We're now three months removed from the NFL draft and deep into training camp viral video hype season. Very soon, we're going to have preseason clips to which we can all wildly overreact. The players most likely to bounce around the fantasy ranks based on camp buzz are, naturally, the 2023 rookie class. With that in mind, here's a revisiting of my rookie dynasty ranks, refreshed (only slightly) based on offseason news.
1. Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Robinson is a tier-of-his-own rookie, the best and most complete back in his draft class by a wide margin. He's now headed to the team that led the NFL in rush attempts last season and he'll run behind an excellent line. He's an easy first-round choice in redraft leagues and the clear No. 1 RB in dynasty start-ups. No draft spot is too aggressive for Robinson, honestly. He's an immediate fantasy difference-maker. Robinson's receiving potential is becoming clear too, and it's absolutely ridiculous.
2. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions
OK, sure, it seemed a little weird for the Lions to use the No. 12 overall selection on a smallish back who almost certainly won't have an every-down role — not when both D'Andre Swift (since traded) and newly signed David Montgomery were on the roster already. But they did it, and wow were they ecstatic when it happened. Just look at this draft room reaction:
— Andrew Jones (@TWDTV1) April 28, 2023
It should go without saying that when a team drafts a non-premium position like running back in the first half of the first round, they are clearly committing to significant usage. At 199 pounds, Gibbs isn't a realistic 300-touch candidate, but he's an outstanding receiving threat coming off a 44-catch season at Alabama. Best case, he can be Kamara Lite.
3. Anthony Richardson, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Without a clear, no-doubt No. 1 fantasy receiver in this class, let's take a flier on a QB with rare (and perhaps unprecedented) physical traits. Much has been said about Richardson's exceptional fantasy ceiling as he develops as a passer, but it's his floor that should excite us in Year 1. As soon as he sees the field, he's going to be among the top rushing threats at his position. Richardson rushed for 654 yards and nine scores last season on 103 carries. His uncommon speed, strength and freakish athleticism definitely translate to game action:
Anthony Richardson TOOK OFF 💨pic.twitter.com/N4OfT2zSff
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) October 16, 2022
Richardson's arrival in Indy could actually be a slight drag on Jonathan Taylor's fantasy value, because it's going to be next-to-impossible to keep him out of the end zone on goal-line plunges. He has a clear shot to lead all quarterbacks in rushing scores in his first season.
4. Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings
However you'd arranged your wide receiver board ahead of the draft, there's simply no question about which player landed in the best spot for first-year production. Addison has an unobstructed path to immediate targets opposite Justin Jefferson. He's the rookie wideout most likely to catch 75 balls in 2023, a perfect second option for the Vikes. Last year, Adam Thielen ran the second-most routes in the league (674), behind only Jefferson. Addison is only one year removed from a flawless season at Pitt (100-1,593-17), a year in which he boosted Kenny Pickett's draft profile in no small way.
5. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Seattle's receiving corps already featured two players who demand significant target volume, two of the most dangerous, proven receivers in the league. Smith-Njigba is a terrific fit in real-life as the team's primary slot (with versatility to move), but his immediate opportunities may not be substantial. Long-term, he's likely next up in the Doug Baldwin-Tyler Lockett tradition of 80-1,000 producers.
6. Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens
We think of the Ravens as one of the league's most run-committed teams and, sure, that may hold in 2023, but everything about Baltimore's offseason suggests they intend to put the ball in the air. Odell Beckham Jr. is the presumptive WR1, but he's also a high-mileage vet coming off his second ACL tear. We could see a relatively even distribution of targets among this team's primary receivers. Flowers is a TY Hilton-ish wideout who was productive over multiple collegiate seasons, capable of lining up anywhere and doing damage on any route. He has the Reception Perception stamp of approval, too.
7. Quentin Johnston, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Johnston steps in as a prime downfield target for Justin Herbert, a QB with a weapons-grade arm who averaged only 6.7 intended air-yards per attempt last season, ranking near the bottom of the league. Johnston definitely has the potential to unlock a few things for the Bolts in the year ahead, even if he isn't a volume receiver.
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) April 28, 2023
He's a fun size/speed prospect (6-foot-3) with a 40-plus inch vertical who averaged 19.0 yards per catch over three collegiate seasons. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen will be 29 and 31 years old respectively this season, and obviously neither of the vets possesses Johnston's athletic traits. He probably needed to land in a spot that offers developmental time with a well-defined first-year role, and that's just what happened here.
8. Bryce Young, QB, Carolina Panthers
Young is a chess-master, an exceedingly fun watch, monstrously productive over multiple collegiate seasons. He can't very well fix his height (5-foot-10), so you're just going to have to decide whether you believe in his obvious talent and inventiveness. The weapons available to him in Carolina are not ideal at the present time, so we can't expect immediate fantasy relevance in one-QB leagues.
9. C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans
If we set aside the Bijan video archives, it's possible that no player in the 2023 draft class had a game as impressive as Stroud's virtuoso performance against Georgia (348-4-0). He can be a bit more dangerous as a runner than the college stats suggest. Fantasy-wise, it certainly would have been preferable for the Texans to have not dealt away picks that otherwise might have been used on JSN this year and Marvin Harrison Jr. next spring. Alas.
10. Kendre Miller, RB, New Orleans Saints
Miller offers ideal size (215 pounds), impressive collegiate production at TCU (career 6.7 YPC) and a sneaky-good landing spot with the Saints. We remain on suspension watch with Alvin Kamara, an aging back declining in terms of efficiency.
11. Jonathan Mingo, WR, Carolina Panthers
Ideally, he can be a big slot in the tradition of Amon-Ra St. Brown and Marques Colston. But he could also be a big slot in the style of, say, a less-athletic Chase Claypool. He found his way to a team that isn't exactly loaded at receiver, so he has a shot to see plenty of first-year targets. Unimpressive college production is a concern.
12. Tyjae Spears, RB, Tennessee Titans
Spears was massively productive last season — 1,837 scrimmage yards, 21 TDs — an absolute joy to watch. Look at this nonsense:
— Tulane Football (@GreenWaveFB) December 3, 2022
He roasted USC in a classic Cotton Bowl win, rushing for 205 yards and four spikes. Spears figures to be at least a piece of the long-range, post-Derrick Henry answer at running back for the Titans. He can be a valuable receiving threat in Year 1, while serving as Henry's understudy.
13. Jalin Hyatt, WR, New York Giants
Hyatt was last year's Biletnikoff winner, a burner coming off a 15-TD season for Tennessee. He's heading to a team with a clear need for his skill set, so he could prove useful in the early weeks. The Ted Ginn Jr. comps have merit. He's setting land speed records in camp.
14. Sam LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions
LaPorta produced 657 receiving yards last year for a ghastly Iowa offense that finished its 13-game season with only 2,037 passing yards. He was just an absolute hero, excellent after the catch.
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) April 28, 2023
Detroit isn't stacked at tight end, but the team definitely made use of the position near the goal-line last season. Lions tight ends combined for a dozen receiving TDs.
15. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Buffalo Bills
One recurring theme with many of the top rookies in the 2023 draft class is that they absolutely cooked USC's defense when given the chance. Kincaid hung 16 catches and 234 yards on the Trojans last year, en route to a 70-890-8 season. He's now basically an oversized slot receiver in Buffalo, tied to Josh Allen. It's clearly an excellent spot, although his competition for targets is an issue.
16. Zach Charbonnet, RB, Seattle Seahawks
It was impossible to not hate this selection, which also happened to be the most Seahawksy pick of all time. Charbonnet could have been plenty interesting for fantasy purposes if he'd landed in a spot that didn't already have a well-established productive young starter. Ken Walker III was a monster last season, capable of handling beefy workloads. Don't assume Charbonnet is anything more than a rotational runner with contingent value. Again: Truly hate that Seattle did this to us. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury is going to cost Charbonnet developmental time in his first training camp.
17. Rashee Rice, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Rice is coming off a 96-catch, 1,355-yard season at SMU and he has the full endorsement from Patrick Mahomes, which is a strong point in his favor. KC's receiving room is full of question marks, so there's no question Rice has a shot at first-year relevance. On situation alone, he should have your attention.
18. Devon Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins
He's probably too little (5-foot-9, 185), but he does have legit track speed and, more importantly, Mike McDaniel is into him. Achane caught 60 passes over his last two seasons at A&M, which is also encouraging.
19. Chase Brown, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Brown was a ludicrously underrated back throughout the pre-draft process. There weren't five runners better than him in 2022. He topped 100 scrimmage yards in every game for Illinois, including 163 against Iowa and 164 at Michigan. He found his way to an NFL team that only seems kinda/sorta committed to its incumbent starter, although his fifth-round status carries no guarantees.
20. Jayden Reed, WR, Green Bay Packers
On the one hand, it seems like a plus that he was such a reliable contested catch winner, particularly at his size (5-foot-11, 185). But on the other hand, maybe it's not great that he found himself in so many contested situations. Either way, he has some Jahan Dotson in his game. He can be immediately relevant in Green Bay, given the state of the Pack's receiving room.
21. Marvin Mims Jr., WR, Denver Broncos
Denver's receiving corps is basically just a list of your worst fantasy decisions from the past two years, so there's an opportunity for Mims. He's not generally considered a technician, but he does have 4.38 wheels and he averaged 20.8 yards per reception over the past two seasons at Oklahoma.
22. Cedric Tillman, WR, Cleveland Browns
Tillman has size (6-foot-3), ball skills and physicality. His best games in his breakout 2021 season were against Alabama (7-152-1) and Georgia (10-200-1), which is plenty impressive. He seems like a terrific complement to Cleveland's veteran starters.
23. Roschon Johnson, RB, Chicago Bears
A bulldozer of a back who is gonna be beloved by Bears fans. The fan base has a preferred style and this is it. He can find his way into the backfield rotation immediately. It helps that pass protection is one of the pluses on his scouting report, because it's a weakness for Khalil Herbert.
24. Josh Downs, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Downs is uncommonly tiny (5-foot-9, 171), but it's tough to argue with the multi-year collegiate production. He caught 195 balls for 2,364 yards and 19 scores for UNC over the past two seasons. It's difficult to imagine the Colts unleashing a high-volume passing offense whenever Richardson takes the controls.
Honorable mentions: TE Michael Mayer, LV; RB DeWayne McBride, Min; WR Puka Nacua, LAR; WR Charlie Jones, Cin; WR Tyler Scott, Chi; QB Will Levis, Ten; RB Deuce Vaughn, Dal; TE Luke Musgrave, GB.