Rookie draft season is fast approaching! Everyone wants in on this exciting 2023 rookie class, whether your team is contending or rebuilding.
In this series, the DLF team will look at the rookie draft in groups of four to give a comprehensive view of those picks. We’ll do this by analyzing consensus picks of the past, the potential options for this year, and what the picks are worth on the trade market. For this series, we’ll be focusing on superflex formats. Let’s jump into it!
Historical Consensus Picks
- 4.05 – Kyren Williams, RB LAR
- 4.06 – Calvin Austin, WR PIT
- 4.07 – Isiah Pacheco, RB KC
- 4.08 – Danny Gray, WR SF
- 4.05 – Javian Hawkins, RB ATL/CFL
- 4.06 – Jermar Jefferson, RB DET
- 4.07 – Kene Nwangwu, RB MIN
- 4.08 – Tre’ McKitty, TE LAC
- 4.05 – Lamical Perine, RB NYJ/PHI/MIA/KC
- 4.06 – Devin Asiasi, TE NE/CIN
- 4.07 – Albert Okwuegbunam, TE DEN
- 4.08 – Josiah Deguara, TE GB
Most of these players never accomplished anything in the NFL, but there are a few bright spots. Of course, Pacheco is the highest-valued player on this list, as he’s the only one who carries any real dynasty value right now. I still recommend selling him, but he’s worth around the 2.08 in superflex leagues, according to the DLF Trade Analyzer.
Beyond Pacheco, there isn’t much positive to say about the players in this group. Austin missed his entire rookie year due to an injury, and Gray barely played this year on the loaded 49ers’ receiving corps. While Williams showed some flashes in the Rams’ messy running back room, he failed to hold down any significant work throughout the season. The Rams turned back to Cam Akers as their starter, and I believe they will also bring in another running back, pushing Williams to third-string.
The 2021 class is even worse than the 2022 class, as none of those players ever had much dynasty value. Hawkins never played in the NFL, and Jefferson has 15 career carries through two NFL seasons. Nwangwu developed into an excellent kick returner, but he’s not an NFL running back. Oddly enough, I still have a little hope for McKitty, as tight ends take a while to develop. But he doesn’t have any dynasty value right now, and he’s on the waiver wire in almost every dynasty league.
The 2020 group comes in somewhere between the 2021 and 2022 groups.
Chart courtesy of DLF ADP Over Time App.
As you can see from this chart, Lamical Perine and especially Albert Okweugbunam provided a bit of a selling window, even though neither had any consistent fantasy value in the NFL. However, Devin Asiasi and Josiah Deguara represented more traditional fourth-round busts.
2023 Potential Options
- Xavier Hutchinson, WR Iowa State
- Mohamed Ibrahim, RB Minnesota
- Deuce Vaughn, RB Kansas State
- Tyler Scott, WR Cincinnati
- Chris Rodriguez, RB Kentucky
- Tanner McKee, QB Stanford
- AT Perry, WR Wake Forest
- Andrei Iosivas, WR Princeton
- Dontayvion Wicks, WR Virginia
To gather this list, I used DLF’s superflex rookie rankings for potential options that may be available in the mid-fourth round of rookie drafts. But it’s important to note how much values change from February to May, especially in the mid-fourth round. Without NFL Combine data, trying to project who will be available in this value range is mostly a complete guess.
For example, let’s look at the players selected from 41st to 44th overall in February’s 2022 superflex DLF rookie ADP: Zonovan Knight, Isaiah Likely, Alec Pierce, and Kyle Philips. None of those players went anywhere near the mid-fourth round in May’s ADP. Pierce rose to 21st overall, while Likely and Knight weren’t drafted at all, and Philips was the 60th player selected. Interestingly, though, all these players flashed in 2022, especially Likely. These players demonstrate that projecting rookies is extremely difficult and only becomes more challenging as the draft continues.
As for the specific players listed above, there’s not much to say about them yet. Tanner McKee is an interesting quarterback prospect if he sneaks into Day 2 of the NFL Draft, but I won’t be interested in him otherwise. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Andrei Iosivas, although I expect NFL teams to be skeptical about an Ivy League wide receiver. Lastly, I’m always looking at running backs in this range, especially if they hit a good landing spot and draft capital. Deuce Vaughn is my favorite player in the group for now.
Let’s use the DLF Trade Analyzer to explore potential trade options for each pick!
- 2025 3rd
- Rashid Shaheed, WR NO
- Matt Corral, QB CAR
I prefer all of these pivot options over holding the 4.05. I often like to make moves into the future to move up a round, so the 2025 third is a typical trade I would make in a dynasty format. As for Shaheed, he showed a lot as a rookie, putting up 488 receiving yards and 57 rushing yards. In addition, the Saints will likely get a quarterback upgrade over Andy Dalton going into 2023, giving Shaheed an even better situation to succeed. Corral is a nice quarterback stash, although I don’t have much faith in him long-term. However, he once had first-round NFL buzz, so he’s probably worth a flier in superflex leagues over the 4.05.
- Darrell Henderson, RB LAR
- Latavius Murray, RB DEN
- Robert Woods, WR TEN
Unlike the 4.05, I have no interest in these trade options. Murray had some surprise fantasy value in 2022, but he’s 33 years old and seems mostly washed up. Similarly, Woods looked completely cooked during the 2022 season on the Titans. He might get a veteran backup job in 2023, but he represents a roster clogger to me. As for Henderson, it’s scary that the Rams waived him in-season, and then the Jaguars claimed him and released him after two weeks. Then, no NFL team bothered to add him to their roster over the two months remaining of the season, even to a practice squad. His NFL career might be over.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR KC
- Jarrett Stidham, QB LV
- Nyheim Hines, RB BUF
These trade choices fall somewhere between my opinion of 4.05 and 4.06. Valdes-Scantling had some good weeks on the Chiefs this year, but it’s unclear if they will retain him for 2023. If he ends up on a worse offense, he won’t have much, if any, value. Stidham showed some excellent play in the final weeks stepping in for Derek Carr on the Raiders, but he’s a free agent. I doubt any team signs him as more than a high-end backup quarterback. Lastly, Hines is a pure roster clogger. He did nothing for fantasy essentially after his trade to the Bills, and I don’t think that changes in 2023.
- Jacoby Brissett, QB CLE
- Devin Duvernay, WR BAL
- Albert Okwuegbunam, TE DEN
Brissett represents one of my favorite pivots in this section, as he proved he could be a mediocre NFL starter this year with the Browns. I’m not saying he will be a franchise quarterback, but he could easily sign a bridge quarterback job this year in free agency. However, I have zero interest in Duvernay or Okwuegbunam. Those two players had plenty of opportunities to carve out a role in their offenses and consistently failed to do so. I’d instead roll the dice on another dart throw over known failures.
Overall, the mid-fourth round is just a dart throw in rookie drafts. I’m almost always willing to make a deal if you can acquire any veteran with legitimate value upside. However, it’s often challenging to trade fourth-rounders at any significant value, so I suggest packaging them in other trades to get rid of them if you want to do that.