Five Fantasy Football Rookies to Know in 2023

Monday, May 29, 2023 at 1:17 pm ET

If you missed the 2023 NFL Draft, there are quite a few interesting rookies that will either be fantasy-relevant right away or in short order. Let's take a look at five of these players.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Falcons
Over the last decade, few running backs have been drafted as high as Bijan Robinson was this year, and you know the names: Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Todd Gurley. That is fantasy-elite air that he's breathing before ever playing an official snap in the NFL. There's no real competition for carries in Atlanta so we're expecting a significant workload for the rookie. He has the ability to catch as well which boosts his value in PPR formats. In our weighted, consensus rankings, Robinson lands at #10 among ALL running backs in standard, half-point, and full PPR rankings. He's #7 in our fantasy football dynasty rankings. He carries risk and may not find his stride right away, but it's clear that Bijan Robinson will likely come off the boards in the first two rounds.

Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Lions
Some of us had visions of Jahvid Best when the Lions took Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round this year. Detroit already had two relevant running backs in D'Andre Swift and David Montgomery (picked up from the Bears), so with heads scratching we watched Swift move to Philly leaving the backfield to Montgomery and Gibbs. Could this be the classic "learn from a veteran" with Montgomery taking the young guy under his wing? It sounds nice, but we'll see how things pan out. It's tough to think that Detroit would take him that high without expectations that he'll be the starter at some point. Where we really like Gibbs' potential is in the passing game. He's quick (4.36 40-yard dash), has good history of catching passes out of the Alabama backfield, and will be playing behind the Lions' outstanding offensive line. Right now, Gibbs' fantasy rankings have him as an RB4 in most leagues. We'll have to see how the workload breaks down, but don't be surprised when he returns RB2-like numbers later this season.

Anthony Richardson, QB, Colts
While we need to see how the QB competition will shake out over the next few weeks, there's a lot to be excited about with Anthony Richardson. Taken with the fourth pick in the draft, Richardson reminds us physically of Josh Allen from the Bills (6'4" 244 lbs -- 6'5" 238 lbs), plus both guys have the ability to throw the ball deep. What he can't do through the air, he may be able to do with his feet. In fact, that may be what makes him fantasy relevant this season. His current fantasy draft rankings tell us that he'll be overlooked if your draft is soon, so take a late round flier on him - especially in Superflex leagues. He may not light the fantasy world up right away, but he's a great target in dynasty leagues.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Seahawks
Another first round pick, Jaxon Smith-Njigba finds himself in a unique position lining up in the slot sandwiched between veteran receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Assuming Seattle utilizes more three-WR sets, Smith-Njigba's efficiency has some significant upside. While he missed some time last year due to injury, he's certainly a dynamic talent worth keeping an eye on. He's not likely to be drafted by fantasy managers in redraft leagues, but he'll be taken early in dynasty leagues for sure.

Zay Flowers, WR, Ravens
The Ravens took Zay Flowers in the first round. While the speedster lacks size (5'9", 182 lbs), he makes up for it with his elusiveness. What role he'll play on a team that claims to intend to pass more this year remains to be seen. He'll play third WR behind Rashod Bateman and newly acquired Odell Beckham'll have to contend for targets with TE Mark Andrews who is the safest bet for volume. If an injury happens to any of the players mentioned above, Flowers may have fantasy relevance in 2023. Without that, he's no more than a late-flier or bench stash for fantasy.

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