PFF Staff Pre-Draft Dynasty Rookie Mock
In my 15 years of playing dynasty fantasy football, I have found that it is a useful practice to create rookie rankings at various points during the draft process as different information becomes available. There are three primary demarcations during draft season that I use as barometers for the value I ultimately put on a player come the summer and actual rookie drafts: prior to the NFL combine, before the NFL draft, and after the NFL draft.
Pre-combine rookie rankings will often look wildly different than final rankings, but knowing how you felt about a player based purely on his game tape is a helpful resource as we make our way through the current “season of misinformation,” where agents and teams leak false reports for the benefit of their clients or change the consensus on players that they hope to see fall to them in the draft.
The combine and pro day process helps confirm or deny what we have seen on tape. By creating rankings based on a combination of our tape study, college statistics, and physical measurements, we are creating a valuation based solely on a player’s talent. One of the core principles of my dynasty strategy is that talent will win out over situation long term. While we obviously must consider the circumstances that each of these players enters given the team that drafts them, pre-draft rankings are an excellent means of keeping an impartial perspective following the rookie hysteria that comes after these rookies hold up their shiny new uniforms each spring.
Thus, twelve of PFF’s finest have come together to provide you with a four round, 12 team, pre-draft, dynasty rookie mock. Participants were instructed to treat this as an existing dynasty league since it was not a snake draft. This will be a valuable resource as you move closer to your actual rookie drafts, and I highly recommend referencing it as you create your own rankings after we find out where all these prospects will be playing on Sundays.
After each pick, the respective writer provides some reasoning for their selection. At the end of the post, I highlight some of my favorite value picks.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins has a Calvin Johnson-esque skill set and an ability to essentially do everything. His fantasy ceiling is elite, and he’s almost guaranteed to make an instant impact.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
With Watkins gone, Mike Evans was the optimal pick at 1.02. His size/speed combination is incredible, and oh yeah, he is a very good football player to boot.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Top running back available, probably the only guy with a realistic shot to go in the first round on Thursday.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Louisiana State
After Watkins and Evans, there are a bunch of players I feel have similar values. I side with Beckham here because of his big play potential. He was very durable in college despite being a bit small.
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
With my number one running back and top three receivers off the board, I can’t pass up on Robinson, who is set to dispel the notion that B1G receivers can’t succeed at the next level after piling up stats and flashing elite ability with the ball in his hands in Happy Valley.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
While I believe two other available wide receivers are superior players right now, this is of course a dynasty league. Brandin Cooks has the speed and lateral agility to be play-maker and higher fantasy scorer in the right offense. Cooks will never have a huge catch radius and he needs to clean up his route running, but he is already everything that Tavon Austin is and more. Unlike Austin, he has displayed the ability to win on vertical routes when he is NOT double-teamed. The upside is there if Cooks is drafted into the right situation
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
I personally like to build a dynasty team through quarterbacks and tight ends. With no ‘can’t miss’ prospects at quarterback, I’m going with the top tight end prospect in this year’s draft. Ebron is a better move tight end than blocker and will create mismatches. Not a complete package but soon could be.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
I have to go with the upside QB. The best WR’s, RB, & TE are off the board, and I have 12 picks before my next one, so I had to be the guy to take Johnny Football. Chances are he’s going to a bad team, and chances are he’s going to play early. He’s also got potential to score points with his legs, and teams have had time to study tape and are backing off both Bortles and Bridgewater, but haven’t done so with Manziel.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
I’ve been vocal in my support for Bridgewater as the #1 QB in the class, and once the pass-catching talent had been picked ahead of me I felt obliged to take him here. I’m not a fan of taking rookie RBs in the earlier rounds of rookie drafts as their careers are short and the ability to find good ones in later rounds is also high, so a future franchise QB had to be my pick.
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Mason displays good vision, patience and the ability to be decisive in the hole. He runs with good power for his size and finishes runs well. He also projects as a player who can catch the ball out of the backfield, essential in today’s NFL. I’m very happy to land him this late in the round.
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Kudos to Nate on the Tre Mason pick. I’m really high on him, and I was hoping I’d land him. Also, I’d like to thank Gary and Ross for wasting their picks on QBs so I could even get a sniff of a guy as talented as Mason. Even still, I think Ka’Deem Carey is a splendid consolation prize. I know I should be scared away by his poor 40 time, but he passed my eye test on the field, so I’m betting on his talent winning out.
Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California
He’s fallen too far based on an injury affected final year, age, size concerns, and drops (not worried about that for sure). If he falls in the 1st round and winds up on a better NFL team, all the better. He’s solid/safe pick at the end of the 1st.
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Amaro comes from a basketball background and plays a lot like an oversized (and slow) wide receiver. He makes up for a lack of speed with a complete ability to dominate at the point of the catch. It’s actually very close for me between Ebron and Amaro for fantasy purposes (though both are very different types of players).
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Some have Matthews as their top receiver for fantasy reasons. Getting him in the second round is a steal, but only if he ends up in a good situation. Will be an instant contributor.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
There are some flaws to his game, but has every physical tool you look for in an NFL wide receiver.
Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Adams had a tremendously productive career that may have been overlooked somewhat at Fresno St. He has good size and athleticism. The Panthers have been scouting him heavily, and if he lands there, he would become a first-round value.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
Prior to being dismissed from Georgia for a weapons related arrest, Crowell took the best conference in the country by storm on his way to SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Character concerns still exist, but the most naturally talented back in the draft is too good to pass up in the middle of the second round.
Martivis Bryant, WR, Clemson
This one came down to Bryant or Moncrief, and I believe that over time Bryant will add enough bulk to his frame to have similar upside to Moncrief. Byrant has as much upside as any wide receiver in this draft, outside of Watkins and Evans. He reminds me of AJ Green-lite right now, and has that same smooth long explosive stride after the catch. Many times on film he also displayed the ability to go up and catch the ball at its high point.
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Like I stated before, I like building dynasty teams through QB’s and TE’s. With Ebron taken in the first, I take the QB with the highest ceiling, realizing I can’t count on him to contribute immediately.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
This a very deep draft class for wide receivers, so someone is going to slip through the cracks. Moncrief has great size, speed, and body control, but played for a team that doesn’t get the level of publicity some others do so he isn’t a household name. He has nice hands and seems to leave defenders in the dust when making his breaks. He’s the complete package and will be a steal for an NFL team in the second round.
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
He’s been highly productive in his two years as a starter in college and although he lacks any elite attribute he does lots of things well.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Louisiana State
Hill is a big bruising runner who could be a TD machine with the right team at the next level. He’s also a pretty good athlete for his size and could have solid fantasy value, even in a timeshare.
Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
Nate sniped me for the second round in a row by grabbing the SEC running back I was coveting. That means I had to settle for Charles Sims. Sims has been praised for his pass-catching skills as well as his blocking ability, so he’s versatile enough to stay on the field a ton if he lands in the right situation. You have to love that he’s been compared favorably to Matt Forte.
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Was set to go Crowell or Sankey. Went with one of my favorite WRs at the end of the 2nd. He is a great fit for a lot of teams, can get downfield, is big, and his blocking will help him play right away.
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
This kid is extremely dynamic, but isn’t just a big play guy. He showed a willingness to run between the tackles at Baylor, and has the ability to bounce runs from inside to out. He reminds me of a poor man’s Giovanni Bernard, sans the pass-catching ability.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
ASJ could prove to be one of the best tight ends in this class when given the opportunity. He played at a heavier weight than he would have liked because of Washington’s style, but he has since cut down and will be a dangerous force in the red zone right away.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Here’s hoping he turns into this year’s Ellington like some have predicted.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Louisiana State
With the Landry pick, I’m completing my LSU WR set. He performed poorly at the combine, and his poor 40-yard time there is the only reason he’s available on the third round of this draft. He has been frequently compared to Anquan Boldin because of his toughness.
Terrance West, RB, Towson
West has the size/speed combo to be an every down back at the next level. He also shows surprisingly soft hands for a guy his size, and absolutely dominated statistically at the D1-AA level.
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Ellington is easily one of my favorite semi-sleepers in this draft (players projected to go on day two). If it weren’t for his size and usage within South Carolina’s offense, Ellington would be a first-round pick. He is tough and fights for every catch when lined up on the outside, and his size won’t limit him to slut duties. He best reminds me of Steve Smith. He is smart and has a great football IQ to go along with his strength and explosion.
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Getting a potential first-year starter this late in a rookie dynasty draft is a no-brainer.
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
Williams was the definition of a workhorse in his senior season, and could be a nice 1st & 2nd down RB in the NFL. He doesn’t have good hands, which is a concern. Also have to be concerned about his durability, but he’s got a nice frame (5’11, 230), and could do well in an offense that likes to pound the ball.
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
A tidy pass catcher, who at 6’0″ and 170-175lbs lacks the size currently to be a top NFL receiver. He’ll need to add some bulk, but if he was already 200+ lbs I‘d be drafting him before the end of the 3rd round.
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Derek Carr put up monster numbers in college against weak competition but struggled in his final game against an athletic USC defense. He’s shown good arm strength, accuracy and is a good athlete. His collegiate numbers are definitely inflated but he’s still an outstanding value at this point in the draft.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern
Jerick McKinnon is far from your traditional running back. He will be a project since he played several positions in college, including option quarterback in a gimmicky scheme, but he has the potential to develop into a valuable weapon if he lands with a team willing to work with him. Yes, he played at a small school against lower-level competition, but he convinced me when I watched him get the best of an SEC defense on two different occasions.
Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford
Not too many exciting RBs left this late but was very happy to go with a strong sleeper big running back in Gaffney, who is agile and fast for is size.
Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida
Not a burner, but Johnson has good vision and is capable of making one cut and going. He has decent hands, and proved to be a nice weapon out of the backfield for Blake Bortles. If I had to make a pro comparison, I’d say he resembles Bernard Pierce in some ways.
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
A risk, but a risk worth taking in the fourth round. Lyerla has the talent to be a top-tier tight end, but he has a lot of work to do to redeem himself after some off-field issues.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Waffled between him and another player, but in the 4th round, you’re likely swinging for upside, which he certainly has.
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
The hope with De’Anthony Thomas is that he can produce enough as a receiving back to become useful in fantasy because he is too small to see a significant workload and is overmatched as a run blocker.
Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
The former Wisconsin Badger validated his solid production at Wisconsin with a 4.44 40-time and an impressive 6.80 3-cone drill at the combine. He has good, not great size (6’1” 195), but is a solid lottery ticket at this point in the draft.
Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
With Street, I complete my strategy which was to go best player available with every pick AND to avoid RBs at all costs. I’ve learned that it is very difficult to predict a RB’s role before the draft, so I wanted to avoid them. Street is my favorite late-round (5-7) “sleeper” at WR in this draft because he displays incredible body control in the air and the ability to win on vertical routes. What is most unique about his game is his quickness for his size. He lacks straight-line speed.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Coleman is big and strong but still needs some polishing. Saw his play actually drop in 2013 but was playing through a knee injury. Ideally would develop in to a red zone target.
James White, RB, Wisconsin
Small and quick, but not particularly fast. Had a very nice senior season with almost 1,500 rushing yards and 39 receptions. He is a small back, but handled the load well last season. Had two seasons with over 1,000 yards, and averaged 6.4 YPC or more in three of his four seasons, and has above average vision. Only started 14 games in his career, but had almost 4,700 yards from scrimmage and 48 touchdowns. He was overshadowed by a couple of other backs, but clearly has talent to succeed.
Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State
Grice has good size for a player who is so versatile and flashes good hands. He’s an intriguing prospect with big play ability, which I like taking a risk on later in rookie drafts, especially when we’re talking running back.
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Josey showed impressive quickness at the college level. I’m not sure he’s big enough to take the NFL pounding but at this point I’d rather take a chance on a player with speed.
Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
Jeremy Gallon hauled in 89 catches for a school-record 1,373 receiving yards during his senior season. Of course, those numbers include the fluke-of-all-fluke games when he caught 14 passes for 369 yards against Indiana. He’ll probably never be more than a slot guy since he comes in at a diminutive 5’7″, plus he lacks elite speed. He is adept at going up and fighting for the ball despite his size, and oh yeah, did I mention he once had 369 receiving yards in one game?
Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley State
Janis is a big, fast, agile receiver who is definitely worth a stab with the last pick of the rookie draft. Main worry is that he’ll be picked so late in the NFL draft, if at all, that he won’t get an opportunity for a while. Still a worthwhile low cost investment.
Pat and Josh got what could end up being top 5 wide receivers in this class at the back end of the first (Marqise Lee) and the top of the second (Jordan Matthews). Rewind one year and Lee was considered as an elite prospect right next to Sammy Watkins coming off of a 118 reception sophomore season. After a nagging knee injury slowed him down in 2013, he could be this year’s version of Keenan Allen. Matthews consistently dominated statistically in the best conference in the country as the only offensive threat on his team. He also ran in the 4.4’s at the combine and has ideal size.
I also love the value that Nate got in Jeremy Hill, who has the potential to be the best back in this class after averaging over 6.0 yards per carry in the SEC, at 2.10. Many view Hill as a superior prospect to fellow bruiser Carlos Hyde. Soon after, Josh struck again as he nabbed what could be the steal of the draft in Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Off-field and injury concerns have overshadowed an on-field skill set and physical profile reminiscent of Rob Gronkowski. I doubt he lasts until the third round of rookie drafts after the NFL draft.
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