6 Fantasy Football Rookies to Draft in 2023

by Seth Diewold · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

Some of the toughest evaluations in fantasy football are rookie players. Picking which rookies will produce in their first season in the NFL is a difficult challenge, but luckily there is some predictive data that can give you an edge this season. These are 6 fantasy football rookies you should consider drafting in 2023.

Jordan Addison

Look, I know the reckless driving arrest is less than ideal. However, Jordan Addison is still an exciting player to draft in fantasy. According to CBS News Minnesota, the reason he was driving so fast was because he was rushing his dog to the veterinarian. I suppose that is a noble reason to be driving fast. But it’s still not ideal. The context matters in this situation. It certainly wasn’t as bad as the initial reports suggested. 

His ADP shouldn’t be affected too much by this incident. If it is, then you should scoop up Addison at a discount. This Vikings defense wasn’t good last season, and it likely won’t be good again in 2023. This offense plays fast under Kevin O’Connell. Last season, the Vikings ranked No. 3 in pass attempts (645). They ranked No. 3 in team pass plays per game (39.5). The Vikings ranked No. 6 in Pace of Play (2.21 plays per minute). I don’t see why any of this changes in 2023. Addison should be involved in the offense right away considering he was the team’s first round pick. 

Addison also possesses a very intriguing profile. While on the surface, he may not be the most athletic player, when we dig a few levels deeper we see a player that broke out extremely early at age 18.5 (95th percentile) and a player who was super productive in college at both Pittsburgh and USC. Make no mistake, this is a talented wide receiver entering perhaps the most advantageous Year 1 landing spot with the absence of Adam Thielen. It would seem like Addison is the perfect complement to Justin Jefferson and will fit in with the likes of Hockenson and Jefferson right away. 

Goodbye Dalvin

The team also said goodbye to Dalvin Cook in free agency. This likely means even more passing volume in an already pass happy offense. All signs point to Addison being a very intriguing rookie to draft in the FFPC where he is currently being drafted at pick No. 88.4. In Underdog leagues he’s being drafted at pick No. 73.2 as of July 24th. 

Marvin Mims

Marvin Mims also finds himself in a relatively interesting situation. You’ve likely heard by now that the Broncos traded up to draft Marvin Mims in Round 2 of the NFL Draft. He’s now paired with Russell Wilson who is a chief candidate for a bounceback season in 2023. And while it is true that Wilson disappointed fantasy managers everywhere, he did play better once Nathaniel Hackett was relieved of his duties. In fact, in the final four weeks of the NFL season, Wilson finished as a top 5 QB in fantasy points per game three times. 

Enter Sean Payton. Now, we can sit here and argue about whether it’s a good idea for a team to ever give up draft capital for a coach. However, that doesn’t matter for fantasy football. What matters is if Payton can help return Russell Wilson to his former self. I’d say he has as good of a chance as anyone. There were also the rumors that the Broncos were interested in trading one of, or both, Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy before the start of the 2023 NFL Draft. Then, the Broncos told us even more by drafting Marvin Mims with their first pick of the draft in Round 2. This means the Broncos see this position as a position of need, and I’m guessing we hear more rumblings of a trade.  The most likely candidate being Courtland Sutton as we approach the NFL Trade Deadline this season.

A Shootout Division

Now, Mims has the situation we want. He’s in a division where there are going to be all kinds of shootouts with the likes of the Chiefs and Chargers, heck even the Raiders are going to be able to put up points on offense. What about the profile? Mims possesses elite speed and burst. He scored in the 90th percentile and above in both categories. Mims also broke out early at age 18.5. He’s also a polished route runner as well. Perhaps what I love most about him is he’s an absolute DAWG who isn’t afraid to stick his nose in there and run block. This is going to get him on the field. It’s also one of the reasons Sean Payton declared him as a must have player in the NFL Draft.

At his current price tag at pick 175.9 in the FFPC and 159.4 in Underdog drafts, Mims is the perfect high risk/ high reward pick in drafts. 

Jayden Reed

Let’s talk about Jayden Reed for a minute and why I think he might be a sleeper pick in all fantasy formats this season. The Green Bay Packers made Reed their second Round 2 selection with pick No. 50 overall which came as a surprise to some on draft night. However, it didn’t surprise me one bit. This is a team looking to surround their new starting quarterback with weapons, and Reed is a weapon to be sure. 

Reed possesses good speed and is a good route runner. He also has great hands and even played some special teams in college as well. His best comparable player is Stefon Diggs, and to be fair the comparable player is meant to be a, “What Could this player Be,” but when I watch Reed play, I definitely see the similarities. Needless to say, Reed is a talented player, who, as is a theme with all of the receivers we’ve covered so far, broke out very early – at age 18.4 (98th percentile). Reed also produced in a run-happy Michigan State program with less-than-ideal quarterback play. In 2021, he even accounted for over 1,000 receiving yards. 

Reed finds himself in a Packers depth chart that includes Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and then the likes of Dontayvion Wicks, Malik Heath, and Samori Toure. Remember Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb made the voyage to New York with Aaron Rodgers. This means there is going to be an opportunity for the rookie to produce right away in an offense that is going to be playing some weak NFC North defenses throughout the season – Lions, Bears, Vikings.

Reed is definitely worth a shot at his current ADP of 197.2 in FFPC Leagues and 170.9 in Underdog Best Ball Drafts. 

Roschon Johnson

This is PlayerProfiler. Therefore, we must talk about Roschon Johnson. Johnson was selected on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. However, he was an early Day 3 pick. The Bears even went so far as to call him a franchise pillar when they drafted him. Johnson produced in college while playing behind one of college football’s best running backs in Bijan Robinson.  

I know some people think that Khalil Herbert or D’Onta Foreman have the inside track to gain most of the running back carries. This might be true at least to start the year. However, Johnson is the player they have invested the most in, and he is the best pass catching running back and the best in pass protection as well. He is the most versatile running back the Chicago Bears have, and fantasy gamers are starting to catch on.

Roschon Johnson Advanced Stats & Metrics

The Bears are likely still going to rely heavily on their running game once again, and therefore each of these running backs likely has a role. However, the running back with the most upside is clearly Johnson, and as I mentioned he is the most versatile.

In FFPC leagues, Johnson is being drafted at pick No. 124.6 and in Underdog Best Ball leagues Johnson is being drafted at pick No. 151.2. 

Anthony Richardson

The rookie quarterback you are going to want to draft in 2023 is Anthony Richardson. This is a fantasy football cheat code. Richardson is the most athletic quarterback we have seen come into the NFL, and while this is a risky pick, it’s the kind of pick that if it hits you get the upside of a Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, or even a Jalen Hurts without paying that price tag. A draft strategy that I am implementing across all of my leagues is pairing Richardson with a safer quarterback to avoid paying up for one. A quarterback like Kirk Cousins or Daniel Jones would provide the floor with the upside of an Anthony Richardson

The downside and the range of outcomes are very harsh with this pick. Richardson could have a steep learning curve given his low completion percentage of 53 percent in college, but I’m always someone who bets on talent. Richardson has plenty of talent. He also has some teammates in Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman that should be able to help him out as he develops. The rushing upside for Richardson is as high as leading the NFL in rushing. Like I said, it’s a risk, but a risk worth taking especially if you pair him with a safer option at quarterback.

He’s currently going at pick No. 124.3 in FFPC leagues and pick No. 104.5 in Underdog Best Ball Leagues.

Sam LaPorta

Normally, I wouldn’t advise drafting a rookie tight end. Oftentimes, they disappoint fantasy gamers, but at his current price tag I think this player is worth the risk. That player is Sam LaPorta. Now, why do I like LaPorta? One, I like the profile. This was one of the bright spots in an otherwise forgettable Iowa offense.

The second case for LaPorta is the opportunity he is likely to have in a potent offense within a shootout division in the NFC North. Sure, the Lions have Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams who is going to be serving a suspension to start the season. Outside of those two pass catchers the Lions have Marvin Jones, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, newly acquired Denzel Mims, and 7th rounder Antoine Green at WR. 

There is very little competition at tight end. Brock Wright and James Mitchell are the next two tight ends on the Detroit depth chart. If LaPorta can prove himself as a ready NFL TE in training camp, there are going to be opportunities within this offense. Given the fact that LaPorta is going in the double-digit rounds in FFPC drafts, at pick No. 144.3 and even later in Underdog Best Ball Drafts – at pick No. 162.6 – why not take a shot on an athletic rookie tight end in an offense with targets available?