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Dynasty: Pre-combine/Pre-NFL Draft Rookie Rankings 2018


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I did this last year by posting my top25 rookies near the end of February, and every year I get a list going a little earlier and earlier in the year.  So here we are and I have a top25 that I wanted to share.  I haven't gotten to everyone on my list yet (and probably won't with the list continually growing) but this is what I have so far with probably a few surprises to some people.  If I'm missing anyone glaring please let me know.  I'll try my best to explain my ranking if you choose to ask about it, and please don't make me the only one that posts a ranking set, share if you want.  I always like to look at other rankings as well for things I may be missing.  Friendly reminder, I DO THIS FOR FUN and this is the order I view the players that I've watched as of this writing.  

My rankings are based on 2QB, 3RB, 3WR, 2TE .5ppr lineups so slightly different format. 

1.  Saquon Barkley - Tier 1 RB

2.  Ronald Jones II - Tier 2 RB

3.  Derrius Guice - Tier 2 RB

4.  Nick Chubb - Tier 2 RB

5.  Josh Rosen - Tier 1 QB

6.  Calvin Ridley - Tier 1 WR

7.  Sony Michel - Tier 2 RB

8.  Sam Darnold - Tier 1 QB

9.  Baker Mayfield - Tier 1 QB

10.  Christian Kirk - Tier 2 WR

11.  Michael Gallup - Tier 2 WR

12.  Josh Allen - Tier 1 QB

13.  Courtland Sutton - Tier 2 WR

14.  Equanimous St. Brown - Tier 2 WR

15.  John Kelly - Tier 3 RB

16.  Auden Tate - Tier 2 WR

17.  James Washington - Tier 2 WR

18.  Rashad Penny - Tier 3 RB

19.  Deontay Burnett - Tier 3 WR

20.  Royce Freeman - Tier 4 RB

21.  Bo Scarbough - Tier 4 RB

22.  Cedric Wilson - Tier 3 WR

23.  Daeshawn Hamilton - Tier 3 WR

24.  Josh Adams - Tier 4 RB

25.  Kerryon Johnson - Tier 4 RB

 

Others I've watched but didn't make my top25:  DJ Moore, Deon Cain, Dante Pettis, Simmie Cobbs, Kalen Ballage.  If I didn't list a guy, I haven't watch him yet.  Yes that includes all the TE's.  

My favorites of this top25 are Saquon Barkley, John Kelly, Michael Gallup, and Equanimeous St. Brown

 

https://forums.footballguys.com/forum/topic/754303-dynasty-pre-combine-pre-nfl-draft-rookie-rankings-2017/ - These were my rankings at this time last year.  I was really high on JuJu Smith-Schuster, low on John Ross (as some liked to criticize me for), and even though I listed Kareem Hunt and Cooper Kupp as favorites of mine, hindsight I was probably too cautious with them and kept pushing them down.  The biggest omission on that list from 2017 was Alvin Kamara who I had at 27 initially.  This year I'm trying to not push guys down my list as much when the doubts enter my mind.  Trying to trust my initial evaluation of the guy rather than try and be "cute" with who I put ahead of them.    

Ex. Michael Gallup.  He looks the part and I can't wait to see more of him.  He strikes me as a slightly smaller DT, both as a player and what his ceiling might be, with a Mohamed Sanu type of floor.  He's going to start climbing high in the process before the draft I'm betting.  

 

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This is great stuff, thanks for sharing!  I appreciate you putting your thinking out there for the rest of us to see and discuss.

I'm curious about two players in particular you seem to be much lower on than I am; Rashaad Penny and Royce Freeman.  May I ask, what is it about each of these players that has you feeling they are not so highly ranked?

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Thanks for the rankings.  I’m glad to see you also share the love for guys like Christian Kirk, John Kelly, and Michael Gallup.  I’m way higher on them than most people.  I can’t quite put Ronald Jones above Guice but I do have them in the same tier behind Barkley.  

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10 hours ago, steelers1080 said:

Interesting how low you are on James Washington. 

James Washington is a guy that looks pretty good for the most part, I have route running questions that are unanswered and ceiling questions.  I've said it on the board somewhere before, I think he's a poor mans Corey Coleman.  With that comparison and what I know so far, I think he goes in the early/mid 2nd round which seems about right for a guy ranked at 17 to me.  As always there are guys who will move up and down depending on their combine and then the draft, which if he shows really well with a good combine, he'll move up.  As of now this seems right.  

9 hours ago, Longtucky Lemmings said:

This is great stuff, thanks for sharing!  I appreciate you putting your thinking out there for the rest of us to see and discuss.

I'm curious about two players in particular you seem to be much lower on than I am; Rashaad Penny and Royce Freeman.  May I ask, what is it about each of these players that has you feeling they are not so highly ranked?

Penny is a guy I do like but he's just so average at everything it seems.  Production wise he's been outstanding, but he just looks so "blah" when I watched him.  Nothing really popped out.  My guess is with him playing a lot in the shotgun is what makes me doubt him, because when he wasn't, he looked pretty damn good.  In which case I'd have him between 10-15.  I think he's pretty scheme dependent, but guys don't draft people that don't fit their scheme's so I can easily see him moving up my board.  He and Kelly are in tier 3 by themselves for RB's and draft slot and combine performance will likely put one in front of the other, I just liked Kelly's all around game a little more.  

Freeman is very similar to Penny except I don't see the smoothness that Penny shows.  Also I felt that Penny had better feet for their first instinct.  For that reason I knocked him down a tier and am a little lower on him vs. Penny.  I couldn't justify putting them up with the top5 RB's I had because they just aren't as explosive/quick/talented in an all around manner, and I felt there was enough of a gap between Penny and Freeman to create that tier drop.  

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11 hours ago, Zyphros said:

James Washington is a guy that looks pretty good for the most part, I have route running questions that are unanswered and ceiling questions.  I've said it on the board somewhere before, I think he's a poor mans Corey Coleman.  With that comparison and what I know so far, I think he goes in the early/mid 2nd round which seems about right for a guy ranked at 17 to me.  As always there are guys who will move up and down depending on their combine and then the draft, which if he shows really well with a good combine, he'll move up.  As of now this seems right.  

Penny is a guy I do like but he's just so average at everything it seems.  Production wise he's been outstanding, but he just looks so "blah" when I watched him.  Nothing really popped out.  My guess is with him playing a lot in the shotgun is what makes me doubt him, because when he wasn't, he looked pretty damn good.  In which case I'd have him between 10-15.  I think he's pretty scheme dependent, but guys don't draft people that don't fit their scheme's so I can easily see him moving up my board.  He and Kelly are in tier 3 by themselves for RB's and draft slot and combine performance will likely put one in front of the other, I just liked Kelly's all around game a little more.  

Freeman is very similar to Penny except I don't see the smoothness that Penny shows.  Also I felt that Penny had better feet for their first instinct.  For that reason I knocked him down a tier and am a little lower on him vs. Penny.  I couldn't justify putting them up with the top5 RB's I had because they just aren't as explosive/quick/talented in an all around manner, and I felt there was enough of a gap between Penny and Freeman to create that tier drop.  

Thanks for sharing your thoughts - really appreciate it!

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Never done this before and certainly no expert.  Just started watching what tape/highlights I could find in the past couple days.  Admittedly haven't looked at everyone yet.  These are the RBs and WRs I've looked at thus far I have them like this:

Tier 1

1) Barkley

Tier 2

2) Guice

3) Jones

4) Penny

Tier 3

5) Ridley

6) Washington

7) Chubb

8) Michel

9) Gallup

Tier 4

10) Sutton

11) Chark

12) Kirk

 

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Thanks for the rankings Zyphros!

I have only watched 3 players so far so it is going to be awhile for me before I could post a ranking.

I like what you are saying about sticking to your guns on this. I know we have disagreed about some players such as Dalvin Cook recently, but just be honest with yourself and stick to your opinions. Always possible you are seeing something the majority of people are missing.

Thanks also to folks adding their rankings here. I am still not ready to rank the 3 players I have watched yet (11 more games to go, not sure I can find them for Michel or not).

eta - could you guys explain what the difference in tiers means to you? People use tiers so many different ways, I always wonder.

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5 hours ago, Longtucky Lemmings said:

Never done this before and certainly no expert.  Just started watching what tape/highlights I could find in the past couple days.  Admittedly haven't looked at everyone yet.  These are the RBs and WRs I've looked at thus far I have them like this:

 

 

You may already know of this site but if not, it's a gold mine of all the video you would need on almost every prospect.

Draft Breakdown

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3 hours ago, Biabreakable said:

Thanks for the rankings Zyphros!

I have only watched 3 players so far so it is going to be awhile for me before I could post a ranking.

I like what you are saying about sticking to your guns on this. I know we have disagreed about some players such as Dalvin Cook recently, but just be honest with yourself and stick to your opinions. Always possible you are seeing something the majority of people are missing.

Thanks also to folks adding their rankings here. I am still not ready to rank the 3 players I have watched yet (11 more games to go, not sure I can find them for Michel or not).

eta - could you guys explain what the difference in tiers means to you? People use tiers so many different ways, I always wonder.

I think of tiers in terms of perceived player potential.  For example, based on what I’ve seen thus far on the tape I’ve watched, I see Guice, Jones, and Penny as essentially equal fantasy potential.  Of course, this will likely change after the combine and draft.

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2 hours ago, Biabreakable said:

Thanks for the rankings Zyphros!

I have only watched 3 players so far so it is going to be awhile for me before I could post a ranking.

I like what you are saying about sticking to your guns on this. I know we have disagreed about some players such as Dalvin Cook recently, but just be honest with yourself and stick to your opinions. Always possible you are seeing something the majority of people are missing.

Thanks also to folks adding their rankings here. I am still not ready to rank the 3 players I have watched yet (11 more games to go, not sure I can find them for Michel or not).

eta - could you guys explain what the difference in tiers means to you? People use tiers so many different ways, I always wonder.

Tiers for me are a ceiling drop and a floor expectation mostly, based on what I think they can become to go along with the talent they've shown to be good at.  Insanely subjective I know.  So taking Barkley and the next 4 RB's on my list as an example.  Barkley has shown absolutely everything with a very high floor (it seems), the only unknown about him seems to be landing spot.  Where as guys like RoJo, Chubb, Guice, and Michel, haven't shown absolutely elite ability in my eyes to make their floors as safe as could be.  The ceiling however is still very high for those guys as they've proven to catch the ball and run well.  Basically it comes down to how many questions I have of the players that are still unanswered.  Which is why I don't move guys outside of tiers until I know landing spots.  Post-combine, sure they can move up and down within a tier, but I've made it a rule in the past to not move a guy out of a tier based on their combine performance.  

You go a lot deeper into analyzing games than I do, I'll admit.  I usually get a good sense in my mind after 4 games (not to say I just stop there, but I wait until my thoughts are clear about a guy) or so where as you go to 10 I believe?  So good luck with the rest of your research.  

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35 minutes ago, Zyphros said:

Tiers for me are a ceiling drop and a floor expectation mostly, based on what I think they can become to go along with the talent they've shown to be good at.  Insanely subjective I know.  So taking Barkley and the next 4 RB's on my list as an example.  Barkley has shown absolutely everything with a very high floor (it seems), the only unknown about him seems to be landing spot.  Where as guys like RoJo, Chubb, Guice, and Michel, haven't shown absolutely elite ability in my eyes to make their floors as safe as could be.  The ceiling however is still very high for those guys as they've proven to catch the ball and run well.  Basically it comes down to how many questions I have of the players that are still unanswered.  Which is why I don't move guys outside of tiers until I know landing spots.  Post-combine, sure they can move up and down within a tier, but I've made it a rule in the past to not move a guy out of a tier based on their combine performance.  

You go a lot deeper into analyzing games than I do, I'll admit.  I usually get a good sense in my mind after 4 games (not to say I just stop there, but I wait until my thoughts are clear about a guy) or so where as you go to 10 I believe?  So good luck with the rest of your research.  

I think I understand what you are saying about tiers.

Is Barkley immune to going to Cleveland in your view? Is there any landing spot that would cause you to downgrade him?

Based on your statement are not the same level of talent as Barkley, so landing spot could change the tier for those other players, but not Barkley.

I try to watch 10 games if I can of the player. Often though I may only find 4-6 games of a player. Work with what there is.  I am trying something different this year and being a bit more detailed about it. Ultimately it comes down to what you think the players value and upside is. I am watching the games anyways, just thought I would try to record some other information along the way of doing that, which maybe could be useful later on.

I think its cool that you seem to be starting earlier each year. I get caught up with the regular season of the NFL and some of the resources for watching players isn't available until around this time, otherwise I could start watching college players sooner.

A lot of these players I have seen them before in live games, or watching cut ups of them from seasons before. For example I have watched Freeman a little bit before. I am aware of him, but I would need to watch his games before I could say I actually evaluated him, because what I have seen is only bits and pieces. It is different than just watching the player casually.

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In a way Barkley is immune to situation.  Just to use an example:  He could end up being #5 on my board when it's all said and done.  If the situation dictates that 4 RB's of tier 2 are put into great spots, that I can't deny it, then they have a chance of vaulting past Barkley.  They would all have to have outstanding combines, and great landings spots, with Barkley being not so great at any of it.  That's obviously to the extreme, but I don't view Cleveland as a death sentence to him either so it's kind of moot.  The Browns have to be good at some point right?  I think they did very well last draft, and if they come away with Barkley I think they are that much closer to being relevant.  With him being one of my favorites, my bias is likely to keep him at #1 though.  He might just be too good for me to deny him that spot.  Similar to my view on Gurley when he declared.  

If I could implement a points system of some kind I might try that next year or a way to not be as subjective I'd be all about it.  Just would have to figure out that process.  The more I look at previous drafts, I think I've done pretty well in regards to rankings that I haven't had anyone clearly outside the top 20-25 or so (Jordan Howard, Kenyan Drake, Alex Collins, and Stefon Diggs being the only ones in the last 3 years), so maybe there isn't a need to change the way I do it?  The jury is still out on some of those too but I'm just not sure if my process is worth altering.  But it would be interesting if I actually had some sort of metric of my own to compare what my eyes see.  

I get caught up in the regular season too, but playoffs don't interest me a whole lot unless my team is going the distance (Steelers), so I let it go a bit and started my eval's a little bit early.  Usually I only get to 3-5 guys by this time, and then after the superbowl I cram the players in and make my board.  But I felt pretty good about what rankings I had at this time, no glaring omissions of prospects and a pretty solid view of each guy I listed.  I felt good about it.  

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The more game tape I watch on these RBs the less I like. Barkley is definitely in his own tier and after him I like Freeman but it’s hard to truly evaluate him as he runs out of shotgun always. After those two, I don’t like the other big names. I don’t see anything special with Guice or Chubb for instance. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Looking back about a month ago now, I probably had the QB's too high.  I do like some of them and they might still be some in the 1st round, but talent wise I probably should be bumping some of those others over guys like Darnold and Allen.  Situation dictates these QB's a lot for me so my hesitation about them won't be cooled until the draft which is a long ways away.  

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It’s funny, no new info has come out, and my list has changed quite a bit. Coming around on Ridley, a good landing spot could vault him up a bit- Bad landing spot and I wont draft him though.  Have some rbs that have crept up the back of the list. There’s only a handful of WRs I really like in this group, and by really like, I mean they could find a role somewhere. Seems like the kupps and the golladays are fewer this year. Maybe landing spots will open some opportunities, but this isn’t the year to need wr. 

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Well here is my update.  The biggest addition is I've watched more guys (45 total as of this posting), and I've added in the TE's who I'm really not high on at all.  The other change is I've basically moved every RB I had up a little bit, while naturally moving some WR's down.  

Saquon Barkley 

Ronald Jones II

Derrius Guice

Nick Chubb

Sony Michel

Calvin Ridley

Sam Darnold - I'm really torn on the QB's that I just don't know what I want.  I think at this point Darnold is the safest but not necessarily the highest ceiling.  so the group of 3 I have right here is extremely up the in air for me.  

Josh Rosen

Baker Mayfield

John Kelly

Michael Gallup

Christian Kirk

Rashaad Penny

Dallas Goedert

Josh Allen

Kalen Ballage

Lamar Jackson

Equanimeous St. Brown

James Washington

Royce Freeman

Nyheim Hines

Mike Gesicki

Jordan Lasley

Josh Adams

Daeshawn Hamilton

DJ Chark

There's my top25 so hopefully it strikes some debate as I think that promotes a better understand in ones mind when you discuss a player.  I've re-watched a couple of guys like Sutton, Ballage, Washington, and Freeman, and most of them have moved up for me, and some took a dramatic fall (Sutton).  The problem was that my initial rankings were missing a few guys so although someone might be a "lower ranked" guy, they've moved up in my mind because they simply got pushed down due to me missing a few guys early on.  

 

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12 hours ago, Zyphros said:

Well here is my update.  The biggest addition is I've watched more guys (45 total as of this posting), and I've added in the TE's who I'm really not high on at all.  The other change is I've basically moved every RB I had up a little bit, while naturally moving some WR's down.  

Saquon Barkley 

Ronald Jones II

Derrius Guice

Nick Chubb

Sony Michel

Calvin Ridley

Sam Darnold - I'm really torn on the QB's that I just don't know what I want.  I think at this point Darnold is the safest but not necessarily the highest ceiling.  so the group of 3 I have right here is extremely up the in air for me.  

Josh Rosen

Baker Mayfield

John Kelly

Michael Gallup

Christian Kirk

Rashaad Penny

Dallas Goedert

Josh Allen

Kalen Ballage

Lamar Jackson

Equanimeous St. Brown

James Washington

Royce Freeman

Nyheim Hines

Mike Gesicki

Jordan Lasley

Josh Adams

Daeshawn Hamilton

DJ Chark

There's my top25 so hopefully it strikes some debate as I think that promotes a better understand in ones mind when you discuss a player.  I've re-watched a couple of guys like Sutton, Ballage, Washington, and Freeman, and most of them have moved up for me, and some took a dramatic fall (Sutton).  The problem was that my initial rankings were missing a few guys so although someone might be a "lower ranked" guy, they've moved up in my mind because they simply got pushed down due to me missing a few guys early on.  

 

Have you had the opportunity to watch Mark Walton? 

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2 hours ago, Raback said:

Have you had the opportunity to watch Mark Walton? 

I have, and if he’s over his health issues he’s gonna end up being one of the better RBs in this class.

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3 hours ago, Raback said:

Have you had the opportunity to watch Mark Walton? 

I have and he's your typical undersized, pretty quick kind of guy.  Not a guy I particularly like.  I usually have a cut off for guys who are 5'9" or under that don't have elite speed.  If he performs well at the combine he'll probably end up somewhere near #35 (total guess) for me.  I also think he's pretty situation dependent which is why I don't have him in my top25.  I don't see him getting more than 5-8 touches a game, and unless he's super efficient with those, it doesn't really interest me.  

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6 minutes ago, Zyphros said:

I have and he's your typical undersized, pretty quick kind of guy.  Not a guy I particularly like.  I usually have a cut off for guys who are 5'9" or under that don't have elite speed.  If he performs well at the combine he'll probably end up somewhere near #35 (total guess) for me.  I also think he's pretty situation dependent which is why I don't have him in my top25.  I don't see him getting more than 5-8 touches a game, and unless he's super efficient with those, it doesn't really interest me.  

Are we sure he's 5'9" or shorter? I have seen 5'9" and 5'10" and I've seen weight between 185 and 205.

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Just now, Ilov80s said:

Are we sure he's 5'9" or shorter?

That's what Miami had him listed as so I'm not sure but combine measurements will be big for me when it comes to Walton.  Most places I see him listed as are 5'9 205, which is almost identical to Gio and Duke Johnson.  So that kind of role seems easy to project, and if he is 200+ I can see a chance of him getting more of a workload.  I do like his game though and if he checks in 5'10" 200+ then I'm more interested.  

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1 minute ago, Zyphros said:

That's what Miami had him listed as so I'm not sure but combine measurements will be big for me when it comes to Walton.  Most places I see him listed as are 5'9 205, which is almost identical to Gio and Duke Johnson.  So that kind of role seems easy to project, and if he is 200+ I can see a chance of him getting more of a workload.  I do like his game though and if he checks in 5'10" 200+ then I'm more interested.  

This makes sense. His tape is really impressive. Landing spot will matter a lot too. Also Duke did just post a 1000 yard 7 TD season. Did it with just 150 touches. I would love to see what Duke could do with 200 touches or on a team that has a functional offense. 

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2 hours ago, Zyphros said:

I have and he's your typical undersized, pretty quick kind of guy.  Not a guy I particularly like.  I usually have a cut off for guys who are 5'9" or under that don't have elite speed.  If he performs well at the combine he'll probably end up somewhere near #35 (total guess) for me.  I also think he's pretty situation dependent which is why I don't have him in my top25.  I don't see him getting more than 5-8 touches a game, and unless he's super efficient with those, it doesn't really interest me.  

That’s interesting because he is a guy that just jumped off the tape to me.  I’ll be interested to see his combine numbers and where he lands but he looks really talented to me 

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4 hours ago, Zyphros said:

I have and he's your typical undersized, pretty quick kind of guy.  Not a guy I particularly like.  I usually have a cut off for guys who are 5'9" or under that don't have elite speed.  If he performs well at the combine he'll probably end up somewhere near #35 (total guess) for me.  

In my view you should change this cut off to 5'7" because there are too many 5'8" and 5'9" RB who have been top 12 RB in the NFL including some hall of fame players and not all of them had good speed or measurables at the combine.

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2 hours ago, bicycle_seat_sniffer said:

curious on your James Wsahington vs Eq. St. Brown ranking.

Do you simply like the type of WR st.brown might be better? or do you not like Washingtons weird build? 

To simply answer your question I can use my comp's as Corey Coleman vs Martavis Bryant.  I'd rather have Bryant, so in this case I'd rather have St. Brown.  In a way I prefer that body type and I think he can be more impactful for an NFL team with a higher usage rate than someone like Washington.  

St Brown was pretty good in 2016, then he struggled a lot in 2017.  I think of it as him losing his QB and then some mental issues as well.  He didn't seem to try as hard in 2017 so that is obviously cause for concern.  Washington is a deep threat without deep threat speed to me that has a limited route tree.  He's essentially a worse Will Fuller who I didn't like coming out.  Not that I dislike Washington but I think his role will be limited.  Part of that is due to PPR as I don't see them getting lots of targets, more useful in Best Ball leagues perhaps.  Washington has done some impressive things, but right now I have route questions and if he's anything more than a deep target for 3 targets a game.  Either way most if not all the WR's this year you can probably get at a discount halfway through the season.  

33 minutes ago, Biabreakable said:

In my view you should change this cut off to 5'7" because there are too many 5'8" and 5'9" RB who have been top 12 RB in the NFL including some hall of fame players and not all of them had good speed or measurables at the combine.

It's just a number that I use, but I always try to narrow that focus a little more than just height.  So it's not just sub 5'9" guys, but players who are shorter AND lack certain aspects of their game that I tend to rule out.  Walton seems to have pretty good if not elite quickness and a pretty strong build for his size, but I don't think his vision is that good, nor his top end speed.  With that he's not completely out of my mind, but he's not a guy I'm targeting either.  I probably should open it up a little more with the league going into all these pass catching RB roles though.  

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