Every year there are a few rookies who come in and make a big splash in fantasy. I expect this season to be no different. Who will these rookies be is the big question? I am here to go over a few players who have a real shot at impacting your fantasy roster this season! Let’s dive in and find that impact rookie to draft in your fantasy football draft from among all the rookies!
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Fantasy Football Rookies: Impact Rookies to Draft for 2021
Najee Harris (RB) Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee Harris is going to make an impact here in 2021. Drafted in the first round of the entry draft he is in line for a lead role in Pittsburgh. There is little competition for carries or targets in this offense. At Alabama, he showed the ability to be a threat on the ground, and in the passing game, I expect the Steelers to use him in all fascinates of the game. He will be in line for close to 250 touches this season, giving him the opportunity to produce great fantasy numbers. Along with this, he is on an offense that should be very good and I expect them to have a large number of touchdowns. He will be in line for a good portion there as well. An RB1 finish is not out of the question for Harris this season, although I expect more of an RB2 finish.
Currently, Najee is being drafted as the RB10 in redraft, at an average of pick 14. This is fair value for a guy who should see enough volume to be a top 12 back. He will see plenty of opportunities to find the end zone and should be involved in the passing game as well. The only concern will be how the offensive line will play, so far in the preseason, they have looked solid. I would start taking him at the end of the 1st round or the beginning of the 2nd in 1QB leagues.
Najee Harris just turned a short gain into this ridiculous run pic.twitter.com/ivf6mPhs6m
— Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL) August 22, 2021
Kyle Pitts (TE) Atlanta Falcons
This generational tight end who was draft 4th overall is going to see a large workload in 2021. The Falcons went all-in on Kyle Pitts this year when they decided to move on from Julio Jones this offseason via trade. The team has stated that Pitts will line up all over the field and be used as a weapon more than a traditional tight end. Pitts could very well see over 100 targets in this offense who will be throwing a lot. Aside from Calvin Ridley, the Falcons have no real proven outside threat and an unproven run game. Everything adds up to create a perfect situation to see Pitts explode onto the scene and have a historic season. I expect a TE1 finish this season out of Pitts, one of the best rookies to draft this year.
Currently, Pitts is being selected as the TE4, at an average of pick 50 in redraft. This is a touch high for me as you are taking him at the end of the fourth round or early in the fifth. I like the opportunity that Pitts will see this season however in this range there are other guys who could be a better option for your team. If you really believe in Pitts or just want that one share you will need to be aggressive and look to add him at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th Round.
Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR) Detroit Lions
Amon-Ra St. Brown was selected in the fourth round this year out of USC. He enters a wide receiver room that has no proven option. With a new coaching staff, new quarterback, and mostly all new wide receivers, he has a great opportunity to make an impact this season. He has done that so far in camp and the preseason impressing the coaches and fellow players. St. Brown has carved out a large role working out of the slot for the Lions. This is great news for him as a fantasy asset. New quarterback Jared Goff loves to target the slot and he has shown great chemistry with St. Brown already. The team will be in many negative game scripts this season leading to a large passing volume. So I expect a large portion to go to St. Brown, this will lead to a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3 finish.
Currently, Amon-Ra is being drafted as the WR68, at an average of pick 191 in redraft. I expect this to climb some over the next few days as cuts are made. However this is great value to me, he is at least the second option in the passing game in Detroit. How many possible top 36 wide receivers are you going to find this late in redraft. I am comfortable taking St. Brown in starting as early as the 13th round and on. He has one of the clearer paths to fantasy football relevancy among the rookies to draft this year.
Well hello Amon- Ra St. Brown
— Troy King (@TKingMode) August 9, 2021
Javonte Williams (RB) Denver Broncos
A guy many people have looked over as a possible contributor all offseason. This was understandable as the Broncos roster Melvin Gordon who has proven he can be a true lead back in the past. However, Javonte Williams has taken advantage of Gordon’s absence at camp and made a push for a larger role. Williams has shown great burst, vision, and willingness to block in the preseason games and camp. He was sat in the preseason finale, which is big news to me he has proven enough to earn this time off. I expect him to take over a large portion of the work by week 4 or 5. Gordon finished as an RB18 in PPR last season so an RB2 finish is not out of the question if Williams wins the role sooner rather than later.
Javonte is being drafted as the RB27, at an average of pick 63 in redraft. This is fair value to me, this is right around where I expect to see him finish this season. As a result, I am more than fine taking him in the middle of the 5thround or the beginning of the 6th. If you hold an early pick, select him in the 5th Round as he will not make it back to you in the 6th in most leagues. Keep an eye on cuts and trades this week though, if Gordon happens to be traded his ADP will skyrocket. If that happens, start targeting him in the third round as one of the highest-upside fantasy football rookies to draft.
Trevor Lawrence (QB) Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence seems like an obvious answer here. However, he should be talked about. Landing in Jacksonville with new head coach Urban Meyer seems like a great fit to me. The team already has a ton of playmakers on offense. James Robinson, D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marvin Jones to name a few. He has already shown great chemistry with Jones and Shenault, unfortunately, Chark has been injured and their connection may take some time. Lawrence will get an opportunity to throw a lot as the Jaguars’ defense has not improved greatly. There will be bumps in the road but I think a Justin Herbert type season should be in consideration here. Lawrence is a generational talent and with the weapons he has, a QB1 season is well within reach.
Trevor is being selected as the QB15, at an average pick of 129 in redraft. This is fair value to me. He has top 12 upside for sure this season however he also has a bust factor built-in as a rookie quarterback. So when selecting him we have to remember that. Start targeting him in the latter part of round 9 or round 10. The payoff could be huge getting a possible QB1 in the 10th round in 1QB is a good advantage. It allows you to build up depth in all your skill positions, this is a good formula for success.
Nico Collins (WR) Houston Texans
Nico Collins is a big-bodied receiver who was underutilized at Michigan. He has tremendous ability to box out defenders and win contested throws. The Texans realized this very quickly in camp and he has shot up the depth chart. Outside of Brandin Cooks, the Texans have little proven talent at the wide receiver position. This has allowed Collins to work his way up to what appears to be the second option in this passing game. This is great news for his fantasy outlook, as the Texans will have a ton of negative game scripts this season. Whether it’s Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills or some combination of them, Collins will be seeing a large target share. Especially in the red zone, this is huge for fantasy production. A high-end WR3 finish is his ceiling but is very obtainable.
Nico is being selected as the WR83, at an average of pick 179 in redraft. In many leagues, this is un-draft or the last round of the draft. This could be a huge value and I am all in on adding him at this price. He has a legitimate chance to be a top36 wide receiver this year. He is currently set up to be the second option in the passing game behind Brandin Cooks. However, we could see Cooks traded this season if the Texans stumble early. This would guarantee Collins a top 36 finish, start targeting him in the 14th or 15th round of your drafts. You will not regret moving on him now, you do not want to be too late.
DeVonta Smith (WR) Philadelphia Eagles
This former Heisman winner landed in a perfect situation to become the lead guy. The Eagles have no proven option at the wide receiver position. Although DeVonta Smith has battled injuries through camp we have seen him in some game action, and he looked as good as ever. He is carrying over what he did in college to the NFL with no hiccups. His routes are crisp leaving defenders reaching for air, and has shown good burst and speed. Smith should become Hurts’ favorite target and should see over 100 targets this season. Due to this, he will have the best chance to reproduce what Justin Jefferson did last season. The biggest concern here will be his health, can he stay healthy all year. If he can do this a WR2 finish is well within reach for Smith.
Currently, Smith is being selected as the WR33, at an average pick of 84 in redraft. This is a solid value for the top target on his team. Smith is in line for a huge workload and has WR2 upside. As a result, you should start targeting him in the 7th round this year. This is a potential league winner-type pick. How many wide receiver ones are around in these rounds, not too many. So that this risk and you’ll see the reward later this season.
Trey Sermon (RB) San Fransisco 49ers
Landing in San Fransisco gives Sermon a clear path to fantasy relevancy. Trey Sermon is a solid downhill runner who runs hard and does well in the passing game. We have seen Kyle Shanahan make any running back relevant week in and week out with his great scheme. This will be no different here, Sermon will get chances to produce in 2021. This room is very crowded however outside Mostert most of these guys are unproven as lead backs. However, Mostert has proven that he struggles to stay healthy for a full season, so it is only a matter of time for Sermon. With a team expected to score a lot, there should be plenty of touchdowns to go around here as well. He could see RB2 upside if Mostert goes down, if not he will likely finish in RB4 territory with a few boom weeks.
Sermon is being drafted as the RB32, at an average pick of 83 in redraft. He could be a huge value here as he is going around guys in crowded backfields. Of these players, I feel like he has the best chance at taking over a lead role this season and could have RB2 upside at some point this year. This draft position could help win you a league however there is a ton of risk involved here. In order to acquire him you looking at drafting him in the 7th round of many drafts. Sermon has the upside that many rookies do not have this fantasy football season and that makes him the rookie to target in your draft.
Elijah Moore (WR) New York Jets
Elijah Moore was very impressive at Ole Miss and he has carried that over to camp this year. Unfortunately, he sustained an injury and we haven’t seen him in-game action yet. However, the coaching staff and beat reporters can not stop talking about him and how impressive he has looked. Where there is smoke there is fire! Moore has always shown an ability to run good routes and create separation along with a home-run ability. He could easily be in line for close to 100 targets this season. The Jets will be in a lot of passing situations in 2021, this will help Moore, the question will be if he can score enough touchdowns to be a top wide receiver option. He is a huge boom or bust play in 2021 with a WR2 ceiling is within reach however a low-end WR4 as a floor.
Currently, Moore is being selected as the WR60, at an average pick of 149 in redraft. This could be a great value on Moore. You need to target him in the 11th- 12th rounds, at this point you should be shooting for upside. Moore carries some of the highest upside of any of the rookies in these rounds of your fantasy football draft. With the potential to be a top-two target on his team, he could see close to 80 targets in year one. Moore could have one of the best seasons of any of the rookies to draft this fantasy football season.
Elijah Moore crossing up Steve Nelson pic.twitter.com/CGb7VJUgXz
— Gayle Saunders (@EagleSessions) August 24, 2021
Ja’Marr Chase (WR) Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals opted to add Ja’Marr Chase over an offensive lineman with the 5th pick in the draft this season. This paired him with his old college teammate Joe Burrow. Even with the depth at the position, Chase should be able to carve out a role in 2021. Early on in camp, he has lined up primarily outside opposite of Higgins. Last season the Bengals had three players with close to 100 targets, I expect the same this year. Chase brings physicality to the room and the ability to make a huge play at any given moment. He has struggled early on in camp, however, he hasn’t played football in over a year. He will work through this and be fine for 2021. Finishing as a high-end WR3 is well within reach for Chase, with a WR2 ceiling making him one of the better rookies to draft.
Chase is being drafted as the WR25, at an average pick of 67 in redraft. This is fair value however a touch too rich for me. I love everything Chase is going to bring to the Bengals. However this season I can see him struggling, due to having a full year off from football. With two other great options in the passing game, it’s hard to see him produce anything more than a low-end WR2 season at his ceiling. So you need to target him at the end of the 5th or early 6th round to acquire him. There are other rookies I would want in this area that have just as much or more fantasy football upside and safer floors.
— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) August 23, 2021
Justin Fields (QB) Chicago Bears QB17 pick: 141
Michael Carter (RB) New York Jets RB35 pick: 90
Rashod Bateman (WR) Baltimore Ravens WR66 pick: 182
Jaylen Waddle (WR) Miami Dolphins WR46 pick: 115
Amari Rodgers (WR) Green Bay Packers WR111 pick: 322
Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR) Carolina Panthers WR65 pick: 180
Rondale Moore (WR) Arizona Cardinals WR62 pick: 174
Dyami Brown (WR) Washington Football Team WR117 pick: 342
Pat Freiermuth (TE) Pittsburgh Steelers TE20 pick: 176
Jacob Harris (TE) Los Angeles Rams Undrafted