Mon Feb 15th 2021
Five Rookies I Like More Than The Pros At DLF
Rookies I Like More 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 they 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 this week, and while we have a lot in common, especially among the top 20, we do have some significant differences. In this article, I write about the five most significant differences that we had among our top 20 rookies.
- Wallace is my 10th ranked rookie, while he is DLF's 19th ranked rookie. Wallace is my 4th ranked rookie wide receiver, while he is DLF's 11th ranked rookie wide receiver. I'm confident that I have Wallace ranked higher than most all dynasty analysts, but I was surprised to see this significant gap in our rankings. Wallace's ranking among DLF experts ranks goes from 14th to 31st, so I am clearly far more excited about Wallace as a prospect than they are.
- Wallace was a four-star recruit who had a breakout season his sophomore year with 86 receptions for 1491 yards and 12 touchdowns. In his junior season, he tore his ACL late in the season, or he would have added to his 2019 stats. His 2020 team struggled at quarterback and the overall offense making it difficult for him to replicate his breakout sophomore season. While his final two years were less productive, he still had a 32% dominator ranking for his career, which is third in this rookie class. Wallace is a big-play receiver, averaging 16.75 yards per catch in his career. While he's just under six feet tall, he routinely wins jump balls and is a tremendous red-zone target. He plays bigger than his size. He wins best on deep routes, but he's equally dangerous on screens and slant routes because he's a great runner after the catch with speed to burn. Wallace is a more prototypical sized wide receiver, which is why I have him ranked ahead of Jaylen Waddle (14) and Rondale Moore (11), who is just behind Wallace in my rankings. I believe Wallace is more versatile than some of the wide receivers DLF experts have ranked ahead of Wallace. I compare him to Brandon Aiyuk last year and think he could have a breakout rookie year, just as Aiyuk did last year.
- Sermon is my 11th ranked rookie, while he is DLF's 18th ranked rookie. Sermon is my 4th ranked rookie RB, while he's DLF's 5th running back. I thought I would be more on a limb with my Sermon ranking, but DLF only has Kenny Gainwell ahead of Sermon in their running back rankings. They have many receivers ahead of Sermon in their rankings, which causes me to rank him seven spots ahead of DLF.
- Sermon was a four-star recruit who played at Oklahoma for three years before transferring to Ohio State for his final season. He was in a committee backfield for his entire career and only led his team in rushes his sophomore and senior season, but not by much. This fact caused many dynasty analysts to downgrade his rookie ranking, but it did not for me. To begin with, this is not a deep class of running backs, so someone has to get ranked fourth behind Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, and Javonte Williams. The rest of this running back class, with a few exceptions, lacks the size to be an every-down running back in the NFL, while Sermon is six feet tall and 215 pounds. He runs a bit upright, for my liking, but it does not seem to affect his power or maneuverability. He's not the fastest running back, but he's had plenty of long runs in his career and averaged 6.5 yards per carry over his career. This player comparison won't bode well for him, but he reminds me of Kerryon Johnson, a player I was high on in the 2018 class that never panned out. Sermon could have been luck is drafted by a better organization and can stay healthy.
- Hubbard is my 14th ranked rookie, while he is DLF's 23rd ranked rookie. Hubbard is my 5th ranked running back, while he is DLF's 7th ranked running back. I thought I would be lower on Hubbard than most analysts, so I was surprised to see that I had Hubbard ranked nine spots higher than DLF.
- Hubbard was a rare three-star recruit from Canada, where he was also an Olympic level sprinter. He played well in his red-shirt freshman, having 124 carries for 740 yards (10.4 yards per carry). His sophomore year, he exploded on the scene, gaining 2392 total yards and 21 touchdowns. Most draft experts expected Hubbard to enter the NFL draft last year, a draft class filled with star running backs, but he returned for another season. Oklahoma State's offense struggled last year, and Hubbard had the worst statistical year of his college career. I am giving him a pass on his final season and looking instead at his production from his sophomore season. I think dynasty analysts are knocking him too much for an unimpressive last year. While he's had a better single season than any of the running backs I have ranked ahead of him, I have enough questions about his running style and his fit in an NFL offense to move him down my rankings but not as far as the DLF experts, to my surprise. I believe he could thrive in a zone running scheme where he's asked to make one cut and run. I think NFL teams will believe this too, and only a team that can use his speed will draft him for their scheme. His running style compares to Arian Foster, who was extremely successful in the Houston run scheme. Hubbard will rise or fall based on which team drafts even more than what his draft capital is.
- Jefferson is my 18th ranked rookie, while he is DLF's 28th ranked rookie. Jefferson is my 6th ranked running back, while he is DLF's 8th ranked running back. I suspect that there will be a lot of variance in how dynasty analysts rank Jefferson. The DLF experts rank him as high as 18th (like me) and as low as 39.
- Jefferson was a three-star recruit who started right away for Oregon State his freshman year. In fact, due to injuries, his freshman year was the best year of his career, though his yards per carry were higher in his shortened final season. His prototypical size (5' 10" and 217) and freshman breakout year (1527 total yards and 12 touchdowns) are enough to keep him in among my top five running backs in this class. DLF has smaller players like Kenny Gainwell and Michael Carter ranked ahead of Jefferson. While I like Gainwell, Carter, and Javian Hawkins in my next tear of running backs, I believe they will have smaller, more specific roles on their NFL teams, whereas Jefferson could be an every-down back. He's a strong between-the-tackles runner with elusiveness and breakaway speed. His running style reminds me of J.K. Dobbins from last year's class. I carry a little concern because he played in the PAC 12, which is not known for their excellent defensive play, but his tape is very impressive. He's a player I hope I have ranked higher than many other dynasty analysts so I can draft him in the second round of rookie drafts.
- Lance is my 19th ranked rookie, while he is DLF's 26th ranked rookie. Lance is my 3rd ranked quarterback, while he is DLF's 4th ranked quarterback. I expected dynasty analysts to rank Trevor Lawrence #1 and Justin Fields #2, and I expected a variety of opinions between Trey Lance and Zach Wilson for #3 or #4. I prefer Lance and have him ranked three spots ahead of Wilson, while DLF has Wilson ranked two spots ahead of Lance. The difference is that I would reach for Lance seven spots before the DLF experts would.
- Trey Lance was a three-star athlete recruited by North Dakota State to play quarterback. He only has one full year of game-tape to scout, but it was an incredible year with a 66.9% completion rate, 2786 passin yards, 28 touchdowns, zero interceptions, 1100 rushing yards, and 14 rushing touchdowns. He's an incredible athlete, and at 6' 3" tall and 224 his a load to bring down when he's running. He's not just a runner, though. He set the NCAA record with 287 passes without an interception. NFL scouts and dynasty managers have to decide what they think about Lance. I think he will be a top NFL quarterback within a few years. He will get drafted within the first ten picks, and I presume a team will aim to have him watch and learn year one. However, if the quarterback in front of him gets injured, he could have a Justin Herbert-like season. Cam Newton is the easy player comparison based on his size and running ability, but he's a much better passer, especially on the long ball. Like most athletic quarterback backs, he'll need to learn to stay in the pocket and progress through his reads, and protect himself when he needs to run. That said, the NFL is turning to more and more athletic quarterbacks, and dynasty teams are benefiting from all of their points gained on the ground. He'll have every chance to start in the NFL and become a starter on dynasty teams.
- As for Zach Wilson, he may have started for three years, but he only has one year of incredible production (last year), just like Lance. Wilson has more experience and may have a safer floor, but Lance has far more upside, which I why I would draft him ahead of Wilson
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