With the 2016 NFL draft out of the way it’s time to move onto the next draft, and if you are in a dynasty fantasy football league, that may mean a rookie dynasty draft. Like your favorite NFL team, rookie drafts in dynasty leagues may not win you a championship this season, but they have a lasting impact over your success in future years. One thing you can always count on from the Fantasy Football Freaks website is out-of-the-box thinking and rankings, so these may not line up with draft order but you didn’t come here for chalk rankings… Let’s take a look at this season’s crop of rookies and who we will be targeting at the top of our dynasty drafts.
1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas
Elliott is an easy pick at number one… Cowboys will always be competitive, great offensive line, talent around him, scheme fits, plays all three downs. Should be your anchor at the position for the next 5-8 seasons.
2. Jared Goff, QB, LA Rams
Those of you that have followed our pre and post draft work know that we are all in on Jared Goff… He has a big arm and is extremely accurate on throws over 20 yards. While the receiver corps looks bleak, we are high on rookies Pharoah Cooper and Duke Williams, and Goff’s ability to throw the deep ball will improve Britt’s play and create more space for Tavon Austin underneath.
3. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland
The most talented receiver in the class, and the best football player on Cleveland’s offense. Coleman will be targeted early and often for the Browns, and we believe that Hue Jackson will quickly improve the offense here. If the Browns find a QB, Coleman could turn into the steal in this year’s dynasty draft.
4. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington
When assessing this rookie class of receivers we really looked at four factors: talent, role on team, system, quarterback. Jackson and Garcon’s time with the Redskins will likely end after this season, so Doctson will contribute this year and step into a lead role next year. Jay Gruden’s system has made a pro bowl QB out of Kirk Cousins.
5. Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver
It’s clear that Elway doesn’t value the position he once played in this league. His recipe is defense and a running game and to make the two work he can’t spend at the QB position. With that in mind, it’s unlikely the Broncos bring in anyone else to bridge the gap between Lynch and Sanchez (or Siemian). Lynch is big, athletic, and has a big arm. Kubiak will move him around in the pocket, and bootleg him in the red zone which should allow him to provide fantasy owners with a consistent number of rushing touchdowns.
6. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore
Running back’s are still the hardest position to fill in fantasy football, and Dixon has a chance to be the 3 down RB for the Ravens for the next 5+ years. Keep an eye on how he preforms in the preseason, if he’s outproducing Buck Allen then don’t hesitate to grab him early in this season’s dynasty draft.
7. Sterling Shepard, WR, NY Giants
I struggled with where to put Shepard on this list… I think he’s going to be this season’s top performing rookie at wide receiver, but his upside is handcuffed due to ODB’s presence in New York. The system is uptempo and pass happy, and he will always see single coverage. I think he has a chance to fill a similar role to what Golden Tate did alongside Megatron in Detroit.
8. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee
A two-down running back on a team that projects to be able to run the ball better over the next few seasons. Henry will provide little pop in the PPR department, but will be a goal line machine and could provide 1,000 yards rushing and 10+ touchdowns every season for the next 8 years.
9. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota
Not a knock on Treadwell here… He was actually my favorite receiver in the 2016 class. Bridgwater hasn’t shown the ability to make plays in the passing game, and this was the second worst passing offense in the NFL last season. Will have to share touches with Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, and Kyle Rudolph, not a loaded group of pass catchers but there aren’t a ton of balls to go around in Minn.
10. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia
If Chip Kelly were still in Philly, we would probably have bumped Wentz up into the top 5 with Lynch and Goff. However, with Doug Pederson now the coach of the Eagles, Wentz probably has a Alex Smith ceiling. He will be a solid backup QB that you can stash, and perhaps benefit later in his career with a system change.
11. Will Fuller, WR, Houston
I like rostering deep threats like Will Fuller. You can stash him on your bench and bring him out in matchups against defenses that give up big plays. Over the years, it has held true that defenses that give up big plays, do so to players that make them. You may never have Fuller as a full time starter on your team, but he will give you big upside on bye weeks and in favorable matchups.
12. Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati
Hard to not like a NFL-ready receiver like Tyler Boyd stepping into a ready-made situation replacing Jones and Sanu in the Bengals offense. Boyd is an average athlete, but runs great routes, is sure-handed, and was insanely productive throughout his career at Pitt.
13. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans
Great landing spot for Thomas, but the Saints have a nice group of young pass catchers that will compete for touches. If Thomas is going to be a number one receiver for the next few seasons, he will have to beat out Cooks, Snead, Coleman, and Fleener all players that are familiar with the Saints offense and Brees.
14. Hunter Henry, TE, San Diego
We thought Ladarius Green was Antonio Gates’ replacement, but his time in San Diego came and went, and Gates remains. Certainly he won’t play through the entirety of Henry’s rookie deal, and Henry will have value playing in the Chargers 2 tight end sets, and when Gates is out. The hope obviously is that he assumes a similar role to what Antonio Gates has put up monster numbers in for the past 13 seasons.
15. Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta
Hooper will likely be Atlanta’s starting tight end this season, and has a chance to play a big role in their passing game this season. The Falcons have no proven pass catchers in their system behind Julio Jones. Hooper is athletic, can block, and should give you a starting tight end for the next 10 years.
16. C.J. Prosise
17. Wendell Smallwood
18. Paul Perkins
19. Cody Kessler
20. DeAndre Washington
21. Malcolm Mitchell
22. Jordan Payton
23. Leonte Carroo
24. Tyler Higbee
25. Rishard Higgins
26. Christian Hackenberg
27. Kenyan Drake
28. Devontae Booker
29. Jordan Howard
30. Jonathan Williams