With the 2023 NFL Draft now over, we can accurately re-assess the depth charts of teams around the NFL. In this series, we’ll be taking a look at players who either gained or lost value based on what their team did during the draft.
- Round One, Pick Six: Paris Johnson Jr., OT Ohio State
- Round Two, Pick 41: BJ Ojulari, LB LSU
- Round Three, Pick 72: Garrett Williams, CB Syracuse
- Round Three, Pick 94: Michael Wilson, WR Stanford
- Round Four, Pick 122: Jon Gaines II, OG UCLA
- Round Five, Pick 139: Clayton Tune, QB Houston
- Round Five, Pick 168: Owen Pappoe, LB Auburn
- Round Six, Pick 180: Kei’Trel Clark, CB Louisville
- Round Six, Pick 213: Dante Stills, DT West Virginia
WINNER: Kyler Murray, QB
Things went very well for Murray during NFL Draft week. First, we heard positive news about his injury recovery. Head coach Jonathan Gannon said Murray made “good progression” during pre-draft workouts. Gannon even said he’s “excited” about where Murray is at in his recovery. Murray tore his ACL in week 14 last season. It’s extremely unlikely that he will be ready for week one, but if he continues to progress at this rate, he could be back on the field before the midway point of the season.
Second, the Cardinals bolstered their offensive line. Murray’s injury history has been one of the biggest knocks against him during his NFL career, but his protection has not helped to keep him healthy. Pro Football Focus ranked the Cardinals as the 24th-best offensive line in 2022. The Cardinals traded back from the third spot, and then traded back up to pick Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr with the sixth overall pick. Murray reportedly admired Johnson in the pre-draft process, and hoped that they would bring him to Arizona. Johnson, the first offensive lineman selected in the draft, was widely considered the best tackle in the class. He could play either inside or outside for the Cardinals, but he will be starting on the line in week one, and he’ll be a major boost to the offensive line.
Finally, Murray’s pass-catching group got better, and didn’t lose its best player. DeAndre Hopkins is likely to stay in Arizona now that the draft is over. If Hopkins did get moved, Murray’s group of wide receivers would be missing a major puzzle piece, but Hopkins remains in the desert for now, and that’s great news. The team also used a top 100 pick on Michael Wilson out of Stanford. He may not make an immediate impact on the offense, but he could be the first player the Cardinals turn to in a world after Hopkins. Murray’s weapons had a good shot to make a major step back during the NFL Draft, but it somehow got a little bit better, and that’s a win!
Courtesy of DLF ADP OverTime Tool.
Despite being an NFL Draft winner, Murray’s ADP is still down from where it was last season before the ACL tear. He may be a good option to buy low on, especially if you can afford to wait out his injury!
LOSER: Marquise Brown, WR
There isn’t a clear and obvious fantasy football loser for the Cardinals, so we’re going to go with ‘Hollywood’ Brown. He suffers from Hopkins staying with Arizona. Hollywood had a chance to be the number one wide receiver on this team, all by himself at the top of the pecking order, and it seemed like people were starting to value him as such. In my entry to the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rankings Explained series, I highlighted Brown as a player I thought was massively overrated. The DLF consensus rankings had him at 45 overall and I pushed him down 24 spots to 69 overall in my rankings. In my explanation I said: “I do not understand why Brown is a top 45 pick in dynasty ADP right now. What has he done in the NFL to deserve that kind of draft capital? If managers are really considering Brown the 45th-best player in fantasy, I’d be out there selling.”
With Hopkins apparently back in Arizona, Brown needs to be pushed down even further.
Courtesy of DLF Player Splits App.
In eight games last season without Hopkins, Hollywood averaged 15.4 PPR points per game, catching 6.2 of his 9.6 targets for 69.1 yards per game. In the four games he shared the field with Nuk, his numbers took a drastic dip. He averaged just 8.2 points per game in PPR, catching 4.2 of his 7.5 targets for 39 yards per game. With Hopkins on the field, Brown is a loser for dynasty fantasy football.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
- Round Two, Pick 36: Steve Avila, OG TCU
- Round Three, Pick 77: Byron Young, DE Tennessee
- Round Three, Pick 89: Kobie Turner, DE Wake Forest
- Round Four, Pick 128: Stetson Bennett, QB Georgia
- Round Five, Pick 161: Nick Hampton, LB Appalachian State
- Round Five, Pick 174: Warren McClendon, OT Georgia
- Round Five, Pick 175: Davis Allen, TE Clemson
- Round Five, Pick 177: Puka Nacua, WR BYU
- Round Six, Pick 182: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB TCU
- Round Six, Pick 189: Ochaun Mathis, DE Nebraska
- Round Six, Pick 215: Zach Evans, RB Ole Miss
- Round Seven, Pick 223: Ethan Evans, P Wingate
- Round Seven, Pick 234: Jason Taylor II, S Oklahoma State
- Round Seven, Pick 259: Desjuan Johnson, DE Toledo
WINNER: Cam Akers, RB
Rams general manager Les Snead famously wore a shirt that said: “F**k Them Picks” after winning Super Bowl XXXIV. Los Angeles once again did not have a first-round pick in the 2023 draft, but they did make 14 selections, the most of any team in the NFC West.
Running back was a spot that the Rams could’ve improved upon during the Draft. Akers had a tumultuous season in 2022, even sitting out games after demanding a trade, before he came back and finished the season with three straight 100-yard games and top-15 RB finishes. But, the Rams chose not to focus on the running back position, waiting until the end of the sixth round to take Zach Evans out of Ole Miss with their 11th pick of the draft.
Evans was a five-star recruit out of high school, but never lived up to his potential at the college level. In fact, he was considered a top high school prospect along with Bijan Robinson, but in the same NFL Draft class, Evans went 207 picks later than Robinson did. The Rams did not prioritize this pick, and therefore fantasy managers should not read into it much. It’s possible that Evans could come into camp and impress the Rams, but the draft capital and his college production says that is unlikely. Akers is the lead back in Los Angeles, and Sean McVay has a history of leaning heavily on one running back in his offense. McVay said recently that Evans “has a nice skillset that complements Cam.” Akers is a screaming value in dynasty fantasy football leagues.
LOSER: WR Ben Skowronek or RB Kyren Williams
Once again, there isn’t a clear loser for fantasy football on the Rams roster after the NFL Draft. The starters at QB, RB, WR and TE are the same as the ones we had locked in pre-draft, so anyone who is losing value didn’t have a ton of value to start with. For the sake of the exercise, I’ll name Skowronek and Williams the losers of the NFL Draft for the Rams.
Skowronek flashed at times last year, including a WR17 finish in week six and a WR21 finish in Week 14. He tore his calf the next week and missed the rest of the season. The Rams didn’t address wide receiver early on, but they did take Puka Nacua in the fifth round. Nacua may compete with Skowronek, or Van Jefferson, for an outside role to complement Cooper Kupp on the inside. It isn’t likely, but Skowronek didn’t have competition for his role before the draft, so we will refer to him as a loser for the Rams.
Williams didn’t get much playing time last season, even after the team cut Darrell Henderson. If there was a handcuff on the Rams roster before the draft, Williams likely would’ve been the pick. He’d never be a three-down back for any team, but if Akers were to go down, Williams would’ve likely earned some extra snaps. Now that Evans is on the team, he’ll likely slide right into that role as the traditional handcuff to Akers. Williams may still hold some value as a third down back or in the passing game, but it’s probably safe to drop him, even in the deepest dynasty formats.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
- Round Three, Pick 87: Ji’Ayir Brown, S Penn State
- Round Three, Pick 99: Jake Moody, K Michigan
- Round Three, Pick 101: Cameron Latu, TE Alabama
- Round Five, Pick 155: Darrell Luter Jr, CB South Alabama
- Round Five, Pick 173: Robert Beal Jr, LB Georgia
- Round Six, Pick 216: Dee Winters, LB TCU
- Round Seven, Pick 247: Brayden Willis, TE Oklahoma
- Round Seven, Pick 253: Ronnie Bell, WR Michigan
- Round Seven, Pick 255: Jalen Graham, OLB Purdue
WINNER: Brock Purdy, QB
Like a broken record, the fantasy football winners and losers for the 49ers were not very obvious. I promise, the fourth team in this division has some very juicy picks for winners and losers. For a winner in the Bay Area, we go to 2021’s Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy.
Purdy is still recovering from an elbow injury that could force him to miss the beginning of the season, but the draft-week headlines surrounding 49ers quarterbacks seemed to suggest the team is planning to move forward with Purdy as their starter, and not 2021’s third overall pick Trey Lance.
We heard John Lynch say that Purdy has “earned the right” to be the team’s starter in 2023, but he was able to avoid Tommy John surgery, which he says “cut down the recovery time.” Meanwhile, Ian Rapoport reported the 49ers have fielded calls from teams interested in trading for Lance. While no move was made, the fact that the 49ers were listening implies that they are comfortable with Purdy as their starting quarterback once he is healthy. It seems like it is Purdy’s job to lose in the Bay Area.
LOSER: Robbie Gould, K
You read that right, the biggest loser for the 49ers in the NFL Draft was veteran kicker Gould. He is technically a free agent right now, but it was probably safe to assume he would come back to San Francisco for his 19th NFL season. Well, if you’re in a dynasty league with kickers, and you have Gould, you can go ahead and drop him now.
The 49ers shocked the world when they used a third-round pick, only their second pick in the draft, on Michigan Kicker Jake Moody. Plenty of kickers have been selected in the first 100 picks, but it’s the first time since 2016 when the Bucs drafted Roberto Aguayo, and only the sixth time since the Raiders selected Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th pick in 2000. Moody was a good kicker in college, but he’s not third-round good.
- Round One, Pick Five: Devon Witherspoon, CB Illinois
- Round One, Picks 20: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR Ohio State
- Round Two, Pick 37: Derrick Hall, OLB Auburn
- Round Two, Pick 52: Zach Charbonnet, RB UCLA
- Round Four, Pick 108: Anthony Bradford, OG LSU
- Round Four, Pick 123: Cameron Young, DT Mississippi State
- Round Five, Pick 151: Mike Morris, DE Michigan
- Round Five, Pick 154: Olu Oluwatimi, C Michigan
- Round Six, Pick 198: Jerrick Reed II, S New Mexico
- Round Seven, Pick 237: Kenny McIntosh, RB Georgia
WINNER: Geno Smith, QB
Finally! The Seahawks have a big winner and a big loser from the NFL Draft. In fact, they might have the biggest winner and the biggest loser amongst NFL veterans in terms of fantasy football value.
Smith won the NFL Draft, first and foremost, because the team did not draft a quarterback with any of their picks. Many mock drafts had the Seahawks targeting Anthony Richardson with the fifth overall pick, even possibly moving up to ensure they get a quarterback, but the Seahawks stayed put and drafted cornerback Devon Witherspoon, sending a signal to the league that they are confident in Smith under center.
Seattle also got Smith some new toys to play with in the passing game, starting off with the first wide receiver off the board, Jaxon Smith-Njigba. For JSN, the landing spot is not ideal, but for Smith, it couldn’t get much better. Smith-Njigba allows Seattle to spread things out and go with three wide receivers more often than they have been able to in the past. He’ll line up in the slot with studs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett on the outside. Historically, Seattle doesn’t use 13 personnel very often, but Shane Waldron could want to see more three-wide receiver sets now that he has the players to pull it off. Waldron comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree, where Cooper Kupp became a superstar out of the slot. Could JSN be Smith’s Kupp in this offense? Only if Pete Carroll lets go of the reigns of the offense and lets Waldron get his three outstanding wide receivers on the field at the same time.
Smith was a league winner in 2023 superflex leagues. He was free in dynasty drafts last off-season, as he wasn’t even expected to win the job. In superflex, when you can get the QB5 with one of the last picks in your draft, the impact on fantasy teams is massive. The Seahawks re-signed Smith this off-season, didn’t bring in anyone to compete with him, and drafted an elite weapon in the passing game. He’s a top-20 quarterback in dynasty, and after the NFL Draft he’s very close to being drafted as such.
Courtesy of DLF ADP Tool.
LOSER: Kenneth Walker, RB
Walker had an outstanding rookie season in 2022 and even earned some rookie of the year buzz. The team lost the oft-injured Rashaad Penny in the off-season, but with the devaluation of the running back position in the NFL, nobody expected the Seahawks to use an early pick on the position. But then, John Schneider made the call.
The Seahawks used the 52nd pick on UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet, and Walker managers around the world screamed at their TV. Walker finds himself in what could be a very ugly timeshare, with a running back who can do anything on the field. Charbonnet was a better pass catcher than Walker in college and his larger frame could make him a better goal-line back. It is a disastrous situation for Walker managers, especially those who traded for him before the draft.
Walker is a home-run hitter, but he struggled at times with runs for zero or fewer yards. The Seahawks traditionally love to run the ball, so they may be able to support a thunder-and-lightning backfield with Charbonnet and Walker, but it caps the upside for both players. To make matters even worse for both of them, the Seahawks drafted Kenny McIntosh as well, widely considered one of the best pass-catching backs in the class.
In DLF’s April ADP, Walker was the fifth Running Back off the board and the 16th pick overall in startup mock drafts. In our first post-draft mock draft, Walker dropped down to the 23rd overall pick, the ninth running back selected. Meanwhile, Charbonnet went with the tenth pick of the sixth round, the 24th running back selected. I believe that the gap between these two Seahawks will start to tighten as the draft season goes on. I can’t imagine considering Walker a top-12 dynasty running back anymore with Charbonnet in the fold. Walker is the biggest fantasy football loser of the NFL Draft for the Seahawks, the NFC West, and potentially the entire NFL.
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