Fantasy Football 2023: Stock Up, Stock Down After NFL Draft
As far as fantasy football is concerned, the conclusion of the NFL draft just means that draft season has truly begun.
With the new batch of rookies finding new homes, dynasty and best ball drafts are really starting to pick up, with standard formats soon to follow.
Sure, there are the hardcore drafters who have been doing drafts since before the NFL draft, but the yearly seven-round event is the last seismic shift in NFL rosters until August.
For some players, the draft was great news. There are quarterbacks who have new weapons or better pass protection, running backs who have more clear roles and receivers who landed with good enough quarterbacks to carry value.
But for every fantasy football asset who improved their stock in the draft, there's another who is now in a murkier situation or won't have as good of an opportunity to produce.
Let's break down some of the players who benefitted most from the draft and those who fantasy managers may want to downgrade based on what happened in the draft.
Stock Up: QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
If you drafted Justin Herbert at ADP last season, chances are you were pretty frustrated with the results. The Chargers quarterback took a major step back last year going from QB2 in 2021 to QB12 in 2023.
Part of that had to do with the health of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. The duo is one of the best in the league when healthy, but Allen dealt with a hamstring injury that limited him to 10 games and could have slowed him down when he did play. Williams appeared in 13 games but dealt with back and ankle injuries.
The rest of the Chargers receiver room didn't offer much help. Josh Palmer drew 107 targets but only averaged 7.2 yards per target with three touchdowns. DeAndre Carter didn't exactly strike fear in opposing secondaries with 46 receptions for 538 yards and three touchdowns.
Fortunately, the Chargers seemed to learn that even quarterbacks as talented as Herbert need help. They used their 21st selection on Quentin Johnston, who was the No. 1 receiver on the B/R big board rankings.
The 6'3", 208-pounder gives them the third receiving option they desperately needed who can develop into a first or second option depending on the health of Williams and Allen.
They also took Johnston's TCU teammate, Derius Davis, in the fourth round. He might be a bit one-dimensional, but his 4.36 speed could make him a viable deep threat in a limited role.
Add in the fact that Austin Ekeler wasn't traded despite trade rumors, and Herbert came out of the draft on track to return as a top-five fantasy football quarterback in 2023.
Stock Down: RB Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons
Fare thee well, Tyler Allgeier era. We hardly knew thee.
The Atlanta Falcons running back became a functional starter halfway through his rookie campaign. From Week 8 to Week 17, he averaged 11.9 points per game in PPR formats and was RB26.
He caught fire during the playoffs, scoring 54.8 points from Week 14-17 and likely won some fantasy football championships along the way.
Good times. But the arrival of Bijan Robinson figures to dash any hopes that he would carry that momentum over to the season.
The Falcons took the No. 4 overall player on our big board with the eighth selection, making him the highest-drafted back since Saquon Barkley in 2018.
It's great news for Robinson. Arthur Smith was with the Tennessee Titans for the vast majority of the Derrick Henry era. He knows how to build an offense around a star running back, and they clearly have the infrastructure in place for an effective rushing attack.
But they didn't take Robinson with a top-10 pick to stick him in a committee. Expect Allgeier to be a true backup running back with a limited role and nearly no upside as a fantasy football starter.
Stock Up: RB Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
Leading into the draft, there were some rumors out there connecting the New England Patriots to the most prominent running back in the draft class.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported the Patriots were "quietly" showing interest in adding a top talent at running back. In a separate tweet, he noted the Pats were "absolutely intrigued" by Texas running back Bijan Robinson.
Fantasy football drafters and Rhamondre Stevenson dynasty managers were absolutely pulling their hair out and weren't doing so quietly.
Stevenson finally seized the backfield from Damien Harris in 2022. He finished as RB9 in PPR scoring last season. Being forced to split volume with Robinson would have been a disaster that kept both from achieving their full potential as fantasy football studs.
In reality, the Patriots put as big a stamp of approval on Stevenson as the flag-bearer in the backfield as possible. Not only did they not draft a running back, but they also didn't even sign one as an undrafted free agent.
They still signed James Robinson, but he's not nearly the threat to Stevenson's workload that someone like Bijan Robinson or another top running back prospect would have been.
Players can draft Stevenson with confidence this summer and fall.
Stock Down: RB Zach Charbonnet and RB Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks
Fantasy football managers love clarity in a backfield. Pete Carroll clearly doesn't care.
In 2021, Rashaad Penny was looking like he was headed toward fantasy stardom. The fourth-year back finally got healthy and was the top scoring back during the fantasy football playoffs.
Then the Seahawks decided to draft Kenneth Walker III in the second round of the 2022 draft.
It was frustrating from a fantasy perspective. But Penny ended up playing in just five games because of injury, and Walker took over the backfield, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and rushing for over 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns to wind up second in Rookie of the Year voting.
Surely the Seahawks have found their feature back and Walker will be the undisputed No. 1 back in 2023. Fantasy football players thought.
The Seahawks once again spent a premium draft pick on a running back, taking Zach Charbonnet with the 52nd overall pick. The UCLA back was the 38th overall player on our board and the third back in our rankings.
"He's so versatile," Carroll said in an appearance on Seattle Sports Radio's Bump and Stacy (h/t Garrett Podell of CBS Sports). "He just will fit in and be a great addition, and really, we're gonna find out how far he can take it in terms of the receiving part of it. We know he's really good at it. But so is Kenneth, so those guys will be battling."
Had Charbonnet gone to another landing spot, he could be contending for Rookie of the Year honors and giving fantasy managers a third rookie back to get excited about with Jahmyr Gibbs and Bijan Robinson.
Instead, the Seahawks backfield is once again hard to read, and it's hard to know what Charbonnet's or Walker's value will be.
Stock Up: RB Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense figures to look vastly different than the 2022 version. With Tom Brady's retirement, the team will hand the reigns to either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask at quarterback, and they won't have Leonard Fournette to hand the ball to.
The team hasn't re-signed Fournette. He led the backfield with 189 carries and 83 targets in the passing game last season. They also brought in Dave Canales from the Seattle Seahawks to replace Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator.
The draft would have been the perfect time to acquire a successor to Fournette's role, but they didn't.
Seattle's offenses under Pete Carroll have typically been effective running teams, or at least have leaned on the run heavily. With Todd Bowles being a defensive-minded coach and the lack of dynamic playmaking at the quarterback position, it's safe to assume the Bucs will be looking to utilize White in his second season.
Since the Bucs didn't draft a Fournette replacement and their only free-agent addition was Chase Edmonds, it's looking like White will get something resembling a true feature back workload.
That's great news for fantasy managers. White has a lot more juice left than Fournette, and he caught 50 of his 58 targets last season. He has the skills to maximize the opportunity and should see his stock rise with no drafted competition.
Stock Down: WR K.J. Osborn, Minnesota Vikings
The draft can tell us a lot about what a franchise thinks of a player. In the case of K.J. Osborn, the Minnesota Vikings let us know loud and clear that they don't view him as a No. 2 wide receiver.
Before the draft, Osborn was a sneaky candidate to hold some value in fantasy drafts. After back-to-back seasons of being a solid third option for the Vikings, Adam Thielen's departure paved the way for him to become the second receiver.
The Vikings made it loud and clear that they don't view him that way when they used their first-round selection to take Jordan Addison out of USC.
It's undoubtedly a great spot for the rookie. Playing across from Justin Jefferson with T.J. Hockenson in the middle is going to open up all kinds of opportunities.
But the rookie's presence leaves Osborn without a clearly defined role. He primarily played in the slot last year, but Addison might have to play there because of his 5'11", 173-pound frame.
Osborn posted 50 receptions for 655 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021. He followed it up with 60 receptions for 650 yards and five touchdowns in 2022.
It's hard to see him ever getting beyond those numbers with Addison joining the offense in 2023.
Stock Up: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions
It might be fair to question the Detroit Lions' wisdom in taking the second-best running prospect in the 2023 NFL draft with the 12th overall selection.
But that's not a question for fantasy drafters to answer.
From that perspective, the Lions just made Jahmyr Gibbs a star. The Alabama running back could not have asked for a better landing spot. The Detroit Lions clearly have the offensive line and scheme in place to support a top fantasy back.
Jamaal Williams smashed all of his career highs six years into his career with 1,066 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. He was startable in fantasy despite almost no role in the passing game. That role belonged to D'Andre Swift who was second on the team with 70 targets.
Both are gone. While the Lions brought in David Montgomery in free agency, it should be noted that he was much less effective than Khalil Herbert in the Bears backfield last season, which is likely why the Bears were comfortable with letting him walk.
Gibbs' draft position and all-around skill set would indicate he's going to have a huge role in an offense that has already proved capable of having a great run game.
Stock Down: WR Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens' selection of Zay Flowers with the 22nd pick in the draft should be the final nail in the idea that Rashod Bateman could blossom into a WR1 in fantasy football.
The Ravens showed a high level of confidence in Bateman when they took him with the 27th pick in the 2021 draft. They showed even more belief in the wideout when they traded away Marquise Brown after Bateman's rookie campaign, which saw him grab 46 passes for 515 yards and a touchdown in 12 games.
Unfortunately, injuries cut his second season short. He played in just six games after suffering a Lisfranc injury that he is still recovering from after successful surgery.
However, the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. on a one-year, $15 million contract likely cut into Bateman's role.
Then they drafted Flowers with their first pick in the 2023 draft. While it's a good investment to surround Lamar Jackson with dynamic, young targets on rookie contracts, it makes it a murky receiver room for fantasy purposes.
The Ravens are bringing in Todd Monken to reimagine the offense after years under Greg Roman. He figures to change the passing attack, but any offense with Jackson at the helm is still going to rely on the run.
That leaves Bateman with an unclear role on a team that figures to be run-heavy. He could wind up as the third receiver and fourth overall option when you consider tight end Mark Andrews.
That's a hard pass in fantasy drafts.
Stock Up: WR Cedric Tillman, Cleveland Browns
Landing spots are crucial for rookies in general, but they are even more important for wide receivers. There are so many factors that go into success at the position that are not within a player's control.
Ideally, rookie wide receivers wind up somewhere with a good quarterback. They also want a situation with enough surrounding talent to keep attention off of them but not so much that there's no path to playing time.
That's the exact situation that Cedric Tillman finds himself in with the Cleveland Browns.
Deshaun Watson struggled to find his footing in his first season with the Browns, but he served an 11-game suspension and hadn't played football since 2020.
The last time he had a full season with a typical offseason he had 4,823 passing yards and 33 touchdowns in a Pro Bowl season. If he returns anywhere close to that production, the Cleveland offense is going to have multiple notable fantasy pass-catchers.
Amari Cooper will definitely be one of them. He is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver who commands attention. David Njoku can be a value in the passing game. He's an ultra-athletic tight end who drew 80 targets last season.
But the next-best receiver is Donovan Peoples-Jones. He's in the final year of his contract and hasn't done enough to simply be the assumed No. 2 option in the offense.
The 6'3", 213-pound Tillman was the fifth receiver on our big board. He has the talent to work his way into this offense. If he can do that, he's in a great position to be a sleeper.
Stock Down: TE Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
Much like Tyler Allgeier, Dawson Knox ended the season on a heater that could have propelled him up future draft rankings. He missed Week 17 with a hip injury but exploded for 48.7 PPR points in the three weeks prior to fantasy championship Sunday.
There was always a chance that was going to be a mirage. Knox's production was heavily tied to touchdowns. He found paydirt in each of his final four games of the regular season.
In the previous 11 games he scored just two touchdowns. So while he finished as TE16 and a borderline starter, he was a boom-or-bust play every week with far more busts than booms.
He'll be even riskier now with the Bills taking Dalton Kincaid at the end of the first round.
Kincaid is possibly the draft's best receiving tight end. The 6'4", 246-pound tight end was voted most versatile by the B/R scouting department, and he took 221 snaps in the slot as opposed to 142 as an in-line tight end, per PFF.
Given Kincaid's ability to play as a jumbo wide receiver, he just might bring Gabe Davis' stock down too. He has the ability to provide the receiving help the team needs behind Stefon Diggs and another element to the Bills passing game.
That's way more upside than Knox brings to the table as an all right receiver who mostly is a red-zone target.