The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books. With the NFL Draft comes dynasty rookie draft season! We have you covered with our dynasty rookie draft coverage, and of course, you can complete fast and FREE dynasty rookie mock drafts using our mock draft simulator. While you take that simulator for a spin to prepare for your dynasty rookie mock drafts, check out our latest dynasty rookie mock and analysis from Pat Fitzmaurice.
- NFL Draft Grades for Every Team
- Thor’s Draft Grades (AFC | NFC)
- NFL Draft Day 1 Winners & Losers (Day 2 | Day 3)
- Fitz’s Round 1 NFL Draft Picks: Dynasty Rookie Draft Outlook (Day 2 | Day 3)
Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft
Here’s our take on a dynasty rookie draft. It’s a 12-team superflex league from an early draft position.
1.03 C.J. Stroud (QB – HOU)
FantasyPros college football and NFL Draft analyst Thor Nystrom calls Stroud “the new-age prototype of a pocket-passer.” The 6-3, 214-pound Stroud is a mechanically consistent and uncommonly accurate passer who can fit throws into tight windows and hit the bull’s-eye on deeper passes. He throws easily catchable passes, maximizing his receivers’ ability to make yardage after the catch. Stroud isn’t going to add much fantasy value as a runner, but he’s not a complete statue either. He has enough functional mobility to avoid pass rushers and occasionally run for a first down when a play breaks down. But Stroud is first and foremost a pocket passer.
A two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, Stroud completed 69.3% of his passes at Ohio State and averaged 9.8 yards per pass attempt, with 85 TD passes and 12 interceptions in 26 games. Granted, Stroud was blessed with an embarrassment of pass-catching riches at Ohio State, including WRs Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr.
There was a great deal of predraft speculation that Stroud’s stock was falling, possibly due to a reportedly low score on the S2 cognitive test, which is designed to measure an athlete’s capacity for information processing and quick decision-making. Earlier in the draft process, Stroud was the betting favorite to be taken No. 1 overall.
In dynasty leagues, Stroud figures to be a top-4 pick in superflex formats. His supporting cast with the Texans won’t be very exciting early on, with Nico Collins his top veteran wide receiver, so don’t expect strong numbers in Year 1. But Stroud’s long-term outlook is bright. He’s a good bet to start right away, and for redraft purposes he should be considered a low-end QB2 or high-end QB3.
2.03 Dalton Kincaid (TE – BUF)
The Bills weren’t thought to be in the TE market in this year’s draft — at least not in the first round — but they made an aggressive move to trade up two spots (leapfrogging the TE-hungry Cowboys in the process) and draft Dalton Kincaid, who’s widely considered to be the best pass-catching tight end in the Class of 2023.
The 6-4, 246-pound runner is an outstanding route runner with sure hands, good speed and exceptional ball skills. Kincaid’s high school basketball background is evident in his fluid movements. He’s also extremely difficult to deal with after the catch — Kincaid forced 16 missed tackles last season, second-most among this year’s TE prospects.
While Kincaid is a terrific pass catcher, he isn’t much of a blocker. He is a true “move” tight end and isn’t going to succeed if he’s asked to play in-line and try to block NFL edge defenders. Since he’s relatively one-dimensional and not a true two-way tight end like Notre Dame’s Mike Mayer, it’s possible that Kincaid won’t be a full-time player and will be used situationally. Even if he’s used in a way intended to leverage his pass-catching skills, part-time duty would lower Kincaid’s fantasy ceiling.
In 1QB dynasty leagues, Kincaid is worth a late-first-round pick in rookie drafts. In superflex dynasty leagues, he should come off the board early in the second round. Kincaid’s execeptional pass-catching talents could make him immediately roster-worthy in redraft leagues, though the historical performance of rookie tight ends suggests that Kincaid should be considered a low-end TE2.
3.03 Hendon Hooker (QB – DET)
Hooker’s torn ACL from November needs the okay from your medical staff — and could delay the start of his rookie year. Which is unfortunate because he’s old for a prospect. Hooker, a sixth-year senior, will be 26 at the end of his rookie season. Late breakout in college. Didn’t scare anyone with his arm at Virginia Tech. Light came on after transfer to Knoxville. But that was under ideal circumstances. So much of Hooker’s production comes from the scheme. Josh Heupel is one of the sport’s best play-callers.
The Vols’ scheme cleaved the field in half for Hooker. Boy was Hooker confident reading his half of the field — but you just so very rarely see his head move from one side of the field to the other. The plays you’d see him go to the other side felt schemed – stacking receivers on one side of the alignment to create eye-candy confusion, feigning interest in that direction post-snap for a beat before hard-resetting to the other side of the field for the actual first-read.
How he’ll do with full-field reads in a pro-style offense at the next level is an open question. While Hooker senses pressure well and prevents defenders from crashing down on him early when he intends to leave the pocket, he’s strangely very little threat to actually throw while moving. Per PFF, Hooker completed only seven passes over 151 dropbacks the past two years when moved off his spot. NFL scouting reports will zero in on that tendency.
4.03 Eric Gray (RB – NYG)
With late-fifth-round draft capital and a landing spot that puts him behind one of the NFL’s most prolific workhorses, Gray will not be a coveted commodity in dynasty rookie drafts, but his talents make him worth a final-round flyer. Gray landed with the Giants and will serve as a depth piece behind star RB Saquon Barkley.
Gray had 99 receptions for 827 yards and 5 touchdowns during a four-year college career that began at Tennessee and ended at Oklahoma. With his reliable hands and crisp route running, Gray seems cut out for passing-down work at the NFL level. But Gray was no slouch as a runner at Oklahoma, racking up 1,366 rushing yards and 11 TD runs for the Sooners last season. He’s a shifty runner with an impressive array of moves.
The 5-10, 207-pound Gray isn’t a very powerful runner, however, and he doesn’t impress with his straight-line speed. Gray clocked a 4.67 at the NFL Scouting Combine, giving him a 20th percentile speed score, per PlayerProfiler.com.
5.03 – Deuce Vaughn (RB – DAL)
As Lloyd Christmas once said, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!” Could Vaughn bypass Ronald Jones, Malike Davis and Rico Dowdle on the Dallas depth chart to become the primary complement to starting RB Tony Pollard now that Ezekiel Elliott is no longer in the picture? It’s ambitious to think that an undersized sixth-round draft pick could fill that role, but Vaughn is a unique talent.
It will be interesting to see what sort of role the Cowboys have planned for the 5-5, 179-pound Vaughn. The obvious NFL comparison is fellow Kansas State product Darren Sproles, a 5-6 scatback who had a 15-year NFL career, racking up 553 career receptions and 8,392 yards from scrimmage while also making his mark as a kick returner. Vaughn’s ultra-productive college career suggests he’s capable of carving out a Sproles-type NFL career. In his final two college seasons at K-State, Vaughn had 2,962 rushing yards, 27 TD runs and 91-846-7 receiving. He’s a patient, shifty runner and an accomplished pass catcher. The obvious question is whether the diminutive Vaughn can be a fantasy-viable NFL running back. If so, he’ll probably have to do it the same way Sproles did — primarily as a pass-catching specialist. And since Pollard is a good pass catcher, Vaughn might not see much third-down work.
In dynasty rookie drafts, Vaughn is worth considering as a calculated final-round gamble.