Hello and welcome to the second installment of my annual Top 100 Rookies series! If you’re new to the series, every year I put together 100 rookies entering the NFL and rank them based on the impact I believe they’ll have for fantasy football purposes. This is not a “how good this player will be for real football game impact” conversation. This is specifically designed for you to use as an initial data set in building your own rookie rankings for all sorts of fantasy football drafts. And of course, it’s here to help you learn a few fun things to help you sound smart talking football with your friends.
Yes, you’re going to disagree with some of these rankings. And that’s okay! The goal here is to give you a baseline ranking to cross-reference with your own research. And believe me when I say this list has been a work in progress for at least three years. Thanks to college fantasy and devy leagues, I’ve been following most of these players since they were in high school. It’s a blast for me to finally see them land in the NFL, live their dream, and help you (the reader) win fantasy championships.
I used to keep things limited to offensive players, but for those of you who are super nerds like me, having some individual defensive players (IDPs) included definitely helps.
Some things to note as you read:
- The position listed is where I believe they will play most frequently in the NFL.
- “EDGE” players are typically 3-4 outside linebackers or pass-rushing 4-3 defensive ends.
- “DL” are typically DTs and DEs that will work exclusively between the 0 and 5 techniques on the defensive line.
- “LB” are the playmaking off-the-ball linebackers.
- Scoring format assumed is Superflex (can start 2 QBs), PPR, and a balance between tackle-heavy and big-play (for the IDPs)
If you missed the first part of the series:
Without further ado, here are the players currently ranked No. 61 to No. 80 in the early edition of the RotoViz 2021 Top 100 Rookies series!
80. Max Borghi, RB Washington State
For those super into “devy” fantasy leagues (where you can roster college players well before they’re in the pros), Max Borghi is a familiar name. He’s been ranked incredibly high by many experts for quite some time, but the hype frankly makes little sense.
Like every other Washington State running back in recent history, the vast majority of his production is manufactured. Washington State has run almost exclusively in 10 personnel (4WR, 1RB, 0TE) throughout Borghi’s entire college career. That leaves him to face some of the lightest defensive boxes in the country every single week. His ridiculous receiving production is boosted by his average depth of target, which sits at negative two yards. It’s a bunch of dink-and-dunk high-percentage receptions that act as an extension of the run game.
But Borghi’s athleticism may also be enough to set him apart from other recent Washington State RBs if he tests well at the NFL combine. And even though his production profile is essentially undraftable before the beginning of Round 4, Borghi’s receiving ability and 86 receptions in 2019 is still intriguing.
79. Christian Barmore, DL Alabama
Like many talented Alabama defensive linemen before him, Christian Barmore had to wait his turn for glory. But now that he’s seeing the majority of snaps, Barmore is looking flat out dominant for a defensive tackle.
He’s averaging three tackles per game in the six he’s played. He’s already snagged three sacks. He’s doing it primarily in a role that often gets double teamed at the line. At 6 feet 5 inches and 310 pounds, Barmore has the size to stuff the middle. But he also has the strength and technique to burst into the backfield in the pass rush. And given how little he’s played in college, it’s likely he’ll only improve. He should be a solid day two pick with round one potential talent.
78. Amari Rodgers, WR Clemson
If you don’t follow Clemson closely, you might think that Amari Rodgers‘ 2020 breakout season came out of nowhere. But here’s the thing: Rodgers has been an important part of the Tigers’ offense since 2018. In fact, his 55 receptions that year were second-most on the 15-0 perfect season National Championship squad.
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There’s a good shot Amari Rodgers sneaks into some decent draft capital, given that he’s been the lead receiver for Clemson this year and likely finishes with over 1,000 yards. But does he deserve it?
Yes, he was a key piece of the offense for three years but was not dominant at any point. Even now, his peak market share numbers are barely cracking 20%. And his yards (2.16) and touchdowns (0.0159) per team pass attempt are both well below average for the typical drafted NFL wide receiver. To say his production profile is lacking would be an understatement. He’s improving as a deep receiver and showing he can beat more than just soft zones this year. But! He’s still a tough projection, given his lackluster production profile.
77. Shaka Toney, EDGE Penn State
Shaka Toney would be much higher ranked for fantasy football if he profiled as more than a pass rush specialist. For real football, Toney’s skill set is likely going to earn him significant draft capital though. He racked up about 40 pass rush pressures in 2019 throughout his 13 games, totaling 6.5 sacks. This year he’s showing an even higher pressure and tackle rate, already up to four sacks in five games. That may be good for “big play” formats in the pros, but his tackle floor is low. Why? His aggressive and powerful rush to the quarterback does put him out of position against the run quite often. But hey, if you’re looking for a sack-heavy option with splashy potential, Toney could be your guy.
76. Cameron McGrone, LB Michigan
Some draftniks are incredibly high on Cameron McGrone, but the hype feels a bit forced. Yes, he was a highly touted, athletic, versatile recruit for Michigan. But! Michigan has been doing a horrible job developing those types of players in recent years, and McGrone doesn’t look any different.
The athletic upside is undeniable, and his instincts make him a force to be reckoned with when he gets an early read on plays. However, consistency and block shedding ability have been an issue. He’ll likely see early draft capital based on his highlight-reel speed and pursuit angles, but expect some early career struggles and a low snap rate for a while.
75. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB Minnesota
When a running back is averaging 174.6 yards from scrimmage per game, we should probably pay attention. That’s good for a 15-yards-per-game lead on every other Power Five running back in the nation not named Jermar Jefferson (who we’ll get to in this series soon).
However, when you account for his lack of efficiency as a runner, and near-zero receiving ability, his production profile isn’t as strong as raw totals may imply. Using the RotoViz Running Back Prospect Lab tool, we can build a hypothetical prospect and projections for his first three seasons of fantasy points to give us some pro comparisons for Ibrahim.