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Andy Richardson

Mocking the Dynasty Rookie Draft

Where incoming players might go

My main dynasty league holds its annual rookie draft this weekend. We've been doing it the week after the NFL Draft for about 15 years now. As an exercise, I like to predict how I think the three rounds might go, and I present it here.

To be clear, these are not my rankings, which I'm still working on. It's sort of a combination of how I think these players should be drafted and how I think they will be drafted, based on other mocks I've seen and what I believe to be the general evaluation of these rookies. This is a one-quarterback league, PPR scoring, so you'll note the quarterbacks are slotted later than they'd be in Superflex formats (in the past I selected Cam Newton and Kyler Murray at picks 1.12, to give you a sense of how things have gone historically).

1.01. Marvin Harrison, Cardinals
1.02. Malik Nabers, Giants
1.03. Rome Odunze, Bears
1.04. Brock Bowers, Raiders

The top 3 wide receivers are basically set in stone. I think there's a chance that Odunze goes before Nabers considering landing spot. The Giants will have Daniel Jones at quarterback this year, and who knows in 2025. The Bears have an unknown rookie quarterback and also two great veteran wideouts ahead of Nabers, but Keenan is probably a one-year rental, and I'm bullish on Caleb Williams. Regardless, Harrison as the top talent stepping in as the immediate No. 1 wide receiver in Arizona is the top rookie in every non-Superflex draft I can comprehend.

This is a TE-premium league (1.5 per reception), so although Bowers' landing spot doesn't seem ideal, he'll probably go at No. 4. The Raiders will put both him and Michael Mayer on the field close to full-time, I think, with Mayer the inline guy and Bowers more of a big wideout. In non-TE premium, perhaps Bowers slips behind another couple of wide receivers or even a running back.

1.05. Bryan Thomas, Jaguars
1.06. Xavier Worthy, Kansas City
1.07. Jonathon Brooks, Panthers
1.08. Trey Benson, Cardinals

I am relatively confident, though not certain, that these will be the next two wideouts and the top two running backs. Although honestly, the next three players I'm listing might also go in one of these spots. Thomas was a pretty strong 1A to Nabers at LSU and should replace Calvin Ridley immediately in Jacksonville. Worthy is small and fast and I don't think I personally would draft him this early, but people are going to get all excited about the remote possibility he emerges as a go-to for Patrick Mahomes and take him this early. I don't think anyone is excited about Carolina's offense, but Brooks is the top back in the class and the first one drafted and it's pretty likely he'll be featured there by 2025 if not sooner. Benson is the other likely three-down guy, and though he'll be stuck behind James Conner initially, a year from now it should be his backfield.

1.09. Keon Coleman, Bills
1.10. Ladd McConkey, Chargers
1.11. Caleb Williams, Bears
1.12. Blake Corum, Rams

Coleman could definitely go a couple of spots higher. He's working with one of the best quarterbacks in the league and the Bills let go their top 2 wideouts from last season. We've discussed him some here; big, slower than ideal, but could very well be the No. 1 right away. McConkey similar; the new regime need not have any loyalty to the mediocre Joshua Palmer or disappointing (so far) Quentin Johnston. Chargers will have to let Justin Herbert throw the ball sometimes.

I'm not sure Williams will go this early, everyone has a starting quarterback in this league, but the hope that he's the next Patrick Mahomes will certainly get him some interest around this spot. No one except the Rams is happy about Corum going to a team that already has Kyren Williams atop the depth chart, but Williams is small and missed a month due to injury last year, Corum will get his chance before too long. Might fall a bit more than this, though.

2.01. Ricky Pearsall, 49ers
2.02. Xavier Legette, Panthers
2.03. Jayden Daniels, Commanders
2.04. Ja'Lynn Polk, Patriots
2.05. MarShawn Lloyd, Packers
2.06. Ray Davis, Bills
2.07. Jaylen Wright, Dolphins

I don't think Pearsall was on many radars as a first-round pick. As the Niners prove every draft, they have their own rankings of skill guys. It's flopped hard at some positions (Tyrion Davis-Price, Trey Sermon, Trey Lance), but Deebo and Aiyuk are pretty good, and there's still a chance one of those guys gets moved before the season -- certainly both won't be on the roster a year from now. Legette was a one-year performer at South Carolina and he goes to a situation that doesn't look great after the way Bryce Young struggled last year. But if Young doesn't pan out somebody else will be quarterbacking Carolina a year from now, and none of the incumbents (Thielen, Diontae) will necessarily be on the roster. Polk also joins an uncertain QB situation, but No. 1 potential, and maybe Bill Belichick's departure means the Patriots will finally evaluate wide receivers successfully.

Fantasy-wise, Daniels might be better than Caleb. He should run a whole lot more. I'm a little concerned he might break down, also that Washington doesn't have the correct decision-makers in place (is anyone optimistic about Dan Quinn?). But he's starting in Week 1 and OC Kliff Kingsbury did some good things with Kyler Murray.

Neither Lloyd nor Wright will start this year, but both are joining good young offensive situations, with starters (Josh Jacobs, Raheem Mostert) who the teams don't have commitments too beyond 2024. Dolphins still have Devon Achane, but they'll probably always have some sort of tandem backfield. Davis, I think, will be in a tandem of some kind with James Cook and might well prove to be the better runner.

2.08. Troy Franklin, Broncos
2.09. Ben Sinnott, Commanders
2.10. Adonai Mitchell, Colts
2.11. Drake Maye, Patriots
2.12. J.J. McCarthy, Vikings

Franklin and Mitchell seemed candidates to go earlier based on college production. They're going to situations where they might be No. 2s fairly quickly. Franklin tall and thin which is a concern, Mitchell has lots of competition in Indy. Sinnott could be the Commanders' main TE (no offense Zach Ertz) before long. Maye and McCarthy are potential franchise passers, obvs. Maye viewed more highly, McCarthy better weapons in place.

3.01. JaTavion Sanders, Panthers
3.02. Theo Johnson, Giants
3.03. Malachi Corley, Jets
3.04. Bo Nix, Broncos
3.05. Erick All, Bengals
3.06. Bucky Irving, Bucs
3.07. Roman Wilson, Steelers
3.08. Michael Penix, Falcons
3.09. Isaac Guerendo, 49ers
3.10. Audric Estime, Broncos
3.11. Tip Reiman, Cardinals
3.12. Braelon Allen, Jets

Considerable guesswork here, but a line on each player. The value of TEs in this scoring format will likely get Sanders, Johnson, All and Reiman picked, although Reiman is more of a blocker and is joining a team that already has Trey McBride which won't help. I'm most intrigued by Johnson with the Giants. Corley's third-round selection by the Jets gets him on the radar, a potential top-3 receiver for Aaron Rodgers (although we know he sours on rookies quickly) must be respected. Nix is a Week 1 starter (did anyone else find it annoying that the media felt it important to report Denver wouldn't be picking up Zach Wilson's fifth-year option? In other news, water is wet). Irving, Guerendo and Estime will open as backups but could be future starters for their teams. Love Guerendo's talent but he's stuck behind McCaffrey for the foreseeable future and San Francisco hasn't drafted a successful running back in the Lynch/Shanahan era. Steelers have some success drafting wideouts, and Wilson might be the No. 2.

A week later, I'm no less annoyed by Atlanta's selection of Penix. Every argument in favor of or defense of the pick with Cousins guaranteed a mint the next two years is trash. "Atlanta's set at the position now...They won't be picking this high again..." on and on. Just stop. They used a top 10 pick on an NFL-ready 24-year-old who's probably not going to play for at least two years. I'm not sure Penix will get drafted at all, but maybe the team that has Cousins will snag him.

Next week, I'll post a recap of how the draft actually went.

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