NFL Draft Rankings | 2023 Rookie Guide Fades

by Joe Beldner · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

The 2023 NFL Draft is finally right around the corner! After much anticipation, we will discover the draft capital and landing spots of the top prospects in this year’s class. Although these two factors undoubtedly matter tremendously, there are other elements that could be integrated to predict the future success of these players. This process will help guide our fantasy football strategy for this article. These are two prospects to fade according to the NFL Draft Rankings listed in the 2023 Rookie Souting Guide!

Two intriguing prospects that I would avoid in your rookie drafts are Devon Achane and Josh Downs. Although both of these prospects have received a lot of love from several dynasty circles, there are underlying metrics that signify that their collegiate success will not translate to the pros.

Devon Achane | Texas A&M

Devon Achane is a tantalizing talent on the field who is the fastest prospect in this year’s running back class from Texas A&M. When reviewing his tape, there are certainly more things to love than critique. His 4.32 40-time ranks in the 99th percentile according to our 2023 Rookie Scouting Guide. He thrives specifically in the north/south run game. Achane also possesses elite speed to get around the corner of defenses with ease. In his final collegiate season, he ran for over 1,000 yards and was equally effective in the passing game. 

Devon Achane Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Although Achane is one of the best athletes that we have seen in this class, he is not built to have similar success in the NFL. At only 5-9 and 188-pounds, Achane is way under the size thresholds that we covet when evaluating running back prospects. At this size, he will not be able to withstand a substantial workload. This will greatly hinder his fantasy upside. He still has weekly upside for home run plays due to his otherworldly speed. 

Talent and Play Style

Overall, Achane is an extremely talented player. But his measurables and playstyle will ultimately not translate to the pros. If he is not drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, he will be almost completely off of my fantasy radar. Achane has some of the best speed in the class. However, it is recommended to take a risk on a prospect who has more prototypical size for an NFL running back. It is extremely possible that Achane is viewed as a specialty player at the next level. This is the type of player who does most of his damage on kick and punt returns. He will need an offense that creates manufactured touches in order for him to truly thrive. Although this can be beneficial to real football, it usually does not translate well for fantasy purposes. 

Josh Downs | UNC

There is no denying the skills and production that Josh Downs has had at the collegiate level. He and Drake Maye have proved to be a prolific tandem down in Chapel Hill. In his three seasons with UNC, Downs had 202 receptions for 2,483 receiving yards and 22 receiving touchdowns. He is a route-running-technician. Additionally, he has proved to be extremely effective around the endzone despite his limited size. Although he should be able to carve out a respectable role in an NFL offense, the odds are against him to be a high-upside fantasy asset.

Josh Downs Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

At 5-9 and 171-pounds, it will be extremely difficult for Downs to continue to thrive against NFL defenses. We have seen some lighter wide receiver prospects such as DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Marquise Brown thrive in the NFL. The problem here is that they are substantially better prospects than Downs. It truly takes an elite talent at the position to be under 180-pounds and be productive at the professional level. Although running a 4.48 40-time would be satisfactory for most wide receiver prospects, it is less appealing for one with as slight of a frame as Downs. He also had a later breakout age than desired of 20.1.

Downs is talented enough to be a starting slot wide receiver in the league. However, there are several obstacles for him to overcome. His best case scenario would be to have similar success to what we have witnessed from Wan’Dale Robinson and Elijah Moore. Due to the fact that Downs is projected to be selected in the first round of most rookie drafts, it might be best to target other prospects who have easier paths to success at the next level. 

Final Thoughts

It is always difficult to compare and critique significant prospects. Although some players prove to be outliers, it is useful and beneficial to dissect historical data to predict a prospect’s potential pathway to success at the next level. Devon Achane and Josh Downs are undeniably tremendous talents who have desirable production at the collegiate level. With that said, the odds are against both of them to live up to their current expectations.

Due to this, it is recommended to target other prospects who are better physically equipped to translate to the pros. For more useful data and advice on everything you will need to know about all of the top prospects in this year’s class, check out our 2023 Rookie Scouting Guide!