Mike Clay’s fantasy football rookie rankings for 2023
With the NFL camp behind us and the draft fast approaching, it’s time to take a look at the prospects for rookie fantasy football in the 2023 season.
We don’t yet know which teams these freshmen will be filming for, so there’s still a lot to learn. However, to help you get started on your search for the most promising talent, I’ve ranked them based on my observations of their college careers.
Below is a ranking and analysis of all 111 players who attended the March tournament in four fantasy positions (QB, RB, WR, TE).
(Note: References to a player’s place in the statistical category relative to this year’s class refer to a sample that includes only players invited to the pool. Ages are as of week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.)
1. (RB1) Sesame RobinsonTexas
Height/Weight: 5-11/215, Age: 21-7
Robinson is easily a class in this area, with size, speed (4.46 rushing for 40 yards) and skills set to become a three-down superstar in the pro. Robinson’s collegiate rush efficiency was elite as he posted a 4.1 YAC (fourth in that class) and a 3.0 forced miss rate (first) over 31 games. He is also a capable receiver, having amassed a career-high 60-805-8 line that included class-leading YPR (13.4) and YPT (9.8). Robinson is also one of the youngest players in this group, making him the top pick in the 2023 rookie draft. He expects to immediately jump into the RB1 mix in all-season formats.
2. (RB2) Jamir GibbsAlabama
Height/Weight: 5-9/199, Age: 21-5
Gibbs’ carry count (and possibly goal line touchdowns) may be limited by his size and skill set, but he has speed (4.36 rushing for 40 yards), quickness, agility and hands to be the main factor that makes the difference. in passes. a game. Gibbs smashed tackles subtly and YAC’s numbers were good to good in 31 collegiate games, but he mixed in a ton of negative runs (a class-high 24%). He made up for it with a 104–1, 217–8 receiving line (including elite efficiency) during the time span. Gibbs, who is one of the youngest defenders in this class, can also help out as a striker.
3. (VR1) Quentin JohnstonTCU
Height/Weight: 6-2/208, Age: 22-0
Johnston is a big and fast receiver who has had some issues with the drop but has been heavily targeted (24% share) and has been amazing after the catch (career 8.4 RAC best in this class) in 32 collegiate games. He showed one of the biggest wingspans, verticals and long jumps on a combine, which only added to his appeal/advantage as a vertical/boundary (87% perimeter in TCU) receiver in the pros.
4. (VR2) Jackson Smith-NjigbaOhio
Height/Weight: 6-0/196, Age: 21-6
Smith-Njigba took the lead with a 95-1606-9 receiving line (23% target share) in 2021, but injuries have limited him to five shots in three games in 2022. Smith-Njigba is quick rather than fast (he posted the top three – cone planter and short shuttle at the harvester) and will deal his damage as a possession slot receiver (81% of OSU’s slot). Its collegiate performance was excellent as it achieved one of the best ratings in its class for YPT (12.6), YPRR (3.40) and catch rate (81%), operating mostly in short hauls (8.9 aDOT). ).
5. (VR3) Jordan AddisonUSC
Height/Weight: 5-11/173, Age: 21-7
Addison is a short receiver and a good cross-country runner who usually slots (70% of his career) and also participates as a rusher and returner for Trojans. He was an outstanding playmaker at Pitt (including the 100-1593-17 receiving line in 2021), but his use has dwindled slightly in 2022, his only season at USC (59-875-8). Addison’s career 29 touchdowns (35 games) was second most in the class, and he has been rid of early career falling problems in 2022. lowest among 50 WR in this class).
6. (VR4) Zai FlowersBoston College
Height/Weight: 5-9/182, Age: 22-11
Over the course of his 48 games in British Columbia, Flowers has achieved a target share of at least 28% and aerial floor share of at least 37% in each of the past three seasons. His performance was solid despite a terrifying 68% catch rate (second in this class), and he also contributed as a rusher (57-345-2) and punt return. It can level across the entire formation and has 4.42″ wheels. Expect a quick effect in the pros.
7. (RB3) Zach CharbonnetUniversity of California at Los Angeles
Height/Weight: 6-0/214, Age: 22-7
Charbonnet is a big defender with solid speed and three down ability, which can be a plus as a rusher, receiver and blocker. Since moving from Michigan, Charbonnet had at least 225 touchdowns, 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns in both seasons with the Bruins. He finished with 39 TDs in 41 collegiate games, although his YAC and elusiveness numbers were mediocre rather than good.
8. (VR5) Jalyn HyattTennessee
Height/Weight: 6-0/176, Age: 21-11
Hyatt is a lean, fast wide receiver who didn’t see much work in Tennessee until a breakthrough in 2022 when he posted a 67-1,267-15 receiving line (23% share target). Primarily a slot receiver (81%), his overall efficiency was consistent or high across the board and he performed well on the combine with a 40 yard dash at 4.40, a 40″ vertical jump and a 135 long jump. inches He has a potential vertical threat as a pro.
9. (VR6) Josh DownsNorth Carolina
Height/Weight: 5-8/171, Age: 22-0
Downs is tiny, but that hasn’t stopped him from absorbing a lot of volume, working mostly from the slot (88% of his career) and in the short zone (8.32 aDOT – the second lowest in this class) at UNC. Downs posted an acceptance line of 101-1335-8 with a ridiculous target share of 40% in 2021 before dropping slightly to 94-1029-11 (28% share) in 2022. Drops were a problem in 2021 (nine), but he managed. that last season (two). Downs may not see a lot of vertical or goal lines in the pros, but he could see a lot of goals as a main receiving slot.
10. (RB4) Taija SpearsTulane
Height/Weight: 5-9/201, Age: 22-2
In terms of student elusiveness and post-contact performance, Spears has the best statistical profile in this year’s RB class. Both his career 4.10 YAC and 3.2 forced him into second place in tackles missed, with the latter second only to Bijan Robinson. Spears is on the small side, but he has clearly been very effective as Tulane’s lead rusher, which included 1,837 yards and 21 TDs on 251 touches in 2022 alone. He only caught 48 balls in 33 games, but his scoring (8.5 YPT, 11.6 RAC) was superb.
11. (BP7) Cedric Tillman
Height/Weight: 6-3/213, Tennessee, Age: 23-4
Tillman is a big, beefy receiver who lived on the hook (34% of his 167 career goals) for five seasons with the Vols. Barely appearing in his first three seasons (21 goals), Tillman was relegated 64-1081-12 (24% share target) in 2021. An ankle injury limited his score to 37-417-3 in six games. He’s older than most of WR’s top prospects, but he had a solid combine (including 4.54 rushes for 40 yards at 213 pounds) and potential as a vertical/perimeter option.
12. (TE1) Michael MayerOur Lady
Height/Weight: 6-4/249, Age: 22-2
Mayer hit a 25% target during his 36 collegiate games, including a huge 34% share in 2022. from his snaps) and didn’t stand out for size or physical ability on the combine, but he has the skill set to contribute as a pro blocker and underdog. Mayer led that TE class in collegiate targets (260), catches (180), and yards (2,099), and his 2.57 YPRR in 2022 was also best in class. He had at least 67 catches, 800 yards and 7 touchdowns in each of his last two college seasons.
13. (TE2) Dalton KincaidUtah
Height/Weight: 6-3/246, Age: 23-10
Kincaid is a TE wide receiver who has caught 16 TDs and handled a healthy target share of 16% during 31 collegiate games. Much of that came in a breakout 2022 campaign in which he posted a receiving line of 70-890-8 in 12 games. Kincaid has ways to become a blocker, but he has excellent passing skills which gives him an advantage in TE1.
14. (QB1) Bryce YoungAlabama
Height/Weight: 5-10/204, Age: 22-1
Young is likely to be the first pick in this draft. His biggest weakness is his weak physique, but he easily overcame it with Crimson Tide, posting the best INT (1.3%) and off-target throwing (8.3%) in this QB class, producing 86 TDs in 27 starts. . He could add some value with his feet, although most of his student carries were scrambled, which he did at below average speed.
15. (KV2) CJ StroudOhio
Height/Weight: 6-3/214, Age: 21-11
Ultra-precise Stroud was nothing short of the elite in OSU, leading the class in completion percentage (69%), YPA (9.8), passing performance (81%), QB rating (181) and overall QBR (90.3). ) during his 28 appearances. Stroud’s fantastic potential may be limited by his lack of rushing (55-321-1 career rush line excluding sacks), but he’s young (21) and has an elite up-pass.
16. (QB3) Anthony Richardson
Height/Weight: 6-4/244, Florida, Age: 22-3
Richardson is a big, strong, double-threat QB who will play with his feet (145-1,221-12 rushes in Florida, including a class-leading 8.4 YPC) and outfield shots (class-high 10.3 aDOT), but who has major accuracy issues (best-in-class completion rate of 55%, INT score of 3.8%, and off-target rate of 15.5%). He absolutely dominated the combine, leading this QB class in the 40-yard dash (4.43), vertical (record 40.5 inches) and long jump (129). Those numbers, along with Richardson’s physique and skill set, portend huge upside, but he’s very raw (13 career starts) and will need development.
17. (QB4) Will LewisKentucky
Height/Weight: 6-3/229, Age: 24-2
With big hands and the biggest hands in that QB class, Lewis threw 43 TDs and 23 INTs, adding 11 fast TDs in 24 starts with the Wildcats. Accuracy, interceptions and sacks have been a problem throughout his career and his performance has been underwhelming across the board (including QBR 65.3). Lewis…