With the 2023 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, fantasy football managers — particularly those in dynasty leagues — are trying to size up rookie values. Not surprisingly, the Carolina Panthers invested the No. 1 overall pick into quarterback Bryce Young. What might dynasty managers expect from him?
Bryce Young Dynasty Outlook and Value
It could be argued that most No. 1 overall picks don’t have anywhere close to No. 1-caliber careers. This is especially true of quarterbacks.
In the previous 25 drafts (from Peyton Manning in 1998 to Travon Walker in 2022), 19 quarterbacks were taken first. Among them were Tim Couch, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell, Sam Bradford, and Baker Mayfield. A few others became (or still are) serviceable-to-good quarterbacks for a handful of years, including Alex Smith, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, and Jared Goff.
In the modern era of the NFL, picking the “best” quarterback in a draft at No. 1 has given teams about a 50/50 shot at securing a perennial top-10 QB. And for every elite performer, there’s also been a complete bust.
The thing about picking first overall is that there are no accidental decisions, at least in the moment. It’s not like making the 71st selection, and your team’s war room is torn over three guys while working the phones to trade down, and you have two minutes remaining. There’s no “Look, we need to make a decision” moment.
The team picking No. 1 has made that decision days or weeks, or sometimes months earlier. They know exactly what they’re doing — or at least, they believe they do. Time will tell. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.
I believe Young faces more pressure as this year’s first selection than perhaps any No. 1 since Mayfield (2018), and quite possibly since DE Mario Williams (2006). Williams, of course, was selected by Houston over a guy who most people thought should have gone No. 1, Reggie Bush.
This year, the Panthers gave the Bears a ton of draft capital, plus top-25 (and possibly top-16) NFL wideout DJ Moore, to get the guy they wanted most — a quarterback who could help return this team to glory.
Young’s collegiate career included 13,250 passing yards, 152 passing touchdowns, and only 21 interceptions on a near-70% completion rate. He also ran for 1,084 yards and 26 rushing scores. He is, by all accounts, an NFL-ready QB with the character and talent to thrive at the professional level.
Yet, Young’s reported size (5’10” and 204 pounds, although some measurements have placed him at 194 pounds) raises important questions about his durability in this league. Very few sub-six-foot quarterbacks have consistently succeeded in the modern NFL.
I publicly raised this issue several years ago when the Cardinals drafted the similarly sized Kyler Murray. It seemed ridiculous at the time. Murray was one of a long line of “can’t-miss” prospects. But quarterbacks — especially mobile ones — are apt to get hit repeatedly by 250+ or even 300+ pound defenders.
As a rookie, Murray led the league in sacks taken. It’s not farfetched to say that his durability issues (nine missed games the last two seasons) are due, in part, to his more injury-prone frame.
Young enters the NFL on a team with a strong backfield and questionable receiving corps, though rookie second-rounder Jonathan Mingo might be a huge get for a team that otherwise would have leaned heavily on Adam Thielen and DJ Chark. Still, Young might not have an above-average corps until 2024 or 2025.
Bryce Young Fantasy Ranking
PFN’s Tommy Garrett ranks Young No. 3 in his rookie dynasty mock draft, sandwiched between Falcons RB Bijan Robinson and Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs. As we know, rankings are largely subjective, because they hinge not only on objective truths about players but also perceptions of how they’ll be utilized, as well as personal fantasy preferences.
For example, you might be the kind of manager who loads up on 1B running backs (“complementary” RBs like AJ Dillon) and RB handcuffs, knowing that you can get massive upside at relatively little expense.
Or you might be a best-in-class manager who targets elite positional-skill players whenever possible, followed by filling positional gaps. Why take a running back who gets you 6-8 points when you can snag a wide receiver who averages 8-10?
Quarterbacks are in a separate category. Their frequent longevity (some play into their late 30s) and relatively high floors make them appealing bench fodder at least, and perennial weekly starters at most. And who doesn’t want a future yearly top-10 fantasy QB in their rookie dynasty draft? What a way to bolster a roster.
Still, the question is whether Young is a uniquely talented QB who can reach, say, Trevor Lawrence levels by Year 3. Because taking Young means bypassing some guys whose best seasons might be in 2023 and 2024. I believe Young will need time to develop, and that knocks down his value a bit.
And by the time he does develop, an even better quarterback might come along.
Yes, Young’s size concerns me, in the same way Murray’s size concerned me. It’s been talked about so much in NFL circles, that it’s become a mundane topic for many. But it remains front and center for me.
If Carolina is still a year or two away from assembling a receiving corps that can help bring out the best in Young, then what happens if, like David Carr, he takes a pounding early in his career and is never the same again?
We might be witnessing this with Murray. Or maybe I’m wrong, and it’s just a blip for Arizona’s franchise QB.
But I’d tread cautiously with Young, preferring to draft him outside the top six. In other words, if I’m picking after the first few spots in the opening round in dynasty rookie drafts, he’ll be gone before he ever gets to me. And I’m comfortable with that.
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