The 2023 NFL Draft’s Round 1 is officially in the books, and now that we have landing spots for some of the most prized rookies coming into the NFL, we need to assess everything again. We spent months assessing these rookies, but now that they have NFL teams, we can look at who pairs talent with potential opportunity. A few prized rookie prospects landed in ideal situations for fantasy football, while others may have some work to do to reach their true potential. So let’s look at some of the winners and losers from Day 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft from a fantasy football viewpoint.
NFL Draft Fantasy Football Day 1 Winners
Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings
While it took 20 picks to get a wide receiver off the board, the Vikings ended the run with Jordan Addison, the former Pitt Panther turned USC Trojan who was the only three-year player in the 2023 draft class with 3,000-plus receiving yards in college. (Click Here for more of a breakdown of the Vikings selection)
Moving to the Vikings represents a huge opportunity right out of the gate for Addison. Of course, it helps to play on the same offense as all-world receiver Justin Jefferson. Adam Thielen is gone, and right now, the Vikings' depth chart consists of Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, and Addison as the top three options. The Vikings also played 64% of their first down personnel out of 11 personnel (Three-WR) and had a top-six pass rate over expected to couple with a 65% pass rate in 2022. Head coach Kevin O’Connell made this team into a passing team overnight from Mike Zimmer’s run-first Minnesota teams of yesteryear.
This is incredibly important because the Vikings play a limited amount of personnel each week. Come to find out, this is an O’Connell trait going back to his days as offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams.
- The Vikings averaged a league-low 9.6 players per week who earned a snap on offense in 2022.
- The Rams averaged a league-low 8.5 players per week who earned a snap on offense in 2021.
Simply put, when you’re on the field, you’re not leaving unless you’re injured. The 2022 Vikings wide receivers’ routes were so condensed last season that after Jefferson, Thielen, and Osborn, no wide receiver ran more than 53 routes total. That was Jalen Reagor, and that’s a little over three pass routes ran per game. Not a lot.
Last season’s percentage of routes per dropback:
Just seeing Osborn there as the third receiver and the sizable gap between him and Reagor means we can pretty much cement a healthy Addison into a huge snap and route share from the jump. Then, if he can leapfrog Osborn, then there’s top-24 potential in the second half of 2023. Remember: FIVE teams had two wide receivers that produced top-20 seasons last season.
Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
Bijan Robinson to the Falcons is about the worst-kept secret in draft circles as we had to ask if the Falcons would really eschew the modern draft groupthink about positional value to select him at pick #8. Bijan Robinson is the guy you buck those trends for.
People love to throw around the term “generational” when describing running backs, but Robinson is in that Saquon Barkley/Ezekiel Elliott class of running back. He goes to a Falcons team that ran the ball into the Stone Age last season at the second-highest clip (55.3%) in the NFL, and with Robinson (and Tyler Allgeier) in tow, they might go back even further to the Paleozoic Era with their running under head coach Arthur Smith.
Cordarrelle Patterson doesn’t seem too long for the Falcons and could be let loose, leaving Robinson, and last year’s fifth-rounder and fantasy surprise Tyler Allgeier, as the main cohorts in the running back room. Allgeier’s stock drops precipitously with Robinson, but he could still have some lingering value in 2023 as the Falcons look to keep him involved.
That said, Smith has his Derrick Henry from his time in Tennessee in Robinson, and for fantasy purposes, I can think of only a few names I would want ahead of him in fantasy drafts. I would take only Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler over Robinson if you gave me (noted running back avoider) a choice of the top running backs.
NFL Draft Fantasy Football Day 1 Losers
D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
The biggest fantasy loser of Day 1 has to be D’Andre Swift, whose role on the Detroit Lions in any way, shape or form is in peril with the team bringing in David Montgomery in free agency as well as spending a first-round pick on running back Jahmyr Gibbs from Alabama.
It’s truly the worst case scenario for Swift and he looks to be on the outside looking in just to stay on the roster by the time Week 1 rolls around. Swift could definitely capture some of his previous value back in the event that he’s moved to a different team (Eagles?), but throw a rock into the ocean and see how quick it sinks. That’s how fast his value has dropped since Thursday night.
Montgomery looks ticketed for the Jamaal Williams role from last season and GIbbs can do what Swift can do and then some as a much better receiving back with refined route running like a wide receiver.
It really should have been a sign that the Lions were hesitant to even give Swift a bunch of touches when he was healthy. Of the 14 games he played, he only notched double-digit carries in just three games.
You don’t draft Gibbs to sit in a committee with two other veteran backs. GIbbs will play, Montgomery will play and Swift will be the wild card that will likely be wearing another team’s jersey once Week 1 rolls around.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks
Now, hear me out. Please. Do NOT go find me on Twitter @ktompkinsii and bring pitchforks onto my pristine, zero RB-related timeline.
While Jaxon Smith-Njigba was my top-rated wide receiver heading into the NFL Draft and Seattle is a fun fit for his services, let’s look at how Seattle operates:
- No team played more 12 personnel than the Seahawks did last season
- Seattle’s usage of 11 personnel was bottom-six in the league in 2022
- DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are still ahead of him as long as they’re in uniform
This is mainly a 2023 best ball and redraft-oriented take, as I still really like him in dynasty formats. Especially when Tyler Lockett (who will turn 31 in the beginning of the 2023 season) is off the roster. Metcalf and Lockett both notched 100+ targets last season with the next highest mark being tight end Noah Fant’s 63 and after that, Marquise Goodwin’s 42.
The receiver room in Seattle remains unchanged from 2022 so Smith-Njigba will be the immediate WR3 for the Seahawks. But unless Seattle joins the rest of the league in their usage of 11 personnel, Smith-Njigba’s target potential in his rookie season is pretty limited. He’s likely going to go too high in Underdog best ball drafts but in dynasty, it could provide a unique window to trade for him despite being the first receiver off the board from the real-life 2023 NFL Draft.
- 2023 NFL Draft Live Coverage With Bettorcast
- 2023 NFL Draft: Second and Third Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football