Dynasty League Football


2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Prospect: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR Ohio State

We examine Jaxon Smith-Njigba and his supremely productive college career.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2023 NFL Draft Prospect Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league.

Dynasty managers might have a strong sense of deja vu after seeing yet another Ohio State wide receiver ranked at the top of an incoming rookie class. But, your mind isn’t playing tricks on you. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the next star from “The Wide Receiver U” and is the consensus fantasy WR1 in the 2023 class.


Courtesy of Sports Reference.

In Smith-Njigba’s freshman, he managed just ten catches for 49 yards and one touchdown – an uninspiring stat line for a player projected to go as early as 1.02 in upcoming rookie drafts. However, a crowded wide receiver room as a freshman and injuries severely limited his production.

The excitement around Smith-Njigba derives from his record-breaking sophomore campaign. Catching balls from first-year starter CJ Stroud, Smith-Njigba amassed 95 receptions for 1,606 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He shattered a 20-year-old Big Ten receiving record and led the Buckeyes in seasonal dominator rating.

Courtesy of Sports Reference.

Smith-Njigba’s 26 percent share of Ohio State’s receiving yards and touchdowns in 2021 surpassed teammates and other first-round talents Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Marvin Harrison Jr. A 26 percent seasonal dominator by itself isn’t impressive but in the context of a talent-rich wide receiver corps, it’s fantastic. For example, using another predictive team-based metric in yards per play, Smith-Njigba shines in comparison to players with elite teammates. He totaled 1.76 yards per play compared to Ja’Marr Chase‘s 1.66 and Justin Jefferson’s 1.43.

Since 2003, wide receivers with a top-five fantasy season average 1.38 yards per team play. Wide receivers from the Big 10 average a career-best of 1.01 yards per play. Simply put, Smith-Njigba’s college production is elite from a counting stats and team market share perspective.


Smith-Njigba played the majority of his time in college out of the slot. Per Pro Football Focus, he played 88.6 percent of his snaps there. As a result, the bulk of his production comes from the middle of the field. He’s smooth and efficient in and out of his cuts, routinely making catches in traffic and the soft spots of zone coverage. His fluidity and natural route running jumped off the screen, allowing him to create angles and gain yards after the catch. The numbers back this up as well, as he finished second in college football with 790 yards after the catch, per PFF.

The stigma surrounding slot receivers is real but Smith-Njigba has a wide variety of tools out of the slot. He constantly applies pressure on defenders by pushing his routes up the seem. He racked up 13 deep receptions over 20 yards in 2021 which was tied for 15th in the nation, per PFF. That was tied with everyone’s favorite deep-threat wide receiver, Jameson Williams. When Smith-Njigba runs deeper routes, he excels at breaking off his routes toward the sideline or into wide-open lanes in the middle of the field. In must-have moments, Stroud trusts him to make contested catches and his 90% contested catch rate according to PFF confirms it.

The only obvious concern on film appears to be a lack of true play-breaking speed. He’s caught from behind occasionally and doesn’t consistently break away in the open field. However, he still scores his fair share of long touchdowns with good speed, field awareness, stiff arms, and contact balance.


Draft analysts and fantasy managers collectively sighed in relief after Smith-Njigba posted a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. This performance followed up his remarkable testing in the agility drills at the NFL Combine. The results from his three-cone and 20-yard-shuttle drills illustrate his stellar short-area quickness. Ultimately, Smith-Njigba slammed the door shut on any size, speed, and agility concerns with his athletic testing and measurements. He has all of the tools required for fantasy football success at the next level.


Courtesy of DLF’s April ADP.

Smith-Njigba is currently the WR1 and the second overall player in DLF’s latest ADP. He will easily be a first-round selection in rookie drafts this year. Smith-Njigba would need many things to go wrong on draft night to not be the first overall wide receiver selected in fantasy formats. He’d most likely need to be the third wide receiver drafted, land on a team with poor quarterback play, and face stiff veteran competition.

Things are more interesting in superflex drafts. He has the pedigree and college production to go before CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, and Anthony Richardson. If he’s drafted in the first 20 picks and lands with a good quarterback, I’d have no problem drafting him over any of the rookie quarterbacks. How many dynasty managers are still kicking themselves for drafting quarterbacks over Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson?

Courtesy of DLF’s April Superflex ADP.

According to DLF’s ADP, Smith-Njigba is going as the 1.06 in superflex rookie drafts but I’ve seen him consistently go at 1.04 in other industry mocks. After the NFL Draft, I expect his ADP to settle in around 1.04. If dynasty managers want a chance to draft him, I’d recommend moving up a couple of slots to the 1.04 now before the cost rises even more post-NFL Draft.

In startup drafts, JSN is going as the WR17 in a tier right after Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, and Cooper Kupp. Even though rookies historically gain value as rookie drafts approach, it will be a tall order to separate in value from these veteran mega-producers.

Courtesy of DLF’s April Superflex ADP.

Overall in startups, there’s plenty of value in taking Smith-Njigba over other positions. I’d happily take any value I can get on top of JSN for the non-Bijan Robinson or Breece Hall running backs, Daniel Jones or Kirk Cousins, and at the very least Mark Andrews when it comes to the tight ends. Currently, he’s going at the beginning of the fourth round. I’d be selecting him as early as the mid-third to lock him into my squads.

Smith-Njigba is the next young wide receiver fantasy managers can expect to strengthen their starting lineups and bolster the overall value of their dynasty teams.

2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Prospect: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR Ohio State
1 Comment
5 2 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ed Geis
1 month ago

Despite the hands/arms measurements, he excels at catching the ball. I guess we’ll find out how the NFL feels about that injury history very soon.

To Top