I’m not a huge college football fan. I like college football. I just don’t have the time to dig deep into it and look at depth charts and figure out how the skills of those thousands of players might one day translate into fantasy points in the NFL. When the college and NFL seasons come to an end, I, like many other fantasy football prognosticators start digging into the incoming rookie class and begin assessing their potential for dynasty fantasy football. I do this with relatively minimal knowledge of their skill sets outside of the big school, big name, award winners that everybody knows.
I typically complete my initial rankings after the Senior Bowl and before the NFL Combine. As a result, I tend to be a little higher on Seniors than many others initially. As I said, I don’t follow college football closely, so aside from the very top of the class; I’m unfamiliar with many of the names early in the process. My base of knowledge for fantasy comes from consuming massive amounts of information. I read everything I can get my eyes on from as many different sources as possible. I also watch a sickening number of highlights, lowlights, scouting reports and tape breakdown on YouTube.
All that content also affects my initial rankings. As a result, typically my earlier rankings are unintentionally more inline what many would consider “consensus” rankings. Then, as I go through the NFL offseason program and obtain more and more information and watch more film and read more scouting reports and consume more opinions on players, my rankings genuinely become my own and can frequently veer away from consensus. Which I will occasionally take a public verbal beating for, but I’ve never gone contrarian to get attention or deliver a hot take. I honestly believe in my rankings and can defend my position even if it is ranking 7th overall picks Kevin White and Mike Williams deep into the 30s in their respective draft classes.
Quarterbacks, for dynasty purposes anyway, I evaluate in a minimum 5-year window. Many quarterbacks sit for a year or two before they hit the field. Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three years until he took over to become a perennial QB1 in fantasy. At this point in the process, none of this year’s rookie QBs are projected to be week one starters. As you can see below, at no point in the process did my top 4 change at all.
Enough has been written about my top three quarterbacks, so I’ll spare you all of the cliches that you’ve already been hearing about each of them. Once we get past the top 3, I’m higher than Kyle Lauletta than most and was anticipating he would move up the ranks post NFL Draft. He landed in a great spot, but so did the three players I have ranked above him, so I couldn’t justify moving him up further. Lauletta is poised to learn for a year or two and take over for Eli when he moves on or retires and should have plenty of weapons right out of the box. He can use a year or two to get adjusted to the NFL game coming from a smaller school (like Joe Flacco and Carson Wentz before him) and should be a serviceable NFL starter after that.
Mason Rudolph kept climbing, as I became more impressed with him after each step in the process. Combine that with being less and less impressed with guys like Darnold and Allen, and Rudolph easily jumped them both for me post-draft. Pittsburgh is preparing for life without Big Ben, and Rudolph is already the most talented option behind him before he takes a professional snap.
Darnold’s propensity for turnovers scares me off. Fumbles and interceptions will hamper his career. I think of him as a lesser Andy Dalton. Making him a decent QB2 in superflex leagues or a reasonable bye week fill-in option in single QB leagues. My other and arguably, lazy narrative is that USC doesn’t produce NFL caliber offensive weapons. After Marcus Allen in 1982 and Carson Palmer in 2003, I challenge you to name another consistent fantasy producer from USC… I’ll wait.
I hate Josh Allen. Hated him more after the Senior Bowl. I hated him even more after the Combine. Then I found a way to hate him even more after the draft. The Bills have a shoddy offensive line, and he has no veterans to learn from. Allen has a strong arm, but he’s woefully inaccurate. Throwing in a windy, Buffalo snow storm isn’t going to make him more accurate, so I don’t care how much of a cannon he has. He also has one of the league’s worst receiver corps. I can’t find any reason for him to succeed and seven might be too high.
Logan Woodside from Toledo kept creeping up my list, and I like the landing spot behind Andy Dalton. Dalton is serviceable, but he’s not so talented that it’s unimaginable to see him lose his job sooner rather than later. Quarterback guru Mark Schofield likes Woodside and that’s good enough for me. He’s a must own for Dalton owners and a great late round grab, especially in superflex leagues. I didn’t want to do it, but given the Patriots history with backup quarterbacks, it was hard to omit Danny Etling, whoever he is. Once the Patriots made that selection, he immediately popped up on many people’s radars.