Overvalued and Undervalued Rookies for Fantasy Football

Rookie drafts are going on now and plenty more to come leading up to the start of the NFL season in September. Rookie fever is high right now, which leads to overhype and other rookies get pushed down for various reasons and you can take advantage of undervalued rookies. In dynasty leagues, draft your guys, but I want to highlight a few overhyped rookies and a few that are undervalued right now.

*ADP values come from RotoViz TriFlex FFPC for 12-team Superflex dynasty drafts over the last 30 days

Overhyped - Najee Harris – SF ADP 3.3 (RB8)

Najee Harris is arguably the top RB of the 2021 class, and he was the first RB drafted at pick 24 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are known for having a strong run game, except last year the Steelers finished second to last at rushing and run blocking, according to PFF. Harris is a better prospect than James Conner, who was the Steelers starter in 2020 and is now with the Arizona Cardinals. The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 starting center Maurkice Pouncey retired, and Alejandro Villanueva (LT) and Matt Feiler (G) left in free agency. There is uncertainty with how the offensive line will perform this season under the new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. Ben Roethlisberger is 39 years old this season, and his healing throwing arm did look great last season. This could be his last season, and the Steelers have not addressed a QB succession play yet with Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins Jr., and Joshua Dobbs. Najee Harris projects to be a great RB, but in dynasty, I am concerned about what the Steelers offense will look like when Big Ben retires. Harris is already 23 years old, which can be seen as a negative for dynasty rookie running backs. In a startup dynasty draft, Najee Harris being selected as the 8th RB off the board is too soon. That is the rookie fever spiking right now.

Overhyped - Zach Wilson – SF ADP 5.6 (QB17)

Zach Wilson was the second quarterback drafted with the second pick to the New York Jets. Wilson had a career season as a junior at BYU in 2020. He was not considered a top QB prospect going into his junior year, but he balled out and skyrocketed up the draft projections, and landed as the 2nd draft pick! A significant concern of profiling Wilson is the level of competition he played against at BYU. It is hard to say how he will project in the NFL against elite athletes. Wilson is known for his massive, gunslinging arm, which will help in the NFL, but he will need to improve his mechanics to improve accuracy and make good, quick decisions. Zach Wilson will only be 22 years old when the season starts, which is great for a dynasty QB. However, the New York Jets have not supported a QB in fantasy in a long time. The skill players are young, and not proven yet, so hopefully, they develop quickly with Wilson. I do not have faith in the Jets organization, even with their new coaching staff, until they prove it. Even with his youth in dynasty, at that draft capital, I would rather draft another position and invest in a better QB sooner, or wait and draft a QB that I think is better than Wilson at a later pick with value. There isn't value in selecting Zach Wilson in the mid-fifth round as the QB17.

Overhyped – Jaylen Waddle – SF ADP 7.2 (WR23)

Jaylen Waddle was the 2nd WR drafted at the 6th pick by the Miami Dolphins. Waddle’s junior season was cut short after six games due to an ankle injury. However, Waddle is known for being an explosive wide receiver. Several analysts want to compare him to Tyreek Hill because he is shorter (5’ 9”) and extremely fast. However, Tua Tagovailoa does not have the same skill set as Patrick Mahomes, so we will see how productive Waddle can be in the Dolphins offense. The Dolphins have several dynamic skill players between Will Fuller, Mike Gesicki, and Jaylen Waddle. DeVante Parker is not known for speed, but he is a large WR and impactful in the redzone. Waddle will need at least 75+ targets and maximize his speed for big plays to have a breakout rookie season. Waddle has the potential to be a top WR within the next few years but could be a boom/bust WR depending on Tua’s development too. Waddle is a good player to have on your dynasty roster, but I am not drafting him at WR23. There are plenty of young WRs on more proven offenses that I would draft first. I am fading the hype, but not the player if falls to a more reasonable spot in your draft.

Undervalued – Trey Lance – SF ADP 4.3 (QB14)

Trey Lance was the 3rd QB selected at the 3rd pick by the San Francisco 49ers. They traded up to get to that spot to get their QB. Lance has been deemed a “project QB” by some due to his lack of games (18) and playing in the FCS. However, he has great measurables and is a mobile QB. Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers head coach, is known as an offensive guru but his scheme can take time to learn. At this point, we do not know if Trey Lance will be the starting QB Week 1 or play at all his rookie season. So how could he be undervalued at QB14 if he might not even play this season? I am not comparing him to Patrick Mahomes, but Mahomes only played the last game of his rookie season and he was the dynasty QB1 going into 3rd season last year. Trey Lance just turned 21 years old on May 9th! I look at Trey Lance as a future investment that I expect to be able to cash in within two years. Whenever Lance does play he will be surrounded by versatile, talented skill players: George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert, and Trey Sermon. If I can draft Trey Lance in the early 3rd round or even late 2nd round I can still find value at other spots in my draft, and now I have potential future gold on my roster that I can start for at least a decade.

Undervalued – Javonte Williams – SF ADP 5.4 (RB20)

Javonte Williams was selected early in the 2nd round at the 35th overall pick by the Denver Broncos. Williams is considered a complete three-down RB and just turned 21 years old at the end of April. It appears that Williams will share the backfield with Melvin Gordon at Denver for the 2021 season. After this season, Melvin Gordon is a free agent, and he is not expected to re-sign with the Broncos for 2022. Williams would be the clear starter going into his second season at just 22 years old. The Broncos were the 11th best graded rushing offense in 2020, according to PFF. They will be even better this year and Williams will be a significant contributor. The Broncos have plenty of skill in their WR group too. Lock or Bridgewater just needs to provide some competent QB play and that offense will be electric. Williams may not return RB2 value in 2021 if he playing behind Gordon, but once he is the starter in 2022 he will have RB1 potential for years to come and will only be 25 years old at the end of his rookie contract. If you think Williams could be an RB1 in 2022 and beyond then drafting him in the 4th round of your dynasty startup is a steal.

Undervalued – Trey Sermon – SF ADP 7.11 (RB26)

Trey Sermon is the latest draft pick on this list being selected in the 3rd round with the 88th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers. Sermon is not considered an elite RB in this rookie class, but still a very good RB. He was drafted into a great rushing offense too. Many are concerned about how many RBs are on the 49ers roster right now. However, most of those running backs will be free agents in 2022 and the notable RBs left will be Sermon and Elijah Mitchell (drafted in the 6th round this year). In 2022, Trey Sermon is in line to receive the bulk of RB touches. The 49ers are projected to be one of the top offenses for the next several seasons with QB Trey Lance, TE George Kittle, WR Deebo Samuel, and WR Brandon Aiyuk. Sermon landed in a great situation. He may not give you a lot of production this season as the 2nd or 3rd string RB on his team, but he will add a lot of production to your dynasty roster in 2022. The current crowded 49ers backfield is pushing Sermon down to RB3 territory when he should be a late RB2 with his expected jump in workload in 2022.

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