Dynasty League Football


DLF Team Dynasty Predictions for 2023 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

We dive deep into this year’s wide receiver class and share the thoughts of the DLF team.

Zay Flowers

Dynasty League Football is the premier source for dynasty fantasy football analysis, and its contributors are the top minds in the industry. So, we needed to figure out how the team at DLF feels about the 2023 class of rookies! We surveyed the team, and we’ll analyze the results in a four-part series, continuing here with the Wide Receivers!

There have been some elite rookie wide receivers in recent years, culminating in Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, George Pickens and Christian Watson finishing as top 40 wide receivers in their rookie seasons. This year’s rookie wide receivers seem to be a step behind some of the recent NFL Draft classes, but there will absolutely be several first round picks and plenty of fantasy football production from this group. Let’s see what the DLF team has to say about this rookie class!

The top of this class has seen plenty of moving and shaking in the pre-draft process. Less than a week before the NFL Draft, this is the way that the DLF staff feels about the top six wide receivers. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is ranked number one almost unanimously, with only one person on the staff ranking him at number two. After his outstanding 2021 season, it was assumed that JSN would be the top of this wide receiver class, but he battled injuries last year and Marvin Harrison Jr. broke out as the top receiver at Ohio State. Despite the disappointing 2022, Smith-Njigba showed out at the Combine and is still viewed as the class of this year’s wide receivers.

Zay Flowers comes up next in these rankings, a bit of a surprise considering he has been viewed as the number four or five wide receiver in this group up until very recently. Flowers will very likely go in the first round and has been climbing mock draft boards. He seems like the type of player that NFL coaches will love to have on their teams.

While Flowers has been on the way up, Jordan Addison and Quentin Johnston have started to slip down dynasty rankings. DLF contributors ranked them as the three and four wide receivers respectively. Josh Downs comes in at five of this group and Jalin Hyatt brings up the rear at six.

When asked if they would rank anyone else in the top six, several contributors mentioned ranking Marvin Mims over Hyatt and even over Downs in some cases. Marvin Mims is the seventh ranked wide receiver in DLF Rookie Rankings, and may be climbing up the board even further if these numbers are any indication. Cedric Tillman, Rashee Rice, Jayden Reed, and Xavier Hutchinson were also mentioned as potential top six wide receivers in this class.

After figuring out where the top rookie wide receivers rank amongst themselves, we need to find out where they’ll rank against the rest of the league. We asked DLF contributors what they think these wide receivers’ best seasons will look like. Jaxon Smith-Njigba appears to have the highest upside of the class. Nearly half of those surveyed said he would have a top 5 season and everyone surveyed said he would have at least one top 15 season. DLF contributor Justin Taylor said, “I think he is an elite wide receiver who can follow on the Cooper Kupp mold to be a dominant slot receiver who can change games.” His April Startup Dynasty ADP is 29th overall, and wide receiver 17, just behind Davante Adams and ahead of DJ Moore.

The group of survey respondents were lower on Jordan Addison and even lower still on Quentin Johnston. They don’t believe either receiver will ever have a top 5 season. 60% believe Addison will have a top 15 season, while 27% say Johnston will have a top 15 season. 22% say Johnston will never even have a top 25 season. “I don’t see it with QJ,” said Justin Taylor. “He has the physical tools, but I’m not sure he ever becomes an elite receiver at the next level.”

Landing spot is a less important factor for success for wide receivers. The talent will typically rise to the top, and the best receivers can survive a run-first offensive plan. Over half of the DLF contributors that responded to this survey believe Jaxon Smith-Njigba will be selected by the Houston Texans.

The Texans currently have the 2nd and the 12th picks in the NFL Draft, and the general consensus is that they will select a quarterback at pick 2, despite some recent reports that say otherwise. Assuming they do pick a quarterback, what better way to support that quarterback than to select a wide receiver to learn and grow in the NFL along with him? “SuperFlexDude” John Hogue hopes the Texans take it a step even further and pair up college teammates with their picks! “After taking CJ Stroud with the second overall pick, they reunite the Buckeyes with the 12th overall pick.”

The Texans traded away Brandin Cooks this off-season, but also brought in Robert Woods and Noah Brown. They also may get second-round pick John Metchie III back this season after his year away recovering from cancer. Smith-Njigba shouldn’t have a problem finding the field with this group of teammates.

After the Texans, the Bears, Packers, and Patriots were the top choices. The Vikings and Titans also received votes.

If one thing is clear from this exercise, it’s that the contributors at DLF are generally out on Quentin Johnston and Jalin Hyatt. 84% of participants chose one of them as the most overrated wide receiver in the class. It’s easy enough to see the red flags in both of their games that earn them this title. Quentin Johnston has the size you’d like to see from a prototypical first-round wide receiver, and is a really good deep-ball receiver, but is that all he has? John Arrington says, “Some people have pushed him up into the top tier of the class even though he’s essentially a one-trick pony.” In a class with so many smaller, speedy, possession receivers, it’s possible that Johnston has been pushed up the board further than he should be.

Hyatt’s biggest problem is his size, he’s small and skinny. He ran a gimmick offense in college that schemed him wide open and hardly ever saw him get hit. We don’t know if he is going to be able to hold up to the bigger, stronger, smarter defensive backs at the NFL level. Eric Flynn said, “He’ll have to prove himself as more than a deep threat for me.” Jordan Addison, Josh Downs, and Tank Dell also received votes on this question.

DLF contributors are generally undecided on who the most underrated wide receiver of this class should be. 10 different players received at least one vote! The only one that separated from the class is Oklahoma WR Marvin Mims. “He doesn’t seem to get the same respect that some of the other top WRs get, even though he has great college production and elite athleticism,” explained DLF contributor John Arrington. Mims, like so many others in this class, is a bit undersized and ran a limited route tree in college. He was able to get wide open for some big touchdowns at times, but a lot of credit for that goes to the offensive scheme. He’s incredible with the ball in his hands and runs a speedy 4.38 40-yard dash. We’re not really sure how his skillset will transition to the NFL, but if he can develop into a professional wide receiver, his upside could be massive.

Josh Downs, Cedric Tillman, and Jayden Reed are the only other players to receive multiple votes in this category. Tillman is an interesting one, because he played in the same offense as Jalin Hyatt. In fact, one could say that Hyatt needed Tillman to miss time before he could breakout. Tillman was the better receiver in 2021, but an ankle injury kept him off the field at times in 2022. DLF Rookie ADP has Tillman 12 spots behind Hyatt at 24 overall.

A.T. Perry, Jonathan Mingo, Kayshon Boutte, Parker Washington, Tank Dell, and Zay Flowers all received votes. We also asked contributors who “their guy” is at the WR position this season, and Zay Flowers led the way with 27.8% of the vote.

There have been some truly elite wide receiver classes in the past 10 years, and this year simply isn’t one of them. There isn’t a 100% slam dunk prospect, they all have red flags that are very easy to identify. Injury concerns, size, production, play-style, if you can think it up, even the top players in this class suffer from it. The DLF contributors who participated in this survey believe Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a really good prospect, but the depth after him just doesn’t seem to be there. Eric Dickens said, “Lack of top-end talent after JSN, lack of fantasy starter depth.” Justin Taylor agreed, saying, “There might be one or two surprises from the later rounds that end up being productive NFL wide receivers, but I don’t see a lot of game-changers or fantasy relevant wide receivers in this group.”

The takeaway from this experiment is to temper expectations with this group of wide receivers. Smaller receivers have had success recently in the pros, but it’s still an uphill battle for them, and there are so many smaller receivers in this class. The receivers like Quentin Johnston who have prototypical WR size, are lacking in other important skills that we like to see. We could absolutely see some receivers become fantasy stars at the next level, but landing spot and draft capital may be more important than ever.

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DLF Team Dynasty Predictions for 2023 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers
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Appreciative Reader
1 month ago

Tim – Thanks for the excellent series! Great format and a fun, informative read. Hope to see a Tight End edition, too.

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