When you think of fantasy football studs, the first names that come to mind are usually guys like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Alvin Kamara. 2021 could be the year of the rookie; the year in which lots of fresh names could be added to that list of greats.
The list of offensive rookies coming into the league this year is longer and better than ever. There are guys that we’ve been impatiently waiting for like Trevor Lawrence and Najee Harris.
Then there are other guys who burst onto the scene a year ago like Devin Smith and Trey Lance. All of them enter the league as equals, however, and their impact on the league and on fantasy football teams is yet to be determined.
Year of the Rookie
This year could be the first year ever where a fantasy team composed largely of rookie phenoms could be a championship contender. The learning curve that normally comes with the jump from college to the NFL has been getting shorter and shorter. While quarterbacks still have the most difficulty, it hasn’t become unusual for rookie running backs and receivers to make an instant impact on their teams.
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Najee Harris comes into the league as one of the best running backs in Alabama history. He joins the Pittsburgh Steelers who were a playoff team last year and have one of the best offensive lines in football. The Steelers have always been able to get solid production out of their running game, and Najee Harris is ready to be an instant sensation in the NFL.
Kyle Pitts enters the league with an infinitely high ceiling of potential thanks to his incredible size and athleticism. He runs and jumps like a wide receiver, blocks like a tight end, and has the size of a lineman. Pitts will be a matchup nightmare for every team he faces this year and should have an instant impact with Matt Ryan throwing to him.
The only thing that Devin Smith has going against him is the fact that he plays for one of the worst offenses in football, the Philadelphia Eagles. He has an inexperienced quarterback, not much receiving or running help, and a bad offensive line. All that aside, Smith should get tons of looks from Jalen Hurts as he is one of the only offensive threats on the team.
Chase joins the Cincinnati Bengals and his old partner in crime, Joe Burrow. Before his season-ending injury last year, Burrow was playing football at a very high caliber and would most likely have won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Chase walks into a situation ideal for a rookie receiver.
He’s got a stud quarterback, a good running game, and good receivers to take the attention away from him. Expect big things out of Ja’marr Chase from Week one.
Sermon may have a little bit of a harder time making an instant impact on the 49ers. This isn’t because he lacks the talent and big-play ability necessary to be a star, but because he is joining a team with a lot of questions on offense.
Jimmy Garappolo will be the starter for week 1, but nobody knows what’s going to happen from there. Sermon will also have to compete for snaps with Raheem Mostert and Wayne Gallman III, but he could still be a big difference-maker this year.