With the fantasy football season nearly complete and the NFL shifting firmly to playoff mode, dynasty teams shift to 2023 NFL Draft mode with rookie drafts in a few months the next critical items on the to-do list. Here is an early look at the metrics of the 2023 class across the skill positions:
*Data included reference the author's projection model, designed to improve the probability of predicting skill position prospects to produce fantasy starter seasons in the NFL*
*With the declaration deadline not until mid-January, some of the non-senior prospects mentioned here may end up returning to school*
Bryce Young and CJ Stroud headline the class from a name cache and expected draft position. Both have flaws, but one of them would be the odds-on favorite to be the top quarterback off the NFL Draft board and possibly likely at 1.01. Bryce Young checks every passing box as a prospect with accuracy, TD-INT ratio, avoiding turnovers, and level of competition. However, Young is 195-200 pounds at best (and likely lighter) at a listed 6'0" with a thin frame. Young is historically small for the position, especially for being even a top-100 draft pick. Also, Young is not a strong rushing option dating back to high school and through his Alabama time. Young is a tough projection as he will lack comparable prospects, let alone successful ones, and has a rushing ceiling limitation for future fantasy considerations. On the flip side, the pro argument is simply 'watch Young play' as he navigates the pocket, reads defenses, and delivers with timing and accuracy. Young will be one of the most discussed profiles in the entire NFL Draft class.
CJ Stroud has prototypical size, especially compared to Bryce Young, but the moniker as an Ohio State quarterback, with their system conducive to straight-forward throws and accruing production, will have some skepticism from the start. Stroud checks every passing box on paper but has the same expected rushing upside limitation as Young.
The wild cards of the class involve far more mobility and rushing upside. Will Levis has a bust-track level passing profile, but some will conjure Josh Allen as a similar profile and reason for optimism for NFL development of his passing chops. Josh Allen had a far superior rushing profile entering the NFL, however, and Levis' passing concerns remain. Levis will be discussed as a potential top-10 selection.
If interested in Levis, the intriguing arbitrage is Anthony Richardson. A breakout candidate for 2022, Richardson's passing development remaining set to simmer. Richardson has elite rushing upside, different than Levis, Young, and Stroud, with the same passing development concerns as Levis. Richardson may go decently later in the NFL Draft and in rookie drafts than Levis, yet have more upside for fantasy.
Beyond the top four above, other interesting profiles include Jaren Hall, Devin Leary, Hendon Hooker, Phil Jurkovec, Cameron Rising, and Spencer Rattler. With Hall, he offers a quality profile across the board but is sub-sized at a listed 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds. Leary lacks a strong rushing upside but has passing potential. Hooker lit the college football landscape on fire early in 2022, but a season-ending injury clouds his draft process or could push him back to college in 2023. At full health, Hooker has elite passing marks with an above-average rushing profile, but being old (nearly 25 years old for the start of the 2023 season) is an overt negative historically for quarterback prospects. Jurkovec has prototypical size with quality mobility, but his passing profile is spotty. One argument could be the lack of quality weapons at Boston College, with only Zay Flowers, a potential NFL-caliber wide receiver during his tenure. Rising has strong rushing upside with good enough passing numbers. His arm strength is average by NFL standards. Rattler is a true wildcard as one of the top prospects entering college, but a bumpy road of erratic play between Oklahoma and South Carolina adds risk to his overt arm talent. Rattler is also sub-sized, around 200 pounds, and lacks higher-end rushing upside.
Bijan Robinson is the crown jewel of the 2023 running back class and a near lock to go in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. The term generational is thrown around far too often for the literal definition, but Robinson is an elite prospect like Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott in past drafts where having the 1.01 was a substantial advantage. In addition to having prototypical size and athleticism, Robinson has an elite receiving profile and has an elite after-contact profile.
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