NFL Dynasty Rookie Draft Superflex Rankings 2.0 (Post-Free Agency)
Free agency is largely in the books, and we know a good deal about what the league looks like before the NFL draft. That means it’s time to update and expand our mock rookie selection process. Last month, it was one round. This week, two rounds, sort of, and there are already some serious movers and shakers since Mock 1.0, which is to say there’s a mix of news having happened and my having thought through all of this some more. I am not the cosmos; we are learning this stuff together. The important part is that in this mock draft, the 2.0, any of the top eight or nine picks are, value-wise, effectively interchangeable. This is just the order in which I’d take them, but these guys are all pretty similar until you get to Kenny Pickett. Who has small hands.
1. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Nothing has changed at the very top of the list. If anything, Willis’s position here is becoming industry standard, and while I understand this is an underwhelming quarterback class, the No. 1 overall QBs in dynasty drafts have tended to return value pretty well. The only recent exception in an extremely limited sample is Trevor Lawrence, and it’s only been one year of bad under the worst coach in modern NFL history. Even Baker Mayfield was usable (and tradable) in 2 QB leagues, and he’s not even close to the runner that Willis is. “Jalen Hurts but a better on the ground” is a great fantasy asset, and as a likely top-10 pick, Willis won’t have to luck into the starting spot like Hurts did. For as much bad as people have said about this class in both real and fantasy terms, Willis’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s. The chances of pulling off a Josh Allen are incredibly low, but he has the tools to do it, and not many players do.
2. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
It seems that Hall is the best runner in this class by a decent amount and the wide receivers behind him on this list—who seem incredible—are still wide receivers, of whom there are always enough to fill out a roster. If Hall lands in the right spot, he could be an immediate difference-maker at running back and a full-fledged star by 2023. There’s no fighting the tide. Take Hall or trade down so someone else can.
3. Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
I’m starting to hear enough good things about Walker to leapfrog him into the top tier, above my favorite receivers, and I LOVE receivers. Therefore this is nothing against the them, because they are great, but there are so many good pass catchers that the running backs that hit return a much higher value if they hit. Put another way, you can always flip a successful Walker for a wide receiver; the opposite is probably not true. He’s worth the risk.
4. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
This represents something of a sea change in my thinking, if not my analysis. Even if I think Chris Olave probably has the better skills to be a pro’s pro, Wilson’s explosiveness will almost certainly make him a higher draft pick and hotter commodity going into the season. I would probably try to trade down from this spot and let someone else take Wilson, but there is no doubt that if he puts it all together he’s going to be incredibly nasty, and at this point we’re still drafting on upside, so I’d go with it. You won’t lose sleep by keeping him.
5. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
I’ve seen (as you most likely have) Olave mocked to the Packers, which would be perfect; it’s the 2022 version of Najee Harris to the Steelers in the vein of a perfect fit. If he heads to Wisconsin I’d expect to bump him as high as second on this list, and while others might not be as aggressive, the boost would be obvious. Olave’s precise skill set is made for Aaron Rodgers; actually, it’s made for every quarterback, but if Davante Adams (RIP) taught us anything, it’s how well Rodgers can use precise route-running to his advantage. Any other team and things could get a little harder, but Olave should and could start wherever he lands. He might be the safest player in the entire draft. Remember what Jerry Jeudy was supposed to be? This is that.
6. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
Everything I wrote about Walker applies here, only slightly less so, but landing spot should make a huge difference. Also I traded for him in one league so he’d better be good. Speaking it into existence at your expense. Not all that sorry!
7. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
No one’s stock has fallen recently quite like that of Burks, and I only sort of get it. I mean, I dropped him four spots but I also wouldn’t blame anyone who took him No. 1 overall. I think he’s incredibly landing spot dependent, and while I can’t believe I’m writing this, if he goes to the Jets at 10, as I’ve seen mocked, I wouldn’t hate that at all. His skillset complements Elijah Moore’s perfectly, and he can ease into the top spot behind Corey Davis. I’ve also seen him mocked to the Packers (which would be good) and Titans (which would be bad) but Jets seems like a nice fit all-around and one that could make him a safe play. There are probably fewer boars to hunt with your dogs and knife (singular) in New Jersey than Arkansas, but if they exist, Burks will find them.
8. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
I’m getting increasingly strong ‘D.K. Metcalf in the rookie draft’ vibes from Williams right now. Not in the same way that Burks is getting them, to whom we will apply the 1:1 lessons of the Metcalf experiment, but in the way that we might be overlooking a generational player for an ultimately arbitrary reason. For Metcalf it was combine nonsense; this time it’s an injury. I think the upside here is a top-5 receiver in the league, and that’s worth any sort of gamble you might want to take at pick 5 in a draft where numbers 1-9 are all basically interchangeable. Depending on landing spot I might take him over or beneath London, but when was the last time an Alabama skill position player (besides Tua) really disappointed versus a Pac-12 receiver?
9. Drake London, WR, USC
Football-only, the Drake London draft situation reminds me of Henry Ruggs’s draft situation, in the sense he rose in the actual NFL mocks just as he started to fall in dynasty drafts. He’s the converse of Ruggs and Williams in practice, which puts him below Jameson, simply because the big plays could be sparing and the touchdowns, while potentially plentiful, will be QB-dependent. I just don’t feel strongly about him hitting his DeAndre Hopkins upside; if he does, good for him. This is the last guy in the top tier, imho. It’s quite a top tier, and London being at nine should not be taken as shade. He’s good. This draft is defined by good. Until now.
10. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
And then there’s Kenny Pickett. From the sound of it, Pickett is the only quarterback who’s almost certain to start week 1, though I’d be incredible surprised if Willis didn’t, because his running ability should be able to make a team competitive if they build properly around it. I guess people mean from a generic scheme suggestion, but the broader point is that Pickett should be a 2022 starter in a Superflex league, which makes him valuable, and someone in your league probably sees him through rose-colored glasses so I’d still bite now, even if I barely have him over…
11. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinatti
Unlike the running back group, which has remained somewhat clumped, the quarterback class has started to resolve itself before the draft. It seems likely that teams who need a day one starter are going to go with Willis or Pickett, but that Ridder is the next best candidate to do so. Even if he does, this is basically drafting him at his peak; he could stand to fall a bit if he’s clearly drafted as a backup. The Lions at the end of the first round or top of the second would be a best-case scenario.
12. George Pickens, WR, Georgia
I’ve come around to the idea of Pickens being slightly ahead of the largely interchangeable second-round wide receiver group, and without clarity on the situation beyond the top three quarterbacks I’d fill him in as the likely wisest first-round bookend. There’s talent to burn and he is an avid and accomplished blocker; these things keep you on the field, and availability is the best ability, so best not to overthink it.
Second/third round (the first half at least) targets
Until I know landing situations, I’m just going to keep people in buckets right now. I’ve found my rookie drafts have pretty consistently quality picks until the middle of the third round, at a fair consistent value proposition, at which point the options fall off a cliff. Here are, in listed by position, the players leading up to the cliff.
Quarterbacks: Sam Howell, Matt Corral and Carson Strong
Say what you want about quarterbacks drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, but they’re clearly going to get a chance at some point, and if it’s sooner rather than later you can leverage whatever their ceiling potential to make a deal, especially during bye weeks when owners are desperate for live arms. Also all these guys could legitimately be good at football, but they’re at the back end of the QB carousel for a reason, even if I love Howell’s running ability in theory. Really you just hope the Saints draft one of them and, if so, look for him at the top of the (fantasy) second round. If he’s gone, even better, because a better player fell to you. But at this point, he’s worth the risk.
Strong might be good if his body allows him to play in the NFL but it might not. He’s a late second/third round target, but with an enticing ceiling. Nice value play.
Running backs: James Cook, Rachaad White, Zamir White, Brian Robinson and Kyren Williams
They could be stars. You never know. In the second round, they’re worth it. I don’t hate that James Cook is Dalvin’s brother, or that he went to Georgia. I have them listed in the order I’d take them, starting as soon as pick 13 or even above Pickens, depending on landing spot. The gap between the Whites is notable.
Wide receivers: Skyy Moore, Jahan Dotson, Christian Watson, David Bell and Justyn Ross
There’s usually one receiver taken near the top of the (dynasty) second round who ends up being a first-round talent. In my league’s case it was first terry McLaurin, then Deebo Samuel, with Elijah Moore the representing the best candidate from last year and Skyy Moore and George Pickens perhaps standing in as the most obvious heirs apparent, if Pickens falls. Or is it Jahan Dotson and Christian Watson? Or David Bell and Justyn Ross?
If anyone has said a truly bad word about any of these guys in the draft previews I’ve heard I must have missed it; perhaps they’re just avoiding the scrutiny that falls on the more deliciously projectable players, or maybe they’ve just got an airtight games in a college football atmosphere that reliably churns out great receivers. I’m leaning toward the latter. I have them listed roughly in the order I feel about them but literally it’s the same denomination of lottery ticket, with the exact same potential prizes. They’re all second rounders for me.
Tight ends: Trey McBride and Jalen Wydermyer
Hard to say much about these guys except they’re the only two. I’m not a big rookie tight ends guy—I like to pick them up after two meh seasons, because it takes at least that long for most of them to figure everything out. They’re both third rounders for me, but I might actually attempt to trade into the third in my main draft to grab one at that price. The world needs ditch-diggers too.