We are one week away from the 2023 NFL Draft and we could not be more excited about it. I'm Heath Cummings here with another Dynasty Download, and this week it's all about those guys we expected to get drafted next week.
On Tuesday we had Emory Hunt on the Fantasy Football Today Dynasty YouTube show. I don't know how many of you know this, but Emory played running back at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, so of course we had him break down his favorite running backs in this class. We got started on a great foot, because he loves Deuce Vaughn every bit as much as I do, despite the fact that Vaughn measures at just 5-foot-5. Some team is going to take a chance on him, and Emory hopes it's the head coach who helped make another former Kansas State Wilidcat a star in New Orleans.
Click the link above to hear the rest of Emory's running back takes, including a spicy take about the top two backs.
The very next day we had CBS Sports' own Ryan Wilson of the With the First Pick Podcast join us on the FFT podcast to give us his thoughts on the wide receivers and tight ends in this class. Ryan set the over/under at 3.5 wide receivers taken in Round 1 next week. I took the under, but I believe it's a perfect line. If I had to name the three I would guess Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, and Jordan Addison, but Ryan had Quentin Johnston going second, so there's still plenty of mystery left in regards to order.
Emory and Ryan aren't the only analysts who shared their draft takes this week at CBS. The CBS Fantasy crew released our positional Draft previews. Let's take a look at those:
I'm not sure anyone has watched this quarterback class more than Dave Richard, so he was the perfect guy to break down the position and kick off our position previews. Here are his top three, with links to their draft profiles, and a few words Dave wrote about them this week. There is much, much more in the preview, so please check it out:
QB1 -- Anthony Richardson, Florida
"Richardson is my favorite athlete at the position and the one with the highest upside because of the numbers he may eventually put up as a passer and as a runner. His arm strength is great, he's not bad at reading defenses and making solid decisions on where to go with the ball and he's a rare breed when he rushes because he's fast and strong. However, Richardson also has some major downside. His footwork has consistently been a problem that's led to inaccuracy going back to his high school days. He doesn't always throw with the proper amount of touch either, resulting in unnecessary drops. He also has to improve his ability to locate open receivers deeper downfield and keep his eyes up when he's avoiding pressure. All of these things are coachable, but you'd like to think he's been taught any or all of them at some point over the past seven years. For whatever it's worth, Richardson's footwork was better at the combine and at his Pro Day."
QB2 -- C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
"Stroud is my favorite thrower in the draft thanks to his incredible accuracy and decision-making. He's experienced, he's a winner at both the high school and college levels, he can make any throw you could imagine and he was especially good at making plays under pressure. Stroud is also NFL ready in terms of footwork and processing. He might even reveal himself to be a producer of some rushing numbers, though he wasn't asked to do it much in college (or high school), he insists he can and would be willing to add that dimension to his game. He also missed one game over two years in college and four years in high school, so he's durable. The negatives? Some discredit him because he played in a loaded offense at Ohio State, and he did have some misfires on intermediate throws (not nearly as many on deep throws)."
QB3 -- Bryce Young, Alabama
"Young is NFL ready. His footwork is sharp and his throwing motion is well-practiced. Young has a glut of experience, helping him understand what defenses are doing and taking advantage of them. He's also cool in the pocket, unafraid of pressure and especially gallant at moving to avoid it while keeping his eyes downfield. And best of all, he's very accurate and can nail targets with anticipatory throws and with darts when a guy gets open. Oh, and he's a winner at both the high school and college levels. And as far as his slight frame goes, the kid has missed one game since he started in high school. The slight frame will make some folks squeamish, and his rushing ability shouldn't be overrated, but those are the only negatives aside from occasional lapses in footwork and downfield vision."
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Next, Jamey Eisenberg breaks down the running back position. As Jamey wrote, Robinson is pretty much locked into the first overall pick in rookie-only Fantasy Football drafts, but there is still some mystery left in the NFL Draft. Landing spot could matter for the short term and his overall Dynasty value will be influenced by whether he's drafted on Thursday night. If Robinson sneaks into the top 10 as some are projecting, he'll slot in as my No. 3 overall player in Dynasty, behind only Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase. Here are Jamey's thoughts on his top three:
RB1 -- Bijan Robinson, Texas
"Robinson has the chance to be a star wherever he goes, and he looked the part at Texas in 2022. He ran for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian told NBC Sports' Peter King that Robinson could be a legitimate slot receiver in the NFL. "I probably made a couple of receivers on our team mad last season," Sarkisian said, "but he had the best hands on our team." He also forced 104 missed tackles last year and averaged 6.3 yards per carry in college. He should be a three-down running back and the type of player who could help win multiple Fantasy championships in his career."
RB2 -- Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
"Gibbs will remind anyone who watches him of Alvin Kamara, and he could make an impact in the passing game similar to Kamara, Austin Ekeler or Christian McCaffrey with enough opportunities. He played one season at Alabama in 2022 and led the Crimson Tide with 926 rushing yards and a team-leading 44 catches for 444 receiving yards. He scored a combined 10 touchdowns and averaged 6.1 yards per carry and 10.1 yards per catch. Gibbs is on the smaller side for a typical featured back at 5-foot-9, 199 pounds, but he should make a significant impact as a receiver. He could be a star in PPR for many years to come."
RB3 -- Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
"It's going to be fun to see where Charbonnet lands in the NFL, and he might end up ahead of Gibbs for some Fantasy managers. He was a true workhorse for UCLA over the past two years with 398 carries for 2,496 yards and 27 touchdowns, and he also added 61 catches for 518 yards. He's a physical presence at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and he averaged 4.15 yards after contact per attempt in college. Charbonnet could be a great fallback option for a team that wanted Robinson but didn't get him."
I broke down what is an imperfect wide receiver class. Two things make this class really hard to evaluate. First, several of the top prospects are either shorter or lighter than the prototypical NFL wide receiver. We've seen some smaller receivers succeed as of late, but not enough to yet believe that's the new normal. The other thing is that several of the top prospects from 2021 either missed a big part of 2022 or saw their production fall off drastically. And you'll find both of those concerns in my top three prospects in this class:
"Making the case for Smith-Njigba as WR1 in this draft isn't difficult. You just have to turn back the clock. In the 2021 season at Ohio State he led the Buckeyes with 95 catches for 1,606 yards. He also scored nine touchdowns. His teammates on that team were Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, two of the breakout stars of the 2022 draft class. Wilson has openly said that Smith-Njigba was the best wide receiver on that team."
WR2 -- Jordan Addison, USC
"Like Smith-Njigba, Addison's best year came in 2021. That year he caught 100 passes for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns from Kenny Pickett at Pitt. Those numbers were enough to earn Addison the Biletnikoff Award for best wide receiver in college football. In 2022, Addison went to USC to play with Caleb Williams and saw a big dip in production, but still led the Trojans in catches (59), receiving yards, (875), and touchdowns (eight)."
WR3 -- Zay Flowers, Boston College
"Dan Schneier wrote in Flowers' Draft Profile (linked above) that Flowers would be the No. 1 wide receiver in the class if he was 3 inches taller. While I think you could possibly say the same thing about Addison (especially if those three inches came with 30 pounds), it's a fair point for Flowers.
Flowers had 1,077 yards and 12 TDs in his final season at BC, which is made more impressive by the fact that his team only threw for 2,965 yards and 21 TDs. He has borderline 4.3 speed and possesses elite change-of-direction skills. He needed those skills at BC, because he constantly faced extra attention from defenses, and beat it."
Finally, Dan Schneier took on the tight end class. While I have grown weary of drafting rookie tight ends, even in rookie drafts, Dan makes a compelling case that the 2023 class will be the one that revives the position for Fantasy Football. Though he does believe some of these tight ends may make an immediate impact, he also acknowledges that the nature of the position may mean that we don't see this group's best until 2025. Here are his top three:
"Mayer has received a surprising lack of hype this pre-draft process, but I guess that's common for a prospect who didn't blow up the Combine and wasn't a massive producer at the collegiate level. To understand Mayer's upside, you have to watch his tape. I evaluated six games of Mayer, including multiple games from previous seasons, and you won't find a tight end who was held back more by poor quarterback play and an offensive system that didn't fit his skill set. If I have to watch another quick-hitting screen to Mayer ..."
TE2 -- Dalton Kincaid, Utah
"Kincaid is the best on the move tight end in this draft class, and if he gets with the right offensive mind, he's the most likely tight end to make an impact in your 2023 Fantasy Football redraft leagues. Think Zach Ertz but with more post-reception juice to create yards after the catch and force missed tackles in the open field. Kincaid has massive hands and uses them well -- always attacking the ball in the air -- he's very physical at the catch point. Kincaid will be a priority late-round target in redraft leagues and projects as a possible top-12 player at the position as early as Year 1."
TE3 -- Sam LaPorta, Iowa
"Laporta is the most underrated tight end in this class and my favorite value. Ultimately, I think he ends up coming off the board earlier than he's currently being mocked and that will be a great thing for his Fantasy Football stock as draft capital can often be a predictor of early involvement in an offense. LaPorta profiled almost identically to former Iowa tight end George Kittle from both a frame and athletic testing standpoint. Like Kittle, LaPorta can force missed tackles in space and create yards after contact. He's not the tallest or longest athlete and may not be a vertical weapon or a key target in the red zone, but he could easily become a PPR machine."
Next week on FFT Dynasty we'll break down this wide receiver class. As always, that episode will air on the Fantasy Football Today YouTube page at 11 AM ET. We'll talk about Smith-Njigba, Flowers, and Addison for sure, but I really want to get into the weeds on guys like Marvin Mims, Cedric Tillman, and Jalin Hyatt.
We also have a really cool feature next week where Dave, Dan, Adam Aizer, and I will do our own first-round mocks, with the Fantasy implications of each pick. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to resist mocking Robinson to Arthur Smith and the Falcons at No. 8, but you'll have to check it out on Monday to find out.
Of course, there should also be some new names popping up for NFL Draft Profiles as well.
Remember, you can find all of these things, as well as all of our 2023 Dynasty content, on our, which will be updated later on Friday.
In other news
- Allen Robinson is being traded from the Rams to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I am having a hard time caring about this. Robinson hasn't topped 70 yards in a game since 2020, when Mitchell Trubisky was his quarterback and Jimmy Graham was his teammate. The Rams paid two-thirds of his 2023 salary and only moved up 17 spots in the seventh round. I'm not even sure Robinson will be on the Steelers by Week 1. Don't downgrade Diontae Johnson or George Pickens. Do watch to see who the Rams draft at receiver because they have plenty of room for a second guy behind Cooper Kupp.
- The Eagles signed Olamide Zaccheaus. Again, this probably isn't a big deal. But Zaccheaus will push Quez Watkins for the WR3 job. Watkins is a guy I'm still holding in deeper leagues because he may be one injury away from a big opportunity and a good month could earn him a bigger role in free agency. But if Zaccheaus is able to beat out Watkins, then I won't hold him any longer.
- Multiple teams have reportedly reached out to the 49ers to ask about Trey Lance. A trade appears to be the best possibility for Lance, who fell to QB14 in my Dynasty rankings last month thanks to news that the 49ers prefer Brock Purdy, when healthy. If Lance gets traded to a team where he'll start in 2023, he has a good shot to move inside my top 10. Lance still has immense upside but the floor looks non-existent right now. Like Anthony Richardson, Lance is more valuable to me in one-quarterback leagues where floor doesn't matter as much.
- Brock Purdy avoided Tommy John surgery. And this is why the 49ers are OK with potentially trading Lance. Purdy is their guy and this news makes it more likely he's ready for Week 1. They have Sam Darnold to back Purdy up if there are further complications. And with Kyle Shanahan's history, we should probably expect Darnold to be just fine in San Francisco. Purdy moved up to QB22 in my Dynasty rankings last month and could crack the top 20 once he's fully healthy.
- Josh Allen is talking openly about running less. This is great news for Bills fans. It is expected, but still not great for Allen's Fantasy managers. Allen hasn't matched his 2020 passing efficiency the past two years, so there's more risk than you would think if he actually stops running. He's still a top-three QB in Dynasty, but you do have to wonder how well he'll play in his 30s. He's just about the same age as Patrick Mahomes, but I feel much better about Mahomes' longevity.
- Jalen Hurts signed a new five-year deal. This is why I say Allen is a top-three QB and not No. 2. Hurts' future is secure as the Eagles' long-term starter, which gave him just enough of a floor boost to put him ahead of Allen. He's two years younger than Mahomes and Allen, and has a similar risk and upside over the next five years. Congratulations if you bought Hurts back when there were still questions about whether he was a long-term starter.