The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books, and as the dust settles, we are establishing a clearer picture of the fantasy values of IDPs based on their landing spot. These values vary based on scoring settings, starting requirements and roster sizes, but we can talk about players with some degree of confidence now.
We will break the rookies into tiers, but there won’t be many. This class of edge rushers is reasonably flat beyond the top options, and the gap between the lower tiers is negligible.
TIER ONE – INSTANT HEROES
Will Anderson Jr, EDGE HOU
Anderson landed in an excellent spot. Jerry Hughes will be 35 when the season starts, and Jonathan Greenard is best used as a rotational piece.
The Texans employed a five-person rotation at the position last year. Still, the unit comprised players nowhere near Anderson’s talent and potential, and there’s a new defensive coordinator in town in the shape of Matt Burke. The former Cardinals’ defensive line coach will undoubtedly be tempted to give his new shiny toy every opportunity to be heavily involved.
Playing 800 snaps is well within Anderson’s reach, as are double-digit sacks. Finishing in the top 24 at the position is well within his range of outcomes.
TIER TWO – IN THE MIX
Tyree Wilson, EDGE LV
Wilson fills a massive need for the Raiders. Maxx Crosby is a star, but there is very little to speak of opposite him. Chandler Jones was given big money but has been a disappointment and is advancing in years. Can you name another edge rusher on the Raiders roster without cheating?
Wilson’s versatility may help him earn a heavier workload than the players mentioned in lower tiers. He will primarily be an edge rusher, but it would be no surprise to see him spend time on the interior on obvious passing downs.
450-550 snaps and somewhere between four and six sacks feel right for Wilson in his rookie year.
Lukas Van Ness, EDGE GB
Van Ness’ draft stock soared following the combine, and he was taken as the third edge rusher in the draft with the 13th overall pick. The Packers were enamored with him to invest that kind of capital.
His path to playtime is initially unclear. Rashan Gary is recovering well from an ACL tear, and Preston Smith is still hanging around. Van Ness is clearly the plan for the future, but fantasy managers may have to remain patient.
If Gary starts the year, I expect Van Ness to be eased in slowly. Realistically, he could be challenging Smith for snaps midway through the season. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry isn’t a fan of rotating edge rushers, but the Packers haven’t had a depth player of Van Ness’ caliber to learn on in recent seasons.
Considering the many moving parts involved, Van Ness’ range of outcomes is difficult to predict, but 400-600 snaps and between four and six sacks are possible.
Myles Murphy, EDGE CIN
Murphy almost fell out of the first round and had to watch Will McDonald IV go 13 spots ahead of him before he got to pull on a Bengals cap after being selected 28th overall.
Cincinnati is not the ideal spot for the Clemson product. Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson are a capable duo, and 2021 third-round pick Joseph Ossai became more involved toward the end of last season.
I suspect Murphy will be brought along slowly while he develops his pass-rush arsenal. 400-550 snaps and between four and six sacks would represent a productive debut campaign for the 21-year-old.
Will McDonald IV, EDGE NYJ
Many were surprised to see McDonald taken as the fourth edge rusher in the draft. Only time will tell whether the Jets were justified in their selection.
I’m not a fan of the landing spot. Jets’ defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich employs an edge rusher by committee approach, and McDonald will have to compete with John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, and Carl Lawson for snaps.
McDonald is unlikely to post gaudy numbers from the off. Temper expectations for sustained production until a clearer path to snaps emerges. 350-500 snaps and between three and six sacks is an optimistic projection for his rookie season.
BJ Ojulari, EDGE ARI
The Cardinals entered the draft with serious questions at the edge rusher position following the retirement of JJ Watt, the departure of Zach Allen, and the decline in play of Markus Golden. The selection of Ojulari to pair with Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders made a lot of sense.
It’s encouraging that former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon will oversee Ojulari’s introduction to the NFL. Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham all had career years under Gannon last year.
Long-term, the sky is the limit for the ultra-athletic Ojulari if he can learn the nuances of the position. In the meantime, 350-500 snaps and three to five sacks seem likely.
Nolan Smith, EDGE PHI
Smith was selected by the Eagles with the 30th pick, adding yet another player to a packed edge rusher room already featuring Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham. From an opportunity standpoint, the landing spot could have been better for the Georgia product.
He’s undersized at the position, but his dominance in the run game and lofty potential as a pass rusher provide optimism for his long-term outlook.
I expect Smith to receive between 350-500 snaps in 2023 and somewhere in the region of three and six sacks.
TIER THREE – DARK HORSES
Isaiah Foskey, EDGE NO
As the 40th player taken in the draft, Foskey doesn’t have the draft capital of players mentioned in earlier tiers, but his landing spot compensates somewhat.
Cameron Jordan is in the twilight of his career, Carl Granderson finished the 2022 campaign strongly, but he’s still unproven, and Tanoh Kpassagnon is replaceable.
For that reason, Foskey’s range of outcomes is wide. 300-450 snaps and three to five sacks are a modest projection. If things fall his way, it’s entirely possible he could outperform some of the players in tier two.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE KC
The Chiefs’ selection of Anudike-Uzomah with the 31st overall selection didn’t make waves, but he adds much-needed depth at a weak position for the reigning Super Bowl champions.
George Karlaftis should lead the team in snaps following the departure of Frank Clark, and new arrival Charles Omenihu will undoubtedly be in the mix. Anudike-Uzomah will likely be fighting for snaps with Mike Danna initially.
350-450 snaps and between three and five sacks are within Anudike-Uzomah’s reach.
Derick Hall, EDGE SEA
The Seahawks have been one of the leading proponents of a rotation at the edge rusher spot for years. There were better landing spots for Hall.
Uchenna Nwosu emerged as the Seahawks’ best pass rusher in 2022, easily leading the team in snaps. Hall will fight for snaps with best ball hero Darrell Taylor and 2022 second-round pick Boye Mafe.
300-450 snaps and between three and five sacks may seem a modest projection, but it’s realistic, given the limited opportunity.
Keion White, EDGE NE
White is a raw prospect who has landed in a poor spot. Matthew Judon has been incredibly productive, Deatrich Wise occasionally steals some edge snaps, and Josh Uche was excellent in the second half of the year.
However, White was always going to be a project, and in his new home, he has an opportunity to develop without too much pressure on his shoulders.
White could be an excellent deep stash or taxi squad candidate in dynasty formats, but the immediate returns will be modest. 250-350 snaps and a couple of sacks might be all he can manage in his rookie campaign.
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