Fantasy Football Friday: 4 Surprises in My Dynasty Rankings

For the first time ever I am participating in a dynasty fantasy football league this year. That means that for the first time ever I am making my own dynasty fantasy football rankings. I make my own fantasy football rankings each year for my redraft league but this is the first time I will be doing it for dynasty. I haven’t compiled my full rankings yet but I have completed the first step. I have ranked all the players in the four fantasy position groups (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end) on each team. It was a very daunting task that took me a few hours to complete and now I am left with a spreadsheet full of player names. But I wanted to share one interesting rankings decision that I made for each position group. These will only be within teams since that is all my rankings account for at the moment, but I will have more content when I compile my entire list.

Matt Corral over Sam Darnold

Surprisingly, I didn’t actually have any rankings that differed from the general consensus at quarterback. It’s pretty easy to pick which quarterback either is the starter or has the most potential on each roster. But choosing to rank Corral over Darnold was the one I thought would be the most controversial (although it seems like a lot of people actually agree with me on that one). I assumed that people would not have completely given up on Darnold like I have. My decision to put Corral over Darnold has more to do with my belief in the latter than the former. I think Darnold is done. I think he is not a serviceable starting quarterback in the NFL. I wouldn’t touch him with a 100-yard pole and I don’t want any part of him on my fantasy team. I don’t care that he is still young and was a high pick. I am out. Corral, on the other hand, represents upside and potential. Even though he was a fourth-round pick, he was still the fourth quarterback drafted and there is a lot to like about him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the starting quarterback for Carolina this year. Actually, I would be surprised if he wasn’t (unless they make a move for another quarterback). I don’t know if Corral will necessarily turn into anything special in the pros but I do know he will be better than Darnold.

Tony Pollard over Ezekiel Elliott

Running back is the weirdest position to rank for dynasty fantasy football. The shelf life of a running back seems to be getting smaller and smaller each year, with guys falling off out of nowhere every season. It seems like Elliott could be the next player to experience a steep drop-off like the ones suffered by Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson. He is at the age (26) where it could reasonably happen and that scares me. It seems like every offseason we hear some sort of rumblings that Elliott could get released. You never want that conversation to be hanging over the head of one of the running backs on your fantasy team. Even though Pollard is only a year younger than Elliott, he has over 1,300 fewer career carries than him. Those are fresh legs that Pollard possesses, meaning that he probably won’t experience a drop-off as soon as ball carriers with more wear and tear. I also just like Pollard as a player. He has grown into the Dallas offense more and more each year, which signifies that the team sees something in him and wants to incorporate him into what they’re doing. He is also incredibly efficient with the ball in his hands, averaging 5.6 yards per touch in his career. If Pollard doesn’t break out with the Cowboys, I could see him demanding a big contract from another team in free agency and putting together good seasons there.

Chase Claypool over Diontae Johnson

The pure stats would suggest that Johnson is more valuable than Claypool and therefore should be ranked ahead of him. Johnson has improved in each of his three seasons and just put together a 1,161-yard season in 2021. Yes, Johnson is a very good wide receiver but that does not mean that I would want him over Claypool. For one, Claypool is younger by about two years which is huge when it comes to dynasty fantasy football. This means that the upside is in favor of Claypool. What’s to say that Claypool couldn’t have a better season when he is 25 years old than Johnson just put together? Also, there are still some lingering issues with Johnson that do not just go away after one good season. He is still the guy that had 13 drops in 2020. And even though I think he has progressed past that problem; it still worries me a bit. Also, I feel like Johnson is simply more replaceable than Claypool. Johnson is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound possession receiver while Claypool is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound deep threat. I don’t want to completely give in to physical intangibles over actual production (who am I, the Jaguars’ front office?) but there is something to be said about that type of size. There is a reason Claypool earned the nickname Mapletron after all. I wouldn’t be shocked if both of these players go on to have very productive careers but I think Claypool’s career has the potential to be much better.

Cade Otton over Cameron Brate

This is another one of my rankings that doesn’t actually differ from the opinion of the general public but I felt it needed to be included. I was actually surprised to see that Otton is ranked so favorably considering he is a fourth-round pick. That doesn’t show the kind of commitment that screams value in dynasty fantasy football. But if I had to draft one of those Buccaneers tight ends, it would surely be Otton. Maybe Brate will be better this year (even though he hasn’t had a good fantasy season in five years) but there is no way he will be better in the long run. He is 30 years old and doesn’t really have the skillset that suggests he will be productive as he gets older. Despite my rankings favoring Otton, it doesn’t mean that I believe he will be a surefire fantasy stud. It is possible that he never amounts to anything in the pros. The Bucs could lose Tom Brady and not be able to find a competent quarterback for years while Otton is stuck catching passes from Sam Darnold. Or Otton just flat-out stinks and is nothing but a depth tight end. But part of dynasty fantasy football is taking chances and betting on upside. You have to take some risks in your drafts and hope some of them turn out to be absolute steals. Brate will do you no good on your roster so you might as well take a swing on the rookie tight end.