2016 dynasty rookie fantasy rankings by position

I've been playing fantasy football for nearly two decades now, though I've only recently become enamored with dynasty leagues, which seem to be growing in popularity with each passing year. For the unaware, dynasty leagues are where you keep all (or most) of your players every year with a rookies draft to add new talent each spring. Rosters/benches are much larger to allow for needed depth, and it requires a different sort of strategy with more foresight and long-term thinking than regular seasonal leagues. The reason for the growth in popularity with dynasty leagues is simple: they're really, really fun.

Having played in dynasty leagues for a few years now, I feel more comfortable doing dynasty rookie rankings for the first time for NFL.com. Below you'll find my overall top 40 rookies, as well as position-by-position rankings where I provide a bit more context into why I favor certain players over others. If you like this and would like NFL.com to do more dynasty coverage, let me know on Twitter @AlexGelhar or in the comments below. And without further ado, here are my 2016 dynasty rookie rankings. Enjoy!

Overall top 40 rookies

  1. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
    1. Corey Coleman, Browns
    2. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings
    3. Josh Doctson, Redskins
    4. Sterling Shepard, Giants
    5. Kenneth Dixon, Ravens
    6. Derrick Henry, Titans
    7. Michael Thomas, Saints
    8. Devontae Booker, Broncos
    9. C.J. Prosise, Seahawks
    10. Tyler Boyd, Bengals
    11. Paul Perkins, Giants
    12. Will Fuller, Texans
    13. Hunter Henry, Chargers
    14. Leonte Carroo, Dolphins
    15. Mike Thomas, Rams
    16. Jordan Howard, Bears
    17. Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots
    18. DeAndre Washington, Raiders
    19. Keith Marshall, Redskins
    20. Jared Goff, Rams
    21. Jonathan Williams, Bills
    22. Tyler Ervin, Texans
    23. Braxton Miller, Texans
    24. Daniel Braverman, Bears
    25. Paxton Lynch, Broncos
    26. Austin Hooper, Falcons
    27. Kenyan Drake, Dolphins
    28. Rashard Higgins, Browns
    29. Wendell Smallwood, Eagles
    30. Daniel Lasco, Saints
    31. Alex Collins, Seahawks
    32. Ricardo Louis, Browns
    33. Pharoh Cooper, Rams
    34. Carson Wentz, Eagles
    35. Jordan Payton, Browns
    36. Chris Moore. Ravens
    37. Charone Peake, Jets
    38. Kolby Listenbee, Bills
    39. Cardale Jones, Bills

Running backs

  1. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
    1. Kenneth Dixon, Ravens
    2. Derrick Henry, Titans
    3. Devontae Booker, Broncos
    4. C.J. Prosise, Seahawks
    5. Paul Perkins, Giants
    6. Jordan Howard, Bears
    7. DeAndre Washington, Raiders
    8. Keith Marshall, Redskins
    9. Kenyan Drake, Dolphins
    10. Jonathan Williams, Bills
    11. Tyler Ervin, Texans
    12. Wendell Smallwood, Eagles
    13. Daniel Lasco, Saints
    14. Alex Collins, Seahawks

While Elliott is the consensus No. 1 option, opinions vary on how to rank the guys behind him. I'm a big fan of Dixon's game and landing spot. Justin Forsett is coming back from injury this year, and Javorius Allen is a solid, but unspectacular player. I think Dixon could lead the team in touches as a rookie by season's end. Henry's 2016 usage will be a bit of a mystery in Tennessee, as they acquired DeMarco Murray via trade prior to the draft. However, Henry is the type of back Mike Mularkey seems to love, so his long-term upside as the back of the future is extremely promising. Some, including NFL media's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks, feel Booker is the most talented back on the Broncos roster. I'd still give the nod to C.J. Anderson, though don't be surprised if Booker starts making some waves in this backfield. The rest of the top 10 is filled with promising role players who could push for starting jobs. Prosise seems to be the favorite for third-down work in Seattle, but with Thomas Rawls still recovering from an ankle injury last year, don't be surprised if Prosise earns more touches than anticipated out fot he gate. The same could be said for Perkins, though he has to rise to the top of a crowded backfield that struggled to find any sort of consistency last year. Howard will battle Ka'Deem Carey to be the second option in Chicago, though I could see him pushing Jeremy Langford for more touches by midseason. Washington could have an immediate impact in PPR leagues, as the Raiders were in desperate need of a pass-catching complement to Latavius Murray. Marshall will start the season behind Matt Jones, but his speed and explosion could help him into a bigger role in a hurry.

Wide receivers

  1. Corey Coleman, Browns
    1. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings
    2. Josh Doctson, Redskins
    3. Sterling Shepard, Giants
    4. Michael Thomas, Saints
    5. Tyler Boyd, Bengals
    6. Will Fuller, Texans
    7. Leonte Carroo, Dolphins
    8. Mike Thomas, Rams
    9. Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots
    10. Braxton Miller, Texans
    11. Daniel Braverman, Bears
    12. Ricardo Louis, Browns
    13. Rashard Higgins, Browns
    14. Pharoh Cooper, Rams
    15. Jordan Payton, Browns
    16. Chris Moore, Ravens
    17. Charone Peake, Jets
    18. Kolby Listenbee, Bills
    19. Roger Lewis, Giants

This wide receiver class is extremely top heavy, so if you have a need at the position do what you can to get one of the guys in my top five. Not much separates Coleman, Treadwell, and Doctson for me, as each landed in a favorable spot. Coleman's quarterback situation could be question mark, though he should see plenty of targets which could help mitigate erratic play (much like what happened to DeAndre Hopkins last year). Treadwell is in a low-volume passing offense, but is now the clear-cut No. 1 option and should be a beast in the red zone. Meanwhile, Doctons could have to deal with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson for targets this year, but next year one (or both) could be gone, paving his way to the true No. 1 wide receiver role. Shepard is in a perfect situation and could provide immediate returns for owners this season, especially if Victor Cruz takes time getting back up to speed after his patellar tendon tear two seasons ago. He could easily see 100 targets in the Giants offense. Thomas immediately becomes one of the Saints' top red zone threats, and should be able to carve out a nice role as the big-bodied possession receiver. catching passes from Drew Brees doesn't hurt, either. Boyd figures to be the No. 2 wide receiver behind A.J. Green, but I fear his athletic limitations will keep his fantasy ceiling relatively low. He'll be hard-pressed to get looks in the red zone behind Green, Tyler Eifert and Jeremy Hill, too. Fuller is a homerun hitter who will likely bring week-to-week volatility, but also the potential for a week-winning performance. Carroo is a talented player, but he joins a crowded wide receiving corps headlined by target-hog Jarvis Landry. Rounding out the top 10, Thomas could get on the field early in the Rams lackluster wide receiving corps, while Mitchell is an talented player in a good situation in New England, though early returns could be minimal.

After that, it's a lot of dart throws at players with raw talent, or situations they could exploit. I really loved Braverman's game and think he could emerge as a slot threat inbetween the towering Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White. Braxton Miller is a wild card, but it's hard not to like his natural abilities. The Browns had a clear need at wide receiver and drafted three players with different abilities after Coleman, so draft based on your personal preference. Moore kind of flew under the radar landing in Baltimore. I didn't study him a ton while he was at Cincinnati, but I saw him pop a few times during the Senior Bowl week. That wide receiver group is pretty unsettled with Steve Smith nearing 40 and Breshad Perriman still yet to play his first NFL snap.

Tight ends

  1. Hunter Henry, Chargers
    1. Austin Hooper, Falcons
    2. Tyler Higbee, Rams
    3. Jerell Adams, Giants
    4. Seth DeValve, Browns

Tight ends rarely make an early impact in fantasy, so that pushes them down in dynasty rankings as well. Henry is the heir apparent to Antonio Gates in San Diego, and could get on the field a fair amount this season. Austin Hooper is an excellent fit for a Falcons team that has been searching for an answer at tight end ever since Tony Gonzalez retired. He'll have to battle Jacob Tamme for snaps early on, but proved to be a capable blocker in college which will help his chances of getting on the field early. His pass-catching ability could be a big boon for an offense still without a true No. 2 option behind Julio Jones, despite Mohamed Sanu's big contract. Higbee, Adams and DeValve are all longer-term projects, so owners will have to be patient if they draft them. Higbee would have likely been drafted sooner had an arrest shortly before the draft not raised more character concerns. With Jared Cook out of the picutre, the Rams need more help at tight end outside of Lance Kendricks. I like Adams' upside if he earns a role in the Giants offense, but Will Tye will likely keep him at bay for awhile. DeValve is a fantastic athlete on a team that lacked dynamic pass catchers prior to the draft. While Gary Barnidge's late-career rebirth was one of 2015's best stories, he will turn 31 later this year meaning DeValve's chance for a larger role could be coming up fast.

Quarterbacks

  1. Jared Goff, Rams
    1. Paxton Lynch, Broncos
    2. Carson Wentz, Eagles
    3. Cardale Jones, Bills
    4. Cody Kessler, Browns

Goff and Lynch get the nod at the top as they have the clearest paths to their starting roles, and good long-term upside. I still wouldn't draft either until at least the second round, even if your team has a dire need at quarterback. Wentz should take over in Philadelphia sooner rather than later, but falls a bit in the rankings as he likely won't start from Day 1. As for Jones and Kessler, I like Cardale's upside and the Bills lack depth behind Tyrod Taylor, while Kessler making my top five is more an nod to my belief in Hue Jackson as a coach and QB-tutor.

Why wait? CLICK HERE to get your 2016 NFL Fantasy season started.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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