2023 NFL Draft impact on fantasy football: Bijan Robinson headlines exciting rookie class

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Atlanta Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot, from left, first round draft pick Bijan Robinson and head coach Arthur Smith pose for a photo before an NFL football press conference at the team's training facility in Flowery Branch, Ga., on Friday, April 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

The 2023 NFL Draft was exciting from a fantasy football perspective considering several quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends were drafted early.

The first round saw plenty of offensive talent go early with the expectation that these early-round rookies will be starters early on at the NFL level, so their names will need to be known in order to have a successful fantasy draft.

Now that we know where the top prospects will be playing in 2023, it’s time to analyze their fantasy football prospects as rookies along with their long-term potential for those in dynasty leagues.

QUARTERBACKS

The 2023 quarterback class is much more interesting than last year, as there were three quarterbacks among the first four overall picks of the NFL Draft. Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud went first and second overall to the Panthers and Texans, and while they both make for solid picks in dynasty leagues due to their long-term upside, it’s unlikely that they’ll be consistent enough to start in fantasy as rookies since they don’t offer much in terms of rushing. Anthony Richardson, however, is a freak athlete who will almost certainly lean on his rushing ability in year one, and he’s in the perfect system to do so with the Colts hiring former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. Will Levis likely won’t start many games as a second round rookie and isn’t an appealing fantasy option even if he does in a run-heavy Titans offense lacking in receiving options. There wasn’t much depth in the class, but Saints fourth round rookie Jake Haener is intriguing and might be worth a dynasty league stash in case an injury were to occur to Derek Carr.

Biggest rookie year impact: Anthony Richardson, Colts

Best long-term potential: Bryce Young, Panthers

Biggest bust potential: Will Levis, Titans

Dynasty sleeper: Jake Haener, Saints

RUNNING BACKS

The trend of running backs not being selected in the first round was bucked in 2023 with both Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs going in the top 12. Robinson projects to have the biggest immediate impact since he’s set to take over as the Falcons starter and has an every-down skillset to remain on the field in a run-heavy offense. Gibbs might take some time to hit his stride since he’ll likely have to share carries with veteran David Montgomery early on. The Saints went running back early and selected Kendre Miller, who’s got a clear path to being the Saints lead runner of the future considering both Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams are 27 or older. Devon Achane has upside due to his elite speed, but his fantasy prospects aren’t too promising since the Dolphins run a committee backfield, but Chase Brown could be a late-round steal since he landed in an elite Bengals offense that’s a Joe Mixon injury away from being a wide open backfield.

Biggest rookie year impact: Bijan Robinson, Falcons

Best long-term potential: Kendre Miller, Saints

Biggest bust potential: Devon Achane, Dolphins

Dynasty sleeper: Chase Brown, Bengals

WIDE RECEIVERS

The 2023 wide receiver class was underwhelming compared to the last two years, but there was still some solid talent with four receivers going in the first round (Jaxon Smith-Njigba to the Seahawks, Quentin Johnston to the Chargers, Zay Flowers to the Ravens and Jordan Addison to the Vikings). Flowers is in the best position to make an immediate impact since the Ravens will be implementing a more balanced offense that should see them throw more, and he could take over as their top target with both Odell Beckham and Rashod Bateman being injury prone. Smith-Njigba’s long-term future looks bright in Seattle with Tyler Lockett getting up there in age, but Johnston might not be in as good of a spot as some are thinking with the Chargers since Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are still performing. There were several interesting options after the top four, but Rashee Rice stood out since he landed with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs and might be able to carve out a starting role early on considering the Chiefs’ receiving corps is thin.

Biggest rookie year impact: Zay Flowers, Ravens

Best long-term potential: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seahawks

Biggest bust potential: Quentin Johnston, Chargers

Dynasty sleeper: Rashee Rice, Chiefs

TIGHT ENDS

The 2023 tight end class offers more potential fantasy options than usual, with Dalton Kincaid leading the way and landing in an excellent spot with the Bills. Kincaid should be able to make an impact right away catching passes from Josh Allen, but Michael Mayer might be in a better position for long-term success since he’s the clear-cut top tight end for the Raiders, whereas Kincaid will be having to share the field with Dawson Knox, who’s been a solid starting tight end in Buffalo and a proven red zone target for Allen. Darnell Washington slid on draft night and ended up in an awful spot for fantasy purposes considering the Steelers already have an established receiving tight end in Pat Freiermuth, but Luke Schoonmaker landed in a great spot with the Cowboys since they let Dalton Schultz walk in free agency and will have plenty of receiving reps available for their tight ends that Schoonmaker could take if he can prove himself this offseason.

Biggest rookie year impact: Dalton Kincaid, Bills

Best long-term potential: Michael Mayer, Raiders

Biggest bust potential: Darnell Washington, Steelers

Dynasty sleeper: Luke Schoonmkaer, Cowboys

Spencer Urquhart (@spencertheguru) has been a fantasy sports analyst since 2014, founding a community of over 6,000 followers

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