Drafting rookies in fantasy football can be an exciting proposition in redraft and dynasty leagues. They represent hope, and many are promising newcomers with offensive upside that will translate into production, either immediately or in another season or two.
Of course, you also don’t want to go overboard on rookies. You first need to identify the ones with the most running, receiving and passing talent. Then, you want to examine when they can have a key role and produce fantasy-viable numbers.
The 2023 NFL Draft class offers one stud that will go off the board as a top-10 overall fantasy performer, and after him, there are a ton of intriguing options that can help rosters at some point in the season. Here’s an early overall look at the rookie rankings for half-point PPR leagues:
Early Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings 2023
1. Bijan Robinson, RB, Falcons (RB1)
The Falcons were an elite rushing team last season, running 55 percent of the time, and now they get an elite running back prospect to take over the backfield from Tyler Allgeier and others. Robinson is also playing for an offensive-minded coach, Arthur Smith, who has history with stud Derrick Henry. Robinson is a top-five running back who should go in the first round of virtually every fantasy draft.
2. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Lions (RB2)
Putting Gibbs just out of the top 12 running backs for 2023 might be slighting him, given he should be the lead workhorse in a top offense behind a strong line. D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are gone, vacating a ridiculous 2,070 yards from scrimmage and 25 TDs. Former Bears starter David Montgomery is a capable backfield mate, but Gibbs can still dominate the key touches through third down with Montgomery being more of a swing backup.
3. Jordan Addison, WR, Vikings (WR4)
The Vikings drafted Addison to replace Adam Thielen in the slot to help Justin Jefferson. Thielen produced 70 catches for 716 yards and six TDs last season. Addison, however, can do more than that, cutting into a lot to K.J. Osborn’s outside No. 2 numbers while developing into the key overall third target behind Jefferson and tight end T.J. Hockenson.
4. Anthony Richardson, QB, Colts (QB2)
There’s some thought the Colts won’t rush Richardson into action and bridge with Gardner Minshew. Here’s not totally believing that, as Richardson’s running skills for former Eagles OC Shane Steichen give him a high rookie floor should he start. Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, and a deep TE group can help Richardson add numbers with his strong arm, too.
5. Quentin Johnston, WR, Chargers (WR4)
Johnston may not have been exactly what the Chargers need, a field-stretching deep threat vs. a versatile slot type in line to replace 31-year-old Keenan Allen soon, but Allen and Mike Williams have noted durability issues. Should either miss time, Johnston can see a key role over Josh Palmer and make some big plays for Justin Herbert.
6. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Seahawks (WR4)
Unlike Allen and Williams, the Seahawks’ dynamic duo of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett is durable. Between the two, they missed one game for Geno Smith last season. Behind Metcalf and Lockett, there’s not much vacated in wideout production. Still, JSN is a massive No. 3 upgrade over Dee Eskridge, and his ace slot work can prompt the Seahawks to bump up wideout targets in that role. Lockett also will be turning 31 and start to slow down, giving JSN more chances.
7. Bryce Young, QB, Panthers (QB2)
Young also provides some fantasy-pleasing running, and his weapons are decent between DJ Chark, Adam Thielen, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Hayden Hurst. Should Young start right from Week 1 as expected, he will bump up the anemic overall production of the Panthers’ QBs from last year. Around 3,500 yards and 25 TDs are in reach as a passer.
8. Zach Charbonnet, RB, Seahawks (RB4)
Charbonnet seems to be a weird pick after the Seahawks drafted promising workhorse Kenneth Walker in last year’s draft, but Seattle values having strong running back depth and lost both Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer in free agency, thus also prompting the drafting of Kenny McIntosh later. Charbonnet will find it hard to have standalone value, but he will be a premium handcuff.
9. C.J. Stroud, QB, Texans (QB2)
Stroud won’t provide the running of Richardson or Young and doesn’t have the same type of reliable weaponry beyond veteran newcomers Dalton Schultz and Robert Woods. He’s also in a 49ers-like offense that’s more facilitating at times from QB with a run-centric approach. That said, the talent and opportunity as a starter will be there, and Stroud can be a good fantasy backup with occasional streaming flashes as a rookie.
10. Devon Achane, RB, Dolphins (RB5)
Mike McDaniel can’t quit his former 49ers friends Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. because he trusts them so well in the Dolphins’ zone-blocking running system. But he also was excited when Miami landed Achane in the draft. Achane could be his next Elijah Mitchell and clean up this crowded mess in a hurry.
11. Zay Flowers, WR, Ravens (WR5)
Flowers can be a star playing off Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews, whether working the slot or as a perimeter No. 2. The initial obstacles toward production include Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, and Devin Duvernay is still around for new coordinator’s Todd Monken offense. One other concern is the Ravens needing time to break out of a run-heavy shell and letting Lamar Jackson throw more toward 4,000 yards. Flowers, however, has great upside and could see his role expand quickly.
12. Tyjae Spears, RB, Titans (RB5)
Spears is the No. 3 for now behind Derrick Henry, with Hassan Haskins in between, but the former Tulane star is part of a new offensive wave blowing through Nashville to transition the team for power-running reliant to a more diverse, well-rounded passing game with QB-in-waiting Will Levis. Spears can jump Haskins fast as a runner and see an increase in key change-of-pace touches should the 29-year-old Henry break down from previous massive volume.
13. Tank Bigsby, RB, Jaguars (RB6)
The Jaguars signed former Browns backup D’Ernest Johnson in free agency, but Johnson seems destined for a role similar to the one he had behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in Cleveland. In this case, the Hunt-like Travis Etienne Jr. is the lead, with Bigsby being the one having some of Chubb’s power and explosiveness. At worst, Bigsby is a plus handcuff. At best, he is needed to fill in more for Etienne and rack up some key TD work.
14. Michael Mayer, TE, Raiders (TE2)
Between Darren Waller and Foster Moreau, there are 808 yards and five TDs vacated in Vegas’ TE room. There’s a good chance Mayer becomes a more viable receiving option than the newcomer veteran competition, Austin Hooper and O.J. Howard. Jakobi Meyers is a new No. 3 wideout for Josh McDaniels, but much of his production will cross over with Hunter Renfrow to compensate for no Mack Hollins. Mayer is in a high-upside spot with a QB that loves throwing to tight ends.
15. Sam LaPorta, TE, Lions (TE2)
LaPorta has a chance to start right away over Brock Wright and stop the post-T.J. Hockenson committee approach at the position. With Jameson Williams’ early suspension and Marvin Jones Jr. replacing Chark behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, LaPorta could see key early targets from tight end-loving Jared Goff.
16. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Bills (TE2)
Will the Bills go to more unique 12 personnel where Kincaid is on the field often with Dawson Knox? That’s key here to cut into what the wideout trio of Stefon Diggs, Khalil Shakir, and Gabe Davis produce. Kincaid is a field-stretching athlete who could do damage if he’s deployed as a big slot, with either Shakir or Davis being the odd man out outside. He could see a big role regardless of whether Knox goes on the shelf.
17. Jake Moody, K, 49ers (K1)
Robbie Gould put up every-week starting-worthy scoring numbers in San Francisco’s high-powered offense last season. Moody comes with a bigger, young leg to put up some long bombs of 50 yards or more. He’s this year’s Evan McPherson.
18. Will Levis, QB, Titans
The Titans aren’t the most reliable source of QB fantasy production post-A.J. Brown, as the Ryan Tannehill fade has happened and the Malik Willis rise didn’t. But should Tennessee pivot to a little more high-volume passing and give the big-armed Levis a shot to start sometime in 2023, he has the weapons for pleasing numbers in the right matchups.
19. Luke Musgrave, TE, Packers
Musgrave replaces Robert Tonyan as the starting receiving type, but he needs to fight through a crowd to emerge as a key target for Jordan Love. Look for him to be a potential fantasy starter in Year 2.
20. Kendre MIller, RB, Saints
There’s uncertainty over a looming Alvin Kamara suspension, and to that end, for some early work. New Orleans signed scoring machine Jamaal Williams away from the Lions, and now it gets Miller, also a strong, early-down back from TCU who will need to show some receiving juice to stay on the field should Kamara be missing. Miller is someone to grab once the Kamara news goes down.
21. Zach Evans, RB, Rams
There’s some Austin Ekeler in Evans’ game should he get a chance if Cam Akers’ durability issues re-surface. There’s a chance Evans ends up as the more promising handcuff compared to Kyren Williams.
22. Jalin Hyatt, WR, Giants
The Giants have an absolute crowd at wideout with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton returning to help Isaiah Hodgins and Wan’Dale Robinson, but the team moved on from Kenny Golladay and were excited to draft the big-play Hyatt to bring more speed for Daniel Jones. Given the injury history of the many Giants wideouts, it wouldn’t be surprising if Hyatt started outside.
23. Hendon Hooker, QB, Lions
Hooker is expected to be “redshirted” behind Goff for a season, but if anything happens to Goff or the Lions just decide to turn the page early, Hooker would get the keys to a loaded offense, a la Brock Purdy.
24. Jonathan Mingo, WR, Panthers
Mingo is a promising big slot, but that doesn’t help short-term with Adam Thielen in Carolina between DJ Chark and Terrace Marshall. That said, Chark and Thielen have durability issues, so Mingo could quickly become a much-needed target for Bryce Young.
25. Marvin Mims, WR, Broncos
Mims’ drafting suggests the Broncos want to be done with Jerry Jeudy soon, as Mims has more big-play upside working inside. Also, Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick have a boatload of injury issues. Mims has some Tyler Lockett to him and could develop a beautiful rapport with Russell Wilson quickly when given the chance.
26. Jayden Reed, WR, Packers
Reed is slotted in between second-year wide receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, replacing Randall Cobb. but it’s uncertain how he, Luke Musgrave, and rookie tight end Tucker Kraft will be worked into the passing pecking order for Jordan Love.
27. Rashee Rice, WR, Chiefs
The Chiefs lost JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency, leaving Rice as the No. 4 wideout behind Marquez Valdes-Scanting, Ka’Darius Toney, and Skyy Moore. His route-running savvy and production can endear him quickly to Patrick Mahomes. Given the different skill sets of MVS, Toney, and Moore, watch out for Rice sticking more in that JuJu role.
28. Kayshon Boutte, WR, Patriots
The Patriots have JuJu Smith-Schuster in a key role replacing Jakobi Meyers, and they will likely be using more 12 personnel with Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. Boutte has the inside-outside versatility and quickness they covet to develop into a sneaky good target for Mac Jones.
29. Roschon Johnson, RB, Bears
The Bears added another impressive power back to help offset the loss of David Montgomery after they also signed fellow former Texas star D’Onta Foreman in free agency. That will make it a challenge for Johnson to get early touches, but Foreman, Khalil Herbert, and Travis Homer aren’t known for staying on the field. Johnson can emerge as Chicago’s best back at some point.
30. Josh Downs, WR, Colts
Parris Campbell was a hot sleeper for Indianapolis last offseason until rookie Alec Pierce emerged opposite Michael Pittman Jr. Campbell is now with the Giants, and Downs can step into his role as a versatile slot cog by edging Isaiah McKenzie in camp. The Colts won’t get the right return on Downs until they open things up downfield and all over the field with Anthony Richardson starting at QB.
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