The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft is in the books. With 10 offensive skill position players officially entering the league, player values are impacted. Here are some of the key fantasy football winners and losers.
NFL Draft First-Round Fantasy Football Winners
The NFL Draft is the second of the big three offseason events that heavily impact fantasy values (with the other two being free agency and the preseason).
From after the Super Bowl through the fantasy draft season in late August/early September, there’s a whole lot of downtime. For much of the spring and summer, not much is going on. Right now, we’ve got a whole new crop of athletes entering the league.
These new players are not only affected by their landing spots, but their presence impacts their new teammates as well. Let’s take a look at the biggest fantasy football winners following Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
The Bijan Robinson thesis was quite simple. We just needed him to land somewhere he could be a three-down back. In Atlanta, running behind their fantastic run-blocking scheme, he has that.
Robinson immediately slots in not only as a fantasy RB1 but an elite RB1. Obviously, I haven’t done my 2023 redraft rankings quite yet, but I would be shocked if I didn’t have Robinson already in my top five. He’s that good.
Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings
This is a fantastic landing spot for the shifty USC slot receiver. Jordan Addison is not overly athletic, but he’s an early declare who had a superb sophomore season.
Minnesota has the best wide receiver in the NFL in Justin Jefferson, but Batman didn’t have his Robin after Adam Thielen’s release. Sorry, K.J. Osborn may be a hero, but he’s not a true WR2. Addison fits perfectly in this offense and has the potential to be a fantasy WR3 right out of the gate.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Buffalo Bills
The Bills desperately need a quality receiving option behind Stefon Diggs. While they are still likely to draft a wide receiver on Day 2, they didn’t take one on Day 1. Instead, they took TE Dalton Kincaid.
It’s only a matter of time before Kincaid relegates the limited Dawson Knox to the bench. Landing in an explosive offense with an elite quarterback in Josh Allen is ideal for the rookie tight end. It rarely happens immediately for tight ends, but Kincaid has top-five upside in the Bills’ offense.
Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks
We know how out of control NFL Draft rumors can get. So, perhaps the Seahawks were never seriously considering taking a quarterback. But they were linked to a couple.
The Seahawks may very well still take one on Day 2, but not taking one on Day 1 is a vote of confidence in Geno Smith. Add in the fact that they nabbed the best wide receiver in this class in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who also happens to project as an elite slot option — exactly what the Seahawks’ offense is missing — and Smith has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal for the foreseeable future.
2023 is going to see the elite quarterbacks go higher than they have since 2012. But if you don’t grab one early, Smith is shaping up to be an excellent fallback option on what should be a really spunky Seahawks’ offense.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
It was a good day for Lamar Jackson. Not only did he get paid, but the Ravens spent a first-round pick on a wide receiver for the third time in the last five years.
Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. project to start outside in two-receiver sets. The Ravens don’t use 11 personnel frequently, but when they do, they have a talented slot option in Zay Flowers.
The Ravens not only committed to Jackson long-term but immediately got him an extra offensive weapon.
NFL Draft First-Round Fantasy Football Losers
I like to be positive. It’s just more fun. But I can’t let a desire to be overly positive get in the way of sound and realistic fantasy advice. There are winners, and there are losers. Here are players who saw their fantasy football values decrease after round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Every year, without fail, there is a running back who looked pretty good that sees his fantasy value completely vaporized due to a draft pick. Chester Taylor-Adrian Peterson. Tre Mason-Todd Gurley. Michael Carter-Breece Hall. And now, we can add Tyler Allgeier-Bijan Robinson to the list.
If you read my dynasty profile on Allgeier, you were prepared for this possibility. While Allgeier wasn’t an auto-sell, in general, selling Day 3 running backs after they post a strong season is good process. They just don’t have any job security, regardless of how well they play.
Allgeier is completely toast. He’s now a backup behind the best running back to enter the NFL since Saquon Barkley. Perhaps his “veteran status” earns him an increased role early in the season. But Robinson is inevitable. Teams do not spend top-10 picks on running backs to have them cede valuable touches to fifth-round picks.
Allgeier showed enough to make me believe he can be fantasy-relevant if given the opportunity. But unless the Falcons cut or trade him, it’s not happening for at least another three years. He went from a potential top-24 running back to almost completely valueless. In 2023 redraft leagues, he will now go in the double-digit rounds as a pure handcuff. He is undoubtedly the biggest fantasy football loser from the 2023 NFL Draft.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
Yes, I am only putting D’Andre Swift here. David Montgomery plays a different role than Swift and Jahmyr Gibbs. Montgomery will be just fine as the two-down grinder and goal-line back. Swift, however, is in a world of trouble.
I will preface this by saying I’m not convinced the Lions are going to enter the 2023 season with three capable running backs. It just seems unnecessary. But if they do, make no mistake about it, Swift will be the odd man out.
The Lions drafted Gibbs with the 12th overall pick. Similar to Robinson, they did not use that pick so Gibbs could sit on the bench. But at 199 pounds, Gibbs does not profile as a three-down back. He essentially does what Swift does.
Now, I’m not saying Gibbs is better than Swift. But the Lions have made it abundantly clear how they feel about Swift. They put him in a three-man timeshare to close out the 2021 season. They put him in a three-man timeshare with plodding Jamaal Williams and practice-squad guys Craig Reynolds and Justin Jackson in the 2022 season.
Gibbs is a plus-satellite back. He will primarily be used as a receiver but can also handle anywhere from 6-10 carries a game. That will likely be his role immediately. Montgomery will handle the power role. Where does that leave Swift? The answer, unfortunately, is in the dust.
Swift is two years removed from being a top-five dynasty running back. Now, he’s probably not even top 30. His redraft ADP is about to plummet, and it’s entirely justified. He’s no more than an RB4 dart throw on the hope and a prayer that analysis like mine is completely wrong.
Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Zay Flowers helps Lamar Jackson far more than playing with Jackson helps Flowers. I am not one to say Jackson can’t throw the ball. But he’s still a running quarterback.
Jackson’s top target remains Mark Andrews. Behind him will be Rashod Bateman, followed by Beckham. That puts Flowers fourth. Jackson cannot really support more than two fantasy-relevant pass catchers. He’s certainly not supporting four.
We know Jackson will be the Ravens’ quarterback for at least the next five years. That gives Flowers a pretty low ceiling for the foreseeable future.
Flowers is off the redraft radar for me, and he’s not someone I’m excited about in dynasty.
Will Levis, QB, TBD
Yes, I’m calling Will Levis a fantasy football loser already. The difference between being a first-round quarterback and a second-round quarterback is massive. The likelihood of success plummets if a quarterback does not go in the first round.
At one point, Levis was the favorite to go second overall. Instead, he fell out of the first round entirely.
Wherever Levis ends up, he is no longer even remotely likely to be starting Week 1. Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are guaranteed Week 1 starters. Anthony Richardson may sit behind Gardner Minshew, but it would be a major shock if he didn’t make multiple starts as a rookie. Levis may not see the field at all.
Had Levis gone top five, he would be a top 5-6 pick in Superflex dynasty rookie drafts. Now, he probably doesn’t even go in the first round.
Levis feels very much like this year’s Malik Willis. He’s a quarterback analysts liked far more than NFL teams. When guys fall like this, there’s usually a reason. I was already out on Levis, but now I’m really out.
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