2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings

Najee Harris, Alabama Running Back

Here are this year’s NFL Rookies based on our Fulltime Fantasy Rankings.

Ranking the top first-year players heading into the 2021 fantasy football season. Rankings based on a single QB, PPR scoring format.

Najee Harris (RB) Pittsburgh Steelers – Harris is the ideal case of talent meeting opportunity, making him the undisputed top rookie in Fantasy Football this season. The Alabama product is a 230-pound workhorse back with the high-end pass-catching ability to pair with his rushing skills. 

While there are some concerns in regards to the Steelers offensive line, the high volume should negate those concerns. The Steelers historically prefer to go with an every-down back and everything we’ve seen this preseason points to Harris staying on the field for the vast majority of plays this season. He’s a true RB1 whose upside is the RB1 in all of Fantasy Football in 2021.

Kyle Pitts (TE) Atlanta Falcons – The phrase “generational talent” is thrown around far too often in the Fantasy community, but Pitts is just that. He may be the greatest prospect we’ve ever seen at the position and he steps right into a high-volume passing offense trying to fill a void left by Julio Jones in Atlanta. 

While the hype has cooled down a bit on Pitts since he was the clear-cut TE4 earlier this summer, he’s still being drafted as an elite option, and rightfully so. The sky is the limit for this freak athlete who should be just as dangerous stretching the field as he is dominating mismatches in the red zone.

Trey Sermon (RB) San Francisco 49ersDraft Sermon and thank me later. He is a league winner and an absolute steal coming off the board as the RB30. The 49ers system pumps out Fantasy gold at the running back position and not only is Sermon the only workhorse on the roster, but his biggest competition for touches in Raheem Mostert is also already hurt as he seemingly always is. 

Look for Sermon to take over the lead role in San Fran early in the season and never look back. He is going to help a lot of Fantasy teams win championships in 2021.

DeVonta Smith (WR) Philadelphia EaglesThe Heisman Trophy winner may be the third-best receiver in his draft class, however, he fell into the best situation for Fantasy owners. Smith will immediately step in as the WR1 in Philly and there is no reason why he won’t lead all rookie wideouts in targets.

 With elite speed and route-running ability, his upside is immense and the only thing that could hold him back is his undersized frame and potential poor quarterback play. It’s tough to find a reason to pull the trigger on any other rookie wide receiver before Smith.

Ja’ Marr Chase (WR) Cincinnati Bengals – Chase is hands down the best wideout in this rookie class. He’s built to be an all-world WR1. However, he does have some things working against him heading into his rookie season while dropped him to No. 5 on this list. While I’m going to point out the reasons he’s so low, don’t take the negative outlook as a knock on his talent. In Dynasty he’s the clear WR1 in his draft class. 

Nonetheless, he enters the season coming off a subpar preseason after sitting out all of 2020, and the rust has shown. On top of his layoff, he’ll be competing with two other outstanding wideouts in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd for targets in a Bengals offense that probably isn’t going to be anywhere near the top of the league. The reason being is that the offensive line is still terrible and they will be attempting to protect quarterback Joe Burrow who is coming off a major knee construction and has reportedly struggled in camp this summer. It will likely take Chase a year or two to meet his full potential in Cincinnati.

Javonte Williams (RB) Denver Broncos – It’s a matter of when not if Williams will take over as the lead back in Denver. However, Melvin Gordon isn’t likely just going away anytime this season. Gordon will likely start the season as the starter and play a major role most of the season. Particularly in the passing game. Williams should still play a big part himself and by midseason be splitting touches if not shouldering the majority of the early-down and goal-line work.  

Williams is a talented back with the skill set to eventually become an every-down back. Nevertheless, barring an injury his upside in 2021 is capped by the presence of Gordon.

Trevor Lawrence (QB) Jacksonville Jaguars – It feels like Lawrence was so far and away, the best quarterback in his draft that people have almost begun to ignore him. There was nothing to critique and break down. There was no one to compare him to. We knew for almost three years he’d be the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and now he seems to be underappreciated. 

Don’t fall victim to this mindset or the hype surrounding other rookie quarterbacks. Lawrence is by far the best passer in his class and has the legs to be an elite runner too. With weapons on the outside like DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marvin Jones he could have a monster season. Do not fall victim to the fatigue that seems to be plaguing the Fantasy community when it comes to Lawrence.

Jaylen Waddle (WR) Miami Dolphins – Waddle was Tua’s go-to guy at Alabama and that trend has continued right into the Dolphins training camp this year. Miami drafted him sixth overall this year and his playstyle draws comparisons to Tyreek Hill. He’s an outstanding route runner with the quickness to create separation from any defensive backs. 

The only reason Waddle isn’t ranked higher is that there are a lot of mouths to feed in Miami and while Tua has looked great this summer, he still has to prove he is capable of feeding those mouths. Waddle will compete with DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and Mike Gesicki for targets in South Beach. 

Trey Lance (QB) San Francisco 49ers – It’s tough to rank Lance any higher being that we don’t know when he will become the starter in San Francisco. We can speculate but we just don’t know for sure so he can’t be drafted as a QB1 in fantasy drafts at the moment. Assuming he does at some point take over the starting role, he should be put in a position to succeed. 

Still raw as a passer, I expect the 49ers coaching staff to use him to his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. While he has the splash-play ability as a passer, his dynamic upside will come from his ability to run. There is bust potential here that most fantasy owners seem to be ignoring, but this coaching staff has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Rondale Moore (WR) Arizona Cardinals – Moore has the potential to be a target hog out of the slot in Arizona. DeAndre Hopkins is the unquestioned WR1, however, Moore could step in and be Kyler Murray’s second favorite option. 

Larry Fitzgerald is not on the roster, AJ Green is a shell of his former self and Christian Kirk has proven to just be a guy throughout his career with the Cardinals. Murray is primed to break out and Moore could be the biggest beneficiary and prove to be a PPR monster this season.

Elijah Moore (WR) New York Jets – Moore has been a standout at Jets’ camp and looks like he’s going to earn a starting job or at the very least a major role in the passing attack. Reports out of camp have also raved about the chemistry between him and his rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. 

The biggest concern here is that this is the Jets. The offense will likely be bad and question marks are surrounding the quarterback. Nevertheless, the talent is there and Moore could be a breakout star should that offense manage to be competent.

Justin Fields (QB) Chicago Bears – Fields is a boom or bust option which is always scary in a quarterback. Combine that with the fact that we don’t know when he will be named the starter and this is a bit of a volatile situation. The good news for Fields is that the quarterback ahead of him is Andy Dalton and there is no reason to believe he will hold on to that starting job long. 

There are concerns about ups and downs with Fields as a passer, but his upside in his legs is undeniable. The potential for him to be a breakout star is too great to rank him any lower than

Other Solid Options: 

Michael Carter (RB) New York Jets

Rashod Bateman (WR) Baltimore Ravens

Kenneth Gainwell (RB) Philadelphia Eagles

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR) Detroit Lions

Terrace Marshall (WR) Carolina Panthers

Zach Wilson (QB) New York Jets

Rhamondre Stevenson (RB) New England Patriots

Chuba Hubbard (RB) Carolina Panthers

Nico Collins (WR) Houston Texans

Kadarius Toney (WR) New York Giants

Josh Palmer (WR) Los Angeles Chargers

Dyami Brown (WR) Washington Football Team

Larry Rountree (RB) Los Angeles Chargers

Amari Rogers (WR) Green Bay Packers

Mac Jones (QB) New England Patriots

Pat Friermuth (TE) Pittsburgh Steelers

D’Wayne Eskridge (WR) Seattle Seahawks

Brevin Jordan (TE) Houston Texans

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