Zach's Favorite Rookies for Fantasy 2023

Saturday, Aug 5, 2023 at 10:36 am ET

When we're talking about rookies in the NFL, we see breakouts every year. Maybe it takes a couple of weeks of living on your bench, but when they do break out, they can be weekly winners. We saw it with Christian Watson going off on an absolute heater of a stretch last season just scoring TDs left and right. We saw players like Kenneth Walker, Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, Chris Olave, Drake London, and Dameon Pierce all have stretches where they were very valuable in fantasy lineups. All of them were drafted in many different parts of fantasy football drafts last year too with both Breece and Dameon being drafted in the first 5 rounds of drafts. Dameon did have a late fly up the boards due to injuries ahead of him on the Texans' depth chart. Watson and Walker were much later-round picks but broke out later into their rookie year. When it comes to finding valuable rookies for your fantasy roster, you can find them anywhere.

Item Bijan Robinson – I'm not going to spend too much time on Bijan. We all know he is a stud RB and will be getting a ton of the offensive workload in the passing game and run game. He will probably be the best rookie in this class in terms of fantasy impact in year one. As long as he stays healthy, he will be the rookie breakout RB of the class and could easily be a top 5 RB in fantasy in his first year. The price tag is going to be enormous to get him though. I have been seeing him as one of the first 3 RBs taken in the draft, and if you're in a dynasty league, good f'ing luck on getting him. If you have him, you should trade him for the biggest package you can. His stock will never be higher than right now. While I love him as a prospect and a fantasy player, the NFL is a cruel game with a ton of injuries - especially to the RB position. So, while I love him in redraft this year, I love him more if I can get him in the late first round. If I have him in Dynasty, I would absolutely trade him if I can get multiple established players or a bunch of high-upside young guys who've been in the league.

Item Devon Achane – I'm guessing Mike McDaniel's favorite movie is "Need for Speed" because this man might literally be addicted to it. He has two of the fastest wide receivers in the league already. He quite literally has the fastest RB from last year and he just drafted the fastest RB in the draft. Reports are showing Devon has already been putting on weight this offseason, and while I don't know what his role will be, if you think I am betting on Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson to stay healthy, you are crazy. Mike is one of the more creative offensive minds in football and I have a feeling he is going to be trying to get the ball in Devon's hands as much as possible. I would say he could be the third receiving option in this offense with the kind of spark plug weapon he is going to be. The best part of Achane is that he is going so late in re-draft leagues, you can basically scoop him up as the last RB on your bench with a ton of upside, especially if you're in a PPR league.

Item Jordan Addison – Now even before the draft, I loved this kid coming out of college. Watching a ton of USC football last year, I got to see this guy play a lot. The fact that he fell to the Vikings in this draft was a huge upside for him. He won't be the number one focus on the offense with Jefferson there, but he will be open a ton if you leave him 1-on-1 with corners. He has smooth breaks in and out of his routes, his route running is some of the best in the entire draft class, and he's got strong hands in traffic. I've always thought this kid was going to be special. I thought he could be the first receiver drafted in this class, but people didn't like his size coming out. It seems like everyone is back on the bandwagon for the kid and I'm happy to see him getting all the love. He would be one of the first rookie receivers I draft in Redraft this year if not the very first. He is being drafted after JSN but I think the Vikings offense is much more fantasy friendly for a #2 wide in Addison compared to the 3rd receiver in Seattle. Geno had a really good year last year, but that really good year is the only one in his career. I'm much more confident in Cousins throwing a ton and creating two fantasy relevant receivers than I am in Geno having three of them in an offense that obviously wants to be run first.

Item Zay Flowers – I know you have to take reports out of camps right now with a grain of salt, especially the really good reports. But coming out of the draft, this was one of my favorite player's favorite player: Steve Smith, who I absolutely loved watching play football growing up, and someone who I trust when it comes to their eyes when watching wide receivers. Zay plays a lot like Steve too, a smaller receiver in height but someone who is strong and plays like they're 6'3". The reports out of the Raven's camp have been spectacular, I don't think OBJ is going to be all that involved, and I don't think Bateman is a clear-cut one like some people think he is. Also, now that Lamar has been paid, I think we could see a revenge/comeback season from him. Zay could be the number one receiver on a Lamar-led offense, and you can scoop him around the same place as Achane - a very high upside rookie at the end of your bench.

Honorable Mention:

Item Jahmyr Gibbs - He didn't quite make the cut even though he is going to be a beast in PPR, being drafted in Round 3 right now in a system that is going to use him in the 20 to 25 yard lines and have David Montgomery be the TD scorer in that Jamal Williams' role. We saw that Swift role be really valuable some weeks, but he was inconsistent and couldn't stay healthy. Gibbs is going to have some spectacular weeks and some disappearing acts his rookie season. IF he can be more consistent than Swift was last year in that same role, he could be a steal. I just think it's going to be really up and down on what Lions RB is the one to own, and I really hate inconsistency from someone I have to draft in the first three rounds.

Item Anthony Richardson - I love this kid but again I didn't want too many of the obvious choices to be the main focus of the list. Richardson could absolutely dominate his rookie season as starting QB of the Colts, especially with the rushing upside. He could easily be what Justin Fields was last year for a lot of people. The rushing upside is crazy, and now with Taylor maybe sitting out or being traded, the rushing TDs could be huge for Richardson. I think if you are someone who is fine with drafting two QBs in 1QB leagues, grab this guy first, then take a safety net guy a couple rounds later like a Goff, Cousins or even Geno just in case.

Join the Discussion

Robert Mackenzie CommentedAug 11, 2023 2:16 pm

Agree with the"just in case" comment re Richardson...he wasn't always
consistent at Fla.

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