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Top Rookies for 2023 NFL Season Long Fantasy

With the start of the 2023 NFL season two months away, it is time to dive in and look at the best rookies to target in your season-long drafts. Drafting the right rookies in your seasonal fantasy leagues can make or break your season.

Top Rookies:

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons (RB1):

When to draft him. I can’t make a list of the best rookies to draft and not include Robinson. The 8th overall pick had a dominant college career and looks to have the talent to translate that to the NFL. Robinson couldn’t have asked for a better team to be drafted to as Atlanta’s run blocking is one of the best in the league. The Falcons led the league last year in rushing attempts with Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier in the backfield. With no disrespect towards the Falcons’ two backs from last season, Robinson is miles ahead of them talent-wise. In his final season at Texas, Robinson ran for 1580 yards and 18 touchdowns to go along with his 314 yards and two TDs receiving. I would take Bijan Robinson starting in the back half of the 1st round of any PPR and non-PPR leagues. He is a clear RB1 and is only behind Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler in my RB rankings.

Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings (WR1):

When to draft him. Minnesota wasn’t happy with just one superstar WR they went out and used their 1st round pick on another. Addison won the Fred Biletnikoff Award in 2021 while at Pitt for Most Outstanding WR. Like Bijan, Addison couldn’t have asked for a better landing spot with the Vikings. Lining up alongside arguably the top WR in the league should open up a lot of space for the Viking’s 2nd WR. Addison’s route running in Minnesota’s pass-heavy offense should mean good things for the rookie wideout. With Justin Jefferson being on the same team, Addison shouldn’t be your WR1. He is a midrange WR2 this year. At the start of the 7th round of your draft is when you should be looking at taking Addison.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks (WR2):

When to draft him. Smith-Njigba is probably the best rookie WR coming into the season. I would have him ahead of Addison if it wasn’t for the two wideouts who sit in front of him on Seattle’s depth chart. Smith-Njigba should see a healthy amount of targets during his rookie year as Geno Smith averaged 33.6 pass attempts a game last season. Similarly to Addison, Smith-Njigba shouldn’t be your WR1 because of the other WRs on his team. Early 8th is when I am starting to look at drafting Smith-Njigba. With a similar ranking to Addison for me, if you have a choice between the two I would go with Addison.

Jahmyr Gibbs, Detriot Lions (RB2):

When to draft him. Gibb’s ceiling is up there alongside Bijan Robinsons. Gibbs looks to take over the hole left by Swift’s trade to the Eagles. His ability as a pass catcher increases his fantasy value since he already possesses big play potential in the run game. In a full PPR league, Gibbs is a top-10 caliber RB even as a rookie. In non-PPR leagues, I think Gibbs losses a few spots but is still a top-15 back. Gibbs is a low-end RB1/high-end RB2. I would draft him early 3rd if he is my RB1 or wait until the start of the 4th to be my RB2.

Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers (WR3):

When to draft him. Similar to Smith-Njigba, Johnston’s potential is a bit damaged having two established WRs ahead of him. Having Herbert as his QB will be very beneficial for him since the LAC QB had 699 pass attempts last season which means he is likely to spread the ball to all three wideouts. I don’t like to predict injuries but Allen and Williams have been injury prone their whole careers so if that trend continues Johnston would move up to WR1/2 and his production will increase. I would start looking at Johnston around the 9th round. To me, with Allen and Williams being ahead of him, Johnston is a low-end WR2/flex.

Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens (WR4):

When to draft him. I think Flowers is the best WR at the moment for the Baltimore Ravens and only behind TE Mark Andrews as the best target for Lamar Jackson. The reason I have him ranked as my 4th rookie WR is the fact that Lamar is such a threat as a runner that Flowers wouldn’t see the same amount of targets as Addison, Smith-Njigba, and Johnston. Similarly to Johnston, I would start taking a look at Flowers in the 9th round. They rank out similarly to me so if one isn’t available then take the other but if both are available I would take Johnston over Flowers.

Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills (TE1):

When to draft him. Kincaid is going into an offense where TEs have had success over the past few seasons. On the depth charts, he is currently sitting 2nd behind Dawson Knox, but he should see plenty of field time. Kincaid is a player I am looking to pick up around the 11th/12th round. I would be a bit worried to have him as my TE1 but he’s near the top of my list for TE2.

Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers (QB1):

When to draft him. The 1st overall pick in this year’s draft has to be included in this list. Young was announced as the starter going into training camp which gives him a boost in fantasy. The reason Young is my top rookie QB to target in season-long fantasy is because of the team that was built around him. Over the offseason, Carolina has brought in weapons like Miles Sanders and Adam Thielen as well as drafted wideout Jonathan Mingo. I would not draft Young to be my QB1 in any league but he is a good bye week QB option. After the 13th round is the time to start looking at drafting Young.

7 Rookies to keep an eye out for during the first few weeks:

  • Michael Mayer (TE, Las Vegas Raiders)
  • CJ Stroud (QB, Houston Texans)
  • Marvin Mims Jr (WR, Denver Broncos)
  • Tyjae Spears (RB, Tennessee Titans)
  • Jalin Hyatt (WR, New York Giants)
  • Devon Achane (RB, Miami Dolphins)
  • Israel Abanikanda (RB, New York Jets)

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