The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off on the 27th April in Kansas City and we have already seen the Panthers make the move up to the number one spot. They will have their eyes on one of this year’s top three quarterback prospects, who look almost certain to be taken inside the top four picks.
With those Quarterbacks locked in to be the first three offensive players drafted, let’s focus on landing spots and where we might see some of the other major fantasy relevant rookies get taken. Which spots do we want them in the most and which spots would lead to us having nightmares?
You do not need to be a fan of college football to know about Bijan Robinson. He has been the consensus 1.01 in 2023 rookie drafts for the best part of a year (if not longer). Robinson is the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley was drafted third overall by the Giants in 2018. Since then, no running back has been taken higher than 24th (Josh Jacobs in 2019 and Najee Harris in 2021). Given the decline in running back value recently, Bijan should fall to double figures but it’s hard to see him lasting as long as Jacobs and Harris.
There are a few teams that stand out as great spots for him but the Chargers could be ideal. They don’t pick until 21 so it’s a stretch to think he falls that far but with Austin Ekeler potentially on his way out of LA, might they be tempted to trade up to grab his replacement? Ekeler was the fantasy RB1 last season, amassing 18 touchdowns and 1,637 yards from his 311 touches. If Robinson found himself in the same situation we could see him be the first rookie since Barkley to end the season as the top fantasy running back.
Unfortunately, there are a few teams picking just before the Chargers that could also be tempted by Bijan’s talent that would be less ideal for fantasy managers. In his March mock draft, Daniel Jeremiah had him being taken by the Patriots with the 14th overall selection. This would see Robinson team up with Rhamondre Stevenson in undoubtedly the best backfield in the NFL but would likely leave fantasy managers of both disappointed. Other less than ideal spots include the Cowboys who recently franchise tagged Tony Pollard. It’s been rumoured by Matthew Berry on NBC Sports Edge that they want to “make a splash” on offense and trading up to take Robinson is a very Jerry Jones move.
Dream Landing Spot: Chargers (if Ekeler is traded)
Nightmare Landing Spot: Patriots
After seeing just two wide receivers drafted in the first round in the 2018 and 2019 drafts, there have been 17 taken in the opening round in the last three years. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see three or four taken on the first day of the draft this year and if that happens, JSN will be one of them.
In 2021 he outproduced Ohio State teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave who were taken at 10th and 11th overall in the 2022 draft. While there have been some doubters in recent months, Smith-Njigba is probably going to be drafted at around the same range.
The Chargers may be in play again and that could be great long term with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both just having two years left on their current deals. But that does seem like a little too much competition for targets and for fantasy we would probably rather see him on a team where he’s the obvious number one target from the day he steps onto the field. Fantasy managers ideally prefer elite quarterbacks throwing the ball to their receivers so it would be obvious to pick the Bills or Chiefs here who could both use a pass catcher. But if the Panthers take Young or Richardson first overall, it would be fun to see a reunion with CJ Stroud at the Texans who own both the second and 12th pick. But even if Stroud is taken by the Panthers at the top of the draft, and the Texans take a different quarterback, it shouldn’t take long for them to realise JSN is their number one playmaker.
As it stands the Bears are picking at nine which is around the spot Smith-Njigba could be taken. It does seem unlikely that they take a receiver given they have traded for both DJ Moore and Chase Claypool over the last six months, but that hasn’t stopped some experts mocking this as their pick. JSN is good enough to earn a role in any NFL offense but it’s hard to see the Bears having the passing volume to sustain him and their other recent acquisitions.
Dream Landing Spot: Texans
Nightmare Landing Spot: Bears
It’s a close call with Michael Mayer but it looks as though Kincaid will be the first of a reasonably deep tight end class to be drafted in April and we could see both of those guys off the board in the first round. The only thing going against Kincaid at the moment is the back injury he picked up late in the season ruling him out until early May, meaning he has missed the Combine and Utah’s pro day.
The Cowboys recently moved on from Dalton Schultz and Kincaid would make a lot of sense for them if he is still on the board at pick 26. But for that to happen we may need to see Michael Mayer taken ahead of him because the Packers and Commanders picking at 15th and 16th seem like an obvious spot for a tight end. In his last two seasons with the Cowboys, Schultz finished as the tight end three and 11 (in an injury hit 2022 season) and with only Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot currently on the roster, it wouldn’t take long for Kincaid to rise to the top of the depth chart in a tight end friendly offense.
As mentioned above, the Packers and Commanders seem like a fairly obvious spot for a tight end to go off the board. The Commanders have managed to get production out of Logan Thomas in recent years but with a messy quarterback situation plus Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson presumably the top two targets, it’s going to be tough for fantasy managers to trust Kincaid in his rookie season if that’s where he ends up.
Dream Landing Spot: Cowboys
Nightmare Landing Spot: Commanders
Written by James Collier.