Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Biggest winners from the 2023 NFL Draft

Kansas City, MO, USA; Texas running back Bijan Robinson on stage after being selected by the Atlanta Falcons eighth overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • Bijan Robinson finds his perfect fit: The top running back in years lands with the NFL’s run-heaviest team behind a top-five offensive line, making him an early first-round pick in fantasy drafts.
  • Jordan Addison can immediately produce: Addison lands in a pass-happy Minnesota Vikings offense where he can immediately earn an every-down role.
  • A second-round run at tight end: Five tight ends were picked in the second round, joining Dalton Kincaid in the first. This was the first time six tight ends were picked in the first two rounds since 1974.
Estimated reading time: 7 mins

With the 2023 NFL Draft in the books, we saw several players' fantasy football stock soar or take a tumble. Nonetheless, we are going to focus on the positives here, detailing the five rookies who saw their fantasy stock rise the most thanks to their landing spot and draft price.

RB Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Landing in Atlanta was the best-case scenario for the top running back prospect in years.

  • The Falcons were the only team to run the ball on more than half of their offensive plays last season, which included maintaining the run even when playing from behind.
  • They ran 48.8% of the time while losing, which was five percentage points more than any other team.
  • Those rates remained similar when Desmond Ridder took over as the team’s starting quarterback.
  • The Falcons' depth was a talented Tyler Allgeier and 32-year-old Cordarrelle Patterson. Allgeier can give Robinson a rest at times, but that shouldn’t stop Robinson from seeing 20 touches per game.
  • He will be running behind some of the best interior linemen in the league. Chris Lindstrom and Matt Hennessy are two of the five interior linemen who earned a 90.0-plus PFF run-blocking grade over the past two seasons.
  • Robinson should be the top draft pick in not just dynasty rookie drafts, but dynasty drafts in general.

WR Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings

There was a run of four wide receivers late in the first round, and Addison has the best opportunity to immediately produce for fantasy managers.

  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Quentin Johnston landed with teams where they are stuck as the third receiver on the depth chart for at least their rookie season.
  • Zay Flowers landed with the Baltimore Ravens, who were the sixth-run-heaviest team last season and have been the most run-heavy team over the past five years.
  • Minnesota moved on from the 32-year-old Adam Thielen, who spent the past seven seasons as a starting receiver.
  • Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn will remain starters in three-receiver sets once Addison joins the lineup.
  • Addison should be able to jump Osborn on the depth chart to be the team’s No. 2 wide receiver.
  • Quarterback Kirk Cousins has achieved an 87.5 PFF offensive grade over the past two seasons combined, which ranks fifth among active quarterbacks.
  • The Vikings went from a run-first team with Mike Zimmer to posting the fifth-highest pass rate (66.4%) under Kevin O’Connell in 2022.
  • They might even pass more often during the 2023 season if they move on from star running back Dalvin Cook.
  • Addison will never be the Vikings' top wide receiver as long as Jefferson is still on the roster, but a team can have two fantasy stars at the position.
  • The Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all produced two top-20 fantasy wide receivers last season.

WR Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers

Johnson was the second wide receiver off the board, and he will get paired with one of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks.

  • Justin Herbert’s 88.1 PFF offensive grade over the past two seasons ranks fourth best among active quarterbacks.
  • Herbert is only 25 years old while Johnston is 21. If everything goes well, these two could be playing together for the next decade.
  • Johnston is both the freakiest athlete in this wide receiver class and the best after the catch.
  • This isn’t the best immediate landing spot for Johnston, as Keenan Allen and Mike Williams will likely maintain the top two spots on the depth chart.
  • Allen recently turned 31 years old and is already in the top 40 all-time in receptions. He is still playing at a high level and is an asset in the short term, but he won’t be part of the Chargers’ long-term plans.
  • Allen and Williams are both signed through the 2024 season, but both have cap numbers over $32 million. The Chargers could save more than $20 million by cutting either one of them — or $40 million by cutting both. Los Angeles currently has one of the worst cap situations in 2024, so releasing at least one of Allen or Williams after the season is very plausible.
  • Johnston will still be worth a mid-round flier in fantasy drafts just in case he breaks out early, but his combination of talent and situation is arguably the best of the wide receiver class.

WR Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs

Rice will get a chance to play with Patrick Mahomes, which is enough to make him a winner.

  • Kansas City utilized a six-man rotation at wide receiver last season but lost both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman in free agency.
  • The Chiefs' only addition was Richie James from the New York Giants.
  • Skyy Moore is the team’s only wide receiver under contract beyond 2024. Most of Kansas City’s wide receivers could be cut after the season to save salary cap space.
  • Kadarius Toney and Moore played well in limited opportunities, as both earned a PFF receiving grade above 70.0, but Toney has injury concerns and Moore’s limited playing time was alarming.
  • This gives a rookie an opportunity to move to the top of the depth chart as early as Year 1.
  • Mahomes' current favorite target is tight end Travis Kelce, but he will be 34 years old before the end of the season.
  • Tony Gonzalez is the only other tight end in the past 15 seasons to rack up more than 900 receiving yards in a season at that age. Kelce can follow in Gonzalez’s footsteps and play at a TE1 level for more seasons, but his production is bound to decline at some point.
  • The bottom line for Rice in PFF’s draft guide mentions Rice is one of the more NFL-ready receivers in the class. It’s possible he earns a starting job this season.

TE Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions

Tight end was a clear need for Detroit after the team traded T.J. Hockenson last season.

  • LaPorta avoided 20 tackles last season, which ranked second among tight ends.
  • He accomplished this at Iowa; the same college that produced Hockenson.
  • The Lions threw to tight ends at an above-average rate in 2021 during Dan Campbell’s first season.
  • This continued in 2022 while Hockenson was still on the roster, but the tight end targets plummeted once Hockenson was traded.
  • LaPorta should be the clear-cut starter, unlike Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer, who will face competition from at least one veteran during their rookie seasons.
  • His competition is a combination of Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra and James Mitchell.
  • The Lions' wide receiver room isn’t as strong in 2023 as it was in 2022. D.J. Chark Jr. left for Carolina and was replaced by a 33-year-old Marvin Jones Jr.
  • There aren’t going to be many late-round tight ends with high upside. Several teams have a similar depth chart to last season while most teams that made changes added a veteran who isn’t a top-12 tight end option.
  • LaPorta might not be a fantasy starter as a rookie, but he should be a favorite late-round option with the upside to reach the top 12.

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