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Mon Feb 22nd 2021

Five Rookies I Like Less Than The Pros At DLF

Rookies I Like Less Than Most Analysts

Each year, I make my own rookie rankings before looking at any other analysts' rookie rankings. I watch rookie highlight videos, examine their college production and their measurables. As a final piece of my ranking process, I consider the evaluation of scouts whose full-time job is grading this rookie class.

 

Once that process is complete, I finally look at other dynasty analysts' rookie rankings to see where we have differences in opinion. Dynasty League Football (DLF) is my go-to site for rankings comparisons. I like to compare my rankings with theirs because they are some of the best analysts and have composite rankings. Six of DLF's experts rank the rookies, and you can see their composite rankings and each of the experts' individual rankings. The DLF website gives me the best expert comparison to my rankings.

 

I finally looked at DLF's rookie rankings two weeks ago to compared my rookie rankings with theirs. Last week, after comparing rankings, I wrote about five players I have ranked higher than their consensus rankings. This week I write about five players I have ranked lower than their consensus rookie rankings. If managers in my leagues look at DLF's expert rankings, these are five players that will get drafted far before I would be willing to select them, leaving the players I listed last week for me to draft instead.

Jaylen Waddle

  • Waddle is DLF's 5th ranked rookie, while he is my 13th ranked rookie. Waddle is DLF's 3rd ranked rookie wide receiver, while he is my 7th ranked rookie wide receiver. I was positive that my Waddle ranking would be lower than any other analysts given predictions about his likely first-round draft capital and his blazing speed. I'm revealing a bit of my wide receiver bias by ranking lower than most experts, but I believe in my process and won't move Waddle up much higher than 13 even if he's drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.
  • Waddle was a four-star recruit to Alabama who pumps out first-round wide receivers every year, including two last year (Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy) and likely two this year with Waddle and DeVonta Smith. His best year was his freshman year with 848 yards receiving and seven touchdowns, but that year he finished third in receptions and touchdowns behind Jeudy and Ruggs. He only had 560 yards receiving his sophomore year, finishing behind Jeudy, Ruggs, and Smith. Last year, with Jeudy and Ruggs in the NFL, he still finished third on the team in receiving behind Smith and John Metchie. If he were not injured much of last year, he would have finished second behind Smith, but it would have been a very distant second since Smith had a record-breaking 1856-yard season with 23 touchdowns. My point is that Waddle never led his team in receiving like all of the rookie wide receivers I have ranked ahead of him have done. That's a big red flag in my rookie evaluation of wide receivers. The second bias I have is against wide receivers who win primarily with speed, especially if they are smaller in stature like Waddle is (5' 10" and 175 lbs). Speed does not often win in the NFL. There are a few teams with excellent coaches who know how to help players win with speed, but for the most part, speed players are good for NFL teams but not for fantasy teams. I docked Henry Ruggs and Mecole Hardman in my rankings the last two years because they were speed guys, and so far, I have been proven right by not drafting them. I was burned by drafting John Ross a few years ago, and I don't plan to take a chance on a player like him again, no matter their draft capital. Waddle is not a player I will draft this year.

Terrance Marshall

  • Marshall is DLF's 11th ranked rookie, while he is my 17th ranked rookie. Marshall is DLF's 6th ranked rookie wide receiver, while he is my 9th ranked rookie wide receiver. I thought I was pretty high on Marshall by raking him at 17 but was surprised to see DLF value him as a first-round draft pick at pick #11. One of DLF's experts ranked Marshall #1 overall, and all of their experts have him among their top ten except one who ranked him lower than me at #21. All of their experts except one see Marshall as I do.
  • Marshall was a five-star recruit who played three years at LSU. He has the prototypical size that I prefer in wide receiver prospects (6' 2" and 192 lbs). He has tremendous upside, and I sure hope to draft him in a few leagues, but I have a few reservations that keep me from ranking him as a first-round rookie pick. Like Waddle, Marshall technically never led his team in receiving. Plus, unlike Waddle, he did not have an early breakout year. He only caught 12 passes his freshman year. His sophomore year, he did well with 671 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns, but he was dwarfed by the incredible national championship seasons Ja'Marr Chase (my #1 ranked rookie) and Justin Jefferson (my #4 ranked dynasty wide receiver after his breakout rookie season). Like Waddle, it was easy for Marshall to get buried on a depth chart with multiple first-round NFL draft picks ahead of him, but it remains true that Chase and Jefferson far outplayed him, even at their young age. In his final shortened season, Marshall had 731 yards receiving and ten touchdowns, finishing four yards behind Kayshon Boutte, who technically outplayed him as a freshman. What I love about Marshall that made me rank him as high as I did was his touchdown prowess. He's an excellent red-zone target who scored 25 touchdowns in his final two years at LSU. That excites me about his potential in the NFL. As I said earlier, I really like Marshall but not enough to draft him in the first round. I have yet to look at other analysts' rankings, but I sure hope other experts have him ranked in the middle of the second round, so I have a chance to draft him in a few leagues.

Kenny Gainwell

  • Gainwell is DLF's 12th ranked rookie, while he is my 25th ranked rookie. Gainwell is DLF's 4th ranked rookie running back, while he is my 7th ranked rookie running back. I loved Kenny Gainwell's game film. His explosion and big-play ability jumped off the screen to me. Before comparing rankings, I suspected I would be higher on Gainwell by ranking him as my highest ranked undersized running back, but I was shocked to see the experts at DLF value him as a first-round rookie pick. There is a clear dropoff in DLF's rankings between the #11 and #12 pick. Marshall at pick #11 has a composite ranking of 11.33, whereas Gainwell at #12 has a composite ranking of 14.67. That shows a bit of the difficulty analysts have in ranking Gainwell.
  • Gainwell was a three-star recruit to Memphis who played sparingly his freshman year before breaking out his sophomore year to the tune of 2069 yards from scrimmage, including 51 catches out of the backfield. He sat out his junior season because of COVID after several family members died from the virus. Scouts and dynasty analysts just have one excellent year of production to decide what they believe about Gainwell. He's shown enough to rank him as my highest ranked running back under 200 pounds. If he gains weight before his pro day, I could move him up quite a bit, although prospects can manipulate their weight fairly easily before pro days and slide right back to their playing weight once they enter conditioning programs. Gainwell's weight is the only thing holding me back from ranking him as a second-round rookie pick. If he is drafted by a team I am confident knows how to use him correctly, he could also move up in my rankings, but not to a first-round pick as the pros list him at DLF. If I'm honest, I also have a bit of a bias against players from Memphis. Each of the last few years, I have fallen in love with one of their players only to see them have poor starts to their NFL careers. Darrell Henderson, Anthony Miller, and Tony Pollard come to mind as players I liked but have burned me in the past. I don't downgrade players just because they are from a school that has failed to produce NFL stars, but I do note it if I think their offensive scheme or competition is somehow inflating their player's college statistics. After the last couple of years, I believe this is true of Memphis players, so I am likely not going to draft Gainwell, even though I would like to if he falls to the end of the second round or early third round.

Seth Williams

  • Williams is DLF's 16th ranked rookie, while he is my 31st ranked rookie. Williams is DLF's 9th ranked rookie wide receiver, while he is my 15th ranked rookie wide receiver. I liked a few things I saw from Seth Williams on film when I was studying him, but I could not move him higher than #31 in my rankings given that he never really had a breakout year at Auburn. I was stunned to see that the pros at DLF had him ranked number 16 with a composite rank of 16.5. If other analysts value him that highly, there is no way Williams will land on any of my teams.
  • Williams was a four-star recruit to Auburn and battled another four-star recruit, Anthony Schwartz, for the lead receiving role on the team during their three years together. Williams struggled with the mediocre quarterback play, but that's not the only reason why his career-high in receiving was just 830 yards. There is nothing about his career at Auburn that would cause me to rank him as high as 16. I was impressed with his size (6' 3" and 212 lbs) and jump-ball ability, especially in the end-zone. That's what caused me to move him up among the third-round wide receivers I'd be willing to take a chance drafting. That's where I plan to keep him unless NFL teams see him like the pros at DLF and draft him in the second round of the NFL draft.

Kadarius Toney

  • Toney is DLF's 17th ranked rookie, while he is my 26th ranked rookie. Waddle is DLF's 10th ranked rookie wide receiver, while he is my 13th ranked rookie wide receiver. Before I looked at DLF's rookie rankings, I already moved Toney up my rookie rankings significantly because of the first-round buzz he has been getting by NFL scouts. When I first heard he was considered to be a first-round NFL pick, I was stunned because there was nothing on tape or in his college career that made me believe that was possible. Given the NFL buzz, I generously moved him up to 26th in my rookie rankings, but that's as far as I could move him, even if he is a first-round pick.
  • Toney was a three-star recruit who played his first three years at Tennessee, where he had a total of just 606 yards receiving before transferring to Florida for his senior season, where he had 984 yards receiving. He's strong with the ball in his hands and averaged 1-2 rushed per game in his college career. His dual-threat ability has NFL scouts and dynasty analysts intrigued, but not me. His only solid season was in a surprise year for Florida quarterback Kyle Trask who played way above his ability in a strange COVID season. I don't see how one decent COVID season translates to a first-round NFL draft grade. I generally don't look highly on players that transfer (except quarterbacks). I've heard a few stories that make me question his character too. There is no way that I will draft Toney in my rookie drafts. I am happy to let other managers take that risk.

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