NFL Draft 2021 - Day 1 Thoughts
- Trevor Lawrence, JAX
- Zach Wilson, NYJ
- Trey Lance, SF
- Justin Fields, CHI
- Mac Jones, NE
All of these quarterbacks will have some starting time during the season. I think that Trey Lance and Mac Jones will likely have harder times finding the field in season 1, and thus won't be fantasy relevant this year. Lawrence and Wilson are going to be Day 1 starters. The difference is that Lawrence will probably be a top 15 QB for fantasy next season out of the gate, and, traditionally, quarterbacks take at least a season to warm up to the Shanahan type offensive system (see Aaron Rodgers 2019, Garappolo 2018, Goff 2016, etc.) While I like Lance and Wilson to eventually play well in their systems, these are dynasty-stash quarterbacks only for me in 2021.
Mac Jones will need time yet too. I'm not sure how well or not he's going to be able to adapt to Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels yet, but it won't be right away. Maybe by the middle of the season, but this team is still very devoid of skill position players, and his fantasy relevance might not be this year or even next year.
The big question mark for me is Justin Fields. I really actually like the fit with Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor in this horizontal then vertical scheme, and he's going to really push for Day 1 starter status. He's an exciting athlete, and I think he raises the potential of the ceiling for Allen Robinson, Cole Kmet, and David Montgomery especially if they use a lot of the same zone-read and RPO action they were at the end of last season.
Dynasty QB Board so far: Lawrence, Fields, Lance, Wilson, Jones
- Najee Harris, PIT
- Travis Etienne, JAX
Well, despite my and Mel Kiper's best efforts, two running backs were taken in the first round. That being said, these were two of the three elite guys that just about every "expert" had going 1, 2, 3 in this draft and for fantasy purposes. Often, running backs get peak value in Dynasty Rookie drafts due to their short life-cycle, and so both of these guys will get very long looks from almost anyone with a high draft pick. I have started to come back around on Harris for value, but I hate where he went with an over-the-hill looking like late-stages Drew Brees Ben Roethlisberger who didn't appear to be able to throw beyond 10 yards in any game last year (outside of that one weird second half against the Colts) and arguably the worst offensive line last year. I like that he's going to be able to split out, runs through tackles, and can catch to help his value in ways that will vault him above other backs in my rankings but he's not going to be the top of my running back draft board or wish list when Dynasty Draft Day comes.
Instead, that is almost assuredly going to be Travis Etienne. I didn't know where he was going to end up, but gosh-darn I love him here. He gets to be with Lawrence and be his Robin for the next five years as they build on their Clemson success in a very RB friendly offense for Urban Meyer. Think of some of the RBs that have had huge success in his programs: Carlos Hyde, Curtis Samuel, Ezekiel Elliott, and JK Dobbins just to name a few not to mention that Etienne is a home-run runner with the best catching and satellite ability in this draft (#IMO). Right now, it is going to be hard for me to pass him or Kyle Pitts up.
- Ja'Marr Chase, CIN
- Jaylen Waddle, MIA
- Devonta Smith, PHI
- Kadarius Toney, NYG
- Rashod Batemon, BAL
While I do think the top of this class has a chance to compete with several of the studs from the last two drafts (AJ Brown, DK Metcalf, Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, CeeDee Lamb) and at least one literally on his own team (Tee Higgins), I'm not really sure how much value or impact any of these will have in their rookie campaign. Remember, despite several of these receivers taking off last year, it took both AJ Brown and DK Metcalf til mid-season to find their grooves. I'm am highest on Ja'Marr Chase as both fit and prospect, but it does worry me that he will have so many others to compete for targets with (Boyd, Mixon, Higgins). Still, he's the top of my board here so far, and a lot of that has to do with being drafted by the team with the best and/or most-consistent quarterback (Joe Burrow) out of these fives. Next up would probably be Batemon with Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, but it would likely be too much to assume big things from him right away in a run-first offense.
I also think Waddle, Smith, and Toney could all be good prospects, but playing with unproven or inconsistent passers has not worked out for Jerry Jeudy, Corey Davis, Jalen Reagor, N'Keal Harry, Henry Ruggs, Marquise Brown, John Ross, Corey Coleman, Josh Doctson, La'Quon Treadwell, and you get it. I think value in this dynasty draft will be in depth picks that might hit as opposed to the amount of top-end talent we saw last year.
- Kyle Pitts, ATL
After Matt Ryan has had good connections with Austin Hooper and Hayden Hurst after years of great Tony Gonzalez play in a new offense that featured and made Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser (ANTHONY FIRKSER!) fantasy-relevant combining with the "best Tight-End prospect in the history of the draft", sign me up for five years of ELITE top-5 fantasy super-stardom for Kyle Pitts. I know that TEs don't often produce in their rookie years. Forget that here. Kyle Pitts is the top of my Board for Dynasty Rookie Drafts, and, if it hadn't been that I really loved where Etienne ended up, he would have been the far-and-away not-likely-to-move #1 prospect on my Board. If Travis Kelce could be the fantasy MVP last year, Kyle Pitts has a really good shot at being the fantasy MVP of the next five years.