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Dynasty Startup Draft Analysis

Justin and Ted share their thoughts on the first two rounds of their recent Dynasty startup draft.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 27: Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

It’s Dynasty draft season around the fantasy football world, and that includes here at! Two of our staff writers, Justin Jaksa and Ted Chmyz, recently participated in a startup for a 12-team 1-QB PPR Dynasty league. Here are the top 24 picks, in order, plus takes from both Ted and Justin on how the draft went down.

1. WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Justin’s Judgement: If you are lucky enough to get the 1.01 in Dynasty, you have won the Jets Jefferson sweepstakes. Enjoy all the record-setting seasons and fantasy dubs he’s going to bring you.

Ted’s Take: This is an absolute no-brainer. Coming off an incredible WR1 season, Jefferson is the current consensus 1.01 in Redraft leagues … and did I mention he’s only 24?

2. RB Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Justin’s Judgement: Bijan is probably the best RB prospect we have ever seen. He went to a team in Atlanta that bucked the trend of devaluing the RB position and surprisingly invested top 10 NFL draft capital in him. He lands with a head coach that seemingly only wants to run the ball with a run rate of 55% in 2022. He is going to be a fun player to have in Dynasty for years to come.

Ted’s Take: This one is tougher than the decision at 1.01. While I absolutely can’t fault anyone for taking Robinson, I would’ve gone with Ja’Marr Chase. Chase is just two years older and comes with the added benefits of proven NFL success and more positional longevity as a WR. On the other hand, Robinson is the best RB prospect we’ve seen in years and landed in a dream situation in Atlanta. There’s very little chance of regretting this pick, even if I’d have gone a different way.

3. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (Justin)

Justin’s Judgement: No-brainer pick here for me. If you get a top-three Dynasty pick, you are guaranteed Jefferson, Bijan or Chase. Tied to an elite young QB in Joe Burrow, if Chase stays healthy, he can push Jefferson every season for the WR1 spot. If the Bengals ever move on from Tee Higgins or don’t resign Tyler Boyd due to the salary cap limitations, that would mean even more targets for Chase in future seasons.

Ted’s Take: Since I’d have taken Chase at 1.02, I obviously think he’s a great choice for Justin here at third overall. Chase is young, hyper-talented, already producing elite numbers and tied to Joe Burrow for the foreseeable future. What’s not to like?

4. RB Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

Justin’s Judgement: A RB entering his age 27 season is not all that appealing to me in Dynasty. I’m sure he’ll be productive this season, but in Dynasty, you are playing in three-year windows. I personally wouldn’t have clicked the button on McCaffrey until Round 2.

Ted’s Take: Let me start by getting one thing straight: As a Stanford football and 49ers fan, I love Christian McCaffrey. But I don’t love this pick. For one, CMC is, as of a week ago, 27 years old, and although his skill set should age better than most RBs, the recent history of RB aging isn’t pretty. However, my bigger concern is with CMC’s role in San Francisco. While he lit the fantasy world on fire when he had the backfield to himself, with Elijah Mitchell healthy, his numbers fall from game-breakingly insane to “just” elite. To take a 27-year-old RB as the fourth overall pick, I’d want him to come with zero question marks, and a potential partial timeshare is enough that I’d look elsewhere.

5. RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Justin’s Judgement: I’m seeing quite a bit of unwarranted hate this offseason toward Taylor’s prospects after an injury-depleted 2022. Not only do you get a motivated JT in his contract year this season, but long-term he is most likely tied to Anthony Richardson. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a DC trying to figure out a way to stop those two athletic freaks running zone read at you all game long.

Ted’s Take: I’m going to be slightly cheating from here on out, as I will have read Justin’s takes before writing my own, and I’m going to have to disagree with him slightly here. Yes, Taylor is young at 24 years old, has an RB1 overall season on his resume, and is an incredible talent. But I think the addition of Richardson caps his upside, as he will likely see fewer dump-offs and goal-line work due to Richardson’s insane athletic gifts. I would have taken any of the next four picks over JT at this point.

6. RB Breece Hall, New York Jets

Justin’s Judgement: Hall was definitely looking like “Him” once he took over as the starter in his rookie season before suffering a torn ACL. At age 21, he should eventually bounce back fine from the injury. After Bijan, Taylor and Hall, there is a big tier break at RB in Dynasty.

Ted’s Take: Of the three RBs selected in a row here, Hall is the pick I like the most, although I still think I would’ve preferred one of the next few WRs. I do think Hall might have a bit of a down year following his ACL, but he’ll still be younger than either CMC or JT is now heading into 2024. It’s a small sample size, but in the three weeks where he saw over a 60% snap share, Hall averaged 21.2 points per game. If he ever builds into a larger role, the sky is the limit for the barely-22-year-old.

7. WR A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

Justin’s Judgement: Brown is definitely worth a first-round pick in Dynasty, but I would have preferred either Ceedee Lamb or Garrett Wllson here. Brown has to compete for targets with another elite WR in DeVonta Smith, which makes him, albeit if only slightly, less consistent.

Ted’s Take: I’m going to half-agree with Justin here. I would’ve taken CeeDee Lamb in this spot due to his lower-quality competition, but I certainly don’t hate the AJB pick and would take him over Wilson. There’s a chance this is assigning too much value to a relatively small sample, but it looks as though AJB’s role in the Eagles’ offense changed halfway through the season, unlocking another level of fantasy production. In Weeks 1-12, Brown’s ADOT was just 11.3, which jumped up dramatically to 14.7 in Week 13 and onward. In those weeks where he was used more as a deep threat, AJB posted an elite 20.9 PPG, compared to just 15.8 through Week 12. If this is a real change and he maintains that level of production going forward, this pick may actually end up looking like a steal.

8. WR Garrett Wilson, New York Jets

Justin’s Judgement: Coming off an impressive rookie campaign in which he posted 83 catches for 1,103 yards and four TDs with Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco and Mike White getting him the ball, Wilson now gets a GOAT in Aaron Rodgers. We very well could be talking about him in the Jefferson/Chase stratosphere after this season.

Ted’s Take: I have to admit, I’m not as high on Wilson as the general Dynasty community. He’s obviously supremely talented, but I don’t think we can put him in the conversation with the Lambs and AJBs of the world when his scoring last season landed him right in between Jakobi Meyers and Zay Jones. Yes, he’ll be more productive in his sophomore season with better QB play, but I just don’t foresee a jump straight from WR31 into elite territory, and it feels like anything less would be a disappointment at this price.

9. WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

Justin’s Judgement: The 24-year-old Lamb is my Dynasty WR3, so this was the steal of Round 1. Explosive and efficient, he’s one of the best at the position. His YAC is what separates him from other WRs.

Ted’s Take: I completely agree with Justin that this was the steal of the first round. I’d likely have taken Lamb as early as fourth overall, so getting him here is an absolute slam-dunk.

10. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions

Justin’s Judgement: St. Brown is a PPR stud, so you can’t hate on his selection here too much, but his low ADOT makes taking him over more well-rounded WRs like Jaylen Waddle and Chris Olave feel like a slight reach.

Ted’s Take: I’m going to agree with Justin here again. ARSB has had an incredible first two seasons, but given his volume-dependent low-ADOT role, it’s tough to see him ever having a truly elite top-five-level season. I’m also a little worried about his volume as Detroit now has plenty more exciting young pass-catchers between Jameson Williams, Sam LaPorta and Jahmyr Gibbs. On the other hand, I also said I was worried about his volume heading into last season, and he finished as the PPR WR7. The Sun God should be a PPR machine for years to come, even if he lacks elite ceiling.

11. WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

Justin’s Judgement: Waddle is the fourth WR taken in a row, and it’s warranted with the long fantasy shelf lives at the position. Waddle could be the WR1 in Miami sooner rather than later if Tyreek Hill decides to call it quits.

Ted’s Take: The only thing I don’t like about this Waddle pick is that I was hoping he would fall to me at 12. An elite prospect coming off a WR8 season (and even better when Tua Tagovailoa was healthy) and with upside going forward if Tyreek ever slows down, Waddle is a great player to have on any Dynasty team.

12. QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (Ted)

Justin’s Judgement: Ted decided to secure his QB for the next five-plus years by taking Mahomes, who proved he can do no wrong in 2022 by finishing as QB1 in fantasy despite having just Travis Kelce and a bunch of mid WRs to throw to. Since the format is Single-QB this is a tad rich for my blood for Mahomes, he’s more of a late second-round pick for me. Also, with Kelce turning 34 in October, if and when he finally slows down, it is going to have to negatively impact Mahomes’ production.

Ted’s Take: Justin is probably right that this was a bit early to take a QB in a 1-QB format, but seeing as I’m used to Superflex Dynasty leagues and never having a Mahomes share, I couldn’t resist pulling the trigger on this future Hall of Famer. I trust Mahomes to produce elite fantasy numbers for the next decade, and while the value may not be great, I don’t think I’ll ever regret this pick.

13. RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions (Ted)

Justin’s Judgement: Ted’s second selection at the 1-2 turn requires some projecting, but with early Round 1 NFL draft capital, Gibbs is ensured to have a big role in the offense. His skillset and versatility make him the closest thing we’ve seen to Alvin Kamara coming into the league. He’s also underrated running between the tackles.

Ted’s Take: This is likely my second straight reach, and I heavily debated each of Chris Olave, Tyreek Hill and Saquon Barkley here. What eventually swayed me towards Gibbs was looking at D’Andre Swift’s numbers in 2022. Swift averaged five targets a game despite struggling with injuries and the Lions’ coaching staff clearly not being his biggest fans. Given the way they reacted when drafting him, I don’t think Gibss will have the same issues with Detroit’s decision-makers, and his role should be PPR gold for years to come.

14. WR Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints

Justin’s Judgement: Regardless of format Dynasty, Redraft, Best Ball, give me all the shares of Chris Olave that you can. The scary thing is, we haven’t even seen the best of him yet. With better QB play expected from Derek Carr and the return of Michael Thomas, Olave returns to his natural Z position and will take full advantage of his dynamic down-the-field playmaking.

Ted’s Take: I love Olave and think this is a great spot for him. He’s in a very similar position to Wilson, coming off a good-not-great but very promising rookie season and due to get an upgrade at quarterback. While I was down on Wilson going seven picks earlier, the difference those seven slots makes is huge, and Olave feels like a very solid pick here with room for growth.

15. WR Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins

Justin’s Judgement: Tyreek came out recently and said he wants to break the receiving record and eclipse 2,000 yards, which would justify this pick to a degree, but at 29 and already disclosing that he doesn’t want to play for more than three more years, he is a bit of a risk to be taken at this position.

Ted’s Take: I do agree with Justin that it doesn’t feel great to see a 29-year-old go off the board this early in Dynasty, but Tyreek might just be worth it. He has an absolutely perfect fit with Mike McDaniel in Miami, and his pace in games with Tua Tagovailoa healthy last season was otherworldly. It is concerning that he has stated he plans to retire after the 2025 season, but wide receivers say a lot of things, and three years is a long time from now. With how fast the NFL changes, very few players are anything close to a guarantee to be producing in 2026, so locking down absolutely top-tier WR production until then is not a bad move.

16. RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Justin’s Judgement: After playing 16 games last season and getting back to his elite self, we should be talking about him building on that, but instead, we’re talking about him potentially holding out. If his long-term contract situation is worked out, he’s a solid workhorse back for the next three to four years.

Ted’s Take: I like this pick. I’m not too worried about Saquon’s contract situation, as Le’Veon Bell’s failed holdout should be enough to make him and his agent think twice about actually skipping a season. Barkley is 26, although to me it still feels like he was just the newest young once-in-a-generation prospect. But sticking with the idea of three-year windows, Barkley should absolutely be an elite fantasy RB for the next few years, and he also comes with the realistic potential to post a league-winning season that few backs have.

17. WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

Justin’s Judgement: As a long-time Kupp truther, it hurts to say that we have unfortunately seen the best of one of the great fantasy players of the last several seasons. At age 30 and tied to an aging QB in Matthew Stafford, it’s hard to see him putting together many more seasons of elite production. Honestly, he’s more like a fourth-round Dynasty pick than a second at this stage.

Ted’s Take: I’m conflicted on this one. On the one hand, Kupp broke the league in 2021, and was on pace to do it again last season with an absolutely bonkers average of 24.8 fantasy points in his eight healthy games. On the other hand, he is 30, and is just one more injury away from seeing his value fall off a cliff à la Michael Thomas. Drafting Kupp essentially locks your team into a win-now position, and I’m not sure I’d like to do that in the second round of a startup.

18. QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Justin’s Judgement: After a breakout season from Hurts, about the only thing that could slow Superman down would be the league taking away his rugby scrum at the goalline. He is a top-three fantasy QB for now and future. A yearly output of 700+ rushing yards and all those rushing tuddies is fantasy gold.

Ted’s Take: On the one hand, this might be a bit early to take a quarterback in a 1-QB league. On the other hand, I’m very much speaking from a glass house with my Mahomes pick. Hurts is only 24 (25 by the start of the season) and in an absolute dream situation paired with two elite young WRs. While running QBs do tend to have shorter shelf lives, he should produce elite numbers for at least five more years.

19. RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

Justin’s Judgement: Coming off a career season and still only 25, Jacobs looks primed for several more good seasons. The Raiders’ offense is consolidated to primarily run through him and Davante Adams, which is great for fantasy. He is not the most sexy pick, but a solid Dynasty asset.

Ted’s Take: Jacobs has done nothing but produce since entering the league and is shockingly young given he is heading into his fifth NFL season. Like with Saquon, I’m not overly concerned that he hasn’t signed his franchise tag yet, but I’m slightly more concerned about his situation going forward than Barkley’s. Jacobs’ 2022 breakout into the elite tier of fantasy RBs was based largely on his increased workload, as he saw a whopping 89.9% of the Raiders’ RB carries, and I’m not fully convinced he is quite the level of talent to demand that level of dominance in any given backfield if he leaves Vegas after this season. With that said, he is still a young, talented player with a proven elite ceiling, so he’s at home here in the back half of the second, even if this is a few picks earlier than I would take him.

20. RB Kenneth Walker, Seattle Seahawks

Justin’s Judgement: All the excitement that stemmed from Walker’s outstanding rookie season was nuked on Draft night when the Seahawks took Zach Charbonnet in Round 2. Walker’s ceiling is severely capped by having another back of Charbonnet’s caliber to compete with for touches. You cannot spend a second-round Dynasty pick on a player who doesn’t catch passes and will be entrenched in a running back by committee for the foreseeable future.

Ted’s Take: I’m fully in agreement with Justin that this is too early for Walker given the addition of Charbonnet. In the second round of any fantasy football draft, you want players with elite ceilings, and I just don’t see that for Walker as long as Charbonnet is in town, especially in a Full-PPR league. I’ve repeatedly discussed how things might be even worse than they seem for Walker, and simply don’t see him returning value at this price.

21. QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Justin’s Judgement: Although Allen didn’t have the type of season we had grown accustomed to over the last several campaigns, due in part to an elbow injury, he is set up to be a top-three fantasy QB for the next several years. There is some concern that Buffalo may try and keep him upright by limiting his rushing and even possibly removing some designed attempts at the goalline, but Allen’s ability to make plays off-platform will still allow for rushing upside.

Ted’s Take: My take on Allen is essentially the same as my take on Hurts, although I agree that the younger Hurts should go earlier, as Allen is now 27. Quarterbacks traditionally age much better than other positions, and with his big frame hopefully nullifying some of the risk that comes with his aggressive running style, Allen should still be good for multiple seasons of top-five fantasy QB numbers. With the number of both young and elite players dwindling as we reach the end of the top two rounds, this is a solid place for him to land.

22. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks (Justin)

Justin’s Judgement: Here is my second-round pick. First off, the landing spot in Seattle for year one is not ideal, but once Tyler Lockett is not retained next season, JSN will slide in and join DK Metcalf to form one of the best WR tandems in football. JSN proved at the combine that he’s explosive and cemented his status into the first round of the NFL draft. He shared the field at Ohio State with superstars Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave and performed like the alpha. Even Wilson and Olave have come out and said he’s better than they are, that’s good enough for me.

Ted’s Take: I absolutely love JSN as a talent, but I don’t know if I would have taken him this early (sorry Justin). Tyler Lockett’s recent contract restructure means he is likely to stick around through at least 2024, making it likely to be at least two years before JSN has a path to an elite target share. With that said, this is Dynasty, and betting on talent over situation is always a good idea. JSN is an incredible prospect, and there is a chance he forces his way into a lead role on this offense sooner rather than later.

23. WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

Justin’s Judgement: Higgins is a proven performer. At age 24, he is a perfect mid-to-late second-round pick. Other than his two games last season in which he suited up and was game active but ended up not playing and screwing fantasy managers, he has been a reliable fantasy player.

Ted’s Take: Higgins is the steal of the second round at this spot. His ceiling is obviously capped as long as he plays across from Ja’Marr Chase, but not as much as you might think. As Justin mentioned, his PPG numbers are deflated by some weird partial appearances, but he averaged 16.3 PPR points in games where he played at least 50% of snaps. That would be good for WR13, and I think he could finish even higher than that if he stays healthy for a full season. If he eventually leaves Cincinnati to be another team’s alpha or Chase misses time with injury, his ceiling grows even higher.

24. RB Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers 

Justin’s Judgement: Harris should benefit from improvements to the offensive line made by the Steelers, and as Kenny Pickett makes strides it should create more Red Zone scoring opportunities. This pick, the last of the second round, is a bit higher than the consensus for Harris, but he does offer the safety of being healthy and without competition, unlike Javonte Williams and Travis Etienne, other backs also drafted in this range.

Ted’s Take: I’m conflicted by Harris as a Dynasty asset. On the one hand, he was the RB3 overall as a rookie and finished last season strong as the Steelers’ offense came together under Kenny Pickett. On the other hand, he’s already 25 despite this being just his third NFL season, and his efficiency numbers leave a lot to be desired. All told, this feels like a solid spot for him, as he should, at a minimum, see enough volume to produce backend RB1 numbers for the foreseeable future. If it’s true that he was held back by injury last season and/or the Steelers’ offense takes a big step forward, he could be a sneaky bargain – after all, he was the consensus Dynasty RB2 at this time last year.