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My Ultimate Rankings: The Best Picks For Dominating Dynasty Leagues

It is startup season! @theSmingDynasty is here with tiered rankings for your 2024 draft.

As the NFL changes and the fantasy football landscape evolves, so too do the strategies and nuances within each league format. Today, I will share my “ultimate rankings” and a few quick thoughts about what a superflex, tight end premium dynasty startup draft might look like. The demand for quarterbacks and elite tight ends rises in this format. Therefore, every pick and roster decision carries added weight.

Additionally, my Ultimate Rankings also break players into tiers. Tier-based drafting is especially important in a startup draft which includes trading, as many do. Your goal should be to draft players from the end of the tier rather than the beginning.

Finally, as always, remember these rankings are my Ultimate Rankings and thoughts on a startup draft, not necessarily trade value. They can be two very different things! In my eyes, when it comes to building my dynasty team’s core, I am always breaking ties in value by leaning toward the quarterback position.

Ready? Let’s go!

Ultimate Rankings - Allen and Mahomes
(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)

Ultimate Rankings – First Round

1Josh AllenQBBillsYou really can’t go wrong drafting Josh Allen or…
1Patrick Mahomes QBChiefs… Patrick Mahomes with one of the first two picks in a startup.
2C.J. Stroud QBTexansThis is where the fun begins. Do you roll the dice on the continued success of C.J. Stroud following his extraordinary rookie season?
2Jalen Hurts QBEaglesOr do you roll the dice that Jason Kelce’s retirement and Saquon Barkley’s signing doesn’t hurt Hurts in the rushing touchdown department?
2Joe Burrow QBBengalsOr do you roll the dice that Joe Burrow comes back healthy and returns to his 2022 form as a top 4 fantasy quarterback?
3Justin Herbert QBChargersWe are still targeting quarterbacks in the first round, and Justin Herbert is an interesting case. How does Herbert fare without Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler? What about the Harbaugh factor?
3Caleb WilliamsQBBears…?Speaking of unknowns, we have our first rookie coming off the board. NFL, meet Caleb Williams. It’s hard to argue drafting an elite college QB prospect sharing a roster with DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, Cole Kmet, and D’Andre Swift.
3Lamar JacksonQBRavensHowever, if you don’t want to deal with unknowns, league MVP Lamar Jackson is staring you in the face. Enjoy getting the 2023 QB3 in the latter stages of the first round, dynasty drafters!
4Jordan LoveQBPackersSadly, when I wrote about him last offseason, I was wrong about Jordan Love. I said he would be drafted in the second round of startups this season… and here he is in the first. Can’t win them all! But seriously, draft Jordan Love. He’s fantastic.
4Brock PurdyQBNinersIn the year 2024, we can all agree to stop finding reasons to dislike the fantasy output of the guy who finished as QB6 last season, right?
4Trevor LawrenceQBJaguarsOh, Trevor, my Trevor. Will you ever break out? Look, the truth is Lawrence finished as QB14 last year after missing no time with what looked to be a serious injury. You’re getting him at the end of the first round. Stop complaining.
4Anthony RichardsonQBColtsI won’t lie, I’m not a huge fan of Anthony Richardson. As the guys say on the pod, “The best ability is availability.”

In other words, I have serious concerns that Richardson doesn’t have that ability.
Ultimate Rankings - Justin Jefferson
(Photo by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire)

Ultimate Rankings – Second Round

4Jayden DanielsQBIf you’re okay ranking Richardson up here, you should be okay ranking Jayden Daniels here, too.
4Drake MayeQBIf I’m being honest, either Daniels or Maye would slide down a tier for me, depending on which one is drafted to New England. Check back with me at the end of next month.
4Justin Jefferson WRVikingsHere is a perfect example of startup value versus trade value. Are you trading Jefferson for the equivalent of the 1.03 rookie pick? No.

If you are happy with the QB you drafted in round one, go for Jefferson and get another QB in the upcoming rounds. That said, someone will likely take Jefferson before I would ever want to take him.

Also, should we have a conversation about whether everything will still be coming up roses for Justin Jefferson with Darnold or McCarthy throwing him the ball?
4CeeDee Lamb WRCowboysSpeaking of “we should have this conversation,” are we ready to have the conversation ranking CeeDee Lamb in the same tier as Justin Jefferson?

Jefferson’s 2022 — 128-1809-8
Lamb’s 2023 — 135-1749-12
5Dak PrescottQBCowboysI like Dak, but I have real-life worries about Dak after the way last season (and all the recent Cowboy seasons?) ended. Dallas seems willing to let him hit the market in 2025, and with him on the other side of 30, what happens to his value then?
5Kyler Murray QBCardinalsKyler seems like he’s been in the league forever, but he will be just 27 when the season starts.

Kyler Success = Please Stay Healthy + Draft Marvin Harrison, Jr.
5Ja’Marr Chase WRBengals(Psst, Ja’Marr Chase is closer to the next tier of wide receivers than he is close to Jefferson or Lamb…)
5Amon-Ra St. Brown WRLionsMr. Consistency. An absolute set-and-forget player in your lineup.
5Marvin Harrison, Jr. WRIf you want MHJ, you’re going to have to take him no later than here in a startup. Hopefully, you drafted a solid, steady quarterback in the first round to pair with him. I’m not sure I could do it in a startup.
5Tua Tagovailoa QBDolphinsThe last “zig” quarterback I’d draft before starting to “zag” to some of the other positions.
6Bijan Robinson RBFalconsAnd here we go — Bijan and Breece. Robinson and Hall. They’re here at the end of the second round for me because, in theory, you’d have drafted Mahomes or Allen with your first pick. That gives you somewhat of a pass on needing a top-notch QB2…
6Breece Hall RBJets… and given the lack of other strong options at the position, these two are worth this lofty position. Yes, I’d take them before a tight end, even in tight end premium leagues. It’s simply a numbers game. There are numerous tight ends to pick from. Not so with running backs!
Ultimate Rankings - Garrett Wilson
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Ultimate Rankings – Third Round

6Garrett WilsonWRJetsNot looking to grab a running back in this tier? Look to a wide receiver or tight end instead.

Look at what Wilson has done with awful quarterback play. Now, imagine what he can do with Aaron Rodgers.
6A.J. BrownWREaglesStill just 26 years old, I think Brown and the Eagles’ offense rebound in 2024.
6Sam LaPortaTELionsI know it’s tight end premium, but I think the early third round still feels like the right place for the first tight end off our board. Who better to take than last year’s rookie breakout, Sam LaPorta?

While there are more good tight ends available to draft, once the seal is broken, expect a run on them. Don’t be caught watching the paint dry!
7Christian McCaffrey RBNinersI don’t care that he’s going to be 28 in June, and you (mostly) shouldn’t either, especially knowing that you should play dynasty in two to three-year windows. Having McCaffrey on your team makes you an instant contender.
7Jahmyr Gibbs RBLionsI’ve always been lower than most on Gibbs, but there’s no denying the success of his rookie campaign. Finishing as RB3 by average from week 7, I still worry about Gibbs holding up long-term if given a full-ish workload.
8Dalton Kincaid TEBillsWelcome to the elite dynasty tight-end tier.

If I were in a startup draft right now, I’d want to come away from the first four rounds with two quarterbacks and one of the seven tight ends in this round or next.
8Brock BowersTELike Marvin Harrison, Jr. from earlier, if you want Bowers, this is where you’ll have to take him.
8Mark Andrews TERavensI’ve always believed that Mark Andrews is slightly overrated, and he’ll be 29 when the season begins. You can’t argue with his production with Lamar Jackson when he’s on the field, but that has been an issue as of late.
8Kyle Pitts TEFalconsI still believe in you, Kyle. Please don’t let me down in 2024. By the way, he’s still just 23 years old!
9Malik NabersWRIn a startup, I’d rather be safe and get a quarterback with the pick someone else is willing to spend on Marvin Harrison and draft Nabers here later instead.
9Jared Goff QBLionsQuarterback drops off more sharply in 2024 startups than you may realize. The next QBs to be drafted after Goff are likely either Kirk Cousins (Achilles, 36 years old), Bryce Young (rookie flop, bad team situation), or JJ McCarthy (total enigma, in many ways)

Are there usable QBs after Goff? Sure. Do you want to bank your dynasty roster on any of them? Probably not.
9De’Von AchaneRBDolphinsGame-changing, week-winning RB… but can he stay healthy? Can he handle the workload?
Ultimate Rankings - T.J. Hockenson
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

Ultimate Rankings – Fourth Round

10T.J. Hockenson TEVikingsHockenson should likely be higher. Unfortunately, between the injury and quarterback question marks, I just can’t do it. Don’t be mad at me, Rich!
10Trey McBrideTECardsMcBride is the last of the tight ends I’d really want to take early, so if I don’t get him, I’m waiting until much later to draft one.

He’s also the one of the elite tight end group I question the most. What happens to their offense if (when) they add Marvin Harrison, Jr?
11Puka Nacua WRRamsSpeaking of uncertainty, we come to Puka. Puka, above any other player up here, may have the widest range of rankings I’ve seen.

Pro – record-setting rookie year
Con – what happens if McVey and Stafford leave?
11Chris Olave WRSaintsOlave is another player I have been lower on than consensus, but it feels like he belongs here in the great-but-not-elite tier of wide receivers.
11Michael Pittman WRColtsPittman is one of my favorite players in the NFL. If you’re worried about him playing with Anthony Richardson, don’t be.
11DJ Moore WRBearsDJ Moore has had more NFL quarterbacks throwing him the ball than my two-year-old has those yogurt pouches every day. You know the ones. Trust me, it’s a lot.
11Drake London WRFalconsThe new Justin Jefferson. Okay, that’s taking it too far.

But seriously, Drake London will feast with Kirk Cousins at quarterback.
12Jaylen Waddle WRDolphinsThe curious case of Jaylen Waddle. I think we can all agree we’d like to see the 2023 Waddle put back on the shelf so we can break out the 2022 and 2021 Waddle again.
12Tyreek Hill WRDolphinsHad he just kept his intrusive thoughts to himself and not said he planned to retire at age 30, he’d be right up there with Christian McCaffrey.

If you have him in an existing league, awesome. If you’re in a startup, I’m not sure I’d take him.
12Kyren Williams RBRamsAnother player I debated putting higher, but ultimately, Kyren lands here at the back end of the fourth round. He balled out last season, but he’s still a running back. He’s a great guy to have found in an existing league, but he’s probably not a player I’m drafting earlier in a startup draft.
13Tee Higgins WRBengalsWe’re now getting into the “secondary” tier of players. Tee Higgins is a fine player, but there is also Ja’Marr Chase.
13DeVonta Smith WREaglesDeVonta Smith is a fine player, but like Higgins and Chase, Smith has to deal with AJ Brown?
13Nico Collins WRTexansNico Collins is a fine player, but also Tank Dell?

Ultimate Rankings – Conclusions

To conclude my Ultimate Rankings, I will steal from an article I wrote last year.

“First, is there a “Best Superflex Draft Strategy?” In fairness, probably not. Every strategy works when you draft the “right” players. Do you want to build long-term success, though?”

“What is the most important position in the NFL? The quarterback, of course! Doesn’t it stand to reason then that the most important position in Superflex leagues is the quarterback? I think it does. You have to roster two and ideally always start two, right? Everyone knows that! Although, it’s more like three for your bye weeks, right? Naturally.”

“Quarterbacks, and Lots of Them!”

Even with a draft many considered full of talented quarterbacks, the NFL signal-caller pool is not very deep. After adding the top rookies, I still count only eighteen quarterbacks I would be content drafting early in a startup. Would I roster guys like Rodgers, Mayfield, and Stafford? Of course. However, if we are talking about building the core of your team, it starts with the first four rounds.

Looking Ahead

Moreover, don’t consider your dynasty startup limited to the players you draft that year. It would help if you also looked at the entire dynasty landscape. The 2024 rookie draft class is lacking difference-making running backs. On the other hand, looking ahead, the 2025 draft is filled with quality running backs. Get to know the names Nicholas Singleton. Ollie Gordon. Kaytron Allen. Players like TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins. Donovan Edwards. Ashton Jeanty and Devin Neal. The 2025 class has the potential to be one of the deepest running back classes we’ve seen.

Similarly, while I’m sure there will be some breakouts, the 2025 quarterback class is not looking all that great. There is little to no consensus on who the top quarterback is at this stage. If it is Quinn Ewers, does that excite you? Superflex rookie mocks for the 2025 class reflect the quarterback questions many have. Perhaps more importantly, NFL mock drafts have the same lack of clarity at the position.

It is these little nuggets of knowledge that can help you take your dynasty game from good to great. Dynasty is all about playing the long game. Don’t let your season begin and end with your startup draft! Thank you for checking out my Ultimate Rankings and trusting Dynasty Nerds with your dynasty fantasy football needs. As always, if you have any thoughts, please comment below.

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