The 2021 NFL Draft was loaded with talented playmakers and were all drafted by teams in desperate need of players with big-play potential.
That means a number of great rookies have a good chance at becoming impact fantasy players this season. Here are five to target in your drafts.
Preseason rankings: Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends | Defense/Special Teams | Breakouts | Sleepers |
Trey Lance: QB, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers gave up a significant haul of draft picks to move up and select Lance third overall, and for good reason. He's an elite runner with a cannon for an arm and in Kyle Shanahan's diverse offensive system, the sky is the limit for the young quarterback.
If you're debating which rookie quarterback to take a chance on this year, consider this: Trevor Lawrence is great, but his team is terrible and his head coach is Urban Meyer. Justin Fields may not start to begin the year and faces a steep learning curve in the NFL anyway. Zach Wilson is on the Jets, and there's no need to take that point any further.
Lance is an incredible talent on a good team with weapons around him and a terrific offensive mind calling plays. He may not be your starter Week 1, but he could be before too long.
Najee Harris: RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers couldn't and wouldn't run the ball last season, making their offense incredibly one-dimensional to the point where they burned out in the playoffs to an inferior Browns team. Harris has everything you'd want in a three-down back and shouldn't have any competition for snaps in his rookie season. Harris will probably go in the first round of your draft, and for good reason.
Ja'Marr Chase: WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow's health will ultiamtely determine Chase and the Bengals' ceiling on offense, but assuming the quarterback is eventually good to go, Chase is a good bet to be the most productive receiver in his rookie class. He can play on the inside, outside, make contested catches down the field and in the red zone as well as make defenders miss after the catch.
Burrow's status will continue to be the determining factor for Chase, but fantasy owners can most likely feel good about drafting him.
DeVonta Smith: WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Smith was the Eagles' second consecutive first-round wide receiver due in large part to his production in college and the Eagles' incredible lack of production at the position in recent years. Smith will be the No. 1 receiver from Day 1 with the Eagles and should have a decent connection with Jalen Hurts after playing with each other at Alabama.
The risk with Smith doesn't have as much to do with him as the overall uncertainty surrounding the Eagles' offense. Can Hurts be a good starting quarterback? Can Nick Sirianni architect an explosive offense? There are a lot of questions left to be answered in Philadelphia before the ball can even get thrown towards Smith.
Kyle Pitts: TE, Atlanta Falcons
Tight end is easily the hardest position in fantasy footballl to find stable production, so why not take a gamble on Pitts? The fourth overall pick in the draft this year enters an offense stocked with weapons and he'll play with an experienced quarterback in Matt Ryan that should make his life easier.
Rookie tight ends are rarely productive, but Pitts is no ordinary rookie.