletically, he looks like a trustworthy target at the next level who could emerge as a team’s WR1.
1. Ja’Marr Chase, LSU
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Ja’Marr Chase is the clear-cut WR1 in the 2021 NFL Draft and in fantasy football formats.
A candidate to be 1.01 in 1QB leagues, Chase was absolutely mesmerizing in LSU’s high-powered 2019 offense. As a sophomore, Chase lit up the SEC with 84 catches for 1780 yards and 20 touchdown catches. And he did it against top-level competition on a weekly basis.
Look what he did against Clemson and future-first round pick A.J. Terrell in the College Football Playoffs:
Chase put up those jaw-dropping numbers as the team’s No. 1 receiver. Do you remember who the WR2 was? That’s right: Justin Jefferson, a second-team All-Pro who delivered one of the greatest rookie seasons by a receiver in NFL history.
If Jefferson can do that in Year 1 in the NFL, imagine what Chase, a superior prospect, can do.
Follow Lance Cartelli on Twitter
Photo: Getty Images