Hello Dynasty Owners. Thank you for continuing to support this great format, and thank you for continuing to read my content. Today, I am going to continue my “Best Case, Worst Case” article series. Over my past two articles, I discussed some NFL Draft scenarios before the actual NFL Draft as well as many rookie scenarios after the NFL Draft was over. Today is the veterans’ turn. I will break down five players (and their contracts) and lay out what I believe to be their best and worst case scenario for the 2023 season.
Best Case, Worst Case
Justin Herbert ($6,644,689)
Herbert finished as QB11 last season to the tune of 343.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. Herbert had a down year at least when you compare it to his 2021 season when he finished as QB3, only behind Tom Brady who is now retired, but cost $25,000,000 that season and Josh Allen ($43,005,667). So, what does a best case scenario and worst case scenario look like for Herbert?
Best Case: The best case for Herbert is probably right at his 2021 production. I find it hard to believe that he could become the QB1 with all the great rushing quarterbacks in the game right now. Herbert’s lack of rushing upside makes him unlikely to finish at the top in any year. No, I think his ultimate ceiling is QB3, which would put him right at around 500.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (DOFP) for 2023 and these stats…
These stats are excluding fumbles as those are nearly impossible to predict and any bonuses for over 300 yards passing or clutch scoring bonuses. That stat line would put Herbert right at 482.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points for 2023. This would have been good for QB3 last year as his points would have been sandwiched between Josh Allen who had 525.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points and Joe Burrow ($9,047,534) who finished with 472.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points.
Worst Case: Barring injury, the worst case for Herbert is honestly something very close to his 2022 season. I think QB11 should be near the floor for a quarterback as talented as and with as many weapons as Herbert.
Again, excluding fumbles, yardage bonuses and clutch scoring bonuses, Herbert would be at 352.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points with this stat line. This would likely land him close to QB12 on the season. As is the case with all of these predictions, the truth will likely be found in the middle. I am predicting a QB6 finish for Herbert this season.
Nick Chubb ($12,200,000)
Chubb finished as the RB5 in 2022 with 297.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. This was a very healthy season for Nick, and I’m looking forward to it continuing into 2023.
Best Case: The best case for Chubb is that he starts to see over 75% of the running back snaps this year and he keeps the same efficiency as previous years. This could primarily come because Kareem Hunt ($6,000,000) remains unsigned. This jump in usage (roughly 20%) would skyrocket Chubb’s value especially if receiving work comes with those increased snaps.
This would be a massive year for Chubb, and it honestly could skyrocket him to RB1. I don’t think that is out of the realm of possibility. These stats would yield somewhere just north of 330.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points.
Worst Case: The worst case for Chubb is that a veteran running back is brought in to split the workload. Chubb would still remain the primary back, but what if he returns to his future workload or even less. A reduction of rushing touchdowns could be coming as well if Deshaun Watson ($46,000,000) can get the passing game looking healthier in 2023. Regardless, I cannot see Chubb dropping out of the Top 12 regardless of who joins the team.
J.K. Dobbins ($1,432,359)
Dobbins had flashes of his old self last season despite not being involved in nine regular season games. He often looked slower than usual, but that is also not uncommon after a return from his multiple career injuries. Dobbins was RB54 with only 85.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points.
Best Case: The best case for Dobbins is that he returns as the explosive, shifty running back who the Ravens drafted several years ago. The data on ACL tears (on average) shows a loss of production, but Dobbins has youth on his side. He is not yet 25, and he will also be entering a contract year.
I know that all of my “Best Cases” are optimistic scenarios, but I think this one is very optimistic, especially the total touchdowns. Gus Edwards ($4,500,000) is still under contract, and he will vulture TDs. However, if Dobbins can find a way to cross 10 total touchdowns, he will almost certainly be at least an RB2.
Worst Case: Again, other than injury, the worst case is that Dobbins shows that he has clearly “lost a step” due to his ACL injury. This could lead to less usage and more reliance on Edwards and/or the passing game.
That wraps up the main part of my article. I got through the three players I wanted to talk about. As a bonus today, I’m going to add two extra players and do a quick assessment of both.
Tyler Lockett ($17,250,000)
Best Case: The best case for Lockett is going to be similar to his 2022 season. Last year, he finished as WR17. I’d put his best possible season at WR12. Here’s what it would take to get to that…
Worst Case: Worst case for Lockett is if Father Time finally catches up with him. He showed no signs of aging in his solid season last year, but that time comes for every athlete.
Travis Kelce ($14,312,500)
Best Case: Best case for Kelce is that he continues doing what he has done for the past half decade. This means a TE1 finish that is well above the next closest finisher. Honestly, I think the best case is going to be close to his actual finish for the year.
Worst Case: His worst case is similar to Lockett’s. At some point, Kelce will lose his athletic edge and he will decay as a fantasy asset. Will that happen this year? It’s anyone’s guess. What I will say is that if you predicted it for the past three seasons, then you have been missing out on fantasy dominance.
Whether we are talking about movies, TV shows, books, Broadway musicals, or video games, the sequel is never usually as good as the original. The Godfather was so good and won numerous Academy Awards, but The Godfather Part II was arguably better and won Best Picture and more awards than the original. That’s not typical and neither is the situation where the original is as great as Caddyshack and the sequel is as horrific as Caddyshack II. Sorry but Jackie Mason and Robert Stack aren’t anywhere close to as good as Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight.
We’ll see if this article is destined to be similar to Caddyshack II, unless you read the original startup draft article from last week and thought it wasn’t a very good original. If so, don’t worry because just like the Caddyshack movie franchise, this stops after the sequel.
Hopefully, everyone who drafted during the second weekend of Dynasty Owner startup drafts found the first article helpful to prepare for their startup draft and the same is true for this article. The third weekend of startup drafts is coming in just a couple of days along with the Thursday start of the first rookie drafts of 2023. Both of them will make for an exciting weekend for Dynasty Owners who are participating, and a weekend filled with jealousy for everyone waiting for their rookie draft to start.
The results of the additional second weekend of Dynasty Owner startup drafts (May 13th and May 14th) have been combined with the results from the first weekend of drafting on May 6th and May 7th. Some of the insights will be repeated from the last article, others won’t be mentioned again, and I’ll have an additional analysis of the startup draft data to look at the amount of the salary cap used in these startup drafts.
The player’s Average Draft Position (ADP) was updated by calculating the results from all of the available completed startup drafts and may differ from the ADP that appears on the Dynasty Owner platform. All position ranking data and stats listed are from the 2022 Dynasty Owner season and based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution.
Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3 point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.
Any salaries and roster percentages listed were current as of the morning of May 17th. Salary information for rookies who have not officially signed their rookie contract comes from the Spotrac NFL 2023 Draft Tracker page (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/draft/) and is subject to change and updating.
We have an updated list of players who have been taken with the first overall pick in a 2023 Dynasty Owner startup draft. The previous list had four players on it – Justin Jefferson ($3,280,710), Bijan Robinson ($5,489,634), Ja’Marr Chase ($7,704,910) and Patrick Mahomes ($45,000,000). We can now add in Christian McCaffrey ($16,015,875) who was drafted with the overall #1 pick in League #222562. It is interesting that Ja’Marr Chase continues to be the only veteran player selected with the overall #1 pick who has multiple years left on his contract (2 years) with a salary of less than $10 million.
First Round Draft Selections
The overall number of first round draft selections only increased by one player as Travis Kelce ($14,312,500) became the first TE selected in the first round of a Dynasty Owner startup draft this year when Allen and Company took him with the #8 pick in the League #222562 startup draft. Josh Allen ($43,005,667) went in that draft with the third pick, so we don’t know if Allen and Company would have drafted their namesake with their eighth pick.
The same five players who were taken in all of the startup drafts that I looked at from the first weekend were also taken in the additional startup drafts from the second weekend. Here’s the list again with their updated ADP, which may not match the ADP available on the Dynasty Owner platform.
Only Ja’Marr Chase had his ADP improve, from 4.0 to 3.9, with the addition of more startup drafts. Even with an ADP of 9.3, Garrett Wilson continues to be selected in every first round. Admittedly, he has been selected as the #12 pick three times and never selected higher than fifth overall, but that still qualifies him as being a first round draft pick in all of these startup drafts.
Even though both Mahomes and McCaffrey have been drafted first overall, neither one has been taken in the first round in every startup draft. McCaffrey has been drafted as low as with the #17 overall pick in League #206158, while Mahomes has actually been drafted in the third round twice, once with the #27 pick in League #206158 and once with the #31 pick in League #219522.
Fan Club Presidents Second Meeting
The gap between being taken with the first overall pick and being selected in the middle of the second round (McCaffrey) or the third round (Mahomes) isn’t as great as the difference between the best draft position and the typical draft position for some players. As described in the first weekend startup draft article, people who overdraft a specific player are sometimes called the player’s Fan Club President. The winner of Fan Club President from the first weekend article was Lamar’s Brinks Truck from League #219525 who drafted Odell Beckham Jr. ($15,000,000) with the final pick in the second round (pick #24 overall) of their startup draft. At the time, Beckham’s ADP was 218.0 and that hasn’t moved much (ADP 212.2) as the second earliest selection is now in the 16th round (pick #183).
With more startup drafts in the books, will Lamar’s Brinks Truck continue to be the President of the Fan Club Presidents, or will another Dynasty Owner overthrow them? In addition, we may see a Dynasty Owner fall from the Fan Club Presidents list if another Dynasty Owner comes in and duplicates their love for a particular player.
Our first new Fan Club President is Hell Fighters in League #222562 who took Allen Lazard ($11,000,000) with the first pick of the fifth round (pick #49). No other Dynasty Owner has drafted Lazard this year before the 11th round (pick #130), and he went undrafted in League #219251.
While it’s not the same level of fandom as we had from Mighty Dragons in League #206160 who took Jaxon Smith-Njigba with the overall #9 pick, we do have a Dynasty Owner who is a huge Jordan Addison fan. That would be Tally Night Lights who drafted Addison in the second round with the overall #17 pick. This selection is pretty early as Addison has been available in Tally Night Lights draft spot in the fourth round in League #219521 (pick #41) in every other Dynasty Owner startup draft and has an ADP of 52.1.
After seeing Travis Kelce taken with the eighth overall pick and then George Kittle ($15,000,000) and Mark Andrews ($14,000,000) go with the first two picks in the third round, two other Dynasty Owners in League #222562 decided that they couldn’t wait on two top TEs on their rookie contracts, so Kreuz Control drafted Pat Freiermuth ($1,507,045) with the #34 pick and then Buffalo Wild Wombats grabbed new Bills TE Dalton Kincaid ($3,356,756) early in the fourth round with the #40 overall pick. Based on their sixth round ADPs (67.7 for Kincaid and 69.6 for Freiermuth), both of those teams could have waited at least one more round, and probably two more rounds, before they got their inexpensive starting TE.
While all of those Dynasty Owners can proudly claim the title of Fan Club President, none of them are as much of a fan as Lamar’s Brinks Truck who will retain their title as the biggest Fan Club President for at least another week. Congratulations again, wear that title proudly and remember that this is all in good fun. Our 2021 Fan Club President winner The Oracle 🙌 finished in fourth place overall in the 2022 Chase for the Ring standings and was only one of three teams to go undefeated for the entire 2022 season.
I’ve Got a Fever and the Only Cure Is More Rookies
With apologies to Christopher Walken and the classic Saturday Night Live skit, it’s almost time for every Dynasty Owner’s rookie fever to be cured as rookie drafts start on Thursday and may be in progress depending on when you read this article. With more startup drafts in the books, we can also take an updated look at how rookies are being drafted so far.
The move in Bijan Robinson’s ADP move from 2.6 to 3.3 overall and Jordan Addison being drafted in the second round in a startup draft this past weekend have already been mentioned. Addison’s ADP is as0-azs-lower because of that one draft, but let’s see what happened to the rest of the 2023 rookies in these startup drafts that have taken place prior to the start of Dynasty Owner rookie drafts.
Please remember that while the order in which rookies are selected in startup drafts can be helpful in drawing insights into how the upcoming rookie drafts will go, they don’t give us a complete picture of what might happen. The teams in the startup drafts have the full salary cap of $157.36 million to use and acquire rookies, while teams in established leagues already have players and may not have enough salary cap room for certain high NFL Draft picks or all of the rookies who they want to draft. Teams in established leagues are able to cut down their roster, but still must have at least 25 players plus 2023 draft picks on their roster at all times. Those players may take up enough salary cap space that Dynasty Owners will have limitations on who they can draft.
Here’s the updated ADP for all of the rookies who still have a startup draft ADP of under 100.0. All drafted rookies have four years on their rookie contracts at the listed 2023 salary.
All of the 14 rookies who had an ADP of under 100.0 after the first batch of startup drafts are still under 100.0 after the second weekend. Jonathan Mingo is getting close to moving off this list though as he is just hanging on with an ADP of 99.0. Only three players (Anthony Richardson, Jordan Addison and Dalton Kincaid) are rising on Dynasty Owner draft boards and have a better ADP after two weekends of startup drafts than they did after the first weekend. Both Addison and Kincaid were helped by their Fan Club President drafting them higher than anyone else has done and each had their ADP move by more than five spots. Richardson has a pretty wide range of outcomes as he has gone as high as the beginning of the third round (#26 pick) and as late as the eighth round (#91 pick). However, his ADP changed only slightly from 50.2 to 49.4.
The biggest movers in the opposite direction were Michael Mayer (ADP went from 83.8 to 91.3) and Devon Achane (ADP changed from 76.6 to 81.6). With rookie drafts coming soon, we’ll see if these trends continue or if they are isolated incidences. The order of rookies being drafted based on their ADP was largely unchanged with the first two picks in the NFL Draft (Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud) flipping positions, Dalton Kincaid moving ahead of Zach Charbonnet, and Zay Flowers jumping a spot and swapping with Devon Achane.
Just like last week, we continue to see the top two rookie QBs going in similar spots in Dynasty Owner startup drafts. Last week, Stroud was being selected slightly ahead of Young (45.6 ADP vs. 46.4), but now Young is being selected slightly earlier on average (47.0 ADP vs. 48.6). Based on ADP, both of them are being selected ahead of Anthony Richardson, although each QB has been the first off the board and selected ahead of the other two QBs at least twice. Young and Stroud have been selected with the highest startup draft pick of any rookie QB (#18 pick). It will be interesting to see if these results are mirrored in the rookie drafts or if one of these three QBs is favored more by the already established Dynasty Owner teams. We might also see Will Levis ($2,385,542) or Hendon Hooker ($1,429,755) move in front of the higher paid QBs in rookie drafts due to salary considerations, even though both Levis and Hooker are being drafted on average outside of the top 100 picks in startup drafts.
There are a lot of undrafted rookie free agents who will be attending NFL training camps in a couple of months. We all love a good underdog story and in the NFL, those underdog stories come from the hundreds of players in training camps who are undrafted rookie free agents. While there are dozens of undrafted rookie free agents on each NFL roster, some teams won’t have any make the final roster and even fewer will take the field in Week 1. Among those who make it to the final roster, only a select handful will turn into Hall of Famers like Kurt Warner or Warren Moon, be an 8-time Pro Bowl TE like Antonio Gates, or even kick a Super Bowl game winning field goal like Adam Vinatieri. The vast majority of the undrafted rookie free agents populating NFL rosters during the off-season will also not be drafted in a Dynasty Owner startup draft. However, because of the salary cap that uses real NFL contracts and salaries, Dynasty Owner ends up mirroring the NFL more than regular dynasty fantasy football leagues in terms of roster construction. That means many Dynasty Owners will have a few lower salary players on their rosters to keep the team under the salary cap. At the same time, some higher salary players who would definitely be on a team in a regular dynasty fantasy football league end up being undrafted in Dynasty Owner startup drafts.
This phenomenon continues to be true this year so far. All five of the expensive QBs who went undrafted in all of the first weekend startup drafts continue to “wait in the green room” as none of them were taken for a second weekend in a row. Unless they were picked up off the Free Agent Auction since the startup drafts occurred, there are no startup Dynasty Owner teams with Aaron Rodgers ($50,271,667), Russell Wilson ($48,517,647). Kyler Murray ($46,100,000), Matthew Stafford ($40,000,000) or Ryan Tannehill ($29,500,000) on them. In fact, no Jets QB has been drafted in a startup draft yet since nobody selected Zach Wilson ($8,787,670) either. However, Wilson does remain rostered in over half of Dynasty Owner leagues (57.44%) despite his undrafted startup draft status compared to just 13.64% for the man (Aaron Rodgers) who took his starting QB job.
It’s not just the expensive QBs who are remaining undrafted in Dynasty Owner startup drafts. Both Matt Corral ($1,273,561) and Skylar Thompson ($935,554) haven’t been drafted yet despite being currently on a roster in a majority of Dynasty Owner leagues (79.75% for Corral and 51.65% for Thompson). I happen to have both of those QBs on at least one Dynasty Owner roster and will likely keep Corral in case he ends up getting pressed into action by Carolina this season just because of his inexpensive contract.
There are plenty of other players who are rostered in a significant majority of established Dynasty Owner leagues, but are going undrafted in this year’s startup drafts. Surprisingly, there are more RBs than any other position so far as there are six RBs who have not been drafted in a single startup draft, but who make less than $1 million so their contracts are salary cap friendly, are currently on a NFL roster and are rostered in over 80% of established Dynasty Owner leagues. Check out the surprising list of those players and see how many are on your Dynasty Owner roster (in roster percentage order):
There are six additional undrafted RBs who are rostered in at least 30% of Dynasty Owner leagues and have a salary of under $1.5 million. Most, but not all of them are also on a NFL roster as well.
At tight end, we have one of these players, Brevin Jordan ($958,046) from the Houston Texans who clocks in with a roster percentage of 86.36% but has yet to be drafted in a 2023 startup draft. A pair of mid-round draft picks (third and fourth round) over the past two seasons in Kylen Granson ($1,046,592) and Jeremy Ruckert ($1,261,227) are also on a majority of Dynasty Owner rosters (56.2% for Granson and 54.56% for Ruckert), but haven’t been taken in any of the 2023 startup drafts.
At WR, we have an inexpensive second round draft pick who didn’t produce in his rookie season and has seemingly fallen out of favor with Dynasty Owners because he is still waiting to be taken in a 2023 startup draft. Bears second year WR Velus Jones ($1,351,482) was not highly touted after the NFL Draft and drafted fairly late (220.9 ADP) on average by Dynasty Owners last year, but is still rostered in 79.34% of Dynasty Owner leagues despite not being drafted in any startup drafts yet this season.
While these players are currently in this situation, it would seem that sooner or later, at least one Dynasty Owner will take a chance on one of them in a 2023 startup draft. On the other hand, these players might be on the chopping block in established leagues once Dynasty Owners start drafting rookies in the upcoming rookie drafts and suddenly need a roster spot, salary cap room, or both to fit in those rookies.
Startup Draft Salaries and Salary Cap Usage
Speaking of the salary cap, the $157.36 million Dynasty Owner salary cap comes into effect in both startup drafts and rookie drafts. The salary cap in established leagues is important during the free agency period when Dynasty Owner teams have to get under the salary cap and again right before the rookie drafts as Dynasty Owners have to make decisions about which players to keep or drop if they want to draft a certain rookie.
In startup drafts, you’ll find plenty of Dynasty Owners who end up only able to select players with the NFL minimum salary of $750,000 at a certain point during a startup draft. That’s why free agent kickers Austin McGinnis ($750,000) and Dominik Eberle ($750,000) have been taken in multiple Dynasty Owner startup drafts. McGinnis has not kicked in a NFL game yet despite attending his first NFL training camp in 2018 and Eberle hasn’t kicked in a NFL game since early October of last year when he missed two out of four extra point attempts in his only appearance for the Detroit Lions. It’s unlikely that multiple Dynasty Owners believe so strongly in McGinnis and Eberle that they think they will be back as a starting kicker in 2023. Instead, it’s a product of the unique Dynasty Owner format that uses a salary cap and real NFL contracts and salaries.
Just because the salary cap is $157.36 million, Dynasty Owners are not obligated to use all of it. In fact, one thing that many Dynasty Owner seem to forget (or ignore) during their startup draft is that while the draft itself is 25 rounds, they can have up to 30 players on their Dynasty Owner roster. It’s important to remember this point and that you can add up to 5 more players to your roster immediately after the draft, but only if you have salary cap room. The teams that are at least $750,000 of space under the salary cap can add players, while those with less than $750,000 will have to drop a player if their Free Agent Auction bid is successful. In the 2023 startup drafts that have already taken place, there is a significant percentage of teams leaving themselves little to no salary cap space to bid on free agents after their startup draft is over.
Startup Draft Salary Ranges
% of Teams
$156.61 million or higher
$157 million or higher
The one-quarter (24%) of Dynasty Owner draft teams who have salaries of $156.61 million or more after the startup draft is finished don’t have the salary cap room for even one NFL minimum salary player on the Dynasty Owner platform. Most of them got even closer to the salary cap limit as nearly one-fifth (18%) of startup teams drafted in excess of $157 million during their startup draft.
The Dynasty Owner who came closest to hitting the $157.36 million salary cap during their 2023 startup draft was Haitian Freedom in League #219525 as they drafted players making a total of $157,359,203 in salaries. That’s only $797 under the salary cap. If this was the Price Is Right Showcase Showdown, Drew Carey (or Bob Barker for those of us old enough to remember) would have awarded Haitian Freedom both showcases for getting their guess so close to the correct amount without going over. Unfortunately, while I wear glasses like Drew and have gotten my cat spayed like Bob recommended at the end of every episode, I can’t award any prizes to Haitian Freedom for their successful use of almost the entire salary cap.
Not every startup draft Dynasty Owner is like Haitian Freedom. Three-quarters (76%) have enough salary cap room left for at least one free agent, while over two-fifths (43%) had $7.36 million or more in salary cap room, an amount that can easily net them the maximum of five extra players if their salaries are low enough. Just a handful of teams (6%) spent less than $100 million and have enough salary cap room to afford any of the expensive undrafted QBs mentioned earlier such as Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Those teams may not bid on these expensive QBs or other expensive players in the Free Agent Auction, but they do have that option by staying so far under the salary cap.
Startup Draft Salary Ranges
% of Teams
Under $100 million
$100 million – $130 million
$130 million – $140 million
$140 million – $150 million
$150 million – $156 million
$156 million or higher
The mean salary of all Dynasty Owner startup teams is just over $145.766 million, meaning that the average amount a Dynasty Owner startup team had when they left the draft was just under $11.594 million. However, the median was much higher at just a few dollars under $152.3 million. That means half of the startup teams spent under that amount and half spent more. It remains to be seen which strategy from these startup drafts will be the more successful one in 2023 and beyond.
Some Random Player and ADP Facts
Last week, we closed with some information about the last picks in the first Dynasty Owner startup drafts, aka the Mr. Irrelevant of each Dynasty Owner league. In lieu of repeating all of those draft selections and listing the new players, we have some random facts about players and their ADP from all of the 2023 startup drafts.
Player with highest ADP drafted in every startup draft so far – Arizona WR Greg Dortch ($1,010,000) with a 265.1 ADP
Player with the lowest ADP drafted in only one startup draft – Jaguars kicker James McCourt ($750,000) who was drafted with the first pick in the 15th round (169th overall pick) by Hell Fighters in League #222562
Total number of players drafted in at least one 2023 start-up draft – 404
Number of players drafted in every 2023 start-up draft – 217
With rookie drafts on the horizon later on this week, startup drafts will likely drop back to the back burner for many Dynasty Owners, at least until the rookie drafts are over. We know that no two Dynasty Owner startup drafts are the same, but with only rookies, we’ll find out if the same is true about the rookie drafts very soon.
If you didn’t get into a Dynasty Owner startup draft on either the first or second weekend and don’t have your rookie draft scheduled yet, don’t worry! You can scratch your draft itch by joining a Dynasty Owner startup draft this coming weekend (May 20th and 21st). There are startup drafts coming all throughout the rest of May and the entire summer until the start of the NFL season. Go to your D.O. Store, click on New Team for 2023, and find a time when you can draft this weekend, or a weekend in the future.
Dynasty Owner has plenty of content to help you with your Dynasty Owner startup team or any of your established teams. Jay Pounds took a different look at the initial Dynasty Owner startup drafts in his most recent article by highlighting ten veteran players who he feels should be targeted in the later rounds of future Dynasty Owner startup drafts based on their ADP from the initial startup drafts. Matt Morrison – The Jerk had his second Best Case, Worse Case article published last week, and he’ll be back next week with another new article, while I’ll take next week off. There will be plenty of articles for the rest of the off-season from the three of us.
Jay and I also do a weekly Dynasty Owner podcast and I also get to join Dynasty Owner CEO Tim Peffer on the weekly Friday Livestream. We did live mock drafts over the past two weeks, and you can how those mock drafts unfolded by checking out the Dynasty Owner YouTube channel. Finally, don’t forget to follow Dynasty Owner on Twitter. Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Steven Van Tassell is the Head of Content for Dynasty Owner
Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner
Dynasty Owners, the NFL Draft has come and gone and while we still have our rookie drafts yet to come, it is officially time for 2023 Dynasty Owner startup drafts to begin here on the platform. As many of you already know, Dynasty Owner is unique because we use real NFL contracts and salaries. Therefore, we cannot give any rookie their correct salary until they have been drafted. If you are looking for more rookie draft content, be sure to check out the articles Steve Van Tassell and I did over the weekend about the first round and Day 2 and Day 3 to get your fix! We saw several wild landing spots in this year’s NFL Draft, and Steve and I touched on many of them.
In today’s article, I am going to be helping everyone gear up for startup drafts and, in particular, making your most important selection, your first-round draft choice. As in any other dynasty fantasy football league you play in, you want your first round selection to be a player you can build around for many years to come. In Dynasty Owner, players in the first round have a much different criteria than they do in your typical dynasty league and for me there are four major factors that come into play. The things I look at the most when making my first round selection are the following (in order): production; salary; years left on the player’s contract; and the player’s age. The biggest thing I try to stay away from in the front half of the first round are players with just one year remaining on their current contract as I want to have plenty of salary cap flexibility for at least two seasons if I am picking high in the first round. In the back end of the first round is where I tend to target players with one year remaining, followed by drafting nothing but win now players. Stay tuned for more startup draft content!
If I am being honest this selection is still very much up in the air but if I were picking today, I would be taking Ja’Marr Chase number 1 overall. Chase has been elite as well as consistent for the Bengals since entering the NFL two seasons ago. Chase has torched opposing defenses for 2,587 yards and 23 touchdowns which is good enough to score 580.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points despite missing multiple games with an injury. I am guessing some will see this as a reach, but I don’t think you can go wrong with Chase in this spot, especially if he stays healthy for a full season. In just his third season, Chase seems to be a lock for a top 10 WR finish. Another huge positive with Chase is the fact that he is likely going to be paired with Joe Burrow ($9,047,534) for many years to come and the chemistry between the two is already off the charts.
Dynasty Owner has been around long enough for me to know several running backs will be selected in the first round of startup drafts, with at least one rookie being included. We did not see any rookie running backs taken in the first round of Dynasty Owner drafts in 2022 (based on ADP), but I believe Breece Hall ($2,253,694) would have been had Michael Carter ($1,071,842) not finished 2021 on a strong note. Hall had a startup draft ADP of 15.1 last year, so he was likely picked in the first round in some startup drafts. In the years 2020 and 2021, we saw Jonathan Taylor ($1,957,287) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($2,705,393) come off the board very early in startup drafts and I expect that to happen again this season. My point with all of this is the fact that Bijan Robinson is more talented than either of those two backs coming out of college and it’s not particularly close. Bijan at pick number 2 does carry a lot of risk but if he hits, you will have a nice advantage every week for the next four seasons at the running back position.
I know this may seem like a homer pick after the struggles Najee Harris had in 2022, but the Steelers should have an improved offensive line and when you combine that with a healthy Harris, I am expecting a huge year for the 3rd year running back. At 25, Harris is a little bit older than what I typically look for in running backs to build around and I would suggest trying to win now if he is on your roster. With that said, I believe he is one of the safer picks in the 1st round of our upcoming startup drafts. Despite Harris’s struggles in 2022 he still managed to hit the 1,000-yard mark, but did have a foot injury that slowed him down quite a bit. Now that Najee is fully healthy, I am expecting a big year from him in fantasy.
The first round is shaping up to be a doozy and we are only four selections in. You are reading that right folks, I am going with Justin Fields number 4 overall. I have said this many times before and I will say it again, quarterbacks that produce on rookie contracts are Dynasty Owner gold. Heading into 2023, I have Fields in a similar spot as Jalen Hurts heading into the 2022 season and we all know how that turned out. In the second half of 2022, Fields finally seemed to figure things out, especially for fantasy purposes as he eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark. In 2023, Fields should only be better as he will be throwing to D.J. Moore ($20,628,000) and Chase Claypool ($1,645,156) vs the band of misfits he threw to 2022, which should help him improve mightily as a passer. He is a bit risky this high, but if Fields improves heading into years 3 and 4, Dynasty Owners who draft him to their roster will be delighted with this selection over the next two seasons. Upside is king in fantasy football and Fields is sitting on an unlimited supply.
It really pains me to have Justin Jefferson this far down the board. I know it’s only five spots, but it seems like much more for a player of Jefferson’s caliber. However, when players get to that dreaded one year left mark on their rookie deals, it’s hard to spend a pick any higher than this regardless of the potential production. If you do happen to disagree with me and select Jefferson higher than this, I highly recommend going all in in this year and figuring out Jefferson’s massive new deal when the time comes. Over Jefferson’s first three seasons in the NFL, there has been no better player at the position or in fantasy, and I see no reason that changes with another year of experience. Jefferson has done nothing but shatter records since stepping onto an NFL field and I would expect him to shatter the highest paid receiver mark when it comes time for a new deal. You won’t find a better player to take anywhere in the draft, but can you win in year 1 and have a good team left after Jefferson’s new deal is in place is the real question.
I have a feeling many will have Lawrence as their first quarterback off the board this season and I would not fault them one bit. I just feel Justin Fields has more upside because of his rushing abilities on top of the fact he is nearly half of the cost against your salary cap. With that said, it would not surprise me to see Lawrence finish better if Fields ends up missing a game or two with an injury as Lawrence will have another year of experience and more weapons in 2023 after finishing 2022 as a top 10 quarterback on the Dynasty Owner platform. Lawrence is locked up on his rookie deal for the next two seasons with a pending fifth year option contract in three years. I am sure some still have nightmares about Lawrence’s rookie season, but Jacksonville was an absolute clown show under Urban Meyer and Lawrence showed what he was capable of when he has a competent coaching staff. Lawrence finished 2022 with over 4,000 yards passing and a total of 30 touchdowns which should only improve in year 3, making him a lock to go in the first round of Dynasty Owner drafts this season.
I struggled placing the next five players and I will more than likely change their order once a week throughout the startup draft season. This week, I have my favorite 2022 breakout player, Rhamondre Stevenson, in the 7 spot. Stevenson has a great blend of talent when it comes to running the ball and working as a receiver out of the backfield and it should only get better now that he has an actual offensive coordinator in town. In 2022, Stevenson finished as an RB1 and barring injury, I see no reason he can’t finish inside of the top 5 at his position in 2023. If the entire New England offense takes a step forward with Bill O’Brien in town, Stevenson could be a steal when we look back at startup draft ADP at the end of the season. I know some still have nightmares about Bill O’Brien in Houston and while some of it was earned, he was not a bad coach. He was a terrible general manager. O’Brien would not be a good Dynasty Owner player is what I’m trying to say if you’re the kind of person that likes to read between the lines.
Do you guys have any idea how painful it is to have Jalen Hurts this far down in the first round? It sucks, but that is life as a General Manager on the Dynasty Owner platform where salary cap space is extremely precious, and Jalen Hurts will be on a monster contract (5 years/$255 million, or $51 million per year) come 2023. While Hurts is 100% still a player I am expecting to see go in the first round, it likely won’t be in the top 5 unless we have some brave Dynasty Owners in the draft room. Hurts was the Dynasty Owner Value of the Year in 2022 and I am fully expecting him to do it again in 2023 at such a low salary for a player of his caliber. If you are spending this kind of pick on a player who will be making over $50,000,000 next season, you better win in year 1 or it may be a long road ahead. I can’t promise fitting Hurts under your cap in year 2 will be easy, but I can promise Hurts will be elite in 2023 if he is able to stay healthy!
Pick 1.09 – Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) – 1 year/$1,957,287
I feel picks 7-13 will be the sweet spot for elite players with one year remaining on their deals and that is exactly where Jonathan Taylor slots in. Taylor had a wildly disappointing 2022 season, but it was due to injury and not poor play, which makes Taylor a prime candidate to be the Dynasty Owner Comeback Player of the Year in 2023. When Taylor is healthy, he is one of the top 3 running backs in all of football and the added presence of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson ($8,498,507) should only help Taylor succeed. In 2021, Taylor was a beast rushing for over 1,800 yards and adding 20 touchdowns which was good enough for 389.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. As long as Taylor has a ton of potential, he will be going in the first round of Dynasty Owner startup drafts. In fact, had Taylor duplicated his 2021 success in 2022, he would likely be a top 2 selection despite being ready for a second contract.
At the 10 spot, we have one of the stars on my favorite up and coming offense in the NFL, Travis Etienne of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2022 season was essentially Etienne’s rookie year as he missed all of 2021 due to injury and the Clemson product did nothing but impress. I know injuries tend to scare some fantasy players away, but Etienne showed no signs of any long-term effects while he was shredding opposing defenses last season. Etienne had a fantastic 2022 and that was while he was sharing time with James Robinson ($2,000,000) at the beginning of the season. As I mentioned with Rhamondre Stevenson earlier, Etienne has an excellent blend of running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield and it does nothing but raise his Dynasty Owner ceiling. If you are expecting the Jaguars offense to be even better in 2023, there is no reason not to be extremely high on Travis Etienne.
If you look back to 2022, you will find that Burrow’s ADP (7.1 in 2022) has not changed much despite being a year closer to that dreaded second contract. The reason for this is because Burrow is an elite quarterback, but he does not have the rushing upside as a player like Jalen Hurts which will make it tough for Burrow to finish as the top fantasy quarterback on the platform unless he has a “perfect” fantasy season. Burrow has been a model of consistency anytime he steps onto an NFL field, and I do not believe that will change anytime soon and it’s because of that reason that I have Burrow going in the back end of the first round this year. If you do decide to wait until after the turn to go after Burrow because of his looming contract I would not blame you one bit, but he is still definitely worth a top 12 selection.
With the final selection of the first round in the first Dynasty Owner startup mock draft of the season, I will take the surprise selection of Garett Wilson! I know many of you may be a little flabbergasted seeing Wilson this high but allow me to explain. Wilson was fantastic in 2023 winning the Rookie of the Year award despite playing with possibly the worst quarterback room in the NFL. As we all know, he will get a huge bump up in quarterback play with future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers ($50,271,667) now in town. If Wilson and Rodgers are able to gel early on, they could become one of the most dangerous combinations in all of football and with Wilson still having three years remaining on his rookie deal, I am taking a chance on him at this point of the first round. I know some would prefer CeeDee Lamb ($3,502,503) here, but if I have to choose one, I am taking the extra two seasons of cap flexibility that Wilson has left on his rookie deal. The one thing that would put Lamb ahead of Wilson would be if I did not believe Rodgers would play more than one season, but I see him playing for the Jets for at least 2 years.
Dynasty Owners! Free agency has officially come and gone, and it is now time to turn our full attention towards the 2023 NFL Draft and our Dynasty Owner rookie draft. The NFL Draft will start on Thursday, April 27th and end on Saturday, April 29th and Dynasty Owner rookie drafts start in May. Be sure to enter the Dynasty Owner Draft Pick Challenge for your chance to take home $10,000 by picking a perfect first round. Today’s article is rather long, so let’s jump right into things!
Remember this is a mock draft geared towards rebuilding Dynasty Owners who are somewhat early in the process.
Josh Downs (WR – North Carolina)
If this is not a time of year where your rankings are constantly changing, you may need a new process. Had my previous article happened today, Josh Downs and Kayshon Boutte would have flipped spots for both rebuilding and contending Dynasty Owners. Downs will be a first round pick in Dynasty Owner rookie drafts with a good landing spot. Downs is small for the position, but after posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons his college production will be tough to ignore come draft day despite size concerns.
Zay Flowers (WR – Boston College)
Zay Flowers is another player who Dynasty Owners could take in the first round of rookie drafts depending on his landing spot, though I won’t be one of them. Flowers is on the smaller side, and I don’t see him developing into much more than a gadget player at the NFL level. Flowers is excellent with the ball in his hands and that should help him see touches early in his career. As someone who is in the middle of a rebuild, I would take Flowers here as I believe there is a decent drop off in talent at the position after him.
Zach Charbonnet (RB – UCLA)
Our first running back of the second round! Zach Charbonnet is a player I expect to be all over the place in Dynasty Owner rookie drafts ranging from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round. As a top 5 nationally ranked running back coming out of high school. Charbonnet is a very talented running back and has the tools to succeed but landing spot will play a major role. I know I talk about not liking running backs when rebuilding quite often but at this point in the draft you should take players no matter how they add value to your roster. Remember running backs who are producing are very easy to trade.
Hendon Hooker (QB – Tennessee)
Up next, we have the player who will likely be the most controversial pick in our rookie drafts, Hendon Hooker. Had Hooker not went down to a torn ACL in 2022, he would be a lock for the first round of our upcoming rookie drafts and likely the NFL Draft too. Unfortunately, this is not the case and Hooker’s draft stock has taken a major hit because of this injury. As a rebuilding Dynasty Owner if Hooker is here at this spot you have to pull the trigger. He is much too talented to not take a chance on this late.
Kendre Miller (RB – TCU)
In the 5 spot we have a part of TCU’s three-headed monster on offense, Kendre Miller. While Quintin Johnston and Max Duggan were the stars of the TCU offense, Kendre Miller was the heartbeat who kept the chains moving. Miller is also a player who I can see rising up draft boards rather quickly and hitting the back end of the first round of Dynasty Owner rookie drafts. If that does not happen, rebuilding Dynasty Owners should jump at the chance to draft Miller. At just under 6 feet tall and weighing in at 215 pounds, Miller has everything the NFL looks for in a running back including the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Keep an eye on Miller throughout the process.
Jalin Hyatt (WR – Tennessee)
Jalin Hyatt, the player best known as the guy who torched Alabama for 5 touchdowns on 6 catches while leading his team to an upset victory. Yes, Hyatt had a huge game in college but there is much more to him than that. Hyatt is a burner who can help any offense take the top off of a defense and will help stretch the field from Day 1. The big knock on Hyatt is the fact that he is good, not great, at everything else but as a rebuilding Dynasty Owner, you have plenty of time to be patient and let him develop. I remember hearing the same concerns with DK Metcalf ($24,000,000) coming out of the SEC and we all saw how that worked out.
Dalton Kincaid (TE – Utah)
Dalton Kincaid has been skyrocketing up draft boards as of late and it doesn’t seem to be stopping. By the time Dynasty Owner rookie drafts roll around, Kincaid could be even higher than this. As you all know, the tight end position is one of my top priorities when rebuilding and it isn’t going to change anytime soon. Kincaid is a fantastic receiver and route runner for a tight end and that is exactly what we fantasy nuts love. If Kincaid develops the way scouts think, he will be an absolute steal this late in your rookie draft.
Roschon Johnson (RB – Texas)
In the 8 spot of the second round, we have the man behind Bijan Robinson in Roschon Johnson. Had Johnson transferred out of Texas, he may have been a star in his own right, but he did the unthinkable and stayed at Texas behind a generational prospect. I don’t see Johnson becoming a star in the NFL, but he could end up as a consistent producer at the next level in the right situation. If Johnson lands with a team who could use a goal line back, I believe he may go a little higher than this draft spot. As a rebuilding Dynasty Owner, I would take a chance here on Johnson and trade him the minute he starts producing. The goal here is to turn the 2.8 pick into a player and another second round rookie pick during the 2023 season.
Marvin Mims (WR – Oklahoma)
Having a player like Marvin Mims available this late in a rookie draft is a testament to the quality of talent in this draft class. Mims is a speedy receiver who should find a home in the slot position at the NFL level, but I would consider him more of a hybrid slot receiver as he will definitely get some deep balls thrown his way throughout the season. As we see with Jalin Hyatt, Mims does not have a full route tree under his belt, but he does have the tools to add it to his game. If Mims develops well over the first couple seasons of his career, he could become a great Dynasty Owner player.
Sean Tucker (RB – Syracuse)
Sean Tucker is a player who will likely go much higher than this in Dynasty Owner rookie drafts but in a world where everyone is rebuilding, this is where I expect him to go. Should players like Tank Bigsby or Zach Evans fall, Tucker may rise up my rebuilding rankings but until then I don’t see many rebuilders adding Tucker to their roster at this spot. Tucker does have the talent to succeed in the NFL, but I like some of the others at the position more for rebuilders.
Cedric Tillman (WR – Tennessee)
In the 11 spot, we have our second Tennessee receiver of the second round, Cedric Tillman. Tillman is a player who I believe rebuilding Dynasty Owners should be all over as I think he got overlooked a bit while playing for the Volunteers. Tillman doesn’t have great speed, but he does have enough to keep defenses honest. At 6 feet 3 inches tall, he has a huge catch radius and should be a great possession receiver for years to come should he develop properly. I would take a chance on Tillman time and time again at this point in the draft.
Tyjae Spears (RB – Tulane)
At last, we have our final selection of the second round, Tulane running back Tyjae Spears. Spears was an absolute beast in college averaging 6.0 yards per carry or more in each season he played for the Green Wave. It wasn’t against elite competition, but it was impressive, nonetheless. Spears lacks the high-end speed NFL teams love, but he does have the size to go along with average speed and great athleticism. If he is still here at this spot, I think you pull the trigger, rebuilding or not.
Devon Achane (RB – Texas A&M)
Achane is a player everyone should keep an eye on. Top end speed to pair with high end athleticism.
Tanner McKee (QB – Stanford)
Is it just me or does Stanford always seem to have a quarterback drafted every couple of years? Tanner McKee has great upside for rebuilders early in the third round of your Dynasty Owner rookie draft.
Rashee Rice (WR – SMU)
Rice is a player I see getting on the field a lot, but not becoming a star. Hey if you can get 700 yards a season out of a third round rookie draft pick, you’d take it all day, right?
Luke Musgrave (TE – Oregon State)
Musgrave is an excellent choice at this point in your rookie draft. He needs to bulk up more for blocking purposes, but could develop into a nice fantasy asset.
Darnell Washington (TE – Georgia)
Up next, we have the Andre the Giant of tight ends! If Washington develops, he could be an absolute force in the Red Zone.
Israel Abanikanda (RB – Pittsburgh)
The Pittsburgh product has an unbelievable blend of size and speed. As a former track star who weighs 216 pounds, NFL teams may take him much earlier than expected.
Eric Gray (RB – Oklahoma)
Eric Gray is a late round pick who has a chance to play at some point in 2023. Gray has good pass catching skills which will only help him get on the field.
Sam LaPorta (TE – Iowa)
It pains me to have Sam LaPorta going this late as he is on my Devy team, and I expected more out of him. Iowa tight ends always seem to make a name for themselves and LaPorta has the talent to continue that trend. Rebuilders, this should be your tight end sweet spot in drafts!
Parker Washington (WR – Penn State)
A great chance for rebuilding Dynasty Owners this late in the draft. Washington is no lock, but he does have the skills to be an above average receiver at the next level.
Chase Brown (RB – Illinois)
Brown is the last running back I would recommend rebuilding Dynasty Owners spending a draft pick on. Save the rest of the running backs for the Free Agent Auction.
Rakim Jarrett (WR – Maryland)
Rakim Jarrett is definitely going to be a project, but he is a project I feel could pay off big time if he happens to find success.
Stenson Bennett (QB – Georgia)
Here we have our very own Dynasty Owner Mr. Irrelevant. The end of the third may be a little high, but Bennett is a proven winner and has shown his doubters they were wrong every step of the way.
A favorite to be the top receiver in the 2023 draft class, questions surround Jaxon Smith-Njigba (JSN) after a mysterious junior season in 2022. Coming off an impressive sophomore season, we only saw Smith-Njigba play in three games in 2022 as Ohio State made a playoff run. Now going into the NFL Draft, he looks healthy and seems to be doing everything right in the pre-draft process. A very talented slot receiver, he could take on a large volume role for a team as he has a knack for getting open in the middle of the field.
Alongside Garrett Wilson ($5,138,502) and Chris Olave ($4,817,969) while catching passes from C.J. Stroud, Smith-Njigba put together an incredible sophomore season with 95 receptions, 1,606 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns which culminated with 15 receptions for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 2022 Rose Bowl against Utah. The hype around Smith-Njigba going into the off-season was incredible, the bona fide WR1 in the 2023 NFL Draft class despite still being a full year out. Smith-Njigba would unfortunately pick up a hamstring injury and it would keep him out for the majority of his junior season (three limited games with a total of five receptions for 43 yards).
Quick-Twitch AthleteAs advertised by his 6.57 second 3-Cone Drill and 3.93 second 20-Yard Shuttle, JSN is a top athlete. His ability to get in and out of his cuts makes him hard to cover and hard to tackle.
TechnicianAnother in the long line of incredible route runners that have come out of Ohio State recently, Smith-Njigba may be one of the best yet. He runs a variety of routes, and his breaks are always tight and crisp. He does not waste much throughout his movement and uses his head well to get defenders flat footed.
Secure HandsWith a solid frame and long arms, Smith-Njigba is always a contender to get his hands on the ball, and from there he will bring in most passes. He is very comfortable catching the ball outside of his body and transitions quickly to running after the catch while keeping the ball secure.
Lacks Home Run SpeedWhile Smith-Njigba is certainly quick, he’s not necessarily fast. His 10-yard split would likely look great, but his top speed just lacks that elite ceiling. It won’t come back to haunt him too often, but you likely won’t see JSN pull away from NFL corners.
Limited to the Slot?With the 2021 season being just about 100% out of the slot, Smith-Njigba has been labeled a slot receiver and we didn’t get the 2022 season to see him play elsewhere. Brian Hartline, his WR coach at Ohio State, has talked about how JSN will not need to be limited to the slot at the next level and it’s an intriguing thought. Some Justin Jefferson ($3,280,701) vibes here.
Junior SeasonA lingering hamstring issue that takes you out of essentially the entire season is an unusual occurrence. I’m not reading much into it and overall, it’s irrelevant to his future NFL success, but it’s still just weird.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a lock for the first round at this point, but the range within the top 31 picks is wide. Smith-Njigba’s talents could be worth a Top 15 pick if a team believes that he could be used in multiple positions at receiver (in the slot and outside at the Z), but many mock drafts have placed him in the back half of the first round. Adding in the fact that the wide receiver free agent market was weak this year, rookie wide receivers could be pushed up the board as teams look to fill the gaps in their depth chart through the NFL Draft.
If Smith-Njigba was picked in the middle of the first round of the NFL Draft, he would likely be looking at a salary of around $3.8 million to $4.4 million a year over the first four years of his rookie contract. With the upside he has in fantasy football as a volume target out of the slot, a salary in this range would make him an incredible value in Dynasty Owner.
The Houston Texans are starting to look like the best possible landing spot for Jaxon Smith-Njigba. With the recent trade of Brandin Cooks ($19,882,000) to the Dallas Cowboys, the team will be looking for a new WR1 to take the reins with their incoming rookie quarterback. The Texans currently hold the second and 12th overall picks in the first round. Whether that incoming quarterback is former Heisman winner Bryce Young or JSN’s college quarterback C.J. Stroud, the future would look bright for the partnership in Houston.
Another team that would be a fun spot for JSN would be the Seattle Seahawks. With two first round picks, they could look to pick up the top receiver in the class, but at #5 overall they may be too early and at #20 they may be too late. But if they can make it happen, JSN would be a great addition to the duo of DK Metcalf ($24,000,000) and Tyler Lockett ($17,250,000). As Lockett gets older, the team would be able to push that work to JSN and give themselves insurance at the position long-term in case Metcalf doesn’t re-sign in 2026. Plus there is no better way to treat your new quarterback(s) than to give them another great receiver to throw to.
Dynasty Owners! By the next time you hear from me I believe the off-season will be in full swing. Make sure you get all paid up by March 18th to enjoy another full season of the best dynasty fantasy football on the planet. The quiet part of the football year is finally upon us and while there isn’t much to talk about there are a few fun topics floating around. Derek Carr ($37,500,000) was linked to a few teams, but ultimately the veteran signal caller signed with the Saints. Let me know on Twitter if you like the Carr and Saints combination heading into 2023. I personally wanted to see him sign with the Jets as I think they could be a very fun team if they had an above average quarterback. Can you believe I didn’t start with Aaron Rodgers ($50,217,667)? Rodgers is definitely one of the all-time greats at the position, but we went through this last off-season which puts me in “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode. If I had to guess, Rodgers will end up back in Green Bay but the Jets are a sneaky team to watch. When Jets owner Woody Johnson wants something in the off-season he usually doesn’t care what the cost is. Where do my fellow Dynasty Owners see Rodgers playing in 2023?
In today’s article, we are going to jump into the off-season full swing and take a look at some of the future building blocks of the NFL. I do want to note this article was written before the NFL Combine happened so I was unable to include anything from the event. C.J. Stroud had himself a day though!
Lock – C.J. Stroud (Ohio State)
Surprise, surprise, C.J. Stroud is my number one quarterback of the 2023 draft class. Yes, I will admit bias does play a role but to be fair It does not dictate everything as I had Justin Fields ($4,717,989) firmly behind Trevor Lawrence ($9,198,372) in 2021. C.J. Stroud had two excellent seasons at Ohio State throwing for over 8,000 yards and 85 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions and saved his best performance for the semifinals against the best defense in the country. My favorite attribute for Stroud has to be his throwing accuracy as he rarely misses his mark. If Stroud continues to be elite in terms of accuracy and utilizes his athleticism more at the next level, he should become one of the most dangerous players in the game. The knock-on athletic quarterbacks tends to be that they do not examine the field long enough, but I believe the opposite can be said for Stroud at times as he waits too long for a play to develop when he could have an easy first down with his feet. If Stroud lands in a decent spot, I am expecting a huge rookie season and career for the Ohio State product.
Other players to watch – Bryce Young (Alabama), Will Levis (Kentucky)
Sleeper – Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)
In all honesty, this may be cheating but injuries are a part of football and Hendon Hooker’s draft predictions prove just that. Had Hooker not went down to a torn ACL this past season, he would likely be a first round selection in the upcoming NFL draft and likely in the top 20. Instead, he is now projected as a Day 2 NFL Draft selection. During his injury shortened 2022 season, Hooker posted impressive numbers throwing for 3,135 yards, 27 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. Hooker also added 430 yards rushing and another 5 touchdowns. Should Hooker recover from his injury and return to form, he will be a tremendous value for Dynasty Owners anytime he steps on an NFL field. In my opinion, the biggest obstacle for Hooker will be his landing spot and his chances of becoming his new team’s QB1.
Other players to watch – Tanner McKee (Stanford), Anthony Richardson (Florida)
Lock – Bijan Robinson (Texas)
The next Saquon Barkley ($10,091,000) is headed to the 2023 NFL Draft! Bijan Robinson has the allure of a generational talent at the running back position and well, let’s just say his numbers speak for themselves. In 2022, Robinson rushed for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns while adding 19 catches for 314 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns and a whopping 16.5 yards per catch. Oh, and he also had similar production in his sophomore season. Robinson is an absolute freak of nature who can do it all at the position and the only real worry will be how quickly he adapts to the blocking side of things. When you read many of his scouting reports, this tends to pop up as a negative more often than not. When looking at the positives of Robinson’s scouting report, you will see things such as elite acceleration, excellent contact balance, great change of direction, great pass catching back, explosive in open space, and so much more that he has to be the top pick in the upcoming Dynasty Owner rookie drafts.
Other players to watch – Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama), Kendre Miller (TCU)
Sleeper – DeWayne McBride (UAB)
I’m sure this is a player not many of you have heard of, but I assure you that most of you will be impressed when you look into the pride of UAB, DeWayne McBride. In 2022, McBride ranked as the third overall running back in college football according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). While PFF is not the bible of football by any means, it is a good indication that the kid has a ton of talent. McBride not only has talent he has great size for the NFL and is listed at 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 215 pounds. In 2022, McBride had an impressive stat line of over 1,700 yards rushing and added 19 touchdowns, all while averaging a whopping 7.4 yards per carry. The big issue with McBride is in the passing game, which will no doubt be his biggest knock leading up to the draft as the UAB product caught just 5 passes in his entire college career. If McBride is able to solidify his pass catching ability throughout the draft process, he could rise up draft boards fairly quickly.
Other players to watch – Tank Bigsby (Auburn), Eric Gray (Oklahoma)
Lock – Jordan Addison (USC)
I believe many of you will be surprised by this selection and I must admit it hurts not having Jaxon Smith-Njigba in this spot. The tiebreaker that put Addison over the top for me is the fact he had excellent success for two different universities (USC and Pittsburgh). Granted Addison played for top level quarterbacks at both spots, but it is still impressive to me. Addison did have injury issues in 2022 but still came close to hitting the 1000-yard mark in just 11 games, finishing the year with 59 catches for 875 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. The year before at Pittsburgh with Kenny Pickett ($3,516,976), Addison had 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns. Addison does have some weaknesses that could be an issue at the NFL level, but none are more concerning than his physicality. If Addison can add some strength over the next few years, he has the potential to become an elite possession receiver for years to come and with Dynasty Owner having PPR scoring, he should be a very consistent player. Addison’s biggest strengths are his route running, separation, and experience and I am expecting his talents to translate quickly to the NFL.
Other players to watch – Jaxon Smith-Njigba (OSU), Quinten Johnston (TCU)
Sleeper – Rashee Rice (SMU)
In the sleeper wide receiver spot, we have our second player who graded extremely well according to PFF but played for a small school in Rashee Rice. Rice is a physical specimen at the receiver position coming in at 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing in at 203 pounds and moving extremely well for his size. Watch his highlights and you will fall in love! Rice should be a great contested catch receiver with a huge catch radius and has the speed to break the big plays today’s NFL loves. I hate to compare these young kids to big stars, but Rice reminds me a lot of DK Metcalf ($24,000,000) as his main knocks coming out of college were where he played and the fact he did not run a full route tree. Both were unbelievable athletes and top tier playmakers, and we all know how things worked out for Metcalf. I’m betting on Rice come draft season!
Other players to watch – Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee) A.T. Perry (Wake Forest)
Lock – Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)
The tight end #1 of the upcoming draft is no doubt Notre Dame product, Michael Mayer. Had Brock Bowers not played college football, Mayer would be getting much more hype than he currently is. It reminds me of the Kyle Pitts ($8,227,624) and Pat Freiermuth ($1,507,045) situation a couple of years back. Had Pitts not been around, Freiermuth would have been viewed similarly to T.J. Hockenson ($9,392,000) when he came out of college. Instead, Freiermuth fell to the middle of the second round of our rookie drafts here on Dynasty Owner. Enough of the comparisons, let’s get into the on-field production. In 2022, Mayer had a stat line of 67 catches, 809 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns all while playing on a team not known for its offense. My favorite strength for Mayer heading into the NFL is the fact that he is an excellent blocker which will allow him to get on the field early and often. In college, Mayer was asked to block defensive linemen on occasions and while he did not dominate, he did hold his own which speaks volumes to his readiness as a blocker. Mayer will not blow you away with his athleticism, but he is an extremely smart football player who has enough athletic ability to do extremely well at the next level at the tight end position.
Other players to watch – None are in the same area code as Mayer.
Sleeper – Darnell Washington (Georgia)
In case you haven’t heard, Darnell Washington is one of the biggest athletes to step on a football field on planet Earth. At 6 feet 7 inches tall and 270 pounds. Washington should have no issue holding his own as a blocker at the NFL level. At this point you may be wondering how this massive man qualifies as a sleeper. The reason for this is because his stat line from 2022 is not the most glamorous by any means. Washington finished the season with 28 catches for receiving 454 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he was also playing behind a generational talent at the position in Brock Bowers. I have my reservations about Washington, but he will be a tight end I target quite a bit during our Dynasty Owner rookie drafts based on potential alone. Imagine being an NFL quarterback and having an athletic tight end the size of a house to throw to in the red zone.
Other players to watch – Sam Laporta (Iowa), McCallan Castles (UC Davis)
Every year, the NFL Combine becomes bigger and bigger. Between the draftniks and NFL fans, there’s already a crowd, but add in the bettors plus the ever-growing dynasty fantasy football community and the NFL Combine has become an event to watch. We’re all glued to our screens looking for who is the fastest in the 40-Yard Dash (even if it doesn’t correlate to on-field success) or we’re listening to who the media is talking about, because oftentimes they are parroting what scouts and executives have said around Indianapolis. At the end of the day, when the 40-yard dash times aren’t as fresh and exciting, who really stood out at the NFL Combine? Who struggled to keep pace with the top of their class? That’s why you’re here!
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
It’s easy to declare a “winner” at this year’s NFL Combine. Richardson was the only quarterback of the top four to participate in the athletic testing drills and he knew what he was doing. With an official 4.43 in the 40-yard dash and a 40.5” vertical jump, Richardson had one of the best combines of any player in draft history. To put up elite testing numbers as a 6’ 4” 244lb player (let alone quarterback) was incredible. Richardson made himself a lot of money in Indianapolis, but for those who have been paying attention, this is validation rather than a revelation. We knew Richardson was going to blow up the combine and it is still impressive for him to come through on that idea, but where is he as a passer? Richardson looked great in the throwing drills right next to C.J. Stroud. Richardson was able to show off his arm strength which often looked like him casually flicking the ball 50+ yards down the field, but it was still apparent that he lacks the consistent accuracy that a player like Stroud boasts. If Richardson secures top five draft capital (which is almost to be expected at this point), it’s going to be hard to pass on his upside once we get into the second half of the first round of Dynasty Owner rookie drafts.
Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
Turn on the tape and Charbonnet will pop off as a big runner with intriguing lateral ability. Measuring in at 6’ 0” 214lbs, one of the big questions surrounding Charbonnet was about his athleticism and if it would be a sticking point in the process. Charbonnet took care of business during the combine and posted a 4.53 40-yard dash and a 37” vertical jump, eliminating any questions about his explosiveness and speed. Charbonnet is a physical runner and to pair that with his ability to create chunk plays and find his way into the second level, he makes an intriguing prospect who will certainly be off the board by the end of Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Charbonnet is a top five running back in this class and I’m looking forward to what NFL team looks to give him an opportunity to take over their backfield.
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
The NFL Combine was a bit of a mixed bag for Jahmyr Gibbs. Coming into the weekend as the consensus RB2 in the class, Gibbs measured in at 5’9’ and 199lbs and drew some questions. After being listed at 5’ 11” and 200lbs in college, it’s a bit of a disappointment but not a dealbreaker to me. And what damage he did with his measurements he made up for with his testing. Gibbs had the second fastest time of any running back this year with a 4.36 40-yard dash. He has great acceleration and burst, and with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield at an elite level, any size concerns will be mitigated through his style of play and nose for finding open space. Gibbs cemented his place as the RB2 in this draft class.
Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
It’s been a weird offseason for Boutte. After flip-flopping on his commitment to LSU or the NFL Draft, he eventually got pushed towards the NFL and was invited to the NFL Combine for a chance to move his way into the top tier of wideouts. He did not accomplish that goal. In fact, Boutte looked pretty average with a 4.50 40-yard dash (at 5’ 11” and 195lbs) and a 29” vertical jump. After a underwhelming junior season (48 catches for 538 receiving yards and 2 TDs), Boutte could have really used a springboard into the final stretch of the pre-draft process. He was unable to create that momentum this week and is looking at Day 2 NFL Draft capital with a chance of falling into Day 3 if he can’t start stacking positive workouts. Boutte is going to be a fade for me in just about every draft as I just don’t trust him at this point.
Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma
Quietly flying under the radar, Marvin Mims put together an impressive career at Oklahoma but has been met with very little hype from the NFL Draft community. After running a 4.38 40-yard dash and measuring in at 5’ 11” and 183lbs, Mims shouldn’t be so under-the-radar moving forward. His ability to consistently win deep (averaged 19.5 yards per catch over his college career) as well as create yards after the catch on shorter routes gives him great versatility and helps him check a lot of boxes as a prospect. Mims is expected to get Day 2 NFL Draft capital and could quickly have a role as the WR3 on an offense. He’s more than just a field-stretcher though and with comparisons to Brandin Cooks ($19,882,000) already on the internet, there is some exciting upside with Mims. He should be worth a look in the back half of the second round in your Dynasty Owner rookie draft.
Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
Despite an impressive attempt from Darnell Washington (Georgia) to take over the TE3 role in this draft class, Musgrave did plenty to maintain his hold on the position. Coming in at 6’ 6” 253lbs, Musgrave ran a 4.61 40-yard dash and posted a 36” vertical jump. Impressive numbers for a big man like Musgrave. His strong athleticism combined with his smoothness on the field sets him up to be one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the league. In the mold of Mike Gesicki ($10,931,000) or Dallas Goedert ($14,250,000) it may take a year or two for Musgrave to reach the heights of the position, but he has a great base to get there and be a playmaker for an NFL offense.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article where I discussed some more of the NFC free agents that I didn’t get to in my initial Top 10 Free Agents article from early February. You can go read the entire article for the details, but allow me to remind you of the initial Top 10 players I talked about as well as the five I discussed in the NFC only article. All of the free agents are unrestricted free agents (UFA), meaning that they have played for four or more seasons and are free to negotiate and sign with any team.
Additional NFC Free Agents
Well, today is the AFC’s turn and I have two running backs, two wide receivers and one tight end for you. Let’s jump into it.
More AFC Free Agents
Hunt ($6,000,000) was a player who I thought was going to be traded prior to the 2022 trade deadline. The Browns were easily out of the playoff hunt (no pun intended), and Kareem seemed like the perfect player to trade for at least a late round pick. Hunt did not get traded and concluded his season as a Brown. He finished as the RB38 despite playing in every game last season. So, where does Hunt go from here?
He is an unrestricted free agent as his 2 year – $12,000,000 contract is expiring. His market value is a little dubious to figure out. He is a past workhorse running back, but he hasn’t put up more than 200 rushing attempts or over 900 rushing yards since his rookie season (2017). Maybe this is a blessing in disguise as he has much less “wear and tear” on his body when you compare him to other running backs taken in the 2017 class. Alvin Kamara ($15,000,000), Christian McCaffrey ($16,015,875) and Leonard Fournette ($7,000,000) are three names that come to mind.
I see Hunt moving on from Cleveland and finding his way to a team that will use him as a 1a/1b type running back. Miami would be a solid landing spot. I’ll guess that his salary is similar to his expired contract, so $6,000,000 – $7,000,000 is what I expect Hunt to make in 2023.
Much like Hunt, Singletary ($974,500) has many layers to his future contract situation. First is the emergence of James Cook ($1,458,014). I’m not convinced Cook is ready to become an every down back, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Singletary’s options also depend on if the Bills want to pursue a running back in the 2023 NFL Draft. Look for Singletary to make around the $6,000,000 mark per year.
Jakobi Meyers ($3,986,000) was one of my most rostered players last season in Dynasty Owner. It wasn’t something that I really planned, but it just happened that way. I recognized that he had a chance to be a fine value. He finished as WR40 with a sub $4,000,000 salary. This isn’t the greatest performance for a wide receiver, but he was a rock solid Bench wide receiver. Not only that, but he finished the season with games of 20.3, 16.9, and 12.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points.
Meyers has earned a much larger contract going forward. He will almost surely make more than $10,000,000 per year, and I put him at closer to $12,000,000.
JuJu Smith-Schuster ($3,250,000) should be returning to Kansas City in 2023. He performed very consistently throughout the season. He and Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($10,000,000) did a marvelous job replacing Tyreek Hill ($18,000,000). JuJu also had an excellent performance in the Super Bowl. He led all Chiefs’ players in receptions with seven.
JuJu should be invited back to the Chiefs, and if he is, I expect the 26 year old to make $15,000,000 per year.
Engram ($9,000,000) finished as the TE5 for the 2022 Dynasty Owner season. He finished as TE5 despite some pretty inconsistent fantasy output. Engram had nine games of 9.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points or less. Hopefully if you rostered him last year, you started him in Week 14. That week (39.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points) accounted for more than 22 percent of his entire season output.
My gut tells me that Engram will re-sign with the Jaguars. They have adequate cap room and Engram seems to be a possible comfort target for Trevor Lawrence ($9,198,372) in the coming seasons. Engram’s salary should be roughly the same as his last contract at least on a per year basis.
For those of you wondering, I will be starting on New Contract talk once we get some substantial signings to talk about. Obviously, the majority of those signings will take place after the opening of NFL free agency on March 15th.
I thank you all for reading, and keep in mind that I will be talking about all of these players again as well as new players in the upcoming months. If there is any player that you would like me to talk about more, please send me a message, and I’ll do a full spotlight on that player.