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Tue Feb 20th 2024

Ten Players I Like More Than The DLF Pros

Last week, I released my early rookie rankings. I create my first set of rookie rankings before comparing my rankings with any other dynasty analysts. After I've completed my early rankings, however, I love to compare my rankings with others to see which players I am higher and lower on than other dynasty analysts. The first place I look is to the professionals at Dynasty League Football (DLF). I compare my rankings with them first because they are excellent analysts and have composite rankings from seven of their dynasty gurus. I'm comparing my rankings with seven other dynasty analysts when I compare mine with DLFs.

 

I'm composing this article on Friday, February 16th, and will post it on Tuesday, February 20th. I mention the dates because between now and then, the good folks at DLF may change their rankings, as may I, while I continue to study this class.

 

That said, as of today, here are ten rookies that I rank at least five or more spots higher than the pros at DLF. I'll list them in the order that I have them ranked.

Blake Corum - #9 vs. #19

  • Corum is my #1 ranked running back in the class, while he's DLF's #4.
  • When I compare my running back rankings to others in the industry, I expected to be on an island by having Courm as my top running back in the class. He was a four-star running back, ranked 19th in the country in his recruiting class. He began to break out his sophomore year at Michigan before having dominant seasons in his junior and senior years, including a national championship last season. What I love most about Courm is his jump cuts and quickness. There are so many plays where he jukes guys out of their socks. I also love his low center of gravity and power, which enables him to power through would-be tacklers. He scored 45 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Michigan! The only knock on Corums is his lack of involvement in the passing game. He can catch but was not asked to do so in Michigan's system. I'm eager to see how fluid he is in the passing drills at the NFL Combine. I could change my mind in the coming months, but I'm pleased to have Corum as my RB-1 in this class.

J.J. McCarthy - #11 vs. #18

  • McCarthy is my #4 ranked quarterback in the class, while he's DLF's #6.
  • The top three quarterbacks in this class are a clear tier ahead of the second three: Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix, and J.J. McCarthy. As I expected, dynasty analysts have the second tier ranked differently. I have McCarthy as the clear QB-4 in this class, but the DLF folks put him 7th. I've listened to enough NFL draft podcasts and seen enough mock drafts to believe that McCarthy will be the fourth quarterback drafted in this class and get drafted in the first round. NFL scouts see what I see in McCarthy. He's a smart and accurate passer that manages an offense well. He was not asked to do a lot at Michigan with their run-first offense, but he could do more if he were asked to do so. He was a four-star recruit and the 9th ranked quarterback in his class, so he has the pedigree to be a star. He can't help it if he was not asked to be one at Michigan. NFL scouts will see through the system and see his head and arm talent. I don't see any way that I will move him from the QB-4 in this class unless he is drafted by an NFL team with an established starting quarterback. He's been mocked to the Broncos, Falcons, and Raiders. If a quarterback-needy team like those drafts him, I will move him up from #11 in my superflex rankings.

Ja'Tavion Sanders - #17 vs. #22

  • Sanders is my #2 ranked tight end in the class, and he's DLF's #2.
  • Every dynasty analyst will have Sanders ranked as their TE-2 in this class. There is a massive dropoff in talent after Brock Bowers and Sanders. It will just be a debate on how high to rank Sanders overall in this class. I have him ranked five spots higher than the pros at DLF. Sanders was a five-star recruit, the 30th-ranked athlete in his class, and a top recruit for my Texas Longhorns. Over the last two years, I saw him up close and personal, and he is an offensive weapon. His catches and yards are among the best in college football, finishing with the third-most yards receiving last year. He did not score as many touchdowns as many other tight ends in this class, but that's only because Texas had too many offensive weapons. He has all it takes to become an immediate weapon in the NFL. Last year's productive rookie, tight end class, may cause dynasty managers to draft tight ends earlier in rookie drafts this year, especially since there are only top-tier tight ends in this class. The guys from DLF have several receivers ranked ahead of Sanders, but I, for now, have him ahead of the group of receivers I also like.

Xavier Lagette - #18 vs. #28

  • Lagette is my #9 ranked wide receiver in the class, while he's DLF's #14.
  • Lagette was the player I enjoyed watching the most in my film study. I studied the quarterbacks first, and when I watched Spencer Rattler from South Carolina, all I could watch was Lagette. I didn't watch a single South Carolina game last season, so I have no idea who he was, but I enjoyed his highlights more than any other player during my first round of scouting. Lagette was a four-star recruit, the third-ranked athlete in South Carolina, and the 17th-ranked nationally. He didn't do much until his fifth year with the Gamecocks, but it was a fantastic 71-catch, 1255-yard, 7-touchdown season where he averaged 17.7 yards per catch. He'll get knocked in dynasty rookie drafts because of his age, late-breakout, and single superstar season, but I'm willing to bank on what I saw from him in that one season. He's one of the biggest receivers in this draft at 6'3" and 227 pounds, making him an old-school Dez Bryant-like wide receiver. He's a great route runner, even at his size, and he can easily body out defensive backs. Please do yourself a favor and watch his 2023 highlights. You'll enjoy it.

Malachi Corley - #19 vs. #24

  • Corley is my #10 ranked wide receiver in the class, while he's DLF's #12.
  • Corley could be this class's Deebo Samuel or Puka Nacua. He was only a two-star recruit and played for a small school, Western Kentucky, but he was a monster on the field. He's a stocky 5'11", 210 lb. bully on the field. He caught 101 passes and had 87 carries as a runner in his third college season, totaling 1382 yards and 11 touchdowns. His production fell in his final season, but he still had 79 catches for 984 yards and 11 touchdowns. An NFL team will draft him with a specific role in mind, and he will be productive from day one with that team. He does not have the pedigree of some of the guys that DLF pros have ranked ahead of him, but I still like him more than the guys they have ranked ahead of him, especially Bo Nix and Michael Penix, even in superflex leagues. The only thing that could bring Corley down further in my rankings is if he was drafted by a team whose offense is not creative and suited for what he does best. Until the NFL draft, I'm confident in keeping Corley as a mid-second-round pick in my rankings.

Audric Estime - #20 vs. #34

  • Estime is my #5 ranked running back in the class while he's DLF's #7.
  • The difference between my ranking and DLF's is the second largest in this article. I was very intrigued by what I saw in Estime after watching his highlights and studying his college career. He's different from most of the running backs in this class, and several NFL teams will look to draft him in the third round. He runs like a poor man's Derrick Henry. He's one of the biggest backs in this class and is 5'9" and 227 lbs. Like Henry, he is not quick but powerful and has breakaway speed once he gets going. He can run guys over in the short game and has breakaway speed in the open field. He was a great goal-line back with 30 touchdowns in his last two years at Notre Dame. He was not active in the passing game, so his dynasty value gets dinged there, but he was the 16th-ranked running back in his recruiting class and signed and played for Notre Dame. He's not a lock to become an NFL starter, but he is a rookie I'd be happy to reach for in the second round of rookie drafts compared to DLF's ranking in the third round.

Ricky Pearsall - #28 vs. #35

  • Pearsall is my #14 ranked wide receiver in the class, while he's DLF's #18.
  • I was surprised to see I was seven spots higher on Pearsall than the pros at DLF. I liked his film but was bothered by his pedigree and production profile. I thought I ranked him conservatively, but I guess I liked him more than most analysts. One of the DLF guys has him ranked 28th, as I do, but the others have him ranked higher. His best traits are his route running and hands. He had one of the most incredible one-handed catches of this year last season. Look it up! He only had 65 catches for 965 yards in his final season at Florida and scored just four touchdowns. Still, he is a versatile athlete with 253 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground in his college career at Arizona State and Florida. An NFL team will fall in love with his versatility, route running, and hands and draft him with a plan to use him effectively. Like Malachi Corley, his final rookie ranking will be determined significantly by which team and offensive mind draft him. I'll keep him ranked here higher than the guys at DLF until we know that information.

Spencer Rattler - #29 vs. #36

  • Rattler is my #7 ranked quarterback in the class, and he's DLF's #7.
  • In superflex leagues, I think Rattler could be the steal of this year's draft. Of course, it all depends on where he lands. If he's drafted by a team where he can compete immediately, his value will rise in everyone's rankings. However, if he's drafted by a team with a veteran quarterback to be his successor, he'll become one of the sneakiest superflex league draft picks. I'm always careful to remember players who once were thought to be among the top players in devy leagues, and there was a short time when Rattler was a top prospect in devy leagues. He fell on hard times after being replaced at Oklahoma by Caleb Williams and had a modest comeback after transferring to South Carolina. His reported attitude problems have been corrected, and he became a leader again at South Carolina and was the MVP at the Senior Bowl even though he played only a few series. His young five-star and devy darling pedigree makes him a player I'm eager to take a chance on earlier than the guys at DLF are.

Javon Baker - #30 vs. #55

  • Baker is my #19 ranked wide receiver in the class, while he's DLF's #24.
  • Baker is by far the player I have ranked higher than all the pros at DLF, which makes me think he will be this year's Puka Nacua for me, especially since he's predicted to be a 5th round NFL pick. To begin with, he was a four-star recruit who signed with Alabama before transferring to Central Florida. While he did next to nothing at Alabama, he had 108 receptions for 1935 yards and 12 touchdowns for Central Florida. He's an excellent outside receiver who specializes in contested catches and back-shoulder throws on the sideline. He's fantastic at making corners that are playing off of him miss when he catches a short-stop route, too. These are skills needed by X receivers in the NFL, and he has them all. He's not the tallest guy at 6'1", but he's 210 pounds and has a lot of fight to his game. Next to Xavier Lagette, he was my second favorite player to watch on film. No matter his draft capital, he's the player I will reach on most this year.

Brenden Rice - #36 vs. #44

  • Rice is my #21 ranked wide receiver in the class, and he's DLF's #21.
  • Brenden Rice is the son of Jerry Rice, so the man is pedigree enough. He was a four-star recruit and the 12th-ranked receiver in his class, but his college production was weak, with a career-high 45 catches for 791 yards in his final year at Southern California. Still, he scored 12 touchdowns last year, and that kind of touchdown production usually translates to NFL success. His final-year touchdown rate and family name make him a rookie I'm higher on than most dynasty analysts. The DLF pros and I both have him ranked as the 21st-ranked wide receiver, but they have a lot more of the third and fourth-tier running backs ranked ahead of Rice. Most of those running backs do not have as high of a ceiling as Rice, so I have him ranked higher. Like Xavier Lagette, Rice caught my eye when studying the film of Caleb Williams. He stood out as a downfield weapon and touchdown maker. He's likely a day-three pick, and his draft capital could make him fall in my rankings, but I would not be surprised to see a team draft him late in the third round instead. In which case, he'd remain as a late third-round consideration in my dynasty rankings.

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