2017 fantasy dynasty rookie rankings by position

It warms my heart every year to watch the popularity of dynasty fantasy football leagues grow. What started as a niche style of play for degenerates and truly nerdy die-hards has now become a more acceptable mainstream format. Personally, I came late to the dynasty party, not starting in the format until a few years ago, but it has quickly become one of my favorite ways to play. For the uninformed, dynasty leagues are where you keep all (or most) of your players every year with a rookie 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. Basically, you're the real general manager of your fantasy team, and more in-depth leagues will even feature fictional salary caps contracts. The reason for the growth in popularity of dynasty leagues is simple: they're really, really fun. For a more in-depth look at what the dynasty format entails and how to get started with a league, check out this primer from the great minds over at Dynasty League Football.

Last year was my first year publishing dynasty rankings, which you can laugh at here. I had a healthy mix of successes and failures. Too much belief in Kenneth Dixon will haunt me, as will believing there were too many roadblocks for the talented Jordan Howard finding his way into a featured role early (whoops). But at least I was justifiably high on Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas, among others. Hopefully, I've learned enough and done enough research this offseason that the rankings below will be of some use to you. First off you'll find my overall top 40 rookies, followed by positional rankings (20 RBs, 20 WRs, 10 TEs, 10 QBs). Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @AlexGelhar or in the comments below. And without further ado, here are my 2017 dynasty rookie rankings. Enjoy!

Overall top 40 rookies for dynasty drafts

Notes:Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon are pretty much interchangeable for me. Mixon probably has the higher theoretical ceiling but carries slightly more risk given his past transgressions and the currently crowded Cincinnati backfield. I see McCaffrey with a safe floor and high ceiling -- especially in PPR. At this point, I think most know who Leonard Fournette is for fantasy purposes -- a two-down hammer with tons of touchdown upside. If he can keep T.J. Yeldon on the sidelines on third downs too, his value in fantasy will soar even higher. His pass-catching is what keeps him a peg below the other two backs for me. The tight ends are all close as well, but O.J. Howard's overall talent and polish tip the scales for me to put him No. 1. While Cameron Brate lurks in 2017 to vulture targets, he's a former UDFA in whom the team has minimal financial investment for the future. Howard could get a stranglehold on the tight end targets as soon as next year, and Jameis Winston has a history of turning tight ends into stars dating back to his college days. I'm not in love with Alvin Kamara as a featured back, but New Orleans was the perfect fit and he should be the starter in Week 1 of 2018. Kareem Hunt feels a little over-rated to me at this juncture, but Andy Reid has a long history of creating stellar fantasy backs and Spencer Ware battled injuries last year. Hunt could fall backward into a top-20 RB finish as a rookie if things break right in Kansas City.

Two players I might be higher on than others are Joe Williams and Curtis Samuel. Williams is a complete back who fell because he briefly "retired" in college. I think he's a perfect, Devonta Freeman-esque fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he led that backfield in touches if Carlos Hyde misses a few games. Samuel isn't a perfect wide receiver after converting from running back, but the Panthers reportedly envision him as both their slot receiver and downfield threat. In a perfect world, that could mean he has a safe-ish weekly yardage floor with the explosive potential of Ted Ginn games from 2015. That's an enticing combo out of the gate for a second-round rookie pick in my eyes. I really like the talent and fits for Chris Godwin and JuJu Smith-Schuster, but both have difficult paths to reliable targets in the immediate future.

Notes:D'Onta Foreman could steal valuable red-zone touches from Lamar Miller as a rookie, though he doesn't project to be a three-down, featured back. Taywan Taylor, Kenny Golladay and Chad Williams all landed in great spots, but their Year 1 workload could be suspect. Count me among those skeptical of Jamaal Williams as the Packers lead back of the future. I imagine Ty Montgomery will keep him at bay fairly easily this year, but if not, Williams would be in the RB2/flex conversation. This will be a training camp battle to watch.

I accidentally lumped the three Rams rookie pass-catchers together, but then it ended up making sense. Someone in this offense is going to fall into a bunch of targets as a rookie. Cooper Kupp seems the likeliest option on Day 1, but his long-term upside feels capped by his age and athletic limitations. Josh Reynolds could thrive, but feels more reliant on good quarterback play ... and this is the Rams we're talking about. Head coach Sean McVay said Gerald Everett (a raw, super-athletic prospect) could be his Jordan Reed in Los Angeles. Mr. McVay, you officially have my attention. I'm not keen on drafting quarterbacks too highly in dynasty rookie drafts, especially from classes without clear-cut leaders like Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston. However, if you're hoping to draft the QB of the future for your dynasty squad, the end of the third round isn't a bad place to take a stab at the likes of Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. The rest of the draft is filled with high-upside guys who have difficult paths to touches. Of the remaining players in 31-40, I think I like Jonnu Smith the most. Delanie Walker isn't getting any younger in Tennessee, and Smith could be catching passes from Marcus Mariota in an ascending offense for a long time.

Positional rankings for dynasty drafts

Running backs:

Wide receivers:

Tight ends:

Quarterbacks:

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar or "Like" his page on Facebook.

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