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2023 Rookie Draft Class Preview (Fantasy Football)

by Raju Byfield | @FantasyContext | Featured Writer
Apr 12, 2021

Trades involving rookie picks are one of the things that make dynasty leagues so unique. Dynasty league managers should have some sort of grasp on the talent or lack of talent of upcoming rookie classes before making trades that involve future rookie picks. We have discussed the 2021 class versus the 2022 class here and will now look at the top projected underclassmen set to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft. 

The 2023 rookie class is set to be a special one based on the freshmen breakouts we saw in 2020. And with more names set to emerge over the next two seasons, and an unknown number of talented seniors strengthening the depth, 2023 rookie picks should prove to be much more valuable than their 2022 counterparts (especially outside of the top four). Let’s preview some of the names. 

Check out our complete list of 2021 NFL Draft profiles here >>

Quarterbacks

DJ Uiagalelei (QB – Clemson)
Bryce Young (QB – Alabama)
CJ Stroud (QB – Ohio State)

There are three quarterbacks currently projected as potential first round picks, with DJ being the only lock for the first. He showed well as a true freshman when Trevor Lawrence was out with COVID routinely flashing his first round tools. Bryce Young and CJ Stroud are five-star recruits set to play for two of the country’s strongest programs. 

There are a few other quarterbacks currently on the radar, including Hudson Card (QB – Texas), Haynes King (Texas A&M), Ja’Quinden Jackson (QB – Utah), Harrison Bailey (QB – Tennessee), Malik Hornsby (QB – Arkansas), and Evan Prater (QB – Cincinnati). The 2023 NFL Draft quarterback class is projected to be stronger than the 2022 crop, so contending dynasty managers looking to figure out a succession plan for an aging starter at quarterback should focus on 2023 picks instead of 2022. 

Running Backs 

Bijan Robinson (RB – Texas)
Jamhyr Gibbs (RB – Georgia Tech)
Tank Bigsby (RB – Auburn)
Seth McGowan (RB – Oklahoma)
Zach Evans (RB – TCU)

There are a number of running backs who have already impressed enough to make dynasty managers excited about the 2023 crop of running backs. The standouts are listed above, but a few other running backs are expected to make their mark by the time the 2023 NFL Draft rolls around. All five of these running backs flashed first round upside, and one or two may very well make a bigger mark in the NFL than any running back from the 2022 class. Bijan Robinson is currently the number one name on dynasty league managers’ minds. With that being said, all five of these running backs flashed RB1 upside and should be drafted to start.

Other names to monitor include: Jase McClellan (RB – Alabama), Kendall Milton (RB – Georgia), Blake Corum (RB – Michigan), MarShawn Llyod (RB – South Carolina), Jalen Berger (RB – Wisconsin), EJ Smith (RB – Stanford), Demarkus Bowman (RB – Florida), and Sean Tucker (RB – Syracuse). These are all talented backs who are expected to work their way into the Day 2 mix. 

Wide Receivers

Kayshon Boutte (WR – LSU)
Julian Fleming (WR – Ohio State)
Jaxson Smith-Njiba (WR – Ohio State)
Jermaine Burton (WR – Georgia)
Marvin Mims (WR – Oklahoma)
Rakim Jarrett (WR – Maryland)
Demond Demas (WR – Texas A&M)

These seven receivers highlight what will be a bounce-back wide receiver class as compared to the drop in talent we will see in 2022, compared to the unreal depth of the 2020 and 2021 classes. The talent does not stop there as there are a number of other freshmen who made waves in 2020, and there are a host of others set to make their mark in the coming seasons. However, all seven of these names project as alpha receivers who should make their marks as fantasy WR2’s or better. 

Other intriguing names to monitor include: Jordan Addison (WR – Pittsburgh), Quinton Johnson (WR – TCU), Josh Downs (WR – North Carolina), and Gee Scott Jr. (WR – Ohio State). There will undoubtedly be at least seven more players who put themselves on the Day 2 radar by the time the 2023 NFL Draft rolls around, accentuating this class’s strength. 

Tight End

Arik Gilbert (TE – Transfer Portal) and Michael Mayer (TE – Notre Dame) are the two names to know at tight end. Mayer could declare today and be a first round lock. Gilbert is more of a projection but has undeniable first round tools and raw talent. 

Strategy

Dynasty league managers may want to angle for 2023 rookie picks now before the rest of their league begins to grasp the sheer amount of talent projected to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft. The first round is where the bulk of the excitement will be concentrated, but the second round is already shaping up to have multiple impact starters. 

Contending teams, especially those already dealing with roster crunch, would be well advised to make moves to acquire 2023 1sts. 2021 second round picks or 2022 first round picks should both be put in play in your efforts to acquire one or more additional picks. Outside of superflex leagues, 2022 is set to see a significant tier break after the first four to six picks, setting up any acquired 2023 picks to provide a significant return on investment. 

Check out our complete list of 2021 NFL Draft profiles here >>


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Raju Byfield is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Raju, check out his profile and follow him @FantasyContext.

Dynasty, Featured, Featured Link, NFL