Fantasy Football 2021: Projecting Best Dynasty Rookies Before Pro Days

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IFebruary 19, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Projecting Best Dynasty Rookies Before Pro Days

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    A talented group of prospects will soon begin their professional careers after being selected in the 2021 NFL draft. And for dynasty fantasy football managers, it's crucial to research these soon-to-be rookies to see who could make an impact, potentially as soon as next season.

    While standard fantasy football leagues typically don't have keepers, that's not the case in dynasty leagues, in which managers keep most or all of the players on their roster from one season to the next. If it's a league that carries over every player, then the 2021 draft will only feature incoming rookies.

    Although there isn't an official NFL Scouting Combine this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, EXOS will be hosting combine-like events later in February, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. And top prospects are still holding pro days. So there will still be opportunities to see this year's draft class in action this offseason.

    Here's a look at several incoming rookies who should be taken early in dynasty fantasy drafts because they could become strong contributors in 2021.

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    A probable first-round draft pick, Najee Harris could be the first running back to get selected during the 2021 NFL draft. And it may not take long for the former Alabama standout to become a top contributor for a team's rushing attack during his rookie season.

    Harris kept improving over his four-year career with the Crimson Tide, which led to his huge senior season in 2020. The 6'2", 230-pound back rushed for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns, while also notching 43 receptions for 425 yards and four touchdowns. He was a key member of the dominant offense that helped Alabama go 13-0 and win the national championship.

    Even if Harris isn't an every-down back to begin his NFL career, he's likely going to get touches early. If he gets drafted to a team that's had a struggling rushing attack of late, perhaps Harris will have an even bigger workload as soon as he breaks into the league.

    Last year, dynasty fantasy managers who took Clyde Edwards-Helaire likely came away pleased with the former LSU running back's production during his rookie campaign with the Kansas City Chiefs. This year, Harris is the rookie back to target and to try to add to fantasy rosters.

Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Ja'Marr Chase opted out of the 2020 season, which was heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic. That doesn't change the fact that the former LSU wide receiver should be taken early in the 2021 NFL draft, and he should also be picked early in dynasty fantasy drafts.

    For those who may have forgotten, Chase had a huge 2019, helping lead LSU to a 15-0 season and the national championship. The 6'1", 200-pound receiver had 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, proving why he's likely going to be a strong player at the NFL level.

    There are a few teams with a top-10 pick that could be looking to add a wide receiver (such as the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions), so Waddle could be drafted early. He may be the first receiver taken, or it could be a former Alabama standout (either DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle). Either way, Chase shouldn't be on the board for too long.

    It's possible he could become a top receiving option for an NFL team, so there's a strong chance he will put up at least decent numbers as a rookie in 2021. That should make him one of the top receivers to target in dynasty fantasy drafts this year too.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    There haven't been many top-tier fantasy tight ends in recent years. Kansas City's Travis Kelce and the Las Vegas Raiders' Darren Waller are the clear best two. Others such as Detroit's T.J. Hockenson and the Baltimore Ravens' Mark Andrews are among the few who can mostly be relied upon on a weekly basis.

    Kyle Pitts has the potential to fast become a top fantasy tight end. The 6'6", 246-pounder had 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns for Florida this past season despite missing four of the Gators' 12 games because of injury.

    There aren't a lot of tight ends who get selected in the first round of the NFL draft. There were none last year, with Hockenson and Noah Fant, who were both drafted in 2019, being the most recent. But Pitts is likely going to join that group, which speaks volumes about his playmaking ability and his potential.

    With so few elite tight ends in the NFL, it likely won't take long for Pitts to become a starting tight end in the league, assuming he lives up to his potential. And if he can, he could be not only one of the top rookies in 2021 but also one of the top fantasy tight ends.