By: Nate Christian (@NateNFL)
Before we begin looking at this year’s top prospects, let’s dive right in with an early first round mock draft! The “off-season” is beginning in dynasty leagues everywhere, including Dynasty Owner. While some Dynasty Owners are logging off to go enjoy the playoffs and take a break from the grind of staying up to date on players across 32 different teams. we’re here keeping it fresh and making sure we can get ahead of the game. Dynasty Owner doesn’t have an off-season and in fact, many may claim the “off-season” is the most exciting time of the year. So here’s to the 2023 draft class and the many Dynasty Owner fantasy points they will bring to us over the course of the next decade!
Remember that Dynasty Owner rookie drafts can’t start until after the NFL Draft occurs from April 27th to 29th. Dynasty Owners need to have salary information and that is determined by a player’s NFL Draft position. Rookie draft position and salaries may affect these rankings after the NFL Draft, but for now, let’s look at the current first round draft picks.
1.01 – Bijan Robinson – Texas RB
This is chalk. This is a no-brainer. Don’t overthink this one. Bijan Robinson is the best running back prospect to come out since Saquon Barkley ($7,217,000) and NFL teams know that. Bijan is a projected first round pick and checks every box as a prospect. HIs production at Texas was impressive with 4,215 scrimmage yards and 41 total touchdowns over three years, and his athleticism is apparent. Boasting a solid frame at 6’ 0” and at 215 lbs., Bijan has great lower body strength that keeps him upright through contact while also providing elite lateral agility to make defenders miss and get skinny at the line of scrimmage. Bijan would have been the 1.01 in last year’s draft if he had been available. He certainly belongs here now.
1.02 – Jahmyr Gibbs – Alabama RB
Twitter seems to be doubting Jahmyr Gibbs, but nothing out of the NFL media says likewise. Gibbs is a shifty runner who is one of the best receiving backs we’ve seen. He is essentially an additional wide receiver for his offense and his versatility should fit nicely in the modern NFL offense. His ability to be a threat on all three-downs should give him high upside in Dynasty Owner (and fantasy football in general) and he could step into a significant role immediately. Gibbs slots in as the RB2 after Bijan Robinson.
1.03 – Jordan Addison – USC WR
A player who has looked good on multiple college teams, Jordan Addison likely won’t have too much trouble transitioning into the NFL. After winning the Biletnikoff Award (awarded to the nation’s best wide receiver) as a Sophomore at Pittsburgh, Addison transferred to USC for his Junior year. There he continued to look like one of the best in college football. Nearly a clone of DeVonta Smith ($5,035,348), Addison has a slim frame but plays bigger than his size and is great at getting open. After the catch, Addison also does damage, and his athleticism lets him speed down the field when he gets into space. Currently projected by some as the first wideout off the board come draft night, he fits here as the first WR as well.
1.04 – Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Ohio State WR
With the Sophomore season that Jaxon Smith-Njigba (better known as JSN) had, there weren’t many questions coming into his 2022 college season. With the 2022 season now over, there are plenty of questions surrounding Smith-Njigba. He missed, essentially, the entire season with a lingering hamstring issue and never got to show what he could do as the bona fide WR1 for the Buckeyes (though I’m sure 2024 draft eligible teammate Marvin Harrison Jr. would have had a say in that). In 2021 though, Smith-Njigba led a receiver room of Garrett Wilson ($5,138,502), Chris Olave ($4,817,969), and the aforementioned Harrison Jr. with 95 receptions, 1,606 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns. It’s yet to be seen if he will be limited to the slot, but Smith-Njigba presents a great profile as a top wideout in this draft class.
1.05 – Tank Bigsby – Auburn RB
Despite an awful season by Auburn, Tank Bigsby did well to hold his draft stock and end the year strong. At 6’ 0” and 213 lbs., Bigsby is a strong dynamic running back with a workhorse profile. With the ability to break off chunk plays and stay upright through contact, Bigsby was one of the top running backs in the SEC over the past three years. If he gets an opportunity in an open backfield, I could see Bigsby taking the job and not giving it back. Bigsby has great upside for both volume and efficiency and is a player who you should be targeting in your drafts.
1.06 – Sean Tucker – Syracuse RB
The NFL loves speed and Sean Tucker has plenty of it. A true track-star (he is a member of the Syracuse track team), Tucker is a home-run threat on just about every play. He’s a solid runner who should be given opportunities at the next level and he checks all of the boxes as a receiver. With his athletic profile, I expect Tucker to be a Day 2 NFL Draft pick, and after his NFL Combine performance, I doubt this spot here seems “too high”.
1.07 – Quentin Johnston – TCU WR
Coming off a near-championship run, Quentin Johnston is moving on from the Horned Frogs and will be playing on Sundays this coming season. How much will he be playing right away? Johnston is an athletic freak who can turn on the boosters and eliminate angles on his way down the field. He stands tall at 6’ 4” and 215 lbs. and produces impressive spectacular catches. But what sets Johnston apart from the classic “big & athletic” wideout is his ability after the catch. Most players at his size don’t move as easily around the field or in and out of tacklers. Johnston has some special traits, but then there are concerns about his route running and inconsistencies with his catching. Possibly this year’s top boom-or-bust prospect, how risk-adverse are you?
1.08 – Zach Evans – Ole Miss RB
Zach Evans, to me, is an athlete playing running back. This reminds me of Cam Akers ($1,543,258) who I said similar things about when he was draft eligible. Evans has plenty of upside due to his burst and frame, but I feel as though there are a couple boxes left unchecked when looking at his profile. After transferring to Ole Miss from TCU, Evans was in-line to take over the RB1 role and set himself up well for this year’s draft. He proceeded to lose snaps to a true freshman (Quinshon Judkins) and ended up only catching 12 passes all year. This past year didn’t go exactly to plan, but he still is a solid running back prospect given the flashes we’ve seen at Ole Miss and TCU.
1.09 – Michael Mayer – Notre Dame TE
Continuing the tradition of Notre Dame tight ends finding their way into the NFL, Michael Mayer projects as a first round pick this year and has the prospect profile to back that up. While not the athlete that Kyle Pitts ($8,227,624) is, Mayer’s production throughout his college career rewrote many of the history books, both at Notre Dame and across the NCAA. He’s a quarterback’s best friend with his safe hands, contested catch ability, and consistency in moving the chains. Mayer feels like a player who’s open even when he’s covered and has enough athleticism to test linebackers down the seam when needed. If Mayer is selected in the first round, I think a draft slot in the first round of your Dynasty Owner rookie draft is more than appropriate. Getting a top tight end on a rookie deal is always an advantage in Dynasty Owner leagues.
1.10 – Josh Downs, North Carolina, WR
Shifty and quick, Josh Downs is a modern NFL wideout. He’s able to create separation through his route running and is dangerous after the catch. Catching passes from both Sam Howell ($1,005,400) and Drake Maye (expected 2024 first rounder) over his career, Downs showed out with nearly 200 receptions and just under 2,400 yards in the past two years. He’s elusive with the ball in his hands and can test safeties with his ability to find separation in the deep parts of the field. Downs is a player who I believe is currently underrated and could have a long NFL career as the WR2 for multiple offenses.
1.11 – Zach Charbonnet – UCLA RB
After an impressive freshman year at Michigan (726 yards and 11 TDs), Charbonnet struggled to find the field his sophomore year and ended up transferring from Michigan with Jim Harbaugh to UCLA with Chip Kelly. Kelly got Charbonnet involved quickly and not just in the run game. Charbonnet caught 61 passes over the past two years, showing off an ability that many doubted from the get-go. He ended up with 3,014 scrimmage yards in two seasons at UCLA. With a thick 6’1” and 220 lbs. frame, Charbonnet is a physical runner who offers some upside athletically to make people miss and weave his way in and out of traffic. The NFL Combine will be important for Charbonnet, as many scouts want to see what his 40-yard dash time will be, but I don’t have many doubts about his athleticism.
1.12 – Bryce Young – Alabama QB
The 2021 Heisman winner, Bryce Young has been labeled, by some, as the best quarterback in Alabama’s history. Now that doesn’t mean he’s the best NFL prospect to come out of Saban’s offense, but Young’s ability to make plays off-script and come up big when his team needs him most are “un-teachable” and should get some NFL coaches and GMs excited. All in all, Young is a great prospect for the NFL and does so many things right, but the major holdup is his size. At 5’ 11” and under 200 pounds, not only is height a concern but also his lean frame worries some scouts about whether he will hold up to NFL punishment. Luckily the SEC is the closest thing we have to that, and he did pretty well during his college career, only missing one game in the past two seasons.
BONUS 1.13 – Will Levis – Kentucky QB
A former Penn State Nittany Lion, Will Levis transferred to Kentucky after sitting behind Sean Clifford for three years and made the most out of his opportunity. By the end of the 2021 season, his first year with the Wildcats, there was already talk of Levis being a first-round NFL Draft pick. He came back for his final season and while he didn’t answer some of the questions scouts had about his decision-making, he still showed flashes of being a player who is not only physically gifted, but could run an NFL offense. Teams are already talking about his arm strength, his frame, and ability to make plays outside the pocket. The Josh Allen comparisons run rampant on social media. Everything seems to be going right for Levis currently and he is now projected to be a Top 5 pick in this year’s NFL Draft. While you could argue another quarterback (C.J. Stroud from Ohio State) should be the second QB off the board, the NFL seems enamored with Levis and his potential. Maybe you should be as well.