Originally published on December 21st, Travis May’s Top 100 Rookie Rankings is a great read while you watch the CFB semifinals.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! Welcome to the fifth and final 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:
- Players Ranked No. 21 to 40
- Players Ranked No. 41 to 60
- Players Ranked No. 61 to 80
- Players Ranked No. 81 to 100
Be sure to pre-order the Dynasty Command Center Rookie Guide for even more amazing dynasty content featuring our top writers and prospect evaluation metrics.
Without further ado, here are the players currently ranked No. 1 to No. 20 in the early edition of the RotoViz 2021 Top 100 Rookies series!
20. Pat Freiermuth, TE Penn State
Pat Freiermuth seems like a lock for the TE2 slot for fantasy football purposes in a class much better than 2020. The NFL may even select him as the TE1, thanks to his balanced every-down skill set as a receiver and blocker. His production profile screams top-tier tight end prospect.
As I’ve discussed in the NFL Prospects Weekly series many times before, an early breakout season and top-notch production is a rare combination for tight ends, but Freiermuth missed that memo. He immediately scored eight touchdowns in his first full season of play and only continued to grow in his receiving yard market share every year. He’ll be referred to as “Baby Gronk” quite a bit throughout draft season, and that kind of productive outcome isn’t impossible for the talents of Freiermuth.
19. Dylan Moses, LB Alabama
Although the shine has worn off a bit with Dylan Moses as an elite NFL linebacker, he’s still likely an early pick and a versatile every-down contributor early on. After Moses’ stellar true sophomore campaign in 2018 with 86 tackles, 10 for a loss, a few sacks, and big plays made in big games, it looked like he was on track for top-10 draft capital. The only reason for concern now is that after missing all of 2019 with a torn ACL, Moses hasn’t quite looked the same this year. However, given that players usually see a fuller bounce back in year two removed from surgery, expect to see the high flying instinctual tackling machine again here soon.
18. Gregory Rousseau, EDGE Miami
Every year there are generally one or two standout edge rushers, but this year feels like the top option has been decided for over almost a year already. Gregory Rousseau wrapped up opposing quarterbacks 15.5 times in 2019, adding nearly another half dozen tackles for loss. That was good for second in the nation among all pass rushers behind only Chase Young, who could very well be the 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
His critics will point out that he was insanely efficient in converting pressures into sacks, implying his sack total may bloat his skill set. But! Even so, Rousseau still averaged about four pressures per game. That was still easily top 20 in the country, and he was doing that as a redshirt freshman! Rousseau is the no-brainer No. 1 pass rusher in this class. Feel free to reach for him if you have a big need at the position.
17. Chuba Hubbard, RB Oklahoma State
Coming into the 2020 season, expectations were insanely high for Chuba Hubbard. He was coming off a 2,000-yard season for Oklahoma State, and his pro comps (via the RotoViz Box Score Scout Tool) were positively absurd given his production profile at the time.